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Profile in style: Jeremy Irons

16 July 2017

I became an actor to be a rogue and a vagabond.

—Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons seems to be the last of the classic breed of elegant, piratical, and often dissipated English actors. Like his predecessors he has a gravelly, stentorian voice, waspish manners and a well worn handsomeness somehow enhanced by his age. At 67 he still manages to consistently balance big budget pictures and smaller stage and television work. 

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Irons’ drama teacher told him he would fail as an actor, that his clipped, private school diction and mannerisms would leave him out of step with modern acting techniques. Instead he found that by the time he graduated in the late 1970s, plummy nostalgia was in vogue and he landed a prime role in the ITV production of Brideshead Revisited. Irons played the enigmatic narrator Charles Ryder to great acclaim, looking at home in the 1930s world of oxford bag trousers, cricket jumpers and rep ties. 

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Throughout his career Irons would excel playing brooding or malevolent Englishmen, and while he was clearly at home in beautiful tailoring, his personal styling has always been far more striking and eccentric. As befits a man who sees himself as a vagabond and a rebel he's frequently photographed in knee high riding boots, Russian or Chinese peasant smocks and well worn motorcycle field jackets. He's rarely spotted without his trademark turtle-shell glasses or a disheveled scarf around his neck in place of a tie. 

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It's inspiringly eclectic, but an entirely appropriate look for a man that lives in a medieval Irish castle perched above the craggy Atlantic coast. It puts one in mind of the elegant designs of Antonio Ciongoli for Eidos or the louche silhouette of Lemaire. It comes as no surprise then to find that he's been tapped by Donna Karan and Berluti as a model, wearing designs similar to his own shaggy bohemian attire. It's somehow less contrived or trying than similar looks from Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt and with his swept back hair, gypsy-like rings and bangles sit easy on him.

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It's a joy to see in press interviews (full of controversial ad-libs) that Jeremy irons is admirably his own man. A rake rather than than a cultivated Hollywood star, and in his dress the antithesis of the heavily protected, scripted and styled actors that have followed him. 

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