"A Dedicated Follower of Fashion..."

When it came to looking good, Jeremy Brett was no dummy--or was he? ;->

by Lisa Oldham

Jeremy Brett was often decked out in sartorial splendour for his various acting roles. Picture Freddie Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady. Or, Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband. Or, Sherlock Holmes.

Jeremy was no stranger to fashion off-stage, either. In fact, during the 1960's and 1970's, he was quite in vogue--literally. JB modeled dude duds at least twice in the UK edition of Vogue Magazine.

Perhaps inspired by the year's hit gangster film Bonnie and Clyde, Jeremy posed in a ridiculously broad-brimmed brown fedora in 1967. Since this silly chapeau hid most of his fabulous face, I'm not going to show it here. Besides, I'm sure you'd rather see...JB in a white silk dressing gown (whoo hoo!):

The magazine gushed that his dressing gown was "silk lined, sashed and shawl-collared, with exotic flowered lapis lazuli and gold embroidery on the cuffs and up the sides of the hem, [with] a big matching motif on the back."

Jeremy's slippers--excuse me, that's "an extremely fine pair of tapestry slippers"--were hand-embroidered blue and green with gold initials (look closely at the pic above and you can see the "JB" monogram).

Three years later, in 1970, Jeremy landed on the pages of The Daily Telegraph Magazine, in a layout titled, "Verdict on Men's Classics for the Seventies." The object was to dress five young British actors (JB, Ian Olgivy, Robin Philips, Corin Redgrave, and Richard Warwick) in frightful, er, fashionable, outfits and record their thoughts about the clothing.

Jeremy was clad in "a luxury version of the classic denim Levi jacket and jeans in silk, bleached for a washed-out look." Accessories included a pair of white patent leather shoes and a "snakeskin rope belt with brass hands forming the clasp." 

Jeremy wasn't too keen on the silk suit ("...it's never really warm enough"), but he was quite taken with the belt: "The belt is really wild. I think it may be a bit erotic."

I think JB was right:

In 1971, Vogue revealed that British shop windows were being invaded by fiberglass Jeremy Bretts, because South African sculptor Adel Rootstein, famed for making fashion mannequins, felt JB was "today" and had "the image other men envy"(!) Below is the genuine article with two of his "clones":

How did the kinetic Mr. Brett end up as a statue? In 1970, Jeremy was dating dress designer Susan Locke, who owned a boutique in the King's Road in London. Ms. Locke needed a mannequin for the boutique, but was told it would take six months to arrive. Jeremy gallantly nipped off to see Adel Rootstein, who let him have a window dummy that very day after he promised he would lend his face and figure to her male line of mannequins. Soon, there were thousands of faux Bretts all over the UK and US. Reportedly, JB's likeness also represented modern man at the Bath Museum.

Here's another look at JB in mannequin form (with smitten friend):

Adel Rootstein wasn't the only designer inspired by Jeremy. Richard Tyler definitely had JB in mind in 1993 when he created a new line for Anne Klein: 

"The clothing in the (Sherlock Holmes) series with Jeremy Brett is brilliant. It was impeccable tailoring, but it was throwaway chic, tweed jackets. It was structured, but it always had a nonchalance to it,'' Tyler explained in the San Francisco Chronicle

Surprisingly, JB's personal fashion habits were rather simple. He favored cashmere jumpers (sweaters), buying one style in many different colors and wearing them long after they wore out.

But, men like Jeremy Brett will always be in style! :->


UK Vogue, November 1967. Photo of JB by Peter Rand.
The Daily Telegraph Magazine, August 14, 1970. Photo of JB by Chadwick Hall.
UK Vogue, April 15, 1971. Photo of JB by Patrick Lichfield
JB mannequin photo from TV Times February 24-March 3, 1973.
Richard Tyler quote, San Francisco Chronicle, November 2, 1993

Photos are property of their respective copyright holders and are displayed here solely for informational and illustrative purposes - copyright ownership is neither implied nor infringement intended. 

Originally published in TBE July 17, 2007

Updated September 27, 2010

"The Brettish Empire"/"TBE" Copyright Lisa L. Oldham.