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The Icon: Richard Gere

Richard Gere’s given us a lot over the years—including ringing in last generation’s Italian style revolution. So we thought we’d take a moment to appreciate five high points in the man’s style, from American Gigolo to what might be the preppiest photo we’ve ever seen. Ladies and gentlemen, buckle up.

This is where it started, in 1978’s Days of Heaven, when he was still just intense stares and coiled violence. As it turned out, he was a pretty good actor—and even then, he knew what to do with his hair.

Thirty years down the road, American Gigolo still feels like a turning point. It’s a time capsule of ’80s LA, and a road map for decadent American hideouts everywhere. Oh, and he also managed to put Armani on the map and paved the way for male frontal nudity on the big screen. Fassbender owes him a thank-you note.

Ladies and gentlemen, the preppiest photo on earth, circa 1985.

He also managed to talk his way into some pretty fantastic parties. This one finds him loosening up with Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Spalding Gray and Suzanne Vega. In other words, a historic summit.

And finally, the Clooney period. Gere’s a textbook study in how to go gray without losing your spark. This close-cropped coif is perfect for anyone who’s got more salt than pepper in their mane, and the understated, post-preppy wardrobe is the perfect complement. As he gets older, the outfits get simpler; a pretty smart credo, as it happens.