Colleen Kelsey, Accidental Style Icon: Michel Foucault, Garage magazine on the Vice site, Sep 15 2019
The French philosopher, who literally recommended care for the Self, is proof that so-called “public intellectuals” tend to have the best style.
I have regularly Googled, “Where did Foucault shop?” hoping for some unearthed cache of details. A bespoke suit maker? Specific sock purveyor? Anything custom? Foucault’s stylistic appeal is that of the simple, of the uniform, of the (I hate to actually say it) effortless. For myself, I crave the streamlined utility of a cinematic construction of a post-graduate, every element falling into place seamlessly—jacket, pant, boot. I will think deeply, once, about what sweater I want to wear. In my daily struggle under late capitalism, who has the time for anything else?
When Foucault was invited to debate Noam Chomsky on the idea of “innate” human nature in the Netherlands in 1971, he works the power of the matching set: a casual gray-brown bellbottomed suit. The jacket has an abbreviated collar and left side breast pocket with a whiff of a military jacket. Slices of the neck and wrists of his beige-ish turtleneck peep out. Foucault appears relaxed, yet in control. He pulls off the feat we are usually attempting, to “look like yourself.” The suit is soft, comfortable armor. Chomsky looks like the rumpled New England prof he is, with a knit tie and what my grandmother would call a “sport coat.” A comment on a YouTube video of the debate posits, “Foucault would have made a stellar Bond villain.”