Django – Immaculately Dressed Stylist
Elegant Stylist & Musician
Man of Persona, Elegance and Style.
The young prince with the jet-black eyebrows launched his professional career at the age of 13, playing in a Parisian dance-hall on the rue Monge. Django’s flamboyant dress sense was already in evidence. A photo of the time shows the young guitarist immaculately turned out in a black, double-breasted suit. The very picture of masculine elegance! It was not so much Django’s dress sense that blew people away, it was his incredible talent for reproducing a tune he had only heard once. What’s more, the young prodigy was totally illiterate and when he made his early recordings he was incapable of spelling his name (hence the signatures “Iango Renard” on the records released on Vaissade or “Jean Got” on those released on Marceau)
The very word ‘elegance’ may conjure up images of powdered wigs and courtiers parading about in 18th century garb with perhaps a harpsichord tinkling away somewhere in the background. It has always been around if you look for it, in the Thirties, Forties – even today, in dress, design and – music.
Clothes were also very important to him, but again not in the way that was expected. One time, he would appear dressed like a dandy, then he would defend his bright red shoes by declaring that red and black went together well.
Django leans on his 1926 Dodge Converttible which he bought for 5000 Fr and crashed it all over Cannes. He drove many cars but never owned a driving licence
His immediate surrounding had to get accustomed to his pride, and it took quite an effort to make good the “insult” when the Quintette was announced in as “Stéphane Grappelli and the Hot Four”. Django’s colleagues also had to accept that he would travel first class and they third on returning from a trip to Italy, and that he did not even greet them on the train. They had had to lend him the money for the fare beforehand, because he had gambled away his fee. When performing with the “Ersatz”- the Quintette which he had put together with Hubert Rostaing during the war, he was yet more dominant. It was always he who told them what to play, he beat time, and as soon as he started tapping his foot, the Quintette immediately had to obey, without the slightest hesitation.
Accommodation and Clothes:
– Django grew up in gypsy caravans and at the age of 20 he had never lived in a house or had any new clothes. – He loved the outdoor life on the road with the caravans, sometimes he disappeared for months. If he was booked to play, those responsible would sometimes employ a man just to keep an eye on him and transport him to venues.
The magazine “Jazz hot” wrote in 1937:- “Django Reinhardt was seen on highway No.7 at kilometre post 489 near Lyon”.
With fame Django began to take his image very seriously, buying the best clothes and a luxury apartment on the Champs Elysses.
Everytime he stayed in a hotel he converted the room to a camp site where he slept on the floor and let the taps run to simulate the outdoor life. Wherever he was, his accommodation was always filled with other gypsies ready to party all night, much to the annoyance of the neighbours.
1941 Lincoln Coupe
Django always drove in large American cars, although he never had a driving license. After one tour of England he bought a big Buick and hired an English Chauffeur who came with him to France. The driver soon quit after spending many nights on a gypsy camp site where there was a vendetta between two rival clans.
Django was very superstitious and felt unsafe in the dark. When the Quintette were on tour he refused to either fly or sail. He never carried his guitar or changed strings, these tasks were performed by his younger brother, Joseph Reinhardt. When Paris was being bombed he always sent his wife out to check if it was safe to leave the shelter.
1938 Buick Coupe
1938 Buick 4 Door Sedan