These men went down in the annals of sartorial history as the ones who defined what could be deemed stylish, known for oozing oomph whenever they stepped out in the public eye. From the signature red of Enzo Ferrari’s socks to John F Kennedy setting the style standard for the future presidents, HELLO! Brings you the world’s most stylish gentlemen through the ages.
Possibly Italy’s most stylish man till date, the Rake of the Riviera, as he was called, Gianni Agnelli is often considered a man who dictated the twists and turns men’s style took over the last several decades. An industrialist and principal owner of FIAT, Agnelli was known for his Italian tailored suits, the quintessential designer watch he wore over the cuff of his shirt, his suede boots, denim shirts, cashmere cardigans and larger-than-life eyewear. His personal style reflected a nonchalance that only comes with having been born into a family blessed with taste for several generations before him. His eclectic sense of style inspired designers around the world and made him the poster child for menswear trends that pop up even now, some 20 years after his death.
Sawai Man Singh Of Jaipur
For the people of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh was a living God. With a calm and composed personality, he’s known to have entertained and dined with the best of the best. Having waltzed with Queen Elizabeth II while his wife Gayatri Devi danced alongside with Prince Philip, a more classier scene could rarely be encountered in the annals of history. The polo player enjoyed his time on the field, wishing that when he died, he would do so while riding his polo pony — a wish that sadly came true when the maharaja breathed his last while on his horse on the field. Jodhpuris, classic achkans and military uniforms became his choice of wardrobe when entertaining in India, though the man easily changed into Western tuxedos and British military gear when visiting England.
Reza Shah Pahlavi Of Iran
“With great wealth, comes great responsibility,” said Bill Gates. His words, in many ways, can be used to describe the life of the late Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi. A man of refined taste, Pahlavi was educated in Switzerland’s Institut Le Rosey, where he developed a penchant for French poetry and skiing. A coup saw him brought back to Iran, where the young man was made the titular head of state at a young age. Inheriting one of the world’s most enviable jewellery collections, Reza lived a life of style that overshadowed monarchs and presidents the world over. Suits tailored in France, shoes flown in from Italy and crowns assembled by Garrard made up the Shah’s wardrobe. In 1971, he threw what came to be known as the ‘Party of the Century,’ to celebrate 2,500 years of the Persian Empire, inviting the who’s who of the world’s royals and political elite. The event, which in today’s terms cost nearly US$2.5 billion, eventually caused a revolution in the country, which ousted the stylish gent out and forced him to flee to the United States.
John F Kennedy
Possibly the most stylish American president till date, John F Kennedy had a very Hampton vibe when it came to his personal style. A born sailor, JFK — as he was known to his many followers— preferred spending time by the beach and on his sailboat, but cut a sharp picture when he donned a suit while playing the role of President of the United States. The Kennedys were considered modern-day royalty for a reason: they came from money and wielded power like no other family in their generation. Though he was plagued by stress and scandal, JFK became a favourite of an entire generation of Americans who saw a whole new version of what their president should look like, laying the roadmap for future heads of state and how they should dress.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Lapo Elkann is the living embodiment of the adage, what with being the grandson of Italy’s most stylish rake, Gianni Agnelli and the heir apparent to his millions. For Elkann, being born under the colossal shadow of Agnelli didn’t add pressure, but allowed the man to come up with a sense of style that was originally his own. Bright Gucci suits, knitted silk ties, garish sunglasses and Italian leather loafers seem to somehow come together in a perfect ensemble, almost as though they naturally sprouted out of the man’s pores, making him a modern-day Agnelli in his own right. Fast cars and a string of scandals follow the man wherever he goes, only adding to Elkann’s allure as one of the world’s most stylish men.
Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh
Prince of Greece and later the consort of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip embodied the kind of style and class that few can only aspire to attain. The self-confessed pragmatist wore the same shoes he donned on his wedding day for nearly seven decades, having them polished over the years — proving to all that style isn’t temporal but rather something that should be conserved and celebrated. Double-breasted jackets with giant, emblemed gold buttons, military uniforms carefully set out for him by an army of butlers, Scottish kilts and polo breeches were the Duke of Edinburgh’s wardrobe essentials. Much of his style sense was inspired by that of Lord Mountbatten, his uncle and the last Viceroy of India, reflecting a bygone era of British menswear that can be found even today in some small glimpses among other members of the British royal family.
Kaiser Karl, as he was known among the fashion elite, was a man of many talents. Heading famed fashion house Chanel since the early 80s, Karl Lagerfeld leant his creative genius to several other brands such as Fendi, H&M, Chloé and Patou, among others. Born with the innate ability to absorb style and reinterpret it, Lagerfeld’s personal aesthetic was dictated largely by the colour black. Suits from Cifonelli during his youth later gave way to Japanese cuts and a permanent paper fan that the designer carried everywhere he went. As he lost weight, Lagerfeld began wearing skinny jeans, tailored black jackets, fingerless gloves and black sunglasses, with highly starched detachable collars. His eccentricity became his calling card, as designers from his generation passed on, but the Kaiser continued to create and morph fashion like no one else. Towards the end of his life, Lagerfeld became known for his prolific contribution to fashion. While most designers finished a handful of seasons a year, he created several collections for numerous brands, eclipsing all else through his sheer numbers.
The man who introduced the fastest Italian automobiles to salivating petrol heads around the world was quite a bon vivant and style maven himself. Enzo Ferrari’s woollen suits, perfectly tailored by Italian craftsmen, went well with his overall ensemble, which he accentuated with red socks — a colour with which Ferrari became synonymous. Towards the end of his life, he began to wear dark glasses Italian style, or large enough to cover half the face, giving him the mysterious look of a man whose next move no one could fathom. Enzo’s personal style was subtle and understated, but announced to everyone who saw it that here was a man who was the symbol of everything Ferrari stood for — a man willing to fight for the survival of his company and ward off takeover bids he didn’t agree with. A true style legend, indeed!
Vishwant Rao Holkar II Of Indore
Born into unbelievable wealth, Yashwant Rao HolkarII of Indore was educated in England, where he met some pretty interesting characters. One of them, painter Bernard Boutet de Monvel, immortalised the maharaja in a portrait that is, till today, considered one of his most impressive works. The painting shows the young king in Western wear, possibly cutting an image that was the peak of style in the times when Art Deco was at its zenith. Though not naturally handsome in the conventionally accepted way, Maharaja Yashwant Rao was considered by many as the most stylish royal of his times, personifying a true elegance and grace that others of his ilk could not. An impressive car collection of Alfa Romeos and Bugattis and a palace designed in the avant-garde fashion of his age made him a style maven in his own right.
Yves Saint Laurent
The Algeria-born French designer, who coined numerous revolutionary terms like the smoking jacket and revolutionised fashion for an entire generation of women, was quite the style raconteur himself. While Yves Saint Laurent was experimental with his sartorial choices early in his life, the man later donned only expertly tailored suits and thick- rimmed glasses that became his mainstay. A perfectly coiffed hairdo and excellent shoes made Saint Laurent a fashion titan among other designers who looked up to him and considered him to be in the same style stratosphere as such legends as Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. On his death, Christie’s auctioned his collection of antiques in a sale that’s believed to be the most exclusive the auction house has conducted in recent times.
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the November 2022 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!