Nashville is at its best when it's being true to its roots, not trying to be the next Brooklyn or L.A. (Ironically, if you step foot in any hipster Brooklyn bar or boutique — looking at you, Lady Jay's/Commodore/Bird — and you'll see and hear people trying to ape Nashville, instead.) The new style blog Handsome Roy gets that staying down-to-earth can be fashionable, and also understands that fashion — all the different ways we dress ourselves up or down to convey a visible sense of who we are — is not only a relevant form of cultural expression, it's downright traditional.
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Chad Davis, who also works at local fashion mecca Imogene + Willie, is the man behind the blog. Handsome Roy, which Davis named after his grandfather, has been active for about six months, but tonight marks the blog's official launch, as well as the two-year anniversary of Davis' move to Nashville from Charlotte, N.C. The models in his blog are people who catch Davis' eye around town — individuals with creative talents and a unique personal style, like painter Emily Leonard, novelist J. Wes Yoder and producer Grace Stevens. His subjects style themselves, and Davis likes to think of his blog as a means to document style rather than just another fashion blog.
Handsome Roy's launch party is tonight at Billy Reid in the Hill Center, from 5-8 p.m. Reid is an emerging designer whose roots firmly situate him in the South, and whose ambition ensures that Southern style will be well-represented around the world. The latest result of this ambition is Reid's collaboration with J. Crew, who have made huge strides toward fashion relevance in the past few years. Handsome Roy's latest shoot includes pieces from this collaboration to commemorate the launch.
Helping him align Nashville's roots with its fashion sense is The Hogslop String Band, an old-time band on Nashville's excellent Red-Eyed Rooster label. There will also be whiskey cocktails available at the event. It might seem counterintuitive to celebrate Nashville's cultural heritage at a retail boutique, but it's good to pay attention to the people who are getting it right and gaining popularity while representing Nashville's combination of high class and low places, like mint juleps and overalls, homegrown herbs and iced Luzianne, creek swimming and seersucker suits.