We hang out regularly amongst our friends, a cocktail or two here, a dinner party there, routine run-ins at the gym; but this was the first time I delved deeper into Mariano Testa’s style. I’ve known Mariano, currently the Fashion Art Director for Ralph Lauren and notably stylish NYC gent born and raised in Argentina, for several years now. He’s been working in fashion for nearly ten years, having brands like Swarovski and Coty under his belt; and building his portfolio with photographers like David Sims, Nick Knight and Mark Seliger to name a few. Great style is naturally just a part of who he and, as a result, a reflection of his work. I’ve admired this man’s style since day one — so, I asked him to put together a few looks that I could capture out on the west side.
After the shoot, we went to Chelsea’s Sullivan St. Bakery where all smiles are drawn by the friendly staff as he walks in. We sat at the bar (he takes a skim cappuccino on the dry side with a cornetti) and chatted everything style. Mariano loves a military inspired look — it’s “structured,” “cool” and has a history of its own. Little did I know, he went to a military high school in Buenos Aires and as a result, found something beautiful about everyone wearing the same thing: he loved the boldness, strength and the overall power style in unison gives.
Here, he’s wearing a Ted Baker military jacket atop a Scotch & Soda officer khaki shirt. He found his RRL winter white straight cut jeans on eBay, which arrived used, abused and stained (that tidbit actually prompted him to make the purchase — half the work he was going to do to them upon arrival was pretty much done). To top off the look, he’s sporting his special edition, handmade Ray-Ban aviators with leather brow bar and Club Monaco leather gloves to combat the cold.
“I think clothes tell a story…” And as you’d append a library of good books, he dearly holds onto key styles that can always be incorporated into seasons’ trends year after year. Take this Argentinean, handmade 100% sheep wool sweater — he’s had it for nearly as long as he’s been in his career. And you should see the rest of his closet — something to covet especially as I, in part, built this blog to document the rebuilding of my own. It’s filled with chunky knits, worn-in leathers, rugged denim, patchwork garments… all of which that’s only gotten better with age. His wingtips? Never shined. His boots? All queued to get etched and scuffed. Nothing of remote value gets thrown away, only repaired to get worn in even more.
We stopped by this local flea market on 39th and 9th during the shoot. You know those markets you pass by on the sidewalk and tell yourself how much you should definitely check it out one day — to get “cultured” and “in the know” about your neighborhood — but never end up doing it? Well, do it — I finally did. I scored a Billy Reid wax canvas coat and a pair of brand new Y-3 sneakers for a quarter of its original price. You’ll find some good worn-in fashions here, antique furnishings, trinkets that may have sentimental value to you, these license plates that I’m sure you can get creative with… just an overall, damn good bargaining time. At the flea, Mariano was wearing raw denim jeans, a striped indigo tee and classic western shirt (all from RRL); a Fisherman’s sweater; POLO army parka; and Denim & Supply tricker hat.
In the end, if he could only have two outfits (and this surprised me), he’d choose a tuxedo and a denim-on-denim look, mixing them up to have countless outfit variations. But he’ll always pull it off. Why? Good style is also a reflection of the good man behind the clothes.