And that's not even the half of him...and by him I mean the slender figure of a dark man who goes by "Ali." Very few people know his real name and even less are allowed to share it. I'm in the latter somehow...and it's taken me a year to get there. Despite his expansive aptitude, ask him what he's good at and he'll blurt out "football"—like it's a reflex. Running back, punt returner, wide receiver, free safety and you begin to see how long he's been wearing 17 hats at any given time. It's who he is. "I just see something and I do it."
Ali is teetering on a 10ft ladder while putting the finishing touches on his latest installation in his Brooklyn live/work space. A couple minutes pass before I fully get it—a play on words of the current season in its depiction of the fall of man, except here Eve carries a Mark Cross handbag. His genius is not that he's mixing (on trend) Navajo print outerwear with classic pieces, it's that he's toying with it before it appears in the collective industry's conscience (I shot these photographs over a year ago). Note: add tastemaker to the above list.
When he isn't rummaging through his latest vintage sweater finds—an original L.L. Bean Norwegian and 1984 Ralph Lauren football sweater are highlights—or uploading his latest installation on A Noble Savage, Ali is working with designers and brands on various projects who are after a specific inflection in his tone. Ovadia & Sons, Rugby, and Under Two Flags are just a few of the fashion brands he's worked with recently. The airy Brooklyn loft doubles as a showroom and workspace where Ali emerges after long hours like a mad scientist from his laboratory. Pinched tubes of oil paint, hammers, and gilded picture frames exist alongside vintage Chanel, paint-splattered Gucci snaffle bit loafers, and a handful of hats.
"My mother taught me creative visualization while my father really took the time to impress upon me the importance of attention to detail."
Photographed in Brooklyn, NY
*As always, most of these images can be shared via Tumblr at Collection by F.E. Castleberry.