When we met years ago, the very first thing that impressed and intrigued me about Robert, was his surname, Verdi. Together with his first name, you have, Robert Verdi that in turn inescapably evokes Guiseppe Verdi, the Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. As such, it is absolutely a great name to live up to, at any rate. Somehow or the other Robert has—intentionally or not—aspired to live up to the Verdi part of the equation—and perhaps not necessarily in comparison to the composer’s massive genius.
I’ve known Robert for more than a decade and counting. All this time, there’s never been a dull moment in his sartorial virtuosity. His sheer gift for unexpected color combination, mix of patterns, employment of cuts, triumphant reconciliation of seemingly disparate styles and the effortless aplomb with which he carries it all off is nothing less than an unalloyed virtuosity in sartorialism.
Iconic personages like Yul Brynner, Michael Jordan, Isaac Hayes boast such perfectly shaped hairless heads. To this blessed few belongs Robert Verdi as well. But not content with a perfectly formed head, Verdi devised to up the ante by artfully employing his various distinct glasses that concurrently serve as post-hairline, post-wig and post-modern coif of sorts. And the thing is that—this sunglasses intervention works so effortlessly and beautifully that one is loath to imagine him with common, natural hair. If necessity is mother of invention, Mr. Verdi’s ingenious feat of post-hair has become his iconic visage. A toast to that!
Robert Verdi is a first generation American, raised by a Portuguese mother and French father. He recalled, “Quality was the message of importance from my parents. Whatever you got involved in life had to have high quality. Fashion was an escape for me as a kid, I wasn’t a great student, I wasn’t an athlete, but I found a way to express myself, even create myself through the use of clothing. Luckily for me it turned out to be an inroad to everything in life that I am passionate about —fashion, art, design, and creative imagery.”
Robert continues, “I’ve always dressed eclectically and often times I dress in themes. I wouldn’t just put on a sailor shirt without going over the top and putting on sailor pants and a sailor’s hat and probably getting a boat. I like the relationship that fashion has to everything happening around the person wearing the clothes. So my personal style often times has to do with where I am going to be.” For example, “I have very specific ideas about how I want to look like in a hotel lobby, standing on the beach, walking down the street, sitting at the opera, lounging around my home.”
Known for his love of pattern, color, and sparkle, Robert Verdi is presently charting, with a gauged delicacy of deliberation, a sartorial austerity in clothing and has, in his words, “embraced articulate, well-cut and often futuristic pieces.”
Beyond sartorial matters, he is as fluent with interior design/decoration. As such, he “loves the relationship that clothes have with interiors.” And “I appreciates the tension between an environment and an outfit. I think that dressing up goes way beyond the clothes, and is about how the clothes are reflected in the environment you’re in.” Some of his notable clients include Eva Longoria, Kathy Griffin, Kristen Wiig, Hugh Jackman, Joy Behar, Sandra Bernhard, Ana Ortiz.
He had an eponymous television show, The Robert Verdi Show, starring Mr. Verdi, himself and plans to return again with his television channel. A trained goldsmith, he is presently in the process of rediscovery and revisiting his talent for jewelry design. And plans to naturally launch a line of—guess what—sunglasses, while steadily working on a book all the while.
And how does the multi-talented Mr. Verdi ever divorce, even briefly, from work? Well, he allowed that he enjoys traveling to such places as India, Peru, and Anguilla. In Eckhart Tolle he finds spiritual nourishment. And for intellectual stimulation he ravishes with savor everything written by Malcolm Gladwell, the renowned author of “Tipping Point”, “Blink” and other books. He is also becoming a serious art collector. Behind him, in this portrait, is an edition picture, by photographer, Andrew Moore that captures the pleasing decay of a once majestic “Palace Theater, Gary Indiana, from the series, Detroit, 2008.”
Albeit, Mr. Verdi fancies himself an impresario, he is essentially a protean artist equally fluent in all of his various practices held perfectly together with an amazing Technicolor thread!
I’d written in my collected aphorisms, “Do not dress to expectations; do not seek approval—only obey the mirror.” This is especially true for Robert Verdi. Witness his sartorial audacity and verve in the next THIRTEEN days!
Iké Udé /February 9th
interviews/photographs: iké udé
Earth (most of the time)
The rainbow (I don’t discriminate)
Favorite Fashion Designer:
Currently, they are:
Kris van Assche
Viktor & Rolf
Favorite Shoe/Accessories Designer:
Geranium pour Monsieur from Frédéric Malle
Favorite Stylish Film:
Any movie that uses fashion to inspire us, including: To Catch a Thief, Funny Face, Annie hall, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, House Boat
The Louvre, Greenmarket Union Square, my bathtub.
Who is your style icon?
It’s a tie between Pee-wee Herman and Halston
What item of clothing would you rather starve for?
I am still my birth weight so I don’t need to starve.
What is your overall impression of how people dress in general?
People fundamentally make dreary choices because of comfort and budget restrictions. But in truth there are easy solutions that are economical and that can enable one to still assert his/her individual style.
And what do you recommend that they do otherwise?
Spend more money on alterations, mix in some vintage pieces, accessorize, wear more color, develop a signature element, take risks and try clothes on before you buy them.
PICTURE: #1 IN THIRTEEN ACTS :
SPECIAL GUEST INTERVIEW:
ROBERT VERDI TALKS ABOUT HIS 1st OUTFIT
What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
Tuxedo -Yves Saint Laurent
White shirt – Brooks Brothers
Top hat – Antique Brooks Brothers
Tie – McKenzie Liautaud
Jewelry – Tiffany & Co.
Shoes – Jimmy Choo
Scarf – Burberry
Watch – DIAMOND CHEIKA Piaget
How did you find the various items that you are wearing?
I found them all in my favorite store…my closet. I have been collecting clothes since high school, most of which still fit, although this tuxedo is a recent acquisition. My personal fantasy is to wear tuxedos morning, noon, and night – it would make life so much easier and so much more glamorous.
How did you arrive at the decision to compose such an outfit?
I always think of the balance of elements—in this case all different textures, glittery shoes, and a feathered scarf.
Where do you normally shop for clothes and accessories?
Bergdorf Goodman, Rick Owens, Atelier, LUISAVIAROMA, Ssense, Ina, Housing Works.
How much role does money or the lack thereof play in one’s endeavor to dress very smart or beautifully?
Money isn’t a problem unless you have it. Then you can create anything you want, you’re forced to get creative and make good decisions when you have nothing.
What special recommendation would you give somebody who admires your style but doesn’t know where or how to start?
Commit to an image or idea you have in your mind and then begin to bring it to life piece by piece on your body.
Name six famous personages—past or present—who you would invite over for dinner/drinks because of their impeccable individualistic elegance?
The Duke of Windsor
As a result of your style, what is your impression of how you are generally perceived in public?
I think I am perceived as somebody who cares entirely too much about fashion.
And how would you rather the public perceive you?
Exactly that way
Presently, what do you think accounts for the poor appearances in how people generally dress or don’t dress?
Lack of inspiration
In retrospect have you ever worn something that you now find particularly regrettable?
In the end, do you dress to:
(a.) please others
(b.) please yourself
(c.) hopefully be in agreement with everybody?
The answer is B. Fashion works best when you only try to please yourself!