Does This Fashion Suit Leonard Cohen?


Another Clothing Line Inspired By A Leonard Cohen Line

Reviewing, as is my wont, the goings-on in the world of  haute couture, I came upon the information that Leonard Cohen, award-winning singer-songwriter, legendary ladies’ man, and certified icon, has, according to Hypebeast, again sparked the imagination of a designer to create a line of swell duds for cool dudes:

The Soulland spring/summer 2011 collection is inspired by the Leonard Cohen poem, ‘The Suit’ – and in more ways than one. With the collection Soulland designer, Silas Adler, has played with the symbolic meaning and seriousness a suit can give the person, who wears it. In addition, the collection literally includes a suit, the first in Soulland history.

For those who have somehow missed the news, Soulland’s head designer is one Silas Adler, a 25 year-old  one-time skateboarder  who founded Soulland in 2002 to create what the hip rags call “lifestyle garments.”  Originally specializing in print t-shirts, the company has, according to its brochure, “now grown into a well-established men’s wear brand recognized worldwide and represented in leading stores across Europe and the USA.”

The Raf Simons Precedent

Ongoing readers may recall the January 2009 post, High Fashion Raf Simons Beach Towel Features Leonard Cohen’s Lyrics, which began with this excerpt:


The above graphic is a representation of a beach towel bearing the often-quoted words from the lyrics of “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.”

That is a sentence I never anticipated writing.

The explanation followed:

On the Colette web site, one finds this unedited description of the Raf Simons Beach Towel (available in any color as long as it’s black):

Black beach towel in cotton “there is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in”

Exit the colorful and so gaudy beach towel, Raf Simons have the good idea to drow again it, now she’s black, bearer of a message and well packed in a design box, she become a fashion accessory of our summer.

Nor was the beach towel an isolated item.  An entire line was was based on Cohen’s lyrics from “Anthem.”   On June 28, 2008, Tim Blanks reported in Style,

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Using the style of New York artist Christopher Wool, Raf Simons stenciled those words by Leonard Cohen in the courtyard of the educational institution where he staged his latest show. He also embroidered them on tops, with colored threads trailing like a delicate fringe. … It’s a sensibility that breeds an obsessive attention to detail, and Simons fits right in. … So he took the tuxedo, the purest masculine tailoring there is, and sliced away the sleeves and legs, leaving an all-in-one. Then he built this basic back up, adding a waistcoat, a jacket, and finally returning to the suit itself. It was a hypnotic, compulsive exercise in rigorous design. As Simons himself said, it was “the anti-pajama”—the antithesis of all the soft, voluminous, ultracasual clothing that has dominated the men’s runways this season.

Cohen is mentioned in the penultimate line of the article – as a setup for more Raf adulation in the final sentence.

BTW, Leonard Cohen’s words were from an album called The Future. Raf knows whereof he quotes.

A representative item from Raf’s line that year follows.

Leonard Cohen As Writer Of Fashion Lines

Leonard Cohen does possess impressive credentials to qualify as the creative nidus of a line of men’s clothing. He has always dressed well, a fact evidenced by the number of times descriptive terms such as “dapper,” “stylish,” “nattily attired,” “well-dressed,” and “smartly tailored” stud articles about him.

Moreover, he would seem to provide an especially apt specimen for a line of suits.  In Lian Lunson’s film documentary film “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man,” Leonard Cohen says,

My father was a tailor. So I grew up wearing suits. I tried wearing blue jeans. I was never comfortable in them.

But, therein lies a potential danger. Consider Leonard Cohen in a suit.

confident lc-large

Now, consider the line of clothing said to be inspired by Leonard Cohen’s poem.

Soulland_SS11_Paris_Show_3But, while comparing wan lads clad in what is apparently cutting edge fashion to Leonard Cohen wearing a grownup’s suit is modestly amusing if a tad unsporting, it does not address the fundamental issues spot on. For that, let’s look at …

“I am locked in a very expensive suit” As A Unique Selling Proposition

While the press blurbs all purport the 2011 collection offered by Soulland is inspired by the Leonard Cohen poem, ‘The Suit,” one wonders if anyone on the design team read past the first line:

I am locked in a very expensive suit

I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.  One could  hypothesize that  Silas Adler, a highly-regarded, widely respected, and notably successful designer, came across “I am locked in a very expensive suit” and was instantly suffused with an epiphany that went something like this: “Hot Damn. I’m gonna design a batch of rad clothes that embody ‘I am locked in a very expensive suit’ and they’ll sell like hotcakes.”

To be fair, I suspect that probably sounds a lot more elegant in Danish.

In contrast, based on my experiences as a consumer, my first response to “I am locked in a very expensive suit” is “I bet that sucks.” (In fact, it I find it fairly easy to imagine the model wearing that suit in the Soulland ad atop this post is thinking “Wow, I am locked in a very expensive suit and it sucks.”)

I mean, does that sound like a good thing to you all?  Currently,  I am locked into a very expensive cell phone plan – I can assure you that this does not produce in me swelling admiration for the artistry of my wireless carrier.

Anyway, perhaps because I was an English major in college, I am next overwhelmed with the message: “I had better read the rest of the poem.”

The Suit by Leonard Cohen

I am locked in a very expensive suit
old elegant and enduring
Only my hair has been able to get free
but someone has been leaving
their dandruff in it
Now I will tell you
all there is to know about optimism
Each day in hub cap mirror
in soup reflection
in other people’s spectacles
I check my hair
for an army of alpinists
for Indian rope trick masters
for tangled aviators
for dove and albatross
for insect suicides
for abominable snowmen
I check my hair
for aerialists of every kind
Dedicated as an automatic elevator
I comb my hair for possibilities
I stick my neck out
I lean illegally from locomotive windows
and only for the barber
do I wear a hat

First, if that poem is to inspire a suit, shouldn’t it be a suit that, in congruence with the second line, is “old elegant and enduring?”

More to the point, if that poem is to inspire a product, shouldn’t it be a hair product or haircuts or toupees or something hirsute-related? After all, there are two lines about a suit and 23 referring to hair and feelings the narrator experiences about his hair. And, Mr Cohen has been known to style his hair with flair.


Note: Originally posted June 28, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

3 Replies to “Does This Fashion Suit Leonard Cohen?”

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  2. Naomi

    Have you gone in-depth as to the Fedora becoming a part of the personna?

    The towel leaves me with a rather non-Cohenesque mental image… nuff said…