We always have style on the brain at FR headquarters, so from time to time we reach out to our best-dressed chef friends to hear about their favorite designers and why it’s never OK to wear chili pepper pants in the kitchen. Next up, Frank Cisneros, a living legend in the New York bar scene and the man behind the drinks at Dram and The Bourgeois Pig.
First off, do you think bartenders are pressured to dress a certain way?
In NYC, absolutely a few years ago, the whole vest and suspenders thing. I was fully a part of that and enjoyed it. You’ve seen that style loosen quite a bit, like at Dram I’m usually the only one behind the bar wearing a tie. I’m personally glad that the really strict 1880s look has waned. It gives bartenders more freedom to express themselves. But I still do think you should look professional behind the bar. How you dress speaks with more authority than your actions or words sometimes.
Who are your style icons?
In general, men and women from the ’60s. Audrey Hepburn specifically. And post-punk bands from the late ‘70s, especially the military-uniform style of Joy Division.
I collect a lot of vintage Christian Dior, YSL and Comme de Garçons. I’m obsessed with the story of Yves Saint Laurent working for Dior, then running it himself and revolutionizing and democratizing fashion in the ’60s and ’70s. It’s inspiring.
Clothing item you would never wear?
Flip-flops. I had a dream last night that I lost my shoes and HAD to wear them. With socks on! It was really more of a nightmare.
Your last big splurge item was…
A Comme de Garçons cardigan from Opening Ceremony.
Do you collect anything fashion-related?
Ties. Lots and lots of them. I have a good friend named Desiree Marsau who ran an awesome Etsy shop and had access to amazing ties and I wound up gathering over 80 vintage Dior, YSL and de la Renta ties, mostly through her, for very, very cheap.
Do you have any designer friends/regulars at your bars?
My two best friends Billy Van Duyne and Seth Tabor are both freelance/indie clothing and shoe designers. Surprisingly though, we hardly ever really talk about fashion!
Read any fashion magazines?
The only one I have a subscription to is GQ. I like their fashion advice column because it’s so sarcastic. I read a lot of fashion blogs, namely the Sartorialist. It’s my dream to wind up on there someday.
Favorite clothing store in NYC. Outside of NYC?
Still after all these years, Opening Ceremony and Oak, for when I have cash to spend. For everyday items, Uniqlo is great quality and inexpensive. And occasionally there are decent items at Top Shop. I was excited when they opened a store in NYC. Before I lived here it was a lot of vintage shopping in Portland, Oregon. A lot of places like Red Light.
Who’s your favorite fashion model?
I don’t follow that scene too much, so I would say a classic, like Twiggy. Or currently, my girlfriend Jane Danger. She used to be a model!
What do you wear during service?
I always wear a shirt and tie. I wear the same thing I wear on the street, really. I’ve ruined a lot of beautiful vintage ties and tailored shirts that way, and a pair of YSL lace-ups and vintage Gucci loafers from the ’80s, but I view the bitters stains and ruined shoes as a badge of honor.
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