Style Icons: Existentialist thinkers

Who better than five free-thinking, paradigm-shifting, impeccably dressed mavericks to help us find our sartorial November purchases?

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While classed as an existentialist (a tag Camus predictably refuted) he also belongs to the absurdist school of philosophy. But don’t be fooled – there’s nothing ridiculous about the Nobel Prize-winning Frenchman’s eye for a natty coat. Camus (pictured on the right) always looked on point and is one of the most stylish writers ever to have lived. This oversized overcoat and scarf combo is a strong look although it probably won’t look as slick with a vape instead of an old-school cig.

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Even if you don’t recognise Biko you’ll certainly know his famous “black is beautiful” slogan. The anti-apartheid activist and philosophical writer was a truly exceptional human being, giving so many years (and eventually his life) to the struggle for equality. Is focusing on his fashion sense shallow? Not if it gets you into his books! So let’s just say he knew how to rock a jacket, knit and denims better than most.

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While this avant-gardist might have been born in Romania, he spent a big portion of his life in France where some classic Gallic chic definitely rubbed off. All the items here, from the overcoat to the flat cap, are good solid wardrobe staples but what’s so excellent about the execution is the use of tone. Ionesco has chosen a light shade, tough to pull off at best, but then chosen to layer it not once, not twice but thrice (including the hat). If hell really is other people, they’re probably not dressed as well as Eugene.

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The American author might not have been the most prolific of writers but what he did produce was ballsy and brilliant. His book Invisible Man dealt with racism, communism and incest, which might sound like a Pixar movie by today’s standards, but took some cojones to pull off in 1952 America. Here Ellison wears a loose, deconstructed jacket and matching trouser combo and amps up the don’t-give-a-damn attitude of it by popping the collar of his crisp polo shirt Cantona-style. Nicely played.

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You’d have to be at least halfway stylish if, like Sartre, you spent your time shooting the breeze with the likes of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. He was so cool in fact that he was the first (and still only one of two people) to ever turn down the Nobel Prize for literature. Thankfully his anarchic streak didn’t stretch to his wardrobe where he always kept things very much under control, whether with smart suits or his casual pipe-smoking outwear choices. This shawl-collared coat will protect your neck against winter winds while the slick shoes will keep you dapper.

Fashion for Mr Hyde is curated by Will Barnes.

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