A Conversation with Mr. Jon Bath

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Meet Mr. Jon Bath (@jonbath) from Shoreditch, East London, Executive Producer & Legal Consultant for Theatre & the Arts.

Jon, what does it mean for you to be a Modern Gentleman?

​​So many ways to approach this question. My take might be to try and refine it to a handful of attributes: manners, confidence, awareness, and purpose.

Manners are of course a prerequisite. I once read the words: “Everyone needs – and deserves – to be seen”. I like that a lot and try to carry it with me. See everyone, acknowledge them, never treat them as lesser or better than yourself.

The right form of confidence is something you acquire over time. It comes with experience and a small modicum of wisdom. That said, confidence without manners is intolerable!

I’ve learned to be aware that as a (modern) gentleman, I am in relative terms, a hugely privileged person. I don’t feel the need to be apologetic for that, but I do feel the need to be aware of it. That’s one way of approaching life.

And purpose. The importance of this in life and my own questioning of mine has only slowly come into focus over recent years. I have no answers, but it’s front of mind. Purpose seems to be a work in progress – ask me again in another 20 years.

How do you define your style?

Casual but clean. Think classic Steve McQueen (NB: I bear no resemblance to SM, more’s the pity) but then a little nod to 60’s era Bond films (to whom I also bear no resemblance) when a little more formal. I’m in good jeans and a well-cut t-shirt most of the time. Cosy chunky knits during colder months. Leather chukka boots in the Winter and white plimsolls (probably Converse Chuck Taylors) all summer.
Nothing remarkable but I’m a longtime fan of well-cut classics in good quality fabrics. They allow you to blend into a room but also look on point if needed. As far as tailoring goes, normally Hackett or Paul Smith. Keeping up the British end!

When it comes to style, where do you mostly get your inspiration from?

Anything that has stood the test of time. I’m not an early adopter when it comes to style – I don’t have the courage. But anything that has been around for 20, 30… 60 years and still looks good, gets a pass from me. Hence the very old-school approach to my wardrobe. I owe much to whoever first refined the t-shirt.

What’s your personal style signifier?

Always an Omega on my wrist – I’ve put together a small but nicely formed collection over the years and each of them never fails to make me feel a bit like a grown-up.

What are your favorite wardrobe essentials?

My Billy Reid peacoat always (weather permitting). I’ve been known to pray for cold weather as an excuse to wear it. If I lost it, or it one day reached the end of its life, I would simply get on a plane to Billy Reid’s NYC Bond Street store and buy another.

Aside from that: Sunspel t-shirts, Nudie jeans, white Converse, vintage Raybans. Everything else is non-essential.

What are your main passions and how do you cultivate them?

Music has always been the backbone of my life. I decided I would pursue a career as a musician when I was about 15, then trained as the same and spent the first years of my career hacking away a living as a freelance musician. I later migrated into music production (and then over to theatre where I still find myself). So, it’s always been there, and whatever the situation or moment in life, music is the glue that threads it all together. My happy place is a table down the side of the room at Ronnie Scott’s for a late set, something dark on the rocks and eyes a little bit blurry.

I’m a certified petrolhead. Beautiful and heart-stopping cars. When I first had the means to indulge in cars that weren’t purely ‘sensible’, I started on a journey that has led to a modest collection that currently includes a 1966 Aston Martin DB6, an early 1966 Porsche SWB 911, and a 1965 Austin Healey 3000. As I write this, we’re in the running-in stages after the 3-year restoration of the Austin Healey. Like most cars of its age, it’s put up a hell of a fight in the process, but good lord it’s worth the pain now complete. I find the rebuilds massively rewarding. It feels like being custodian of something special for the next chapter of its life. I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t crack a smile when a classic 60’s sports car comes into sight.

What does your ideal Sunday look like?

My partner and I so rarely get a clear day off together (she’s an actress and cabaret performer so the weekend can be crazy). When it does happen, we’ll make the most of it. I’ll get up early and get exercise out of the way, then we’ll have breakfast, plenty of espresso and newspapers on the balcony (British weather permitting) accompanied by something like Bill Evans on low. Then a wander down Columbia Road Flower Market that we’re fortunate to live next door to. It’s a real buzz on a Sunday morning.

We love to entertain on Sundays so I’ll either settle into the kitchen for the next few hours before guests arrive, or (if no one’s expected and the weather’s favorable) I’ll be straight either onto my Triumph Bonneville or into one of the cars for a run out into the countryside of Essex and Suffolk (to the North East of London). I don’t know how it took me so long in life to discover the joy of a fast motorbike and a good country road.

Describe an interesting trip you have taken and tell us what’s the next destination on your bucket list.

Not remarkable or particularly unusual, but we were recently in Rome for a long weekend. I’ve been to Rome countless times, but on this occasion over my birthday (and a certain Mr Springsteen playing in town). Some family joined us. Staying in an apartment directly above Piazza delle Coppelle, we spent the weekend eating, aimlessly ambling, eating again, catching up, drinking, and eating again. I realised some time ago that, for myself, the magic of visiting a great city comes not necessarily on the first trip. That might be the moment a city takes your breath away and seduces you. But it’s the subsequent trips when you don’t feel compelled to hustle your way around back-to-back sights and tick things off a must-see list, that’s the magic. When you just feel able to hang out, live a little in someone else’s town. It’s wonderful.

I don’t really have a bucket list – I’ve been lucky enough to travel a great deal throughout my career so I have a short list of places I would (and will endeavor to) revisit whenever life might allow. New Orleans, Florence, Berlin, wine country in Northern California, Cape Town, the Western Cape of South Africa, to name a few.

But for no specific reason, arriving in Tremezzo on the shore of Lake Como always feels a bit like arriving home to me. It’s so very special. I just feel my shoulders relax and lower. Life is suddenly stately, beautiful, and considered. Also: Aperitivo. Why don’t we do that in England?!

Tell us what can never be missing in your liquor cabinet.

Bourbon, Scotch Tequila. In that order. If push came to shove and I could only take one bottle with me to the grave, I’d settle on a bottle of Eagle Rare 10-year Bourbon. Or maybe a 16-year-old Lagavulin. Okay, two bottles.

What are your three favorite books?

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain

What are your three favorite movies?

GoodfellasGoldfinger, and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (child of the 80’s).

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