Jersey City Review Style Profile: Orville Clarke
Orville Clarke and his son Sufyan
“When meeting someone for the first time, you have about 15 seconds to impress them. Why be subtle about it? I’d rather throw a brick.” – Orville Clarke.
He’s as au courant as they come. His impeccable taste epitomizes a complete understanding of style and form and it is personified in his personal manner, well-chosen professional endeavors, and life at his befitting Lincoln Park Neighborhood Victorian home which is filled with world-collected objects d’ art and shared with wife Khurshid and son Sufyan.
Orville Clarke is a Jersey City resident who grew up in Kent, a suburb just outside of South London. As a boy, he often envisioned himself in a white leather jacket after his elder brother, wearing just that paired with white pants, visited home while on break from college. It’s where Orville connected with fashion and his first glimpse of what would become an indelible part of his future. Some years and several requests to mom later, Orville was delighted to find a white leather jacket hanging in his closet. He couldn’t wait to put it on.
Kent’s diversity made it easy for Orville to fit in as a person, but the avant-garde were seemingly the minority. It was during these years that Orville began to realize the combination of gentlemanly qualities taught to him by his parents and a dapper approach to getting dressed (tweeds, flannels, sport coats and suits inspired by Vivienne Westward) all played an integral part in helping him stand out in a bunch. His method was simple: dress up for everything.
After classical training in art & design at Croydon College, and attending Amersham & Wycombe College, Orville understood how to interpret things exactly as they are. Embellishments were secondary and only put in play after mastering the ‘as is.’ That philosophy led to his being called upon by the Lincolnshire Council to display a body of work which included a mix of mediums: photography, oils, and water colors of heritage houses and buildings. It wouldn’t be the last time Orville put his mark on the world.
Soon after, an in-house darkroom was built and photographs were exposed and bleached without Photoshop. Orville also joined the lecture circuit and taught at Sleaford’s 100 plus year old photography clubs. And although things were moving along nicely, Orville longed to take on America. His journey to pursue a career in the states couldn’t come fast enough.
Arriving stateside was less promising than Orville anticipated. His dream of showing in a gallery never manifested, but as fate would have it he was invited to an awards party where he met creative directors from top award winning BBDO & world-renowned Olgilvy & Mather. These advertising executives told him simply, “Your work is cool and we’d like to introduce you to some people.” Within days Orville was offered a job at men’s magazine Gear.
After his start, many in the Gear art department walked off the job. With no one else to manage the direction of the journal, Orville took the reins. Subsequent to Gear, Orville produced, branded and cross-branded content and products for Chevrolet, HSBC, FedEx, AOL, Tanqueray, Toyota, Halstead, Fox Business, USA Networks, Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Daily Scoop, fashion firm Joseph Abboud where he produced limited edition books and Prometheus Global Media where he ran the creative services department which oversees the brands: Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Backstage, Clio Awards, and Adweek. In short, hard work truly paid off.
Orville is currently spending time creating a film, updating his JC home and traveling regularly between NJ and London to visit family and friends. Originally Orville didn’t want to move to Jersey City. He and his family wanted to stay in Brooklyn mostly because of Brooklyn’s reputation as a hip place. He says, “Once they did make their way to JC to look at potentially buying a property, they were hooked.” He made an offer on the first house he looked because of its Victorian details but got outbid by an all cash buyer. Ultimately, he purchased a property on the same street and have been here ever since.
Orville believes people should dress according to their attitude. “Don’t let anyone dictate what you should wear,” he says. “If you feel bright colors are your personal style, you should wear them because you are going to be confident and comfortable. Try to mix a little vintage in with your look to set if off and create a very personalized statement. I am a stickler for rules. Suits are always top priority but add work boots to mix it up.”
“Every man should have a nice pair of brown oxfords in his closet,” he says. “They never go out of style and they can be very classic and can anchor a trendier look because you never want to overdo it.” For the fall, Orville recommends wearing slightly tapered trousers paired with tweeds, flannels and tartans, old work boots and vintage ties.
For more on Orville Clarke visit otclarke.com
Photo of Orville & Sufyan courtesy of Orville Clarke , additional photo of Orville by Jason Blaney