I have a big project, 999 faces. It’s taken two years but it’s almost complete. I’ll write more about it when it is finished but in many ways it’s changed my life. One of which is that I find it easier to approach and, I hope, engage strangers than I have before. In truth, it doesn’t take as much nerve as I once thought it did. People like talking. But that’s one of the many things I had to work out for myself, it’s no good just being told. And I find that I love talking to strangers, too.
A few months ago I was at an antiques’ fair in Berkeley Square. I saw someone I thought would be a perfect subject. He was wearing a beautiful, green tweed, three-piece suit with a brown velvet collar, orange check and orange trim, an orange pocket square and a big, orange, Pharrell-style hat that matched the velvet edge of his waistcoat and his silk square. I liked his face. Maybe it isn’t obviously handsome to everyone, but the more I look at it the more I like it. He looks like he’s scowling but I’ve met him and I think scowling would be the last thing he’d do. There he is, at the top of this story, surrounded by other beautiful things. I also love orange.
I approached him and started my blurb, well-practiced after saying it to so many strangers. ‘Excuse me, I hope you don’t mind, I have a project…’ I described it to him. He’s an artist and understood the idea at once. People don’t always take to it instantly. Their eyebrows raise, they ask what and why. This fellow was quick and very charming. He was happy to pass the time chatting to me. His voice was rich and fruity, like a classically trained actor’s. We talked about my project and art, collecting and beauty. We exchanged cards – I have cards that I hand out printed by Moo that say ‘999 faces, mostly human‘ with the Tumblr address underneath and one of my photos on the back.
I admired his hat. He ran his fingers carefully along the rim. ‘Vivienne Westwood,’ he said, smiling.
I admired his suit. He felt the handsome tweed. ‘Jermyn Street. We sold the house…’ was his explanation.
I took his photograph. And that’s why I love dandies.
999 faces, mostly human 999faces.tumblr.com