I was trying to come up with a word to describe exactly the particular wardrobe style I’d like to present today, and the term that kept coming to mind was “raffish”. So I looked it up, and lo and behold! It has precisely the meaning I was looking for:
unconventional and slightly disreputable, esp. in an attractive manner.
“his raffish air”
There are two film characters who display simply gorgeous raffishness in every frame: Gary Oldman as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies, and Daniel Auteuil as Gabor in Girl on the Bridge.
Sirius is of course the great heartbreaker of the HP series in more ways than one, Oldman’s exquisite portrayal of the alternately fraternal and paternal figure occasioning delight, jubilation, then bitterly mournful tears from smitten viewers such as myself. He also happens to be an exemplar of the “raffish air”, with his mismatched pinstripes, seen-better-days velvet frock coats, watch chains, & runic tattoos – plus a delectable air of mischievous insouciance that he wears like a scarf.
Here is a video with a discussion of Sirius’ film costumes, including the creation of his velvet vest with a technique called “devoré”, in which the floral pattern is burnt into the fabric:
As Oldman points out, the end result is that Sirius is “quite the Edwardian gentleman” – and yet, one must add, with an undeniably raffish edge.
The other raffish gent whom I’d like to feature today is from a less well-known film, but nonetheless a piece of sheer cinematic brilliance: La fille sur le pont, or Girl on the Bridge. And the character in question is Daniel Auteuil’s eccentric circus knife-thrower, Gabor.
If you haven’t seen GOTB, you’re in for a treat and a half: artfully moody black-and-white visuals, a quirky modern folktale of a storyline that shimmies between drama and comedy, and the absolute best soundtrack never released (sigh!!!!).
trailer (with sample of brilliant soundtrack):
And on top of that, there’s Daniel Auteuil, illuminating the screen with will-o-the-wisp capriciousness and eagle-eyed intensity. And yes, another raffish wardrobe! Incongruous pinstriped blazers and glossy shirts, printed pants, and slightly shabby white Euro-style suits… overall, let’s just say that Gabor is Sirius’ Continental counterpart in raffishness.
Finally, I’d like to finish off with a real-life “raff” (well, if rakishness is displayed by a rake, shouldn’t raffishness be the hallmark of a “raff”?). He has played any number of rather raffish roles over the years, but the specific brand of raffish fashion I’m highlighting today is actually best exemplified by his very own off-screen style: everyone’s favourite iconoclastic actor, Johnny Depp.
And that’s a (w)raff for today.