The Ten Percent Solution
It's lunchtime in L.A., and strategically placed around the city's trendiest restaurant tables are agents speed-talking their way through their mid-day meal. But if you had to pick them out--for a quick pitch or a let's-do-lunch--could you?
Yeah, you probably could. Even an untrained eye can tell the talent brokers from the stockbrokers. Agents arc an expressive lot: how they talk, how they walk, and how they dress are part of an overall picture of confidence, with as many different styles as Hollywood has story lines.
We asked five young William Morris agents to explain the correlation between their favorite power look and their jobs. As you might guess, each had less trouble defining his look than getting a word in edgewise, and could articulate fashion, once he started rolling, with the same confident, pundit's punch used when matching clients to projects.
It turns out there's no single fashion statement at William Morris, but they all agreed that their fashion sense, not unlike their business sense, was collectively conservative, punctuated with creativity.
"I don't need to make a power statement with my clothes, I do that with my work," insists vice president Steve Click, confidently tipping back in his chair and snapping his natty, gray suspenders. "I wear the clothes I wear because I feel comfortable in them." Glick describes his look as a blend of his urban East Coast upbringing, his Georgetown University business education, and life on his grandparents' farm. "I wear western boots with everything; I must have 10 pair. I also love suspenders and basically conservative suits."
Wearing a perfectly pressed, white cotton shirt with a gray and black tie, a charcoal double-breasted suit, brown loafers and his signature Bulgari watch, Alan Iezman is the perfect understated foil to Click's bold bravado. He hates to shop, and usually chooses just a few fine pieces that work together. "I don't consciously choose things to go together but I find they do, just because my taste is basically classic," says this cool, dry-witted, unlikely-agent-type. His favorite classics are the all-American jeans and boots he uses for riding horses.
"I usually decide what I'm wearing when I'm in the shower," says Marc Schwartz, sporting a sparkling diamond in one car lobe, an electric blue tie and socks with a black shirt and straight-lined, but baggy trousers. I decide what to wear based on who I'm meeting. I love clothes, and I have enough of them to wear something different every day for five weeks. What Steve is to boots, I am to socks."
Jean-Pierre Henraux describes himself as a French-Italian, Catholic Republican who shops twice a year--in Italy I go to Oliver in Florence and have my clothes made The fabrics are what attract me--usually conservative Then I spice things up with ties and vests." Henraux proudly pulls out a prize find--a vest made of kimono fabric that he picked up in Aspen.
As Michael Gruber changes into his double breasted black gabardine jacket, black T-shirt and tweed pants, he uses an almost forbidden word to describe his look. "I'm trendy," he admits. "But I also have my own style. I hardly ever wear a tie. I think too stiff a look sets up a separation between yourself and your client, so I play my look down the middle--hip enough to meet with young talent, but not too hip to take a meeting with seniors in the company. When I walk in wearing a T-shirt and sportcoat," Gruber concludes with confidence, "I think they'd all like to be wearing the same thing."