Steve Jobs's uniform of jeans and a black turtleneck has heretofore seemed less like a sophisticated sartorial choice than a savvy exercise in personal branding, a symbol of ascetic devotion to technology, and perhaps, once, a bit of marketing for the Gap, where Jobs was a director. But if acclaimed couturier Ralph Rucci is to be believed, the Apple CEO might be so far ahead of the fashionistas that he's been severely underappreciated.
Jobs' wardrobe makes a cameo, and perhaps unintended, appearance in the new (September) issue of Vanity Fair. Sitting down with VF columnist John Heilpern at Balthazar (the column is, sadly, not yet on the web), Rucci lamented how derivative fashion has become. While the exacting, "pitiless" designer has ben working on perfecting a simple white shirt for 15 years, his contemporaries seem more intent on recycling the past, with recent runway shows pegged to themes like surfers, retro 1950s, Liberace, and even Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde. Rucci says:
"When collections are based almost entirely on themes or Faye Dunaway, it's a bore and it's very easy to do. What's astonishingly difficult to do is to create apparel that doesn't have any references in the past."
So what clothing, Heilpern asks, meets this criterion? What is "wholly originally.... ow[ing absolutely nothing to any precedent?"
"Three things: White cotton T-shirt, a pair of 501 Levi Strauss jeans, and a black cashmere turtleneck."
Of course, Jobs' turtleneck is mock, and not cashmere. Rucci never mentions him by name, citing Coco Chanel as his sole example of an original dresser. And the designer would hardly approve of Jobs's aggressively inelegant sneakers.
But give it time. No one would have guessed, 13 years ago, that this guy would be basically batting 2/3 with a high end New York fashion craftsman. Thirteen years from today, his choices might be looking even better. And we don't think they'll be changing much in the meantime.
[Photos via Getty]