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Tony Nourmand is the founder and Editor-in-Chief at Reel Art Press, a publishing house who since 2010 have released cutting edge books focusing on all manner of cultural phenomenon, ranging from cinematic movements such as the French New Wave, the counter-cultural drives of the Beat and Hippies scenes, and perhaps of most interest to customers of John Simons, the look we know as Ivy Style. Originally from Iran, Tony moved to London for his studies in 1976. Through books such as “Hollywood and the Ivy Look”, “Jazz Festival” and the yet to be released, “Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style”, the latter of which has been produced in partnership with R.A.P. affiliate Jason Jules, Tony and colleague Graham Marsh have thrown new light on an old subject, in turn ensuring that it remains a relevant point of reference for generations of dressers to come. We sat down with Tony to discuss his career to date, his passion for clothing and in particular the impact cinema has had on his mode of dress.
Can you remember the first piece of clothing you got with your first paycheck?
The first time I ever went to a menswear store it would not have been with a paycheck but rather my grant money whilst I was at college. I went into a store on the King’s Road called Quincy’s and I bought a CP jacket, which I remember very well. It was white, woollen and had red and blue stripes. I distinctly remember the first suit I bought from yourselves too. It would have been 1995 at the old Russel Street store. I bought a navy-blue corduroy suit which I only got rid of a few weeks ago, as the trousers had worn out!
Was that your first time visiting the store?
That was my first visit to the shop, yes. I remember for two or three years before that I knew a guy named David who dealt in vintage movie posters, and he frequented your store. I would ask him, “where did you get those shoes?” or “where did you get that shirt from” and the response would always be, “John Simons!” In 1995 I met Graham [Marsh] and when I asked him about his clothing his response was the same… “John Simons!” I knew I had to come and see it for myself, it sounded like Rick’s Café in Casablanca!
What item of clothing would you say you cannot live without?
My seersucker suit, which I never in a million years would have bought, but John convinced me otherwise! He simply said, “Oh it suits you!” and whilst I don’t wear it all the time, I absolutely love it. I actually have two, one which I got in Russel Street and one from Chiltern Street. I have got to keep at least one seersucker suit in my wardrobe. That and corduroy suits are a staple for me. I love the fact that they are both casual and smart at the same time, as well as a practical/functional item with their many pockets.
What is your number one style tip?
The only thing I don’t like, and this applies to any style, is when people try and wear something “different” purely for the sake of wearing something “different”. Don’t over complicate things, keep it simple and uncontrived.
Do you have a sartorial hero?
I would have to pick two, Steve McQueen and Marcello Mastroianni. If I was ever given a chance to be reborn and look like anyone, Marcello Mastroianni is who I would pick. In particular his early sixties era in films such as 8 & ½ and La Dolce Vita. He is simply the most stylish man I have come across.
If you could attend any concert or exhibition, from any artist, dead or alive, what would it be and what would you wear?
I think I would have to pick an era rather than a particular concert or exhibition, and I would say New York in the 1960’s; what with the Warhol factory and the pop art movement coming out, I think that would have been a very interesting era to witness first-hand. Also, Italy in the 1950’s. I mentioned Marcello Mastroianni earlier, and when you talk about style and having fun, that era and setting seems amazing. I have done two books on Woodstock, and whilst I love the imagery and ethos behind it, I simply cannot imagine attending and camping out in the mud and so on. Newport Jazz festival on the other hand, which we have also done a book on, would be amazing, and if I was attending, I would definitely wear my seersucker suit!
Would you say your profession has impacted your style, or your style has impacted your professional life?
I think both! When I was a student, I used to work at a video shop and then I went to art school, namely Central School of Arts, before it became Central Saint Martins. I had aspirations of making films at the time. Then I began dealing in vintage movie posters from a shop in Westbourne Grove named Reel Poster Gallery, which is where it all began. I saw an ad in the back of a film magazine for a guy in San Francisco, who bought and sold movie posters, and I started purchasing posters from him. A friend of mine knew someone who worked at Tiffany’s, and I managed to sell him a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster. A short while after, I started writing books on movie posters and so on.
I was the consultant for movie posters at Christie’s for twelve years and had my shop at the same time. I brokered the sale of the world’s most expensive movie poster, which was an original promotional poster for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and sold for $690k. I made very little money on it! I remember the client told me, if you ever find a customer for it, I will sell it. I did a book called “Science Fiction and Poster Art” and this collector rang me from Los Angeles and said, “I have just inherited some money and whatever it takes I will buy it!” As we were doing the transaction it occurred to me that this was the most expensive film poster ever sold and I believe it still is to this day!
Returning to style, I remember before we did “Hollywood and the Ivy Look”, Graham Marsh who I was working with, would come in and say, “I am doing a book on Ivy Style!” and I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he showed me some photos and I thought to myself, “My God! This is what I have been wearing for the last 20 years” I simply did not know what it was called. Likewise, I remember the first time I watched Psycho, sometime in the 1980’s, I couldn’t stop wondering where I could get a shirt like the one Perkins wore. So, I guess you could say that I have always been equally interested in not only the films themselves, but the outfits the actors wore, and both phenomena have impacted my life in equal measure.
BLACK IVY: A Revolt In Style is due to be released October 2021.
Interview by Paul Simons
Photography: Alex Natt
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