“We are hard-pressed to think of any photo of [Leonard Cohen] with beard, moustache or stubble” Paste Magazine – “How about these 10 shots?” DrHGuy

In searching for a reference to Leonard Cohen’s shaving fetish, I happened onto a (justifiably) laudatory review of Sylvie Simmons’ biography of the Canadian singer-songwriter Another Cohen bio? Hallelujah! by Marshall P. Duke (Paste: September 11, 2012), which includes the following passage [highlighting mine]:

Leonard Cohen, we learn in I’m Your Man, loves to shave. We are hard-pressed to think of any photo of Cohen with beard, moustache or stubble, despite his career’s long arc, through decades where facial statements came and went. Why does he love to shave? Simple – he was a good son who listened to his mother.

While I certainly have no qualms about the article’s endorsement of “I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen,” I am compelled — as a service to humanity — to correct the misconception that Mr Cohen has always been clean-shaven. Toward that end, Cohencentric offers a non-exhaustive photo survey of the varieties of facial foliage that have graced the countenance of the poet-novelist-songwriter-icon.


Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

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Leonard Cohen’s Style – Likes Suits, Doesn’t Like Shopping



Interviewer: Did you always dress this well? Or is it something you’ve developed?”

Leonard Cohen: “No, I always wore a suit, pretty much. I grew up before blue jeans hit. I always felt better in a jacket.”

Interviewer: “So you put on a jacket even if you’re not going out?”

Leonard Cohen: “Especially if I’m not going out.”

Evidently, wearing a jacket and tie was a matter of discipline, a poet’s version of a uniform. The jacket, which was purchased at a thrift store on Fairfax, cost $7, and most of Cohen’s suits are years, sometimes decades old. “I don’t like shopping,” he explained, showing me a threadbare Armani in his closet. Next to it was another jacket with a small gold badge on the lapel. The badge said: Canadian Border Patrol.

From Angst & Aquavit by Brendan Bernhard. LA Weekly: September 26, 2001. Photo by Michael Donald.

Where Leonard Cohen Bought His Fedora

It Must Be The Hat

A question posed on LeonardCohenForum about the type of fedora Leonard Cohen wore during his 2008-2009 World Tour triggered this reply from Hollywood Hatters1

To answer your questions in regards to where and what is the hat that Leonard has been wearing, it is in fact from our store; Hollywood Hatters. Leonard is a wonderful client of ours whom we have had the pleasure to serve for upwards of 5 years. The hat that he has been wearing on his current tour is a small brim, wool-felt fedora called “The Melodrama”. It is an American made hat that is available at our store in sizes SM – XLG and comes in black, gray, dark brown, light brown, navy, bone, green, ivory white, slate blue and plum.

Update: From 2008 to 2013, Leonard Cohen wore a different brands and styles of hats in concert, all loosely described as “fedoras.” The Melodrama is one – but only one – of those hats.


The images of the Melodrama at the end of the post are from the Hollywood Hatters web site. Most of this material was originally posted June 23, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. The Hollywood Hatters web site is located at Hollywood Hatters []

Classic Images Of Leonard Cohen & Crew 1985: Distinctive Clothes, Soulful Singing, Familiar Faces

All of these images are screenshots from Video: Leonard Cohen’s Brilliant Performance Of “Coming Back To You” – Australian TV 1985.

Worthy of special note are views of

  • The sartorial splendor of Leonard Cohen in the 1980s: dark suit, plaid shirt, cowboy boots, slicked back hair (Do not try this at home unless you, like Leonard Cohen, are a professional dapper dresser.)
  • Mitch Watkins (also in plaid shirt), who also played in the 2012  – 2013 Leonard Cohen Tours
  • Anjani Thomas

Note: Originally posted February 22, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Quiet And Devastating, Like Leonard Cohen In Cowboy Boots”

A Look At Leonard Cohen’s Boots

Dominique Issermann’s 1984 photo of Leonard Cohen smoking on a park bench, a shot that has been recycled into posters, post cards, and at least one book cover (the Leonard Cohen Collection songbook published in 2001).

Then there are those boots, shown below in an enlarged section of  the Issermann photo.

Leonard Cohen On His Boots

Asked “What’s your most prized material possession” by his friend and interviewer, Danny Fields, Cohen responded “I like these boots,” leading to the following exchange:

D: They’re nice. What are they? How high do they go? Oh I like the toes. It’s hard to get those toes.

L: Today we saw a beautiful pair of boots in the window of a place called Botticelli [Botticelli Shoes – New York City]. I imagine they’re extremely expensive. They didn’t take an credit cards.

D: Oh, but any good boots are at least a hundred dollars.

L: I’ll never accustom myself to that.

D: Shoes are different from anything else.

L: Well, I agree with you. But I only buy boots with foreign money that I don’t understand. I know these cost a lot, but I don’t know how much because I paid francs for them. They’re probably at least a hundred dollars.

Others On Leonard Cohen’s Boots

Music Director Roscoe Beck remembers that at his first meeting with Leonard Cohen in 1979, Cohen “was wearing his customary dark grey suit and black cowboy boots.”1 Anjani Thomas also includes the boots in her description of her first meeting with Leonard Cohen, which took place in 1984:

I was waiting to meet him [Leonard Cohen] at the loft [belonging to John Lissauer]. When he  walked through the door, I saw that his cowboy boots and everything he wore was black. It was an impressive entrance.2

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  1. Roscoe Beck On Leonard Cohen, The World’s Quietest Band, “Jenny Sings Lenny,” & More at Cohencentric []
  2. Anjani Thomas: Personal Communication []

Leonard Cohen’s Less Famous Plastic Raincoat


Excerpt from For Cohen, Grief Is Joy by Lynn Van Matre (Chicago Tribune: Nov 23, 1975). Thanks to Rike, who discovered and contributed the article. Note: The raincoat pictured is, as they say, an “artist’s vision” of Leonard’s plastic raincoat.

Note: OK, Leonard’s purchase of a cheap plastic raincoat as a joke doesn’t qualify as Essence Of Leonard Cohen stuff, but I am taken by the notion of Leonard covering herself in the same material my mother employed to protect her living room sofa.

“You shouldn’t have to wait in line to take a bath” Leonard Cohen’s Criterion For Choosing Hotels On Tour (1972)

On my last tour [1972] I had asked my management not to put me into the first-class hotels that we had been put into on my previous tours, because I felt it was just a difficult thing, to go from these luxurious hotel rooms and play for people wearing blue jeans and shirts, and we’d go back in limousines to these hotels. Not that I have any objection to either ambience, but it was the mixture of the two that I thought somehow inhospitable. Anyhow, I was really hoping to be able to find a Chelsea or a Portobello in each city, but I found unfortunately that these hotels don’t exist. So we found ourselves being into hotels where there are no bathrooms with the rooms… You shouldn’t have to wait in line to take a bath. So I ask to be upgraded again. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Note: I guess you can push that “I find the simple life voluptuous” too far, eh?

From Leonard Cohen Looks at Himself by Danny Fields. Soho Weekly News, Vol. 1, #9. Dec 5, 1974.Thanks to Jugurtha Harchaoui, who contributed this interview. Photo by Historystuff2 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons