Max von Essen is feeling a bit Parisian. The American in Paris star, who earned a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of financier Henri Baurel, loves a classic look, and many of the essential pieces in his wardrobe came from the French city, where he and his cast performed the show before its Broadway bow at the Palace Theatre.
Check out what von Essen has to say about his personal wardrobe, along with some style tips to keep you fashionable and on trend!
How has your character in An American in Paris influenced your personal style?
I connect with Henri Baurel on so many levels, and his style is no exception. Bob Crowley, the costume designer, has also dressed Henri very simply and efficiently. Until I wear a tuxedo towards the end of the show, I’m essentially in a three-piece navy suit the entire time. For Henri and for me, it’s not about having a huge wardrobe— it’s about having quality key items that work together and can look fresh simply by changing out one or two smaller items.
You spent time in Paris with the show! What was your favorite store to shop at there, and what was your favorite item that you bought there?
I wound up having very little time for shopping, believe it or not, but I discovered a small store called Ly Adams, with only one or two locations. I was on a mission in Paris to find a new coat, and I finally found what I was looking for there. It’s a beautiful, fitted gray tweed coat with specks of blue. I’m in love with it.
What’s the best piece of style advice you ever received?
Embrace your local tailor! You don’t have to spend a fortune on high-end designers or custom suits; there is so much you can accomplish just by spending a few extra dollars and having your tailor take things in for you. So many men walk around wearing ill-fitting suits, and whether they’ve spent very little or a fortune on the suit, if it is ill-fitting, they’ve wasted their money. Spend a little more time and money to have the clothes fit your body type. Pant hems can’t droop over your shoes. Sleeve lengths can’t be too long, and cover your cuffs. Clothes have to fit you! End of story.
How would you describe your personal style?
When I was younger, I really struggled with fashion because I have so much trouble with colors. Did I mention I’m color blind? Yup! I would love to be a bit more adventurous in my fashion, but it’s hard because I don’t always know what color something is, or I struggle putting various colors together. So over time, I’ve focused on the colors I love and can see clearly (particularly blue), and at the same time, I’ve noticed that I gravitate towards a very classic, more conservative look. What’s developed is a wardrobe with a lot of navy, gray, white, and black paired with many accessories that are more colorful and can work with any of my key items. I can grab something from my closet knowing that things will work together. I would also rather spend more money on something of quality that I know will last and/or won’t go out of style in one season.
What is your favorite fashion item you own and where did you buy it?
The navy blazer I’m wearing in some of the photos is probably my most treasured and useful item. I splurged a few years ago at Paul Smith and invested in it. It was not cheap, but it is beautiful. It’s almost impossible to notice the incredible craftsmanship and detailing if you are not up close, but it has this incredible piping along the back and sides—much like the details of a tuxedo. It is beautiful and timeless and worth every penny because I feel good every time I put it on.