By Antonio Malara
I never thought that one day I would wear and call "cool" a typical American outfit that I have always hated. The short-sleeved shirt worn like a jacket and open on the t-shirt is for me the absolute "non-style". But never say never and when I saw the first photos of Brad Pitt playing Cliff Booth in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” by Quentin Tarantino, I immediately fell in love with that vintage style. This style is not new, especially in American action movies of the nineties were the norm. Sylvester Stallone in “The Specialist”, Bruce Willis in “Die Hard”, Keanu Reeves in “Speed” just to name a few. Probably young Americans who were insecure in dressing felt "safe" wearing the same outfit as movie characters who played "tough" roles. I don’t know if my theory is correct but for some reasons, even today we see American guys around Europe with this style that I would define obsolete by now.
Brad Pitt's performance was so popular that he was compared to Steve McQueen and called the new "king of cool". For a 55-year-old man, Pitt has an impressive physical shape and beauty plus he plays the role of Cliff Booth with the style and ease of a young man. What I mean is that seeing Booth-Pitt in that physical form was an inspiration to me despite being much younger than him. I don't want to compare myself to him but I look younger than my age and seeing a character of almost sixty do everything a twenty year old can do, struck me a lot. Obviously it’s a cinematic character but we all know that reality often exceeds fantasy and the apotheosis is reached when Cliff passively manages to seduce an under age girl. I liked so much that part and the outfit that Cliff Booth wore in that part of the movie that I wanted to recreate the look. The legendary “Champion” t-shirt that I remember very well when I was little in the eighties, many people wore it and I also remember the models with the small writing on the left side of the t-shirt. Alongside with the super colorful Hawaiian shirt with palm prints and the brown suede ankle boot, they create a funny but effective look. I don't know how to define this post, it's probably a mix of tribute, quote and comedy. I say this but looking at photos of myself with the outfit instinctively makes me laugh, not because I feel funny but because the look and effect is very similar to the original.
To create the outfit I used truly vintage items along with others purchased for the occasion. The shoes are a product of the nineties, I remember that I loved using them a lot with light blue jeans and the white shirt worn out of the pants. Many people complimented me on those shoes and I was so keen that I used them for several years but few times in order to preserve them until I decided not to use them anymore. I bought the t-shirt on Amazon, there are many models recreated on the success of the film, obviously they are not Champion originals. The shirt, on the other hand, is an eBay product, this piece had different variations of background color, they were all nice but I took the yellow which was more similar to that of the movie. Another vintage accessory that unfortunately is rarely seen in the photos is my first watch given to me by my father. It’s a Sector chronograph, it was given to me when I was just ten years old and it was very expensive for the time and above all excessive for a ten year old boy.
To stay on the subject, I also wanted to recreate some of the Cliff Booth poses, this pushes even beyond the quote-tribute-comedy. I'm sure anyone who watches this post will have one of these reactions but what I'd like to know is which of these three reactions will be more popular (hopefully it's not "comedy").
Pictures: Tonino Catalano