From our friend Ray Frensham, his second annual list of stylish men, part one:
A little belatedly perhaps (explained in Part 2), I decided to follow-up my 15 Most Dapper Men of 2010 post with a Review of 2011.This time I decided to throw the spotlight on my Stylish Men of the Year - outstanding people who (in my opinion) had ‘rocked my sartorial world’ during the past year. Any honours and plaudits come to me, any criticisms... it’s all Matt’s fault.
It’s in two parts: this one focussing on the USA and UK; the next part looking at Europe and more, together with my predictions for the Next Big Thing style-wise for 2012. So here goes.Man of the Year – USA: Darren Criss
So there we all were, watching Glee and suddenly these Preppy Dreamboys come onto the screen with dreamy looks, a great voice and a stunning accapella version of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, and we are all asking: who IS this guy? This guy was Darren Criss.
Seems he’d auditioned three times for Glee without much success, so he went back to San Fran and worked on his fun-musical send-up of Harry Potter (see it on YouTube). Maybe they were holding out on him for something special...
And then came Teenage Dream and the whole world changed – his and ours. The rest is history: weekly performances, solo and with other cast members and almost taking over the show!, the Warblers album, awards and huge worldwide fanbase, now Broadway.
He’s handsome, stylish, got a great voice, dances, writes his own songs..... makes ya sick, don’t it!? (I once had a waist like that!). There’s even a fansite called Blaine’s Bow Ties.
Betcha don’t know this fact: although the musical tracks for the (visual) Warblers are performed by the Tufts University Beelzebubs (check ‘em out on youtube, especially their version of Alison or visit www.bubs.com) the Visual Warblers actually do all the backing and support vocals for the rest of the cast songs in Glee.
Ask Darren what the attraction is, and he’ll say “it’s the blazers”. We say “it’s a little bit more than that, hun”. It’s called talent.
I’ve pestered Matt to get Darren to be Fine & Dandy’s model for their next LookBook (now that he's is in NYC for the Broadway show How To Succeed In Business...). (Just keep that unruly curly hair heavily pomaded down and looking straight’n’shiny). Let’s hope he reads this and says “yes”.
Man of the Year – UK: Gareth Malone.
How can I explain to the non-believer the phenomenon that is Gareth Malone?
He’s a choral music teacher that goes round the UK forming community choirs from the most unlikely resources, like deprived housing complexes. But this year, and his recent TV series The Choir: Military Wives he’s hit the jackpot. He has now become the musical equivalent of David Attenborough – how can anyone NOT like him? Here’s how it went:
He first visited a military base and turned the wives – ‘holding the fort’ while their husbands were in Afghanistan – into a choir. Then the wives at a nearby military base wanted to form a choir too. So he did that.
Next he merged both choirs and they performed at Sandhurst Military Academy. Then he had the idea of the wives writing their own song, using lyrics extracted from their love letters to their fighting husbands. Composer Paul Mealor (William and Katherine’s chosen composer for their Royal Wedding) was brought in to add a melody and shape it into a song, “Wherever You Are”. They then performed the completed song at London’s Royal Albert Hall at the annual Festival of Remembrance (in November) – it’s out own version of Veteran’s Day.
That was the turning point. The public were clamouring for the song to be recorded. When the single was finally released, a couple of weeks ago, it was the fastest selling single in a decade, trouncing the usual Simon Cowell upstarts and became the Christmas number 1 in the UK singles chart....and all the proceeds go to various charities for returning Service Personnel and their Families.
OK, so it may not be the most perfect choir you’ve ever heard, but there are moments in the ensemble singing which are, quite simply, sublime. The recording has touched a nerve in this country and it’s tears all round.
And it’s all down to Gareth Malone. He’s as cute as a button, he’s straight (married with a young child), is a gay icon (and totally cool about it) and he Really Rocks the bowtie-and-jeans look.....AND he’s still only twelve years old [OK, I made that last bit up].
Drakes (the upmarket London tie-makers) showed me the bespoke bow tie they are making for him – a rather dull plain tweed if you ask me...but I won’t hold that against him. Gareth Malone has shown us how one person can touch on so many other peoples’ lives, make a difference and be a force for good. (Not wishing to get too Kapra-esque about it, he embodies the spirit of Christmas).
I predict he will be given an award in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours list, mid-2012. Arise, Sir Gareth!
That’s more than enough for now. Part Two follows tomorrow.