Luke Edward Hall, My Style Icon, On How He Gets Dressed

Edith Young photographs Luke Edward Hall in New York City

I happened upon Luke Edward Hall’s work in the few days before I started working at Man Repeller. The first thing I noticed was that he was my favorite kind of person to read about online — one in a handful of enigmatic characters who embrace being multi-disciplinary for a living, transitioning with ease between illustrating, editioning series of prints, art directing short films, designing wine labels, producing star-studded and Greek key-laden pillows, and collaborating on slippers with Stubbs and Wootton and long-sleeve rugbies with Rowing Blazers. The second thing I noticed were his clothes.

I had never seen someone who embodied my ideal style, or how my best self would dress, until an algorithm introduced me to Luke. I had already been making my favorite Midtown-centric joke for a while — that I aspired to look like a cross between the Polo Bar and Dylan’s Candy Bar — but here was a person who had really mastered it. Somewhere over in the United Kingdom, he married antiquities and traditional British tropes with modernity’s palette of Jolly Ranchers and Sour Punch Straws, and synthesized these opposite poles of art school and boarding school into one composition, conjuring a sartorial equivalent of the very English, very pastel dessert, Eton Mess.

Houndstooth! Corduroy! Tartan pants the color of orange soda! A heavy shearling jacket with olive green slacks and pink socks! To see someone realize the vague contours of what I hoped a wardrobe could generate was a total delight, maybe even a watershed moment. Witnessing his sense for clothes gave me permission to color-block like my favorite Hans Hoffmann painting. When I learned Luke would be in New York for a brief spell this summer, I eagerly asked if we could get a glance at how his decorated surroundings inform his process of getting dressed. To my delight, he agreed. The resulting photos I took with him feature three outfits, loosely in conversation with a few quiet spots in Greenwich Village that could almost convince you that they are somewhere far, far away. 

For the uninitiated entering the world of Luke Edward Hall, his web presence is the easiest place to start. While my default reaction to a perfectly manicured Instagram feed is suspicion, Luke’s only vibrates with a contagious curiosity for discovering new things and most admirably, an enthusiasm for sharing them with others, rather than staking some kind of territorial claim in this strange microclimate of internet aesthetics. He often shares what he’s reading in his Stories as well, which made me wonder about how his voracious appetite for reading might find a place in his work. When I asked him about his process of getting dressed, it was one of the first things I was curious about.

I’ve just finished Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You and André Aciman’s Enigma Variations and I’m about to begin Christopher Isherwood’s Christopher and His Kind,” he told me. “Novels absolutely inspire my work… I love how words can often conjure up a mood so brilliantly and with my work, I’m often responding to things I’ve read, music I’ve listened to, places I’ve visited… For example, I recently worked on a capsule menswear collaboration with the New York-based brand Rowing Blazers and I shot the lookbook with my photographer friend in the gardens of a country house in Hampstead, North London. All the time in my head I was thinking about the opening of a favorite book, Vita Sackville-West’s The Edwardians and I suppose for the duration of the shoot the model we were photographing became for me the main character in that book.”

Gliding seamlessly between 2D and 3D seems to come naturally to Luke in all sorts of situations: sometimes oscillating between drawing portraits on paper to hand-painting ceramics, other times between dressing in gold lurex sweater-vests and installing walls full of tinsel curtains.

“For me, color…really is the beating heart of everything that I do,” he said. “When I get dressed, I’m always thinking about color first and what colors go together nicely. It’s exactly the same when I’m painting a vase or decorating a room. I love playing with color-ways and putting together unexpected combinations. I enjoy quite classic materials both in terms of what I wear (tweed jackets, wool jumpers, leather shoes) and in interiors (velvets, linens, cane, rattan) but combined with pattern and injections of bright color. I love the contrast. A battered old black and white houndstooth blazer, say, with a fuchsia jumper. Or glossy chocolate brown walls and a lime green sofa…”

Some people have Coco Chanel, some have Tracee Ellis Ross, some have Iris Apfel and some have Jackie Kennedy, but I had found my style icon in the most unlikely place: a man around my age, somewhere across the pond.

Photographed by Edith Young. 

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