We were hired recently to film a street style video in which we asked our subjects, "what defines cool"? Almost everyone said the same thing-- that a person who is "cool" is someone who does what they want and does not care what other people think. Original as they come, Duggie Fields, a legendary fine artist of our time, is tirelessly and effortlessly cool.
Before dressing as a Beat existed in England, he was dressing as one, and has stuck to an evolving version of it until today. He is so singular in his minimal uniform of black levi's, a jeweled color blazer, a white shirt with a pop art tie (the themes taken from one of his paintings), white socks and white standard Nike sneakers, with the curl of hair in the center of his forehead and his accentuated eyebrows, that Rei Kawakubo was inspired to base part of a menswear collection on Duggie and three other artists, all of whom walked the runway in the Commes des Garcon version of themselves.
He is so particular in his taste that he only likes white around his neck and when he is looking down at his feet, no amount of Rick Owens goth wedges or Christian Louboutin studded velvet slippers would cause him to veer from his classic kicks. Though there is the rare touch of glam in his gem stone cuff links that were finds from NYC haunts in the 80's, a period in New York during which Duggie rubbed elbows with Warhol's crew at Max's Kansas City and where he found himself in the Hamptons at the home of one of his artistic influences, the owner of Marvel Comics.
While in his 20's in London in the 60's, Duggie went to the underground jazz clubs where a band called The Rolling Stones was playing, he saw the Who before they recorded records, and he roomed with Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett for years. Duggie would return home from art school in those days to Pink Floyd rehearsing with light shows in his flat, and he would advise them to get more rhythm into their music, actually enlightening them to his soul music. But what is coolest about Duggie is that while Syd and a few other of his close friends (who he feels privileged to have known) destroyed themselves, he learned to withdraw and in his words "be a part of it, but not be a part… open, but cautious." He recalls painting himself right through the ups and downs of being an artist and encourages the importance of not ever getting too far from one's creative expression and "keeping the connection."
I love how timeless Duggie is while never being out of step with the times. His bespoke Ozwald Boateng pink blazer is eternally chic and his Post Modernism paintings harken back to Paint by Numbers from when he was a kid, but are filled with social commentary on culture, from sexuality to pop icons (he makes ties, pins & throw pillows of Michael Jackson, Lady Di and the late Luciana Martinez de la Rosa, an influential artist and friend, among others.) Currently, Duggie works in digital media with his art and is also exploring his voice and musical talents. He says that he loses himself at the end of a paintbrush as much as he does a mouse these days. About his eclectic world and life, Duggie says, " I make my environment something that sustains me," intuitively knowing, "This doesn't work for me and that does"-- and that is cool.
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