Ned Kelly is fashion’s new male muse. Who knew?
The bushranger of yore has his sights set on our cities. Have you noticed how many urban blokes have grown beards lately? In case you missed the edict, all men working in music or the media are now required to be be-bristled. And gentlemen, don’t even think about opening a small bar without a beard to accessorise your collection of Blue Lady pictures.
Arcadia is a hip new drinking den near where I live in Sydney’s Redfern. This bar is ground zero for the look; it’s like ZZ Top in there. These guys have more hair on their chins than they do on their heads, and some of them pack Dickensian mutton chops too. Clean-shaven males after a mug of mulled wine in this joint send their girlfriends to order. I reckon they cold-shoulder the beardless in Arcadia. And why not? Beards are hot – unless they’ve got stray food scraps tangled in them.
Do you remember the metrosexual? I’d rather forget him. The stubble-free look seems somehow too preened for comfort in 2012 – it makes me wonder what else has been carefully de-fuzzed. Once, the chiseled jaw splashed with cologne above the crisp white shirt collar reminded me of Cary Grant. Now I reckon it’s a bit sad. I want my man to look like he chops wood on the weekend. In a three-button granddad shirt and beat-up work boots. Does that make me the new Samantha Brick? (No, because I’m happy to chop the wood too – and I’m not scared my husband will divorce me for eating cake).
The idea of the beard as a new signifier of male cool is spreading fast. Not since Woodstock has such pursuit of the hirsute been in vogue. Musician Angus Stone’s beard is now so bushy you can barely see his beautiful face beneath it. People have started to take Adelaide spoof band The Beards seriously – they’ve just been on tour with Kate Miller-Heidke, thrilling audiences with tracks such as You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man and If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard You’ve Got Two Mums. There’s even facial hair in the winter Lanvin campaign – the gentleman in question is one of 11 “anonymous stars”, or non-models, shot by Steven Meisel in for French house.
Casting director Zan Ludlum trawled New York’s streets for characterful contenders, spotting this Nick Nolte type emerging from a bar in the East Village (what’s the betting they have Tretchikoff paintings on their walls?). This non-model-model’s crow’s feet radiate beautifully out from his deep-set chocolate brown eyes and his beard is a great blonde froth worthy of Zeus. He looks grisly and masterful, and just a little unhinged, kind of like a sexy Nordic Ned Kelly – only in necklaces and a five thousand dollar coat.
Presumably there were slim pickings on the bush-ranger front at Manhattan’s model agencies, but we can expect this to change. Scouts will be all over Arcadia any minute now - because where Lanvin leads, others follow.