What Makes a Gentleman?

Ne-Yo’s most recent album is called The Year of the Gentleman. But what does “gentleman” really mean to Ne-Yo? “He is classy. He knows what integrity is. He knows the importance of looking good. He is who guys want to be and who women want to be with,” he said yesterday at the launch of the Fall 2009 Alfani Red menswear campaign, where he was performing. And, Ne-Yo adds, “He has swag.”

Whether gentility can be found in a gift bag is a contemporary question indeed. Ne-Yo, for his part, is interested in melding the past and the present when it comes to style:  “It’s the 50s era that captivates me. Back then, to be an entertainer meant to be sleek and put together at all times. I think we’re missing that nowadays.” he says. That isn’t to say contemporary fashion doesn’t excite him; though he generally favors a retro look, he regularly finds inspiration in modern, Euro-leaning collections.  “I’m a huge Paul Smith fan and I love Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen, to name a few. Gucci and Louis Vuitton are also staples.”

As a man whose self-described “signature item” is a fedora, Ne-Yo’s inclination isn’t quite streetwear: “Look, hip-hop attire has its own flavor,” he says. “I’m not knocking how some people choose to dress. It’s just not me. Belting your jeans at your thighs is just not fly!” Take note.