Classic. Avant-garde. Fearless. Our eight sartorial superlatives prove the best style is always personal and tastefully on point.
When native New Yorker Brian Gorman was scouting the first location for his chain of gay boutique hotels (Western desert destinations are next), he remembered how South Beach holidays had always put him at ease. It was the city’s freedom of expression that enticed him to open his Lords Hotel smack-dab in the middle of the Art Deco District. “It’s a sanctuary for anyone who’s different or simply enjoys being around diversity,” says Gorman. Pointing to the hotel’s neighborhood and its movie set-like quality as culprits, Gorman has been known to give in to his more theatrical side when it comes to his wardrobe in the Magic City. At a recent hotel party, guests were abuzz about his ensemble of Osklen drop-crotch pants, a Jeremy Scott tee and Lanvin blazer. Next on his sartorial to-do? The perfect ensemble for the Lords’ upcoming Bollywood Weekend in September. “I’m thinking Indian-inspired prints,” says Gorman. Perhaps a new pair of those drop-crotch slacks? “Absolutely!”
In a city of million-dollar listings and the types that go with it, it’s not easy to stand above the rest. But Chicago transplant Dario Stoka knows the trick is to zip the big talk and keep it humble—of course, a killer ensemble never hurts. After all, in Stoka’s world, you are what you sell. “I’m about 24-hour service, so I basically live in my work wardrobe,” says the square-jawed Argentina native who’s one of Zilbert Realty Group’s top earners. For Stoka, colorful pocket squares add flair to his uniform of designer blazers (usually Etro and Armani) and great fitting jeans (Diesel and AG Adriano Goldschmied are particular favorites). He credits his personal shopper at Neiman Marcus in Coral Gables for always keeping him looking his best. The rest of the shopping is done hands-on during European holidays with his wife Katy and their two kids. And because he spends most of his time accommodating other people’s schedules, he treats himself to house calls by local tailor Jason Courtney for Tom James bespoke suits and dress shirts. “He’s obsessed with clothes so his energy rubs off on people,” says Stoka. “If I buy a shirt off the rack that’s not Dolce & Gabbana, off it goes to Jason. He’s made a killing with all the stuff I’ve tweaked.”
Few on-air personalities make Latin American stars like Shakira and Gloria Estefan quake in their stilettos more than Rodner Figueroa, the Joan Rivers-meets-Ryan Seacrest of Spanish television. The debonair Venezuelan rules the red carpet for Univision and hosts its weekly entertainment and fashion roundtable. “My nicknames are ‘El Fashionista’ or ‘The Terror’ depending on my critique,” says Figueroa, who learned style from his mother and has a penchant for Dolce & Gabbana sports jackets and custom suits by New York’s Carlos Campos. “But nothing sheds a decade like fitted dress shirts and preppy polos,” he adds. True to form, Figueroa can’t help voicing advice whenever fashion is the topic at hand. On bow-ties: “Formal.” On Miami men not tucking their shirts in at night: “Ghastly!” On South Beach girls in too-tight mini-dresses: “Showing everything is the opposite of sexy.” And on suffering in the name of style: “Suck it up and squeeze into those skinny jeans already!”
How timely that Bobby Berk has the 99 percent’s back when it comes to interior design. After developing his eye at industry behemoths like Restoration Hardware, the democratic Midwesterner filled the market’s gaping hole between mass-market and high design with his upscale-yet-approachable furniture showrooms around the country. That his original namesake store in New York not only weathered the recession but begat satellites in Miami and Atlanta is testament that DIY decorators desire cool quality in one shot. Berk approaches personal style in the same vein. “I’m not a Bal Harbour Shops kind of guy,” he says, favoring brands like G-Star, AllSaints Spitalfields and RRL instead. When in Miami, where he lives part of the year, Berk’s everyday look of layered tanks, button-downs and knits with lace-up boots definitely nods to his big-city boy ways. “Being in New York has definitely intensified my desire to be different and individual,” says Berk. “In a sea of millions of people, you really have to set yourself apart to make a statement.”
The Renaissance Man
Darren Star may have to produce a Sex and the City-type special just to document the frenzy that is sure to ensue once John Brevard’s sculptural shoe collection hits shelves this fall. The Carrie set has already had a taste of the architect/artist’s alchemy-inspired aesthetic through his fine jewelry. During Art Basel, he unveiled a slice of his universe via a Midtown pop-up showroom that relocates to a permanent space in Coral Gables come summer. “I wear a lot of dark hues and minimalist cuts,” says the avid philosophy reader of wardrobe favorites like Helmut Lang denim and Theory tees accessorized with bunched, lightweight cotton scarves and D&G knitted skullcaps “to ward off Florida’s notoriously chilly air conditioning.” A pair of Ago zip-up boots in patinaed leather by John Varvatos is his seasonal splurge. He swears his look gets more tropical while boating or wakeboarding—pastimes that make the Miami native stick around our shores.
The Young Gun
Fashion designer and Florida Panhandle native Benjamin Jay has learned a thing or two while modeling for big guns like Estée Lauder, Asics and TAG Heuer. After receiving warm praise for Something Rebellious, a line of soft T-shirts with hand-drawn printed graphics, he segued into an eponymous, full women’s collection specializing in flowy tanks, leggings and mixed materials like neoprene and mesh. His collection has landed in 70 boutiques around the world in less than a year. For Jay, it’s not the garments that tell the whole story, but rather the accessories and shoes, which he says can make or break a look. Oddly enough, the budding designer isn’t a shopping fan. “When I do bite the bullet, it’s at indie shops rather than the mall,” he says, citing Paul Smith silver high-tops and J. Lindeberg slim-cut jeans in dark washes as musts. His latest thing? Tossing on an unbuttoned plaid shirt in lieu of a blazer or cardigan on his way out the door. “Having that extra layer is always nice,” he says. “It shows you put a little extra effort into your outfit.”
Ralph Lauren types have nothing on Tito Gaudenzi. The Swiss-American polo player and tournament producer is as well-known for his classic-yet-don’t-be-afraid-to-stand-out choices as for his mallet swing. Wardrobe staples for Gaudenzi include colorful trousers, loafers and dress shirts, which he’s even been known to wear to the beach with swim trunks. Not a hard-core devotee of “polo style” in any way, Gaudenzi cites Patrick Hellmann, Paul Smith, PRPS, Incotex and Ermenegildo Zegna as his favorite brands. “I don’t like Lauren as much as people expect,” he says. Also on his must list: watches, of which Gaudenzi has many. “Most are from winning matches or sponsors I work with,” he says, pointing to a much-cherished Zenith El Primero that he received after emerging MVP in Austria’s Valartis Bank Snow Arena Polo World Cup in 2006. “Maybe it’s because I grew up in Berlin, which is where Eastern and Western Europe clash in a wacky wardrobe whirlwind,” says the Brickell resident in regards to his prolific wardrobe. “I go for European elegance, like my dad who’s quite the sharp dresser.”
Frank Kelly isn’t new to style accolades. Five years ago the Miamian beat out thousands of contenders around the country to win Esquire’s “Best-Dressed Real Man” contest. But it wasn’t just the perfectly fitted Hugo Boss suits that made the men’s fashion glossy take notice; it was his style savvy combined with his philanthropic potential that nabbed the national ink. Kelly’s Project Vacant Streets is a volunteer initiative that helps homeless men and women re-enter the workforce by teaching them (among other things) the importance of first impressions and dressing the part. “I was blown away by the misconceptions about the homeless and I wanted to change those negative stereotypes,” says Kelly, who’s now at work on The Reel Miami Project, a series of shorts by award-winning filmmakers that showcase Miami neighborhoods from an insider perspective. “We have to show there’s more to the city than Ocean Drive.” When not lecturing across the country about the power of dressing properly, Kelly is always on the lookout for the types of threads that made Esquire take notice in the first place. His one piece of advice? “It’s all about the tailoring,” says Kelly. “Make sure to do all the necessary adjustments so that suit fits like a glove.” He should know.