Over the past year we have been introduced to many amazing people in the virtual world of blogs and social networking. With this post we continue a regular series of profiles of New School Dandies. Up next, actor/student Raymond Chu, with photos by Rose Callahan.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Nassau County (Port Washington and Manhasset), Long Island, NY.
I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 7th grade, and then moved to Manhasset, where I attended public school, and rebelled against all of the prep going on there. I find it interesting that I go back to oxford shirts and ties now, when I hated everyone who wore that sort of stuff when I lived in Ralphlaurensville. I wore Quiksilver, skateboarding clothes, hoodies, Pumas, Adidas.
When I was 14, I moved to Taipei, Taiwan, where my style solidified itself. When I was in Taiwan, I was also in another sort of cultural identity crisis, and was trying to keep my American identity, and romanced old American films, and dressed as American as I could to offset the Taiwanese/Japanese trends there.
Where do you live now? For the last three years I’ve lived in the East Village, NY, with some time spent abroad in Shanghai.
Where did you go to school? I am actually still in school. I’m a junior year drama major at NYU.
What’s your occupation? I suppose I can only say I am a student of theater right now. I spent some time last year as a sales rep at the Ralph Lauren Mansion and at Rugby Ralph Lauren, and before that spent two summers as an intern for my uncle, David Chu, who is famous for being the founder of Nautica.
When did you establish your personal style? Was there a pivotal moment? How has it changed? My personal style came about when I rented Raiders of the Lost Ark on Netflix when I was 14. I loved Indiana Jones’ style, fixated on the hat. I spent the next few months sourcing the hat, starting with the crappy wool felt ones on eBay and eventually finding forums that lead me to good quality fur felt fedoras. This lead me to further interest in hats, and then researching all sorts of films from the 1930s and 1940s that inspired Indiana Jones. I watched a ton of Bogart movies, Fred Astaire movies, Cary Grant movies, James Cagney movies…anything I could get my hands on really. I wanted to be one of those men. These days, I’m a little more interested in dressing my age rather than dressing to look like an older man. Being an actor, I am looking at inspiration from younger actors, and trying to bring young feeling clothes into my wardrobe. Stuff that maybe James Dean would’ve worn.
How would you describe your style? My style is, at the moment, a roguish collegiate young man who is struggling with being a boy and being a man. Getting dressed in the morning is about preparing for anything, being versatile and utilitarian, but being presentable. I prefer not to have my clothes speak for me, anymore. Mostly, I dress for the weather.
What are your sources of inspiration? Mostly pictures of old and dead actors that I admire, old Esquire and Apparel Arts illustrations, my time at David Chu Design, Ralph Lauren, and my mother.
Who is your style icon? I really don’t have just one….it’s really a mixture of who I want to emulate at the moment. I like Tony Leung in In the Mood for Love and 2046.Some days, I want to be Cary Grant. Other days, I want to be Humphrey Bogart. Certain days, I want to be James Dean in his portraits in New York City. When it’s sunny, maybe, I want to be more dandyish like Fred Astaire. If I want to be ready for a rough and tumble day, Indiana Jones.
What are your preferred dandy reading materials? The J.C. Leyendecker coffee table book.
What is your favorite personal item (non-clothing/accessories)? A pack of Lucky Strikes and my black crackle WWII lighter.
Where is your favorite or dream vacation spot? Hong Kong.
Tell us the best kept secret in your city. A little Japanese-owned French café on 13th St. between University and 5th Ave. There’s a big tree outside the window on the second floor, with enough sanded wood tables for a handful of people. It’s a great place to talk over a bowl of coffee with a croissant.
At which establishments would you consider yourself a regular? Netflix and my living room couch.
What would you be doing ten years from now? A professional actor, doing a film for Ang Lee or Wong Kar-Wai.
What is your current obsession? The perfect gray sweatshirt and Levi’s 501 shrink to fits.
Currently inspired by? James Dean on "doing" instead of "acting", Leonardo DiCaprio's furrowed brow, and Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver.
Currently annoyed with? Too many things, but I don’t like dwelling on what annoys me. Instead, I try to focus on trying to solve those problems.
What else do you want to tell us? Stop reading this, and go outside and enjoy the springtime. It’s raining outside now…even still. Put on your trench coat and take a walk. Look up and admire a building.