Silk from Celluloid

He looked moody and mean, but Ralph Fiennes never lost his style in The English Patient. Now, writes Melanie Rickey, all men can follow suit
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The Independent Online
It's not just the moody, enigmatic looks that make women swoon and men envious. It's the look itself. And it was the look, created for Ralph Fiennes as Count Laslo de Almasy in The English Patient, which helped the film's costumier, Ann Roth, win her first Oscar. The inspiration for the star's clothes came in part from the Duke of Windsor, one of the greatest trendsetters for men ever, (he is reputed to have popularised the knife pleat trousers seam in his day), and also from his tailor, Mr Halsey of Savile Row.

In fact, says Ann Roth: "Ralph was fitted for his clothes by the very man who once fitted Gary Cooper and Fred Astaire in the 1930's".

And you can't get much more stylish than that.

But it is our hero's less structured clothes, not the Savile Row tailoring, which have inspired men into a serious re-think of their image - with the full encouragement and sometimes brute force of their partners. There is something irrepressibly charming and timeless about a man in a crumpled linen suit. Now that Ralph has played that part and women have expressed the desire to trade in their partners for a Count Laslo de Almasy lookalike, men can no longer get away with a walk-on part proffering Kleenex to tearful amorata in the cinema.

They've got to take some style tips from coolly passionate, quiet, irresistible Ralph.

They can do more than observe the panache with which Ralph slips in and out of his jacket or how Willem Dafoe as the broody Caravaggio sports his shirts. They can take a trip to the High Street and their local Jaeger store.

Jaeger sponsored the film"s gala opening in March and has continued to promote the film throughout the country with window displays such as the one above. It just so happens that Jaeger has been selling the English Patient "look" for some time - English classics are their thing after all. However, it took a company representative who saw the film in America to spot the connection (particularly with their summer collection), and go for the sponsorship deal.

Jaeger did not make clothes for the film, their version of The English Patient look is more modern and up-beat.

Jaeger still use natural fabrics for their clothes, all of which are sourced within Europe and made in Scotland. Mark Hooper their Menswear Director says: "We don't cut corners. Small details you can't see, but can feel, like chest pieces for structure are important to us, as is finish". The Jaeger man is not a funky club goer, nor particularly fashion conscious, "he is not cutting edge, of course he's not," says Hooper, "but he still wants to look up-to-date without being faddy".

And he's just the sort of man who would buy a gorgeous crumpled linen suit and go venturing off to the Sahara desert for a holiday - or in search of Kristin Scott-Thomas.

The English Patient connection is working well for the company. They have produced a silk/linen three button single breasted suit with a pleated turn-up trouser, and pure cotton shirts and suits in both natural stone and beige colours and clean, bright shades such as sage and nutmeg - all of which are featured in their window displays. (Incidentally, silk/linen does crumple, but not as crisply as 100 per cent linen garments, and is much softer on the skin.)

Women are not left out. They get their chance to look as cool as Kristin with a range at Jaeger Women.

Taking fashion tips from hot movies is not new, but for a change, at least, it's easy. WINNING OUTFIT

You have a chance to win a mens outfit, to the value of pounds 500, which Jaeger have kindly offered to the first reader who answers this question correctly: What is the name of the book Hana (Juliette Binoche) reads to her English patient, and which stirs up so many painful memories for him?

Answers should be sent on a postcard stating personal details and inside leg, waist and chest measurements to:

English Patient Competition

Janine Walton


57 Broadwick Street

London, W1V 1FU

For your nearest Jaeger Men store call 0171-200 4000

Jaeger window from left:

Blue cotton shirt, pounds 55, chino's pounds 85, belt pounds 22; silk/linen in `Donkey' jacket, pounds 270, matching trousers, pounds 130, cotton shirt, pounds 55, tie, pounds 40; linen/cotton short sleeved white shirt, pounds 55, linen trousers, pounds 95, belt pounds 22.