An age-old truism of rock ‘n’ roll is that to be a rock star, you have to dress the part. But for Albert Hammond Jr., who plays guitar in the Strokes, it’s hard to tell what came first — the fuzzed-out licks or the rakish fashion sense.
“My mom told me that I’ve liked picking my clothes and getting dressed since I was two years old,” he says. Thirty-three years later, Hammond’s sartorial interests have already translated into a line of suits with the designer Ilaria Urbinati and, now, a collection with the New York tie label Jacques-Elliott.
“The idea was that they could be worn by anyone — someone with a suit, someone with a jean jacket, someone just wearing a shirt,” says Hammond. “They weren’t just wearing-a-suit-to-work kind of ties.”
The process of whittling down three ties from thousands of fabric samples started in Manhattan’s Garment District, where Jacques-Elliott founder and designer Elliot Aronow showed Hammond pattern after pattern of raw material.
“We went to the store and started looking for fabric, haggling about prices,” Hammond says. “He was showing me how we could flip the fabric to make it different designs.”
The first tie to hit the right vibe was a patterned wool-silk blend Hammond describes as “a cool ’80s blue” that was eventually dubbed “The Ace of Space”. Next, there was an understated gray number (the “101”) and, finally, the most Hammond design of all, a dark blue tie “screen-printed with the lightning bolt from my guitar strap”.
“I’ve always admired Albert’s style and we went into it with a really similar mission in mind,” Aronow says. “Really, when you think of that iconic Strokes look, it was jeans, a blazer or cool leather jacket and a tie. I thought this is perfect — it’s so simpatico.”
Like Hammond, Jacques-Elliott’s story is also closely tied to the New York music scene. Before entering the fashion world, Aronow was a founder of the MP3 blog RCRD LBL and a maker of D.I.Y. music magazines, but a foray into fashion was always kicking around inside his head.
“It took me two years to really learn how to make the perfect tie,” says Aronow. “There’s so much nuance — how’s the fabric going to drape? The lining light enough, but does it have structure? — nerdy things that translate into something that the consumer is going to appreciate.”(In keeping with that attention to detail, the AHJ ties are cut on the short side to achieve Hammond’s above-the-belt ’60s look.)
The collection also comes timed to the release of Hammond’s latest solo album, Momentary Masters, on July 31. The fit, as they say, is perfect.
© The New York Times 2015