Alexandra Wood’s best-dressed man for January 2018: Ralph Fiennes
With snowy winter weather comes the desire to plant oneself in front of the television with a cosy blanket and consume endless films. When holiday favourites like the Harry Potter Series, James Bond, Maid in Manhattan and Clash of Titans often on rotation, you are highly likely to watch our January best-dressed man of the month: Ralph Fiennes.
Born in Suffolk England in 1962, he is the eldest of six children, four of whom are also in the arts. A noted Shakespearean actor, Fiennes first appeared onstage at the Royal National Theatre after graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1985.
Following a successful stage career, his film break came when he was cast as Heathcliff in the 1992 adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Only a year later, his stardom was assured when he won an Academy Award for his portrayal of ruthless Nazi concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth in 1993’s Schindler’s List. He has since been nominated for multiple BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actor’s Guild awards.
With such talent, Fiennes has been able to have his pick of film roles, choosing both big-budget parts (Voldemort in Harry Potter, Count Almásy in The English Patient, Mallory in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall) in addition to working on smaller original films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Bigger Splash, The Hurt Locker, Sunshine and The Constant Gardner.
He has continued to work on both stage and screen throughout the entirety of his career, with a particular penchant for Shakespearean plays including Hamlet (for which he won a Tony for his Broadway performance), The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and Richard III. He’s performed at London’s Barbican Centre, The Theatre Royal, Old Vic, National Theatre and the Gielgud Theatre to name just a few. In an interview with The Gentleman’s Journal, he said: “I’ve always tried to find a balance between film work and theatre work. I go to the theatre and when it works it has a magic for me that I very rarely get in a film. It’s the physical, present-tenseness of actors doing it now. They’re there. The air is alive at the moment of performance.”
Not content with acting, Fiennes made his directing debut with an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in 2011, where he also acted in the title role opposite Gerard Butler and Vanessa Redgrave.
He possesses a brooding, intellectual intensity which, according to a number of interviews (in particular Esquire), belies personal anxiety and a contrasting love of “making a tit of himself” on the dancefloor. At a photo shoot for The Gentleman’s Journal, he reportedly switched seamlessly from earnest consideration to playfulness in front of the camera on a whim. This complexity gives him a rich vein to mine for his roles.
Dedicated to his craft, and probably not one to consider himself a sex symbol, he was nonetheless chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history in 1995. The 55-year-old continues to take pride in his lean and handsome physique with regular workouts and yoga sessions.
Ralph Fiennes On Camera Style
Some of Fiennes most notable style moments have occurred on-screen, rather than off. In particular, his role as Gareth Mallory in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall required the creation of a number of quite understated, yet distinctly Savile Row, suits. Made by tailor Timothy Everest, his suits were timeless and classic in a deliberate move to separate him from Daniel Craig’s more fashion-forward James Bond. Blues, greys and navy were core colours to reflect the seriousness of the government official status his character held, enhanced by braces. The tailor provided a subtle mix of styles with double-breasted and single-breasted jackets, and slanted pockets or ticket pockets on occasions. However, the unmistakable ‘Savile Row’ cut of straight shoulders was a constant throughout.
In contrast, his character Harry Hawkes in the 2015 Italian thriller A Bigger Splash was a study in soft, European tailoring. The New York Times reported that the director, Luca Guadiagnino, took great pains to source designer costumes: Fiennes appeared in 1940s-inspired linen shirts custom-made at Charvet, the famed Paris clothing shop; flowing trousers from Milanese tailor M. Bardelli,; and a shirt from Christophe Lemaire, worn partially undone (something Fiennes often does in his own life). In the same New York Times article, the director claimed that the idea was for the “…clothes to be a ‘second skin’ for Mr Fiennes, helping him become someone playful and loose, but also ‘sophisticated and urban’.”
Ralph Fiennes Off Camera Style
His quiet, reserved nature is reflected in a simple wardrobe of shirts, dark jeans and pea coats. Fiennes keeps his look quite simple with minimal accessories. He’s more likely to be seen wearing a scarf around his neck than a formal tie and often keeps the first (and sometimes second) button undone.
His off-duty looks are informal featuring soft shoulders with little interfacing if any. We would call this a light jacket where there is little or no structure. They are ideal for someone who doesn’t like to wear heavy garments and who like less structure in general in their clothing.
These jackets can be made with a buggy lining, which is lined half-way and the seams are overlocked and piping added for a cleaner look. There would be no facing used in the jacket.
They may also be fully lined with a soft shoulder with very light facing at the front of the jacket. Fiennes rents a house in Italy all year round so this may be influencing his choices.
He tends to wear quite dark colours and a lot of blue on blue. You’ll see him wearing sports jackets in non-traditional fabrics. For example, the denim sports jacket he wore at the Venice Film Festival rather than a classic, denim jacket.
On the red carpet, however, his look is quite different featuring darker, richer colours and a classic firm shoulder and curved waisted jacket for shape. A stronger shoulder line and facing show you mean business and is, in my view, ideal for dinner suits as they pack more of a punch. Choosing a ‘weightless’ look with a dinner suit doesn’t have quite this impact, so he opts for a classic black tuxedo.
How I would dress Ralph Fiennes
At a lean 1.8m tall, for me, Fiennes for me has the ideal shape and style for light jackets with a soft shoulder (based on photographs a favourite of his). It would be nice to see him in more colours. Multiple tones of greens would make his beautiful pale blue-green eyes pop and play to his classic English gent looks.
He may also wish to be wary of unbuttoned shirts – if the fabric is too soft and unbuttoned too far the fabric can flop and look messy.
I would suggest he take notes from his James Bond character’s classic suits but modernise and soften them somewhat with a more varied colour palette.
Words by Katrina Strathearn @ Veracity Content