Illustration: Harry Harrison
I don't mean to brag about my commitment to the trivial, but I spend too much time checking out post red-carpet coverage, mainly because the stuff that style editors rave about is sometimes mind-boggling and very entertaining. At the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards, 31-year-old Justin Timberlake appeared in a slim-cut Tom Ford number made of brown and fawn wool, a snug pastel brown gingham shirt, a white silk pocket square, and a dark brown silk jacquard tie. He topped it off with a Mad Men-inspired '50s quiff and a Cartier Louis Tank in rose gold. It's a sweet outfit, not black, very sharp, and the multihyphenated talent made it look fresher than it should. But it's certainly not going to send Lagerfeld or Galliano into a teary, creative slump. But oh how the style police celebrated.
"JT stole the carpet!" proclaimed an editor of a top United States men's rag. Another commented, "Timberlake keeps the fashion risks rolling!" A third fan declared: "This is the best I've ever seen JT, thanks to Tom Ford!"
If you're not rolling your eyes from all the excitement, you may be missing the point.
Just so we're clear, I'm a JT fan. I have been a fan since he grabbed Kylie Minogue's backside on stage in 2003 at the Brit Awards. But he's JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE - Grammy winner, serious/funny actor and husband of Jessica, "The Body", Biel. It's enough to help you forget he dated Brit Brit and was once the curly-haired dude in N'Sync who falsettoed: "Will you be my girlfriend? I'd treat you good".
So is the media fawning justified? Why can't we give credit to Timberlake's stylists? What about the drifters on the fringe of the red carpet? The celebrities who can do no right in the eyes of the fashion police? Remember Lindsay Lohan, the once celebrated, magazine-cover dominating child-star, designer and actress (yikes) whose court troubles over recent years have reduced her to a caricature of fashion failures? She reminds us that you can't get dressed in a haze of booze and drugs. Lilo has no credibility now, and certainly no personal stylist.
However, Timberlake can wake up, not brush his teeth, and jog down the street in Spongebob pyjamas and gawkers will be convinced it's a) some sort of celebrity prank, b) a music video involving Snoop Lion and weed or
c) a style statement that's waaay ahead of its time. Because, let's face it, once a man amasses a certain cache of cool, doubting his sartorial choices just makes you a very lonely hater.