In a crazed Hollywood world, sometimes fashion sense comes before talent.
Samuel L. Jackson has both. And unbeknownst to most, he doesn’t have a stylist.
At Beverly Hills’ recent Fashion’s Night Out, Jackson sat down with entertainment reporter and fashionista, Steven Cojocaru (known as Cojo) at Giorgio Armani’s tony Beverly Hills salon on famed Rodeo Drive.
The actor is an Armani natural, having walked the carpet with the designer’s decadent duds at various award shows. In fact, some of those outfits were displayed this evening. Cojo described Jackson as a combination of James Bond, Cary Grant and Jimi Hendrix. With his signature trademark Kangol cap, Jackson was a cool dude on this fashion night. The cap was called the Spitfire because of the band around the rim.
“My grandfather, a custodian, wore a lot of hats,” Jackson said. “He worked in a hat store and they gave him the hats when they became out of style.”
Jackson and I were in the same place at the same time years ago on the Pebble Beach Golf Course, both taking lessons. It was surreal for me. I never would have experienced my first lesson if I wasn’t on a press trip. Jackson’s wife, LaTanya, gifted him with private lessons. He kept up his game and became quite the competitive player. When I reminded him of our meeting at the golf course those years ago, he joked, “how am I doing?” referring to his golf game.
He even looked dapper then. Some people are just born with it.
But he hasn’t forgotten his roots.
“When I was a struggling actor in New York, I walked down the east side and aspired to look good,” Jackson told the crowd. “I admired the actors of the thirties and forties in the black and white films – Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper.
“When I was younger, unbeknownst to me, my mom worked at a clothing store. She went to fashion shows with the owners and came home with fabric. She made our clothes, and I was pretty much ashamed about what I was wearing until I found out where the fabric came from and realized I was wearing what was to be a trend the following year.”
Jackson says he loves looking at “look” books and finding something that’s not yet in the stores. His first question for the designer is normally, “How can I get this?”
He made his first Armani purchase, a cashmere jacket, while working in Canada with a lucrative per diem. He met the designer while filming Shaft, and his fashion life as he knew it changed.
Unlike other fashion mavens, the actor does not dress for the current trend; he dresses for his own sense of style and what is age appropriate. He thinks a man should have a good black suit and a good grey suit to get by.
The actor always felt that the red carpet was for women. He wanted to make a change and wanted the audience at home to see men enjoying themselves while at the same time looking fashionable.
“I’ve been fortunate to wear a lot of Armani clothes,” he said. “When it comes to a formal affair, I want to look different from the other penguins. I’ll ask Armani to add a bit of brocade or splash of color to my suit. He made me a purple velvet suit once that’s now a staple of Armani’s permanent collection.”
If only his grandpa could see him now!
Sue Facter writes about all things A-list. Her credits include USA Today, People, Los Angeles Times and TV Guide.