After the concluding episode of the dark, sexy and lavishly shot thriller The Night Manager it seemed that Tom Hiddleston could do no wrong. He was the favourite to replace the increasingly ungrateful Daniel Craig as 007 and one would imagine casting agents were forming an orderly queue to offer him roles in the mould of the inscrutable Mr Pine.
Then the fashion industry decided to take Hiddleston in hand. The disastrous liaison with Taylor Swift was forged at Anna Wintour’s Met Gala ball in New York and reached a conclusion with the unedifying sight of Hiddleton frolicking in a swimming pool with Taylor Swift’s gang of fame-hungry girlfriends.
It was perhaps unkind of the press to speculate that Taylor and Tom – the risibly nicknamed HiddleSwift – were courting publicity rather than each other. True or not, making such a public spectacle of themselves didn’t suggest that they were love’s young dream. Nor did the o’er hasty end of the affair. I suspect Taylor Swift is a praying mantis who needs adoring males to keep her Instagram following happy.
Now, Tom Hiddleston could have cleaned-up in the public sympathy stakes as have all of Taylor Swift’s previous beaux. But the fashion industry worked its black magic once again and made the poor chap a laughing stock. First we had the Gucci Cruise collection advertisements featuring Tom posed like a Boucher courtesan on a divan wearing white socks while petting an Afghan hound.
But I bet Barbara Broccoli choked on her Pina Colada when she saw Hiddleston in the latest issue of Interview magazine styled like a Tom of Finland leather boy. Like all the gays, I wouldn’t say no to Tom Hiddleston in a black leather biker jacket and spray-on black leather jeans. But the dodgy black leather mac was rather Herr Flick for my liking and the trousers zipped from knee to ankle and peaked leather cap were a kink too far.
Personally I think a bisexual James Bond would be rather a thrill. Daniel Craig flirted with the idea in Skyfall. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Daniel Craig didn’t suppress his boredom with the role of Mr Bond and accept a multi-million dollar deal to shoot two further pictures. Hiddleston might be wise to stop taking the fashion dollar and rediscover his dignity.
The Interview interview conducted with Hiddleston’s friend Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t shine a complimentary light on either of them. Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner could print the entire transcript and find a zinger in every line. It was journalism’s answer to mutual masturbation; a luvvie love-in that might have Hollywood thinking Benedict and Tom would be a shoo-in for a remake of Some Like It Hot.
Still, perhaps Tom Hiddleston’s passion for fashion might be a symptom of a much larger trend. Fashion historian will look back on the current era as a second Peacock Revolution in men’s style. We haven’t seen men as flamboyantly dressed since the first Peacock Revolution in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
My favourite subculture is the baby dandy hipsters with their facial topiary, top knots, tailored jackets, spray-on trews with mid-calf turn-ups, coloured socks and Grenson brogues. I love their dandy pocket squares, their tortoiseshell face furniture and even their tattoos. Can’t quite get my head around those ear ‘plugs’ that stretch the lobes out like Zulu warriors but I do love their traveller tribal bracelets.
When I was a fashion student back in the day flamboyant men’s dress was only worn by an elite few. I recall going for cocktails with my Financial Times fashion editor Holly Finn at The Ritz and a men’s style pundit Nick Foulkes writing-up in his column the strange phenomenon of a young man who wore loafers without socks. Today you can’t walk down a London street without seeing a man clacking round sockless in loafers, espadrilles or – God forbid – flip-flops.
Nowadays everyone – and I mean everyone from spotty teenagers to octogenarian hip granddads – wear dark glasses whether there is sun over London or not. As for the aforementioned tattoos, when I was a kid growing-up in Sheffield the only men who were tattooed worked in garages or performed in circus tents. Tattoos are now the rule rather than the exception even though I have yet to be inked.
I have to say I approve of the democratisation of men’s style. As the late, great US Vogue editor Diana Vreeland always said, she didn’t object to good taste or bad taste. It was no taste that caused her offence. One of the reasons I love living in London is the daily passing show of men’s style. I love to see how guys today are styling it up regardless of age.
That said, I am rather concerned by the trend for older men to dress like Kevin the Teenager. Can’t tell you the number of very old men I come across in the British Museum who bash you with their rucksacks, tread on your toes in their horrible trainers and make your eyes water by wearing inappropriately short shorts. I am of course a hypocrite because I love to see the fit gays in their summer uniform of tight white T-shirt, short shorts, baseball caps and Converse trainers.
Fashion in 2016 is fascinating because men have by and large turned their backs on the catwalk shows and are inspired instead by street style as worn by their peer groups. I’ve often said that my wardrobe these days is all about Savile Row, Uniqlo and a bit of army surplus. In this climate of ‘anything goes’, I think we’re reaching a new high water mark in men’s style.