The very amiable, courteous James Aguiar has been one of the subjects that I’d been meaning to feature on theCHIC INDEX. As long as I’ve observed him—and it’s been a while—he has demonstrated a chic quotient, fluency of style and polish with such consistency and aplomb, all uniquely his own.
There is about James, the suavity, urbanity, cosmopolitanism and café society aura reminiscence of the likes of Bobby Short, Nat King Cole, Noel Coward, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Bryan Ferry, say. It isn’t just the clothes then, but also about a certain geniality of disposition and the artistic temperament that informs the wearing of clothes wisely, wittily and winningly. This in effect frames Mr. Aguiar’s sartorial suavity.
His gift for colors, as bold and as subtle, is just superb; he is equally at home with patterns, textures, cuts, embellishments, unusual combines, and particular novelties as is evident with his opening self-embellished suit, in Act I of this survey.
I’d gone to Park Slope, the Brooklyn neighborhood where he happily resides. As I emerged from the cab, James waited. A quick scan of the ordinarily sleepy block or neighborhood gave me absolutely no clue what to expect. The modest facade of his building gave nothing away either.
As soon as James led me upstairs to his apartment, I was immeasurably delighted with his house beautiful; a thorough extension—one supposes—of his sartorial eloquence. Mr. Aguiar’s home could just as easily been clipped from World of Interiors magazine, yet one can see that he didn’t nor needn’t hire an interior designer in order to achieve desired effect—and what beautiful, warm interior at that.
So gem-like, his home that I soon forgot the uninspiring, dull exteriority that characterizes the neighborhood or block. His book collection is excellent, a treasure to behold; the furniture, smart; and the brilliant colors of his living room so exuberant, optimistic, rich, warm and voluptuous. Moreover, the marvelous conceit of Mr. Aguiar’s modest neighborhood in contrast to the sophistication of his interior home vividly reminds me of the fictional, anti-hero character, Des Esseintes, in a 1884 novel by J. K. Huysmans. Des Esseintes’ character, mostly modeled after the notorious aristocratic aesthete, Robert de Montesquiou, decides to leave Paris for far less glitzy locale, near and far enough to the city and as a mode of reverse snobbery. Yet, the interiority of Des Esseintes home in this relatively Paris suburb is the stuff of legend and magnificence.
Born in New Bedford Massachusetts, raised in Brookfield Connecticut, Mr. James Aguiar is of Portuguese ancestry. As long as he can remember, he’s always been fascinated with fashion and used to horde Vogue, Bazaars and GQ magazines as a young boy. Adding, “I would clip great fashion shoots and always saved the Virginia Slims ads because they listed the designers and the models!!!”
Continuing, “I graduated high school and worked in a factory to save enough money to move to NYC…which was about $600.00. My first job was as a busboy at the Palladium. First celebrity I ever saw was Andy Warhol, …thought I had arrived as I swept up cigarette butts on the floor!!! I worked odd jobs in fashion and freelanced as a stylist for Macys windows…doing the mannequins’ wigs…Got hired at Bergdorfs as a staff visual person worked my way up to Fashion Director.
James left Bergdorfs to become creative Director at Nina Ricci and lived in Paris. Upon his return from Paris, he worked in television as a fashion host for ten years. His countless television appearances include “The View ABC”, “The City MTC”, “Chelsea Lately E!”, “The Fashion Show BRAVO”. He also hosted “Full Frontal Fashion.”
Presently, in 2012, he took the role of National Fashion Director for Modern Luxury.
Thus, luxuriate then in a fourteen-part sartorial survey and urbanity of Mr. James Aguiar!
Iké Udé /November 11th.
interviews/photographs: iké udé
Fashion Director Modern Luxury
Brooklyn, NY and Kingston, NY
Favorite Fashion Designer:
Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Alber Elbaz, Paul Smith
Favorite Shoe/Accessories Designers:
Te’ Verde by L’Erbolario and Etro Royal Pavilion because my partner wears it
Favorite Stylish Films:
Eyes Of Laura Mars, Unzipped, Auntie Mame and Qui etes-vous, Polly Magoo
My house upstate
Paris, London, and any beach
Anything that burns
Who is your style icon?
Tom Ford, Leigh Bowery and Don Draper
What item of clothing would you rather starve for?
What is your overall impression of how people dress in general?
People in general have become more timid and afraid to have fun and experiment. I will always gravitate to the daring soul, the free spirit and the ones that turn our heads. There is far too much criticism and not enough celebration of the unique, brave and individual!
And what do you recommend that they do otherwise?
Just have fun, relax and stop worrying about what others think!
PICTURE: #1 IN FOURTEEN ACTS
SPECIAL GUEST INTERVIEW:
JAMES AGUIAR TALKS ABOUT HIS 1st OUTFIT
What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
An inexpensive white suit and a gazillion googly eyes
How did you find the various items that you are wearing?
The suit came from H&M and the googly eyes are purchased in bulk online from Oriental Trading and a lot of glue!
How did you arrive at the decision to compose such an outfit?
I needed to be alive and vibrant and ridiculous and hilarious. I wore this to host two high profile fashion events for Village Care and Bergdorf Goodman!
Where do you normally shop for clothes and accessories?
I love Paul Smith and Etro but am equally at home in H&M or the flea market.
How much role does money or the lack thereof play in one’s endeavor to dress very smart or beautifully?
Money may allow you more access but it doesn’t give you style. True style comes from an innate sense of ones self. It can’t be taught and it certainly can’t be bought.
What special recommendation would you give somebody who admires your style but don’t know where or how to start?
I’m not sure anyone admires my style, but if they did I would say find your own style this one’s taken!
Name six famous personages—past or present—who you would invite over for dinner/drinks because of their impeccable individualistic elegance?
Tom Ford, Leigh Bowery, Isabella Blow, Tony Duquette, Marchessa Casati, and Linda Fargo
As a result of your style, what is your impression of how you are generally perceived in public?
I’m not sure how I am perceived in public; I do know a lot of people comment on my shoes!
And how would rather the public perceive you?
I’m not worried how I am perceived!
Presently, what do you think accounts for the poor appearances in how people generally dress or don’t dress?
Convenience and comfort is the enemy!
In retrospect have you ever worn something that you now find particularly regrettable?
Probably what I am wearing right now!
In the end, do you dress to: (a.) please others, (b.) please yourself or (c.) hopefully be in agreement with everybody?