Noël Coward, photographed by Horst P. Horst in Paris, 1934.
The playwright and entertainer Noël Coward strikes a classic pose in this photograph by Horst. A flawless Prince of Wales check, accessorized with polka-dot silk and woven check, epitomizes his peerless sophistication. After his first theatrical success in 1924, Coward remarked, ‘I was unwise enough to be photographed in bed wearing a Chinese dressing gown as an expression of enhanced degeneracy. I indulged in silk shirts, pyjamas and underclothes … coloured turtleneck jerseys … and started a fashion.’ It was the look for the glamorous, brittle 1920s aesthese. For the first time since Oscar Wilde, a writer’s appearance seems as important as what he wrote. ‘All sorts of men suddenly wanted to look like Coward—sleek and satiny, clipped and well groomed,’ observed Cecil Beaton. Cary Grant was one of them, remarking that he based his own urbane style on, ‘a combination of Jack Buchanan and Noël Coward’.
—Phaidon Editors, 1998