In the hills of Los Angeles, two designers inhabit a modern bohemia.
How to look (and feel) the part while attending the Monaco Grand Prix.
THE MONACO GRAND Prix is considered by many to be the most prestigious race in the world. Alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500, it makes up the Triple Crown of Motorsport, an unofficial achievement to drive, nearly impossible to win. (A handful of drivers have completed all three races and won at least one circuit. Only one person, Graham Hill, has won all three, and that was back in the 1960s.)
My first response when asked to cover the race was to feel anxious. I have a long and robust history with motorcycles, specifically as a former builder and club racer, but sometimes this feels like a lifetime ago. And I’m a real newbie to Formula 1. Like so many other Americans, I only recently became a fan as a result of the wildly popular Netflix series “Drive to Survive.” Adding to my anxiety were the sartorial expectations of the event, and whether I could possibly meet them. What was I supposed to wear to the most glamorous motorsports event, which is held in one of the wealthiest places on earth?
American design icon Kelly Wearstler shares her top spots for aesthetic awe.
For context here, although I am a part-time writer, what I am the rest of the time is a dad. This has been the division of labor in my family for the past two years. My workdays mostly consist of waking up and feeding the kids, doing laundry, working out (in the basement), cleaning the house, picking up the kids, feeding the kids again, feeding the cat, getting the kids to bed, and trying to imagine why we still live in New York City. Rinse and repeat. Every day. Forever.
This is not a routine that requires me to think very much about what I wear. So the opportunity to buy clothes for myself, for an event out of my house, in an actual store (something I haven’t done in the past two years), left me disproportionately excited. I told my wife that I felt like a 13-year-old girl winning front-row tickets to a Harry Styles concert. She looked at me, tilted her head a bit, and forced herself to smile. I suddenly worried that I may have become irreparably weird.
I headed to the Todd Snyder store at Madison Park. Todd Snyder has recently come to represent a certain kind of masculine style, its clothes well tailored and rooted in classic cuts and traditional silhouettes. I’m a fan. The store felt warm and curated without being contrived, the staff attentive without being pushy. When the salesperson asked if I was looking for anything in particular, I told him that I was going on a trip, “to Monaco,” whispering like a child not wanting to alert anyone to the treasure he’s found.
“Whoa,” he said. As I told him what I had in mind, he nodded, then brought me a pair of cream-colored Italian cotton Gurkha trousers, an Italian knit sport coat in Birch, a few cotton/silk Montauk polos, and a cotton bouclé placket vertical stripe sweater polo. I looked knowingly and cocksure at what he had so meticulously placed in my changing room. Perfect.
Except they weren't. I felt like I was engaged in some sort of performative cosplay.
The only thing to do in a moment like this is slow down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself: What would Steve McQueen do?
Steve McQueen, rightfully nicknamed the “King of Cool,” has earned an enduring place in the men’s fashion lexicon. He was hypermasculine but also quite elegant. What he wore was always well made and impeccably tailored. Heritage and detail mattered. And he didn’t just look the part, he was the real deal. He did his own stunts, he rode motorcycles, he flew airplanes, and he raced the 12 Hours of Sebring with a cast on his foot from a motorcycle accident weeks before. He embodied the intersection of style, masculinity, and motorsport in a way that I can only dream of emulating.
I’m from New York. Okay, actually Long Island — but I’ve lived in Manhattan or Brooklyn for most of my adult life. If the city has taught me anything, it’s that if you look the part, you can fit in anywhere. But looking the part doesn't mean running around like some sort of entitled child; it means being true to your aesthetic within the context of those who’ve already done it best (Steve McQueen). It means not trying to let everyone know that you’ve arrived, but rather looking like you’ve been there all along (Steve McQueen). You don’t want to be trendy, you want to be timeless (Steve McQueen). The cornerstone of cool will always be the classics (Steve McQueen), and if you can block out the noise — the endless algorithmic wave of editorialized fashion content — you will find that you’re never not dressed for Monaco.
After checking into the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort and getting some rest, it was Saturday, race day — sort of. Given the narrow layout of the track, coupled with the ever-increasing width of the cars, overtaking at Monaco was almost impossible. This often made the qualifying session more compelling than the actual Grand Prix. As I watched “qualis” from the Louis Vuitton loge overlooking La Rascasse corner, I tried to consider all that was required before anyone could initiate a practice lap; the logistical nightmare that these organizers had to overcome. They were expected to build mechanical, technical, and hospitality sections for each of 12 (yes, 12) F1 teams. Additionally, there’s the construction of stands, barriers, and media sections.
Then there were the fans, in the sun, lined up along the Rampe de la Major. This appeared to be some sort of walkway leading up to the Palais Princier de Monaco that offered a distant glimpse of the track. I wondered what I would be willing to line up for like that. Nothing, I thought. My kids. Maybe.
Finally the cars came. The first one I heard was Sebastian Vettel’s Mercedes-powered Aston Martin. Now, this is not a particularly competitive car. It’s accumulated 15 points this season, which is not nothing, but again, not competitive. It’s racing to be not the worst. However, when Vettel drove past, I could feel every ounce of the 1000 hp, turbocharged V6 running through my bones (and it’s worth noting that La Rascasse is one of the track’s slower corners). I took a ton of bad photos, and even worse videos. None could capture the beautifully controlled chaos of these meticulously-engineered machines. I was so grateful to be there, at this moment, experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And I was dressed for it. All I ended up buying was a Todd Snyder Italian cotton/silk sweater polo in Ivory and a pair of Moscot sunglasses. Channeling the timeless elegance of Steve McQueen didn’t let me down, and just as I’d hoped, I felt like I belonged.
Vintage inspired and perfectly tailored. Wear it more formally with a pair of properly tailored trousers, or less so by pairing it with an unstructured linen beach pant. SHOP NOW
Moscot is an NYC landmark, whose glasses have been worn by everyone from Andy Warhol and Truman Capote to Chris Hemsworth. SHOP NOW
Because everything, including your bathing suit, needs to fit. SHOP NOW
A loafer might be a more traditional pick for Monaco, but I’m partial to the Birkenstock these days. They look good with everything, and with 248 years of experience, no one makes a better Fussbett (footbed). SHOP NOW
There is nothing more Monaco than Louis Vuitton. For the second year in a row, the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco trophy was awarded in a bespoke Louis Vuitton travel case. The trophy case may be a one-of-a-kind item, but this carryall is a classic you can actually buy. SHOP NOW
Jeremy Malman is a part-time journalist and full-time dad based in Brooklyn. His writing explores topics including motorsports, design, fitness, farming, and fatherhood — in other words, some conceptually comical notion of modern masculinity. He also really enjoys traveling.
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.
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