I really feel that when I look up the word "cool" on Wikipedia, the picture of Samuel L. Jackson should be there in the definition. The man is a brilliant actor, but last night I learned he also knows quite a bit about fashion. And his take on fashion, and what it means to be chic, has a lot to do with expressing his individuality. Last night I was invited to Giorgio Armani on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills for an exclusive showing of Mr. Jackson's red carpet looks. Surprise, "Sam's Red Carpet Look" is Armani, with a few special touches. As Mr. Jackson told one of my favorite reads, the Guardian UK last year:
I want to look different from the other penguins, so before I go to an event I'll ask Armani to add a bit of brocade or splash of colour to my suit. He made me a purple velvet suit once that's now a staple of Armani's permanent collection.
The purple velvet suit was on display last night at the Armani store, as were the splashes of color that Mr. Jackson likes on his suits. He was dressed in an Armani jacket with a contrasting chocolate colored lapel.
The evening was the only "structured" program at Fashion's Night Out Los Angeles that I witnessed. By that I mean, that this in-store event had a theme, an exhibit and commentary to help attendees understand the back story behind how a great actor dresses. Because he is trying to be true to himself, but still dress appropriately for the events he attends, Mr. Jackson shared that his red carpet choices are thoughtful ones. Fashion is part of his creative canvas. As he wrote in "How I get dressed" in the Guardian:
When I'm dressed up, I'm me. The real me. I've always realized how important fashion is. Not only because people will make their judgments, but because how you dress reflects and affects your mood.
So it's no surprise, that last night Mr. Jackson was dressed in Armani, but he was still himself in his trademark cap/beret and large glasses.
Before the event's question and answer panel (moderated by TV fashion host Steven Cojocaru), Samuel L. Jackson stood for almost 40 minutes at the rear of the Armani store greeting fans (like me) and even taking pictures with the store's guests. He was kind and gracious despite the glare of the flash blubs and the crush of fans in a small space which became rather warm. I've been to enough of these events to know, that many of the celebrities who go to them are just passing through, and not truly engaged. So it was nice to see such an accessible and warm celebrity. Mr. Jackson even gave an appreciative chuckle when I told him I love his work as an actor, including the classic, Snakes on a Plane. :) Seriously, who else could scream that they had had it with those snakes on the plane and make it work? The man is a class act.
If you remember Samuel L. Jackson in the 2000 movie Shaft then you may be interested to know that he wore all Armani in the movie. His uber bad ass leather coat is on display at the Armani store. When you see the coat, you know how the character of John Shaft might, "Take you down, but never let you down." The cool leather look set the stage for the strength and power of the Shaft character. The coat was an extension of the Shaft character.
You can see Mr. Jackson's Shaft look, and all his other Armani red carpet looks at the Giorgio Armani boutique on 436 Rodeo Drive through next week. The exhibit is open to the public during store hours and it is free of charge.