In the first instalment of Sundry Style, interviews with prominent stylish folk, we chat with Mordechai Rubinstein. Mordechai is a fashion documentarian whose work has been featured in magazines such as GQ and Esquire. He was costume designer for the acclaimed 2019 film Uncut Gems, and has just brought out a fashion book, Dead Style, documenting the fashion surrounding the band Dead & Co (the current incarnation of The Grateful Dead). Mordechai lives in Brooklyn, and over lockdown stayed with his wife and daughter in Maine at his in-laws’ house with only half-a-duffel-bag worth of clothes.
It’s great to be reunited with clothes, but I don’t know where to begin. I hate not getting dressed, but at the same time being away in quarantine without clothes was so refreshing. I’m like, “Instagram is sick of my outfits, I better get with the new new,” then I’m like, “I don’t care about the new new,” I just want to wear what’s true, tried and tested. Where am I going that I got to look good? And this isn’t even about quarantine. If the city opens up tomorrow and we can go to fashion shoots, we can parade around town, I still want to wear the same thing. I have nobody to impress.
In my mind I’m stuck in the 70s. I love the big lapels, the fly aways, the butterfly collars, the hip-huggers, the bell bottoms. But while I’m afraid of going too deep into 70s clothes, I think I’m a hippy. So, when I go to Dead & Co shows, it definitely goes towards the hippy side, because it’s about being free and being out there and not giving a fuck, like really letting go. They’re teaching me about the Earth and taking care of things, and now that I have a baby I don’t want to litter. And every lyric I look at is very in tune with all that, “stopping strangers just to say hello,” or something, and like, “nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile,” it’s all so cool!
Back in the day people were like, “I read your blog all the time, I love the way you write,” and I’d look at them and laugh, and I’m like, “yo, I’m putting pictures up.” And, sure, with the blog and early Instagram I did write some long captions, but it wasn’t about why I liked the tweed with the collar with the tie. I was writing about what I was thinking or what the person said to me. It wasn’t really writing; I don’t consider myself a writer. So, when the publisher was like, “we’ve got to bring in captions,” I’m like, “captions? This guy’s shirt is worn in; it’s not worn out!”
I dream of going back [to London]. I love that place because I think that they invented menswear, even though I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I dream, I salivate, I fucking mentally masturbate to the Duke of Windsor, even though I don’t really know who he is; to the Prince of Wales, [even though] I don’t really know who he is. But what I do know is double-breasted, Prince of Wales plaids, and chequer, and tweed, and the countryside, and getting dressed in tweed just to shoot a fucking gun. And the cuffs, and the footwear, and Northampton, or wherever the hard bottom shoe was invented. I love all that.
The full interview can be found below: