Although they’re considered among today’s most powerful arbiters of taste, a lot of street-style photographers wouldn’t rate a second glance from their own colleagues. While the individuals they shoot often go to extraordinary lengths to capture street snapperazzi’s attention, the photographers themselves often dress purely for utility — occasionally displaying such an absence of chic that one wonders how (or indeed, if) they’re equipped to judge the style bona fides of others.
Not so K.E. Guerre — the man behind influential blog Guerreisms.com and a regular contributor to GQ Japan, Esquire, The New York Times and The Rake magazine — a photographer who effortlessly out-dresses many of those found prancing in front of his lens. This explains why Guerre is frequently snapped by fellow photographers during the course of his work — perhaps the world’s most ‘Gonzo’ street-style photographer, far from a detached observer, Guerre is instead always at the centre of the story.
His focus firmly upon classic tailored menswear, Guerre will soon be busy documenting the biannual peacockery arms race of Pitti Uomo, so we thought this an apt moment to question the eminently well-dressed lensman on his own stylistic philosophies. This is the sartorial gospel according to Guerre...
10. “Style comes from within, it is knowledge of self. Don’t let trends dictate your style, it’s not about throwing on designer clothes or reproducing a magazine editorial — it’s about knowing who you are and dressing accordingly. Style is about being selfconfident. Style is not about showing off, but about sharing your vision of life with the world.”
9. “Be humble and willing to learn. It’s good to appreciate fashion, but understand that not all fashion will fit your body type, skin tone, hair colour. Know when to admire something from afar, and to not include it in your wardrobe if it doesn’t work for you flawlessly. Be humble and do some study/research, if it doesn’t naturally come to you.”
8. “Be open-minded and willing to evolve. Until recently I was a fervent defender of the ‘Never wear a suit without a pocket square’ rule, but I can’t be so categorical today. I love how writer Angelo Flaccavento can pull off a pen in the pocket as a routine, or how cool Jude Law looks in his perfect Margiela suit in the movie Alfie. I love when someone can pull off a somewhat unconventional look without seeming like he’s playing a role — you have to accept it as the reflection of the individual’s personality and appreciate his approach.”
7. “Accessories should be personal and meaningful. While costume jewellery is fun to play with at times, you should have a signature items that speak volumes about your personality, and that you may want to pass on. Having it custom made makes it truly unique.”
6. “I remembered being told stories about selective Paris nightclubs where doormen wouldn’t take a look at anything else other than your shoes to determine if you could enter the venue. If the rule is quite unfair and simplistic, it illustrates the important role played by shoes in the overall outfit. Put on a pair of beautiful shoes and you can get away with being a little lazy (which is sometimes alluded to as rebellious) with the rest of your look.”
5. “Embrace contrasts. I love contrasts in fashion like in interior decorating, mixing contemporary and vintage with ethnic. I love contrasts in life in general. There is something very unnatural and unexciting about a super polished look, a head to toe designer look (except maybe for an event).”
4. “Socks are ideal to have fun with, and give you the freedom to play with colours and patterns that would not work on top.”
3. “Be intuitive. For instance, ‘intuitive’ vintage tells a man’s story while ‘calculated’ vintage (expensive trendy destroyed / distressed fashion items) tell someone else’s. An old favourite (quality) shirt that has been worn out tells a story. One of the best images I photographed, years ago, was of a friend wearing one of his worn-out classic Ralph Lauren shirt (beat-up enough to assume it had been a favourite of his for many years) with a vintage Submariner Rolex. It screamed selfconfidence and character.
2. “Being stylish should never be synonym for constriction. Find the right balance between dressy and casual so you can be ready for any meeting or event from morning to night. I like the idea and the fact that I can wear the same outfit to drop off my kids at school in the morning, attend a midday meeting and later on an impromptu cocktail party if the occasion arises.”
1. “A beautiful hat will make a statement but it won’t compensate for lack of personality. We see them everywhere, a lot of brands have added them to their collections, but don’t believe a hat will magically make you look cool, confident, elegant, special. You need to work on these qualities first and then acquire the right hat for you (and for the season!), or you may well run the risk of looking like you’re just wearing a costume. Knowledge of self is always what we are coming back to.”