Frequently listed on Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List, Nigerian-born Ike Ude is a style icon and an acclaimed artist who lives and works in New York City. To view his portfolio, visit ikeude.com.
Sibylle Eschapasse: Describe your style?
Ike Ude: Harmony in juxtaposition of varied sartorial elements—past and present; a Janus-like attitude and sympathy.
Ms. Eschapasse: How did your style evolve since you were a teenager?
Mr. Ude: My older brother was rather popular in school and dressed very smart, and so was my father and maternal grandfather; and of course my boarding school uniform, which was chiefly British.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is the wildest thing you ever wore?
Mr. Ude: I don’t wear anything that I’ll consider wild. Perhaps, some of my sartorial compositions may appear wild to untrained eyes, but absolutely not to those with a discerning sartorial sensibility.
Ms. Eschapasse: How do you dress on workdays versus weekends?
Mr. Ude: I treat each and every day the same way, including national and/or religious holidays. Hence, my-mood-of-the-day and fancies—be it romantic, nostalgic, wry humored, wickedly mischievous, etcetera—inform how I chose to dress my nakedness. I never dress for the workdays or weekends, such distinctions do not apply to lifestyle at all.
Ms. Eschapasse: What are three accessories you can’t live without, and what’s one item that makes you instantly more confident?
Mr. Ude: I find that ties, bowties, and neckwear in general, no less boutonnière, play subtle but exquisite protagonist roles in the overall art and poetry of dressing. These elements may enhance confidence; however, one’s core confidence is within, not without.
Ms. Eschapasse: Who have been your greatest fashion influences? Who is your style icon?
Mr. Ude: My older brother, maternal grandfather, my dad—and of course, the likes of Count Robert de Montesquiou, Edward the VIII, Emperor Haile-Selassie, and even some fictional characters from novels, paintings, and movies.
Ms. Eschapasse: What does having style mean to you? In other words, please define style.
Mr. Ude: Style, above all, is the ultimate mode of an individual’s sovereignty.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is one purchase you’re most proud of? What would you pay a lot of money for, and what would you never pay much money for?
Mr. Ude: I will never pay, even a farthing, for anything over-priced, or very trendy, or shrilly fashionable.
Eschapasse: When you go on the red carpet, how do you want your outfit to make you feel?
Mr. Ude: For such occasions, I have an anti-red carpet disposition, and therefore, I endeavor to look normal, so as to appear perfectly bored and disinterested. At any rate, I don’t know as to whether or not I succeed with such attempts at willful normal.
Which designers can achieve that?
Mr. Ude: No comment!
Ms. Eschapasse: What do you think of how others dress, and what’s your advice to people who would like to develop their personal style?
Mr. Ude: In general, people’s effort in dressing is, at best south of elegance, and at worst insufferably trendy. I won’t venture forth an advice; but if I must, I suggest that it is always better to wear a smart uniform at all times than to be an insatiable, pitiful fashion victim of brand name designers.
Varied shades of blue, white, black; plus, specific colors such as emerald green, puce, periwinkle, oxblood, Chinese red, faded-barely-there powdery-pale-pink.
Favorite perfume: Violetta by Penhaligon; Violetta Di Parma, Borsari
Favorite restaurant in NYC : I’m not a restaurant enthusiast, and above all, I find food—from chewing to its process through and out the body rather disgusting; hence one must keep food consumption to a bone minimum and eat like a bird; for certain crucial nourishment, I frequent the Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Frick Collection, Strand bookshop, and such.
Favorite drink: Varied teas and black coffee drank at very hot temperatures, regardless of the time of year.
Favorite movie: To name a few, l love most of Luchino Visconti’s movies, except his “Rocco and His Brothers,” and mostly because I dislike boxing and bloody, violent sports; I love, love Alain Resnais’s “Last Year at Marienbad,” Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist”; Yimou Zhang, “Ju Dou.”
Favorite book: I’ll name a few: “Studies in the History of the Renaissance,” by Walter Pater; “The Lamp of Beauty” by John Ruskin; “(A Rebours) Against Nature,” by Joris-Karl Huysmans.
Favorite quote: Onward and upward with the arts!
Sibylle’s “Style Diary” is a column that explores style from the perspective of choices, and what that means for different people, with personal advice from some of the most stylish people in New York.
Sibylle Eschapasse is from Paris and now lives in Manhattan. She is a journalist and a contributing writer to various publications. Sibylle is also the author of a children’s book, “Argy Boy a New York Dog Tale.” She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org