Archive for Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rocker, designer have clothes encounter

April 27, 2008

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— Matt Sorum not only learned how to play drums by emulating Keith Moon, the enigmatic drummer for the Who, he also took cues from the dandified madman about how to dress like a rock star.

"I was a kid in the '70s, and I loved the flamboyancy of the era," says Sorum, who's done stints in Guns N' Roses and the Cult and now hard-rock supergroup Velvet Revolver. "When he got successful, Keith Moon rolled down to Savile Row to get a suit, but it was cut differently. It was more fitted, the pants were a little flared. It was that English gent-gone-awry thing."

That edgy mix of gentleman and guttersnipe - also immortalized by the Rolling Stones and the Kinks and poached by modern bands the Killers and the Strokes - inspired Sorum to launch his own clothing label, Sorum Noce, with friend and designer Max Noce. The collection, which is surprisingly good, is debuting in a new store on the swanky strip of Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.

The veteran rocker said the idea for the California-meets-Carnaby line, defined by sharp suits and classic leather jackets, came to him after seeing one too many big-name designers copping the rock 'n' roll vibe - unsuccessfully. "You can't go to Tommy Hilfiger to be a rock 'n' roll guy."

The Sorum Noce boutique, which the drummer designed, is beachy and British Goth at the same time, with white beams on the ceiling, black lacquered rococo-style chairs, silver wall sconces and a patchwork Union Jack rug.

And the collection manages to escape all the cheesy trappings of most rocker-designed clothes (see Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx's Royal Underground Monarchy and former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker's Famous Stars and Straps). There are no dagger-and-skull crests, no T-shirts with Celtic crosses or snakes. The leather jackets - in Mod racing and blazer styles - are timeless. The suit styles feel like a slightly edgier take on Paul Smith or Thom Browne.

Rocker flash is relegated to the details: a subdued gray tone-on-tone waistcoat has a bright purple silk back; fitted jeans come in blue and black, but also bright red. Prices range from $250 for a slim-cut button-down shirt to around $2,500 for a custom three-piece suit made by Noce, whose uncle designed custom suits at his own shop in Milan. Sorum, who wears his short blond hair spiked and speaks with a laid-back, surfer inflection, got to know Noce in the early '90s, when he went to him for custom leather pants. "He was one of the only guys in town that knew how to make good leather pants back then," Sorum says. "Also, I heard he made really good spaghetti, so I invited him over."

Noce came to the U.S. from Milan in the early '90s after working for Valentino, Ungaro, Karl Lagerfeld and Dolce & Gabbana and is now the technical designer, custom tailor and shop manager for Sorum Noce. The pair want to take the brand global, eventually opening stores in New York, London and Milan. But they aren't out to outfit the world. "We never write a song because we think someone will like it," Sorum says. "This is the same approach on the clothing. We like it. I like it. Maybe other people will like it too."

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