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Style Icon is a new series that highlights Angelenos who aren't strictly in the business of fashion, but who have an affinity for style, clothing, retail—or just plain looking good.
Do we really need to introduce Jason Bentley? we ask rhetorically.
As the music director at KCRW and the host of Morning Becomes Eclectic, he's part of the very fabric of our cultural life in LA, but his influence is felt far beyond Southern California.
He's a prominent local fixture, hosting shows and events for KCRW, and spinning at upscale clubs and local events like Sunset Junction. Not only does he NOT have a "face for radio," he's every bit as stylish as you'd expect him to be. He's a Style Icon in his own right, but the fact that he's married to Design on a Dime's Kahi Lee doesn't hurt.
He met us for some window-shopping along Rodeo Drive, and talked to us about shopping, style, fashion as a means of personal identity, and what he's wearing to Coachella.
Elizabeth Daniels, 4/10
So what are you wearing today?
Ben Sherman shoes, jeans by J. Lindberg, a t-shirt from Nudie, Oliver Peoples sunglasses.
What's the last thing you purchased?
I bought myself a few things from Nice Collective, with Coachella in mind. They have pieces that are really well designed and interesing, with a vaguely apocalyptic feel: lots of zippers, distressed finishes. It's really a post-World War III vibe.
Speaking of Coachella, you were just added to the bill.
Yes, I just found out on Friday. I'm going to be at the Sahara tent, at 2:30 on Saturday. Right when it's really hot. I hope people show up!
They'll be there, in droves. But speaking of Coachella again, what's good; who are you looking forward to seeing?
It's such a strong lineup this year, with such a wide variety?definitely acts like MGMT, Sly and the Family Stone, and newer acts like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Band of Skulls.
In our last Style Icon interview, Daniel was kind of lamenting looking back at the electronic scene in the 90s?and wearing some really terrible clothing. Do you look back at photos and think, 'What the hell was I wearing?'
Well, there were definitely things I wouldn't wear now?bleached blond hair, the baggy pants, and lots of bright colors. But I also couldn't have been told not to do it.
So was there a moment of evolution in your personal style?
I've always felt it was important to distinguish myself, and create an identity with the things I wore. As a teenager, I was one of those outcast-type kids: I wore creepers and pegged jeans. I was influenced by the Mod scene and the whole Mod asthetic?especially bands like the Specials and the Jam?and what you wore was a way to show who you are and what you want to be. I still believe in creativity and personal identity, but that translates differently at different ages.
Technically, this is a question about shopping, even though it's music: What's the first album you remember purchasing?
I didn't purchase them, but I remember discovering some records in the attic of a house we moved to when I was young. These were mine, the first records I really embraced as my own: the Monkees, and the Beatle's Rubber Soul. Pretty standard first records. It was the start of my own "British Invasion."
Where are some of your favorite places to shop in LA?
My regular spots are Alexander McQueen, Dior on Rodeo, Barneys New York in Beverly Hills, Paul Smith on Melrose, Bloomingdale's Century City. All depends on what I'm looking for. The Alexander McQueen suits aren't for every day. I'll purchase something like that for a high profile event, for example, the Governor's Ball [for the Academy Awards], but still, I feel like I have to get a little more mileage out of it to justify spending the money.
Say you have $500 to spend anywhere in LA. Where would you go, what would you buy?
I'd use it where I could get the most bang for my buck. I might buy some workout clothes, maybe some nice t-shirts, or some athletic shoes.
Come on, pretend it's a gift. Don't blow it on something practical! Where would you go?
I'd probably go to Barneys and pick out something from the Co-Op brands.
All of this begs the question: Do you enjoy shopping?
I'm not the kind of person who likes to belabor it, no. I don't spend hours doing it as a hobby. It's much more enjoyable for me when I have help, someone who knows my tastes and can make suggestions. I have a person I go to at Barneys who knows what I like, and that makes it more fun.
So you're not one for the Warehouse sale, then.
I don't have the patience to dig through the piles and search for the buried treasures.
You're married to an exceptionally stylish women. Has she influenced you, either directly or indirectly? Or vice versa?
We'e similar in that we're both very individual and assertive about our tastes, but there's not a lot of cross-influence. There's a lot of mutual appreciation.