Saturday, October 1, 2011

NYC Men of Style: Episode I

NYC isn't only renowned for beautiful women. It's arguable the fellows here are unlike any others in the world. More than swagger, style in this city is constantly evolving, with men and women taking it to the next level.  Here are five of my favorite NYC men ... men whose style always stood out to me. They  share nuggets of personality, aesthetic reflections, and let us peek into their wardrobes and/or suitcase.  Feast your eyes ... Know a NYC man of style? Message me. Episode II is in the works with some super cool men who've already signed on. I smell a calendar coming on ... it's a hard job, but someone's got to do it. XO BG

Chris Daish: Model/Philanthropist


BG: You're a Ford and Wilhelmina model. How did you break into the industry?

CD: Before heading off to the States for college I was in a sex shop in Kings Cross (Red Light district of Sydney) having a booze- infused argument with my then partner. I left the store to get some air, and the sales assistant turned out to be a scout, and suggested to my girl that I get into modeling. Reluctantly, my girl gave me his card the next morning and encouraged me to give it a shot. After a couple of weeks I called him, and started shooting in the few months before leaving for college. Cast forward a few years, I got scouted along my travels to NYC and London and decided it was meant to be. Modeling has provided a great opportunity to travel and compliments my other career pursuits in life. I was signed with Ford from 2002-2009 in NYC, then moved over to Wilhelmina in 2010.

BG: Who do you admire as a designer? As a muse? What's your favorite designer-muse combo?

CD: In all honesty, my fashion savvy is close to zero. The roaring 20s was such an elegant period, permeated by social decadence with the appearance of a woman's knee due to shorter skirts. For men, the classic suit cuts of the debonair gentleman were pretty cool. Chanel's vision of the Breton stripe conceived from the uniforms of sailors and fishermen of the time makes perfect sense to me. As for today, any young designer who has a social conscience by honoring local producers and eco-friendly products, and has the guts to create something entirely new and innovative, for me, that’s inspiring. My favorite muse of all times has to be Edie Sedgwick. Andy and the Factory days created a visual evolution with a continuum of dialogue between bohos and intellectuals, and was just plain cool. So Warhol/Sedgwick is my combo!

BG: Female models are criticized for their weight, skin, hair and nails. Are male models under the same physical pressure?

CD: I guess the young runway/editorial guys feel the pressure to stay unrealistically thin, but being a seasoned clean cut catalogue guy, my personal pressures are limited. I grew up playing sport and living in the ocean and feel best when I have meat on my bones. Working out of Germany, Australia and South Africa is ideal because there is a large market for bigger blokes … so my daily dose of Ritta Sport dark chocolate in Hamburg is an asset. After living in a library and drinking Red Bull for two weeks for my finals at Berkeley, I worked in LA for a couple of months. My agent there told me immediately to get a tan and go to the gym (she was on the money). Other than that, the only criticisms have probably come after I've left the building. Ha!

BG: In addition to modeling, you're an active philanthropist. Tell me about your philanthropic work.

CD: I spent a period throughout college volunteering in the kitchen of Glide Church, which is a radically inclusive non-denominational church offering services to the homeless people of San Francisco. Through Housing Works, I worked as a volunteer outdoor therapist in East NY, coordinating and leading weekly cultural and leisure activities throughout NYC. The idea was to get my clients out of their comfort zones and expose them to a multitude of possibilities and experiences.  I’m a freelance consultant to Seeds of Africa where I help develop and put together fund raising events. Every holiday possible, I volunteer at the local church or do my own food runs around Manhattan, because not every person is in the mental or physical state to make it to the shelters/churches to get fed or embrace another loving human being. I myself am a long way from my family and know how it feels to be alone on these special days.

BG: In a city like New York, where self-indulgence is pretty much unavoidable, what motivates you to stay involved in humanitarian work?

CD: I hail from Australia, a relatively functional social democracy, and since moving to America at the age of 20, I’ve had every possible opportunity a person could have bestowed upon him. I’ve had amazing people come into my life and, consequently, have never felt truly alone over here. At the end of the day, I have two arms, two legs, and can manage an uninhibited smile (most days). There are too many glaring discrepancies within the education and health care systems in the U.S., and too many homeless and disenfranchised citizens to ignore. It’s my duty where possible to help those in need and be part of the solution.  

BG: Favorite spot to EAT/DRINK/RELAX:

CD: Blue Ribbon Bistro, (still the best!) ... oysters at the bar at Balthazar, coffee at Blue Bird or Mud Café. To relax: a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to powerHouse Bookstore in DUMBO and some sun in that little park. A trip to the New York Public library at Bryant Park to research an artist or something entirely new to me. Writing poetry in Central Park and skyscraper gazing.

BG: Describe your personal look:

CD: Repetitive. Old jeans, block color t-shirt, my Nikes or Converse. I’m a creature of habit; was given a Saint Christopher necklace by my best friend as I’d just endured a rough patch. I’m not a jewelry guy, but wearing it diligently. Let's see just how saintly this guy really is!

BG: You're always traveling. What's in your suitcase?

CD: Shoe bomb, box cutters, plastic explosives … you know. I travel light. Stuff that I can part ways with if I see the heat coming around the corner. Always some reading material. The New Yorker and a good book. Four undies, four socks, two jeans, three t-shirts, a nice suit. One sweater. One pair trousers. One pair dress shoes. Minimal toiletries. Chocolate. Very military indeed.

BG: Asides from beauty, you've got brains – Berkeley-educated brains. What's the last thing you read?

CD: Cormac McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy (for the third time).

BG: What will you be wearing Fall/Winter 2011?

CD: I’m currently based out of Newport Beach, CA, so if I decide to stick around, flip flops, a t-shirt and a pair of jeans … got to love So Cal! My beloved NYC how I love thee … but maybe my skin just ain’t thick enough for your brutal ways this winter round (insert - walking down Broadway in the dead of February).

BG: What's one item a woman can rock to look sexy as hell?

CD: I like girls who have their own sense of style. Elegance and grace cannot be discounted. A girl with compassion, a head on her shoulders who can look good wearing a potato sack is my kind of gal.  

BG: Would your mom approve of your look?

CD: More like my lack thereof … yes, my MUM (I’m Australian and we do things differently down there) would love me any way, shape, or form without restraint …  and would love to see me for that matter; it's been a while.

Two non-profits Chris is involved with are Seeds of Africa and Housing Works.

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