Dalton Taylor, Free Agent. New York

Photography by Igee Okafor. Edited by Dalton Taylor & Victor Jolley

 Styling by Dalton Taylor

Words by Igee Okafor & Dalton Taylor

I'm so thrilled to introduce Dalton Taylor as my first feature on my new segment, titled, Dress Code.

Dress Code showcases the personalities of a variety of men whose personal styles I admire.  Sharing their personal experiences, aesthetics, and taste level, these men are redefining what it means to be a "real" man in today's society through their manifestations . 

Taylor, 20, is a man with many talents. We met at the inaugural New York Fashion Week: Mens, in July at the GQ Lounge. Since then, we have managed to maintain a very fruitful, and lively friendship. His youthful attitude alongside his irreproachable taste level is what has earned him a spot as my very first feature on Dress Code. Every time, I flip through a magazine to unveil a Saint Laurent ad, I think of Dalton. Not only in the way he presents himself, but in his essence. An insouciant, polished, and fresh faced man with an edge. 

To prepare for this collaboration, I met Dalton in his room on the 9th floor of his apartment complex in the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City. Soon after we exchanged hugs and compliments, we pushed forward with deciding on the looks we were going to shoot for the segment as I maneuvered my way through packaging from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Hermes & Cartier. Once all of our looks were finalized, we hit the ground running in the Meatpacking district with my camera, a bag of clothes, and great conversation. 

What do you do?

I would say I am a free agent [laughs]. To be honest with you, I would not put any one title on myself right now. It is kind of hard when people ask me what I do, especially during events like fashion week because, I don't really do one thing. I'm not releasing collections every season, I'm not doing mass volume for clients. I'm just doing mostly one off's and commission work. Yes, in an aspect of my life, I am a womenswear designer but I would not title myself as one, because I feel like there are a lot of people that deserve than title more than I do. I also think I do not want to restrict myself to one title because I do a lot of other things too. I don't have one main thing. I am inspired by a lot of different things. I love photography, I love writing, I love journalism so, it's hard for me to say I am one particular thing. When you are a free agent, you're working for yourself so, in a way, I guess I am a free agent. I do what I want to do. 

Would you say you are successful doing what you do?

In my opinion, yes. I get to do things I have wanted to do before moving to New York. I have accomplished things that I thought would take me so much longer. I am making connections, I am making friends, I am moving towards collaborations like this one, and others that are on a much higher scale. I think I am successful because I am doing what I want. If I say I'm going to cover fashion week this week, that is exactly what I am going to do. If I say I am going to work on a test shoot, that's what I'm doing. If I say I am going to create my look book, I know enough people. A lot of my friends are doing what they do. We can get a team together. A full styling team, a full hair and make up, photography, PA, and everything. To hit that point of success, sometimes you need the people around you and I have that. 

How would you describe your taste in menswear?

It really varies. I think sometimes, I am in a darker aesthetic towards Alexander Plokhov. I like Damir Doma a lot, he has been a huge inspiration since his fall/winter 2012 and 13 collection. That was when I started getting into the drapy, lightweight, layered aesthetic that was not extremely popular in street wear until a year or two ago. Sometimes, I like Thom Browne. I would kill to wear some cropped shorts and a blazer. It goes all over the board for me. I think it's very important to not have only one aesthetic. You can't go to a professional event dressed in Rick Owens. I am talking appropriateness and being knowledgable in both the street style and formal aspects of mens fashion. 

What would you say is your style signature? What can someone look at and say, "That's so Dalton Taylor"?

Sunglasses. Regardless of if I'm trying to pull a street style look or a formal, I've got at least fourteen pairs of sunglasses I can pull from. My favorite ones are the Celine sunglasses I am featuring in today's shoot. The natural havana look is totally contrasted by the front of the frames which are navy. They match the Hermes bracelet I am also featuring. I like contrast like that. Having something completely unnatural mixed with something so organic like a tortoise shell. I just got the Dior So Real's from Spring/Summer 16 women's. 

What would you say to menswear enthusiasts who say that menswear should not mix with womenswear when it comes to personal style? 

I think that's boring. That's what that is. I know GQ enthusiasts who stay true to the dapper look and are only wearing bags by Zegna and Brioni. Heritage menswear brands are always going to be in. They're always going to be there but sometimes, it's good to expand your horizons. A Rick Owens tunic is not for everyone. Womenswear is not for all guys either so, just do what fits you. Do what you feel comfortable in. If you don't feel comfortable in it, nobody is going to feel comfortable looking at you. 

How would you describe your personal style?

Eclectic. A bit cliche but I do love a little but of everything.

What is the biggest menswear mistake you have made?

My entire high school career. It's sad because that's when I started getting interested in it. That's when I started designing, that's when I started doing marketing activities. Some of the most successful things I have done was in high school but at the same time, style wise, it was the worst. I think it's because I started out my liking and appreciation for fashion from the marketing side. It was because I was a little hype beast. It started out with Ralph Lauren polos, then it evolved into higher things when I could afford it. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry. I just went with everything with a label on it and now, I am trying to get rid of it. 

You seem to really appreciate not just fashion, but art, as a whole. Where does your appreciation hail from? 

My first experience with fashion started out only liking the business side of it. It was in the 8th grade when everybody started wearing the Ralph Lauren polos. We were 8th graders. People were spending their allowances on them. The big pony collection was around $120 to $180. We weren't going golfing or something. Nobody needed them but all of a sudden, everyone showed up to school in them, and it was the cool thing. It amazed me that something so simple and insignificant like a polo could become such a huge deal. It was not just for us as kids, adults too. People scrounge up all the money they can get to purchase something because it was the cool thing. It blew my mind that people did that and, it made me want to be behind it. Finessing people to buy these things and act on impulses. I love psychology, I love the way people think, I love thinking about the way people think. I love the whole psychology about marketing, fashion, and business strategy. 

Who is your style icon/inspiration?

I'm so intrigued when I study the idea of the Saint Laurent girl. The relaxed, the classic, the timeless. The understated luxury of this girl. The concept of this person existing is just the most beautiful thing to me, and I think that's what I try to interpret, and embody in everything that I put on my body.

Where do you shop?

I like Dolce. I like J Brand jeans a lot. Barneys Warehouse is amazing! 

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?

It's probably an accessory. Probably the rolex I am wearing. Moving to New York helped me grow out of my high school phase of only wanting labels. When you move here, you see people dressing nicely. It's all about minimalism, it's all about buying things to last, it's all about curating a wardrobe rather than buying the trendiest thing. The Rolex, I wear everyday because I have to. I'm going to have this till I die. 

Personal style pet peeve?

Glasses that don't frame your face correctly. That really upsets me. If you can rock it, wear socks and sandals. If the geeky style is cool, wear a t-shirt tucked in with your belt. I don't care. If you look good doing it, you look good doing it. If I have to look you in the eye to communicate with you, I will refuse to do so, if your eyewear is not up to par. It's bothersome. 

What is on your fall wish list?

The Celine Trapeze. There's this Lanvin blazer that I really want. It's camel. There's this blazer by Givenchy. It's a seasonal, but I don't really care. It's hand painted on the back. I also really want the Saint Laurent high top sneakers. 

What are your favorite pair of shoes?

I have a pair of black chelsea boots by Zara. I like the futuristic, smooth, pat and leather of the boot.

How do you eat in New York?

It depends. If I am in a hurry, I really love Halal. Halal is one of the staple foods on my diet because I had never had anything like it before I came to New York. So, I get the combo on rice. Everytime! When I want to sit down to sketch or relax, Laduree down in Soho has that beautiful porch in the back. I always get the salad. I don't even like to eat much there because I feel so fat having all the macaroons. I usually get the four pistachio macaroons or the salad. 

What and Who are you listening to at the moment?

Right now, I am really into Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins and, Miles Davis. When I am doing work, it's all about jazz, it's all about classical. When I am trying to be creative, I have recently found that I am most inspired by music that gives me unbelievable amounts of anxiety. Thom Yorke of Radiohead has his own solo album and it's called, "The Eraser". It's almost a bit schizophrenic. It pushes you in a really weird way. It's like come up with the next idea, keep going. 

Do you travel?

I love Paris. It's just such a beautiful place. I'd love to visit Milan. 

What advice would you give to menswear enthusiasts who have not necessarily found their niche when it comes to personal style?

Curate your style, curate your aesthetic, be on top of it. Realize that your style is constantly evolving, and be aware of it so you can edit, add and, roll within the medium of your style, and what is trending. It's important! 

Sunglasses / Celine . Shirt / Ted Baker London . Suit / English Laundry . Shoes / Steven Madden . Watch / Rolex . Bracelet / Hermes Clic Clak

Dalton Taylor

Instagram | @daltonjackofficial

Thank you for reading!