The topic was menswear, the setting a panel at Milk Studios, organized by Parsons, sponsored by Gillette and featuring hockey player Sean Avery, rapper/actor Common, creative director Timothee Verrecchia, and designer Richard Chai. The hit came as the panel was discussing the loosening of stigma on men caring about fashion and how they dress. Common had offered that celebrities, including famous athletes, publicly declaring in interest in fashion (from Kanye’s fashion line to Sean Avery interning at Vogue), has helped removed the stigma.
“There’s also advertising,” Avery offered. “Tom Brady does a campaign for Uggs.” Here he paused and the crowd tittered. “I’m not going to wear Uggs, but now maybe someone out there is thinking about it.”
In fact, Avery was solid with the jokes throughout. When asked by moderator (and Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons) Simon Collins what his thoughts were on why men wear a uniform, as we are reputed to do, Avery offered this gem: “I signed a deal with Hickey Freeman to be their face for 2 years. So…money.” And on those who populate the fashion industry: “Fashion people are very mean. It’s an interesting group of people.” It wasn’t the Sean Show the entire time (I left halfway through to go to N. Hoolywood’s show), but for a very straightforward talk, the former Ranger elicited the most energy from the crowd.
The panel’s other star was Common, who gave thoughtful, intelligent answers in a voice of such perfect velvet you’d think Tom Ford had designed it. I had a minute alone with the bearded rapper before the panel began and we talked about the state of men’s facial hair. “It’s thriving,” he said. “We as men express ourselves through out facial hair…it’s really connected to your style. I’m a spontaneous creative person, so sometimes I’ll choose the 5’ o’clock shadow, a goatee, a full beard or ever a fuller beard. It expresses the change going on in my life.”
So does the full beard that he was sporting at the panel represent a change to the professorial? “Cultured, but still styled professional gentleman,” he replied. “With power.”