K. Cooper Ray
Occupation:Writer, Blogger, Stylist, Bow-Tie Designer
Home:Lives in Charleston, SC; born in Montgomery but grew up in Opelika, Alabama
Time it takes him to get ready each morning: "No time at all. I wear a version of the same thing every day."
What he's wearing: L.L. Bean signature tweed jacket, Brooks Brothers shirt, belt, cords, argyle socks, Social Primer for Brooks Brothers bow tie and Gucci loafers
Personal style: "No--fuss neo-dandy, meaning I am not afraid to leave the house with a wrinkle here or there. I don’t have time to iron every day."
When he knew he wanted to be a designer: "Probably when I was working at Bottega Veneta in Italy. I shared office space with the design team and we collaborated on all the collections. It was great fun and very creative."
If he weren’t a designer he'd want to be: William Faulkner or Tennessee Williams
Inspirations: "At the moment, Charleston, South Carolina. The air is thick with classic style, history, society, sailing, the clubs, cotillion. I couldn’t have written a better scene to dive into."
Other designers he admires: Billy Reid, Simon Spurr, Scott Sternberg
Advice he'd give to anyone entering the field: "Be charming as hell. And always write thank you notes."
Wardrobe essentials: A navy blazer, Gucci horse-bit loafers, and, in the fall, great cords and a tweed jacket
What he'd never be caught dead wearing: Over-wrought jeans with tricks all over them, a leather jacket, a message t-shirt or anything with an obvious logo. "If you want me to promote your brand, then you’ll have to pay me."
Worth the splurge: "A new suit--classic navy, pinstripe or grey windowpane. But it must be a 3-season suit at the very least to get my money’s worth."
Cheap thrill: Gossip Girl. "I love it. I watch every week to see if Chuck Bass is sporting one of my bow ties."
Grooming must-have: Kiehl’s Silk Groom
Signature scent: Brooks Brothers. "It's so clean and crisp."
How he stays fit: "I run around like a chicken with his head cut off."
Fave restaurants: The Waverly Inn in NY and Chateau Marmont in LA. "They used to have the best Steak Frites you’ve ever put in your mouth, but now I just go to bump into movie stars and pretend that we are old friends."
Top online shops: "Brooks, of course; L.L. Bean, which I love so much I will order hunting gear just to check it out, and I don’t’ hunt; Amazon--I probably order at least 2 books a week; I wish thrift stores would go online--that would save me a truck-load of gasoline."
Fave real-world shops: "First and foremost, thrift stores. I make the rounds two, three, four times a week. It’s the first place I go when I need anything from a chest of drawers to dishes. It’s not only because I find the most unique or original stuff that way but also I feel it’s my contribution to the planet. As for retail, there is a new custom-made jeans shop in Nashville I discovered last week--Imogene + Willie. It’s in an old gas station, and it is just about the coolest place I’ve seen in a long time. It reminds me of Cafiero Select in the East Village, which is a place I make a point to visit when in NYC. David Cafiero curates one of the most impressive collections of art and antique furniture and furnishings. There’s a painting of Babe Paley hanging there that is just a tease. He won’t sell it."
Books that are bedside now: Charleston! Charleston! The History of a Southern City by Walter Fraser, The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli and Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden.
All-time favorite travels: "I love Northeast Harbor, Maine. It's preppy heaven. And Charleston. I also love Rome and Venice, but I hate flying over the ocean. Not for fear, but for boredom. I can’t stand to sit still for that long. I am happy to stay right here in America."
How he's reducing his carbon footprint: "I have stored away all of my lamps. I must have lights on at night and couldn’t justify leaving all the lamps on, so now I invest in candles and lanterns of all sizes and shapes. It looks like a Dickens dream in my place. I also don’t use the air-conditioner very much in the summer. I hate AC. And that’s a big commitment here in Charleston where it got up to 135 degrees this past summer. Let’s just say I earned my bona fides."
Charities he supports: Make-A-Wish Foundation. I can’t think of a nobler cause than bringing joy to kid going through a tough time. And just about any historical preservation gig--this is my main passion."