These Philadelphia gents prove that success also comes with an eye for the art of fashion.
Whether behind the counter of The Borscht Belt or hosting Netflix’s Restaurants on the Edge, Nick Liberato is never without one of his favorite hats.
Take a scroll through Nick Liberato’s Instagram and you’ll quickly notice that he’s rarely without a hat. And not just any one style of hat but all kinds—mesh baseball caps, wide-brim wool fedoras, knit beanies. Yes, having this sartorial signature has helped Liberato carve out a memorable persona as the host and executive producer of Netflix’s Restaurants on the Edge and, more recently, as owner of The Borscht Belt (theborschtbelt.com), a new Jewish deli in Hunterdon County. But Liberato says his love of hats is a tip of the hat to his grandfather.
“My hat collection was originally inspired by my Grandpop John, who had food stands down in the Italian Market. Whether he was gambling in Atlantic City or grinding at the Italian Market, you could always find him in a solid hat. Besides him, I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan, so I’ll give him some credit for my staple hat.”
Hats are a perfect complement to his “well-dressed hippie” style, “a blend of my Philly roots, mixed with California flair and influenced by my favorite hobbies: snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing.” He can often be found behind the counter at Borscht Belt wearing a tie-dye T-shirt, dark jeans and a pair of Vans.
It’s a workday wardrobe that appropriately fits the vibe of his “hip, trendy, modern spin on a classic, New York-style Jewish deli.” In other words, it’s a place where you can order a pastrami Reuben and an egg cream and then take an Instagram photo sitting on top of a gigantic bagel sculpture. Liberato says that the restaurant was born out of the pandemic and helps keep the Jewish deli—”a concept that’s been dying out over the years,” — very much alive.
With a new show, new restaurant concepts and more locations of The Borscht Belt all in the works through next year, Liberato is poised to be busier than ever in 2022. Naturally, he will do it all with a hat and a smile.
Opera Philadelphia’s new artistic adviser stays stage-ready with a smart wardrobe of designer looks.
IN a summer studded with standout outdoor performances, Opera Philadelphia’s An Evening of Vocal Fireworks: Amici e Rivali at the Mann Center in late August was electric. Two of opera’s most talented tenors, Lawrence Brownlee (lawrencebrownlee.com) and Michael Spyres, squared off in a friendly battle of opera classics sung in Italian and French.
Brownlee says there were vocal fireworks and actual fireworks that evening. “It was the North American debut of our recently released album, Amici e Rivali, and we were celebrating a reentry back into live performing. Opera Philadelphia was an important part of making the album possible, and it was a wonderful experience sharing this incredible music with their audience.”
Opera Philadelphia patrons will be seeing a lot more of Brownlee in the months ahead. The international opera star is the organization’s new artistic adviser, a role that tasks him with audience building and advocating for new works, among other things. He will balance it all alongside a packed schedule of recitals, operas and orchestra concerts from New York to Zurich. No matter where in the world he’s performing, he’s ready for any occasion thanks to a smartly assembled “casual and dapper” wardrobe filled with pieces from Hugo Boss, Isaia, Tom Ford and Eton.
“I have invested in my performance wardrobe because I want to look as elegant as possible and to look like a top-level performer in my field.” Now that’s worthy of a standing ovation.
The artist and jewelry designer draws inspiration and creativity from his work wardrobe.
Times change but, often, so does personal style. Just ask John Wind (johnwind.com), the owner and designer of John Wind Jewelry. Over the years, he’s traced a style evolution as eclectic and interesting as his collections, an aesthetic that he describes as “somewhere between Cary Grant, David Hockney and Lenny Kravitz.”
For long days at his inviting South Philadelphia studio, Wind takes a fashion-meets-function approach. “I dress to feel inspired and creative but still comfortable; a cool T-shirt or sweatshirt is usually the focus. I buy a lot at museum stores. PMA’s new retro-vibe 1938 Griffin collection is a favorite. I also like to design at a standing desk, so Nike sneakers are a must.”
It’s a far cry from his college years. “I was the guy who always wore leather shoes—penny loafers or lace-ups—to be more grown up. Now, it’s the opposite. Sneakers are my go-to, to be less grown up.”
At 6-foot-6 with a size 15 shoe, Wind turns to a stable of tried-and-true designers that cater to his lofty stature: Etro, Gucci, Nike, Hugo Boss and J.Crew as well as Philly’s Commonwealth Proper for tailored shirts.
Looking back over his 40 years in business, a career punctuated by mentions in Vogue, British Vogue and O, The Oprah Magazine as well as being housed in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Wind’s wildly successful journey in the world of jewelry design began with a few handmade accessories.
“I started out as an ’80s club kid making funky DIY brooches out of flea market finds; people liked them, and the next thing I knew I was in business. Incredibly, that modern vintage aesthetic has stood the test of time, and John Wind Jewelry today is all about personalized looks, our take on trends and elevating the collage mix I’ve always been known for.” In more recent years, the prolific designer has been channeling his creativity through other projects. This year saw the launch of the brand’s sold-out At the Waldorf collection, jewelry and keepsake boxes adorned with disassembled, fragmented decorative items Wind acquired from New York’s Waldorf Astoria. A second collection from the Plaza Hotel is coming out this fall. As well, Wind works on art commissions using clients’ personal objects to create tactile portraits made from boxes, mirrors and other three-dimensional canvases. At the center of all of his work is the Dina Wind Art Foundation. The nonprofit, where he serves as president, was created in his mother’s memory. Says Wind, of her success as a sculptor, “She was my inspiration for becoming an artist.”
Photography by: Courtesy of Nick Liberato; Shervin Lainez; Courtesy of John Wind; Bonett A/Getty Images