Anthony Bourdain walked the red carpet at the 2016 Creative Arts Emmys looking like a million bucks in a black Tom Ford tux. That night, he and the producers of Parts Unknown got the win for “Outstanding Informational Series.” He took the stage, beaming, to thank his crew. “We try to outdo ourselves every week,” he said. “I’m so proud of the show and the people I work with.” And then he and his tux walked off stage, Emmy trophy in hand.
“Ah yeah, the tuxedo. He loved that jacket,” Bourdain’s friend and renowned chef José Andrés told me a couple weeks back at the Culinary Institute of America’s dedication of a hall on its main campus in Bourdain’s name. The third of their famed chef-friend trio, Eric Ripert, sitting next to Andrés at the table after the dedication ceremony, gestured at his own outfit and told us, “Actually, today I have a black [jacket] because of him. He always made fun of me, and he’d say, ‘You look ridiculous with your blue suits.’ He said, ‘You have to have a Tom Ford suit.’ And I was like, ‘Tom Ford is too expensive.’ And he was like, ‘You’re so cheap.'”
Tom Ford and his expertly crafted tailoring are, for many men, the epitome of modern luxury. And yes, they generally run you up into the multiple thousands. But Bourdain’s particular Tom Ford tuxedo jacket and trousers are currently $1,450—they’re part of an auction of items from Bourdain’s personal collection that varies from a one-of-a-kind chef’s knife made for Bourdain from meteorite steel, to a bone-crushing duck press he gleefully bought in Paris while filming The Layover, to furniture and art and early manuscripts. Proceeds from the auction, which closes today, will go to Bourdain’s daughter and estranged wife, as well as a scholarship named after him at the Culinary Institute of America.
There are other tuxes and jackets and pants made by Tom Ford from Bourdain’s collection up for auction, as well; he was committed to the look. And though his everyday style was often casual, best suited for hard travel, that didn’t mean he was negligent about it. Ripert remembers how Bourdain wouldn’t let anyone touch his hair, how he dressed carefully and hated to get wet. From his Clarks desert boots to his shades, he most often exhibited cultured roughness.
But that Tom Ford tux—for Bourdain, Ripert said, that was “like the sign of ultimate elegance.” And damn, did he wear it well.