When I started working in menswear the "fashion industry" was in its infancy. My formative years were spent at Monsoon dressing Gloss stars and hanging out at the House Bar and Cause Celebre.
One man who stood out, as a customer, an enigma, and as an identity was Grant Chilcott.
In 1988 Fashion Quarterly writer Laurence Quinn wrote:
Grant Chilcott, Gavin’s slightly younger brother, is a man of the moment, always singularly and eccentrically dressed in garments from the ’50s, ’40s, or ’30s. He stands dark and handsome in any gathering — and he is at many gatherings.
His band, Wentworth Brewster, ‘the neo-swing ensemble’, and his informal rhumba, are playing constantly and with authority at a myriad of venues — restaurants, exclusive private parties and balls such as the New Zealand Law Society Ball held late last year in Christchurch. Grant Chilcott sings Noel Coward at Clarry’s Bar on Sunday afternoons. “Darling of the Trendoids,” he was called by Metro magazine.
Grant Chilcott bops in resonant stylishness, living in a ground-floor apartment in the newly saved Courtville, in an eclectic, theatrical style. His flat, a series of rooms from the past, are elegant, masculine and evocative of the ’30s and offbeat eastern mysticism. Black coffee is immaculately served by Grant himself, an icon now of original fashion in Auckland.
His wardrobe is a mixture of el tropo pukka chic and sophistication from the deco decades of this century. Like Gavin, Grant is a gentleman of taste and distinction.
An excellent showman, he can rivet an audience with his hauteur and presence. His voice is ‘stonewashed’ Coward and Sinatra, but original. Gershwin, Cole Porter and some little knowns from the jazz past form his repertoire. The ‘neo-swing’ sound is now part of the background to Auckland’s modish moods.
Grant, wrapped in the dark green paisley scarf, maroon bow tie, and boxy suit, hums at the wheel of a slimline ’60s Renault ‘Fluoride’ Sports in acid green. His mood is studied, high and wide. A Paratai Drive party that afternoon, a sophisticates club in the evening, more melodies at a society wedding the following day.
Grant Chilcott is on his way. His rendition of ‘Tea for Two’ reverberates in the room and the century deco music is summed up in his vocals, his dress, the very atmosphere that surrounds him.