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The Rock Stars’ Guide to SXSW Style

  • Najib Benouar


You may have heard: a little music festival by the name of South by Southwest is happening in Austin, Texas, this week.

Over the past couple of decades, the annual gathering has brought together a motley crew of stylish musicians—spanning the eras of grunge to rap to whatever it is we’re calling that thing where a skinny guy playing a tambourine wears a trilby and suspenders with a white T-shirt—so we thought we’d take a look back at the festival’s illustrious history of onstage fashion.

Consider it the rock stars’ guide to SXSW style...»

Icon: Chet Baker

  • Najib Benouar

SR4569876 Or.ChetMilan Bo

People tend to forget that well into the ’50s and ’60s, before rock and roll really took hold, jazz musicians were still the epitome of subculture cool—and they’d gotten even cooler since the raucous ’20s of ragtime in speakeasies.

So when Charlie Parker hit the West Coast for a string of gigs in 1951 and chose an up-and-comer by the name of Chet Baker to play with him, a new subculture star was born. He may never get the biopic treatment like Ray or Cash, but his story runs about the same—just swap in a trumpet and Baker’s magnificent head of hair.

Chet spent his formative years in the Army and was still sporting the preppy civilian style he’d picked up on base during his rise to stardom. And you can see documents of the style continue in his wardrobe as his life visibly unraveled—succumbing to the same vices that plagued most of the greats at the time (which, sadly, he would never fully get over). He was a jazz legend, a stylish dude and an all-around badass...

And here’s a look at his style evolution in these five iconic pictures.»

News Flash: Huey Lewis Still F**king Rocks

Huey Lewis

It was with great pleasure that we were able to witness a bona fide Kempt style icon on stage last weekend. Yes, Huey Lewis, who delivered his famous brand of News, on the 30th-anniversary tour of his seminal album, Sports.

(The weather, by the way, was fantastically humid.)

Looking very much his handsome self performing for a black-tie benefit at the Saint Louis Zoo of all places, Lewis and the News brought it hard, with what could only be called a barrage of certified hits, those songs that everyone knows as soon as the first chord drops. “I Want a New Drug,” “If This Is It,” “Heart and Soul,” the list went on. A little “Power of Love” here. Some “Stuck with You” there. Sadly, Gwyneth couldn’t make it for a “Cruisin’” reprise.

After the jump: razor-like musical chops, perfect harmonies and a lot of good old-fashioned goddamned charisma of the highest order...»

And the Menswear Grammy Goes to... Billy Reid

  • Najib Benouar


The red carpet at a music awards show is often host to the most egregious of questionable fashion choices—mostly because musicians have never been ones to shy from experimentation or making statements.

Which is why we were happy to learn that a few prudent musicians chose to wear Billy Reid—it paid off especially for the Mumford boys as they collected the big award of the night, looking like the sort of guys you’d want to hear crooning with banjos despite their British accents. The other group that wore Billy’s stuff was equally well suited for the task, being fellow Southern natives, the Alabama Shakes. Even their songstress, Brittany Howard, wore a custom-made dress from Reid—lest you forget the man has mastered both sides of the aisle.

Or that Billy Reid has just as keen a taste in music as he does in style. A few more shots of musicians sporting his looks after the jump.»

Paz de la Huerta Is Communing with Nature

  • Kempt Staff

via Selectism

RIP: Musical legend Ravi Shankar died today, leaving an obit to be jealous of. We spent the afternoon mournfully strumming a sitar in tribute. [NY Times]

Not Down: For the feather-averse, Well Spent rounds up the five best non-down insulated jackets on the market. [Well Spent]

Freeeedom!: New York’s Freedom Tower got the first piece of its spire today—making for some spectacular, vertigo-inducing photos. [BuzzFeed]

Dodging the Fuzz: A step-by-step guide to the art of sweater maintenance. Time to get out your sweater stone and start de-fuzzing those pilings. [Valet]

The Accidental Icon: Neil Young

There’s a fine sartorial line between Neil Young and, say, Uncle Jesse from The Dukes of Hazzard. Both subscribe to function over form. Rather than laying out tomorrow’s clothes the night before, more often than not they simply wear last night’s clothes tomorrow. If they own mirrors, they’re of the rear-view variety. Neither is particularly attractive, yet both are widely beloved.

Unfortunately, though, not everyone can be deemed a Kempt icon...»

Icon: Curtis Mayfield

  • Najib Benouar

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of the Civil Rights Movement, it was the age of funkiness, it was... the ’60s and ’70s.

And no one made that transition look (or sound) better than Curtis Mayfield. He lent a soundtrack to Martin Luther King Jr.’s message in the ’60s, and he lent a soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly in the ’70s, injecting some much-needed social consciousness into a wayward genre while also shaping a sound still found in rhythm and blues today. (A young Kanye West built his early career on sampling his Chicagoan forefather.) And all along the way, Curtis managed to match his musical creativity with equal measures of sartorial flamboyance—from gray flannel suits to bow ties to funkadelic leisurewear.

Honoring the legacy of The Gentle Genius in six iconic snapshots.»

Icon: Scott Walker (the Musician)

  • Najib Benouar

With all the mudslinging happening in Wisconsin this week, we couldn’t help but think of all the other Scott Walkers out there in the world. Their name being cursed by thousands if not millions of Americans, through no fault of their own.

And one especially stylish and enigmatic Scott Walker came to mind: the Ohioan-turned-Brit singer, bass player and songwriter who was on track to be a superstar before leaving it all behind in the ’60s.

He made waves overseas with his band, the Walker Brothers, and later on, as a solo act, gaining notoriety from the likes of David Bowie just before disappearing entirely from the spotlight. Before walking away, he spent a few dapper years in the limelight. There were scarves indoors, corduroy blazers and almost always a pair of sunglasses. It’s the stuff ’60s rock star legends are made of.

You’ve just been booked on a five-stop tour of Scott Walker’s iconic style.»

An Interactive Guide to Funk

A good funk drumbeat is a thing of beauty. The thump of the kick, the shiver of the hi-hat—but without the right ears, you might never be able to figure out what the drummer’s actually doing back there.

That’s where the Funklet comes in. It’s an interactive guide to those mysterious beats, courtesy of a lifelong funk aficionado and some clever Web work. So if you want to break down a classic funk beat—say, the powerful break from Bill Withers’s “Use Me”—the Funklet can show you the exact notation along with an interactive play-through tool that lets you speed it up and isolate the channels, along with a few other toys.

For the rhythmically inclined, it’s a pretty cool way to while away a Thursday afternoon. And for everyone else...there’s still time to learn.