The Icon: Johnny Cash

By Playboy.com Staff

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With black making a comeback this fall, we look at the man who may have started it all, the enigmatic Johnny Cash.


“We’re doing mighty fine I do suppose / In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes / But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back / Up front there ought to be a man in black.”

We’ve talked a lot about colors, but what about non-colors, shades? Black and white are the building blocks of any fashion season but this year black is back. Black is bold. Black is the new black.

As forward-thinking as fashion tends to be, it inevitably entertains its past. Trends turn like tides; Black, like leather, will always come back around and we owe that at least in part to the trendsetting trailblazers of yore. Fashion’s forefathers. The immortal and immaculate sons of style. The icons.

And who better embodies the iconic image of a man in black than the man in black, Johnny Cash? Cash coined the term, or rather had it coined for him (he would have never pandered to that type of publicity stunt) in the early ‘70s when he began appearing on stage in nothing but black while his contemporaries were covered head-to-toe in rhinestones and rainbows. He broke the mold his country counterparts had created and today we look at them as little more than over-the-top circus acts and at Cash as a cultural icon.

That tells you a little something about the staying power of black (it’s why we’re not writing about a rhinestone revival). And yet, there are risks one runs when going for the all-black look, a fine line if you will between beatnik poet, '90s grunge/goth, Cash’s contemporary cowboy and the correct look; remember, the goal is to modernize the look, not mock, mimic or massacre it. 

Allow us to make the following suggestions. This Alexander McQueen shirt (below, left) combines the all-black look with another trend of the season, mismatched patterns and textures. Ditto these Burberry pants (below, middle) whose minimalist detailing let the clean cut do the talking. Pair both with with the suede/leather shoe from Yves Saint Laurent and you’ve got a look. 

If the leather detailing is a little too much or a jacket is a must, swap out the shirt for this G Star Correct Line Luxor Core Shirt and throw on this lightweight blazer from Arc'teryx. 


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