Speed style: A lightning fast chat with Usain Bolt
Just 10 days after running his last official race of the season in Brussels (and placing his fastest time of 2011), three-time Olympic gold medal winner Usain Bolt sprinted into Los Angeles for a whirlwind week of clinics, photo shoots, store openings and an event in Beverly Hills' Greystone Park in which the fastest man in the world purposely lost a race against a handful of grade-schoolers to earn a $100,000 charity check from luxury watch brand Hublot.
All The Rage caught up with the Jamaican sprinter during a rooftop photo shoot high above Sunset Boulevard for a lightning-fast face-to-face chat about his personal style, his ongoing apparel collaboration with Puma (which launched in July 2010) and to try and find out the meaning of his signature victory pose.
Usain Bolt: Since Monday [Sept. 26].
ATR: What's been the highlight of your visit?
UB: The Hublot [fundraising] event at Greystone with all the kids. I love working with kids and there were these little break-dancing kids there that were just amazing.
ATR: I'm told you're leaving for LAX in an hour. Where to?
ATR: Is the Las Vegas trip work or for pleasure?
UB (with a wide grin): It's four days of vacation.
UB: Not really -- but I look good in one.
ATR: OK, so what if you were invited to the Oscars or ESPYs -- what would you wear?
UB: A Gucci suit –- Gucci suits fit me perfectly. I've got like four of them now.
ATR: Have brands other than Puma reached out to offer you clothes to wear?
UB: Puma’s got a thing with PPR Group [the French company, which owns a majority interest in Puma, also owns or has a stake in a stable of luxury labels including Gucci, YSL, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen] so I get Gucci suits and YSL suits and things like that. But I love my Gucci suits more.
ATR: The first season of Puma's Bolt lifestyle collection was full of foil prints, crests with lightning bolts and lots and lots of purple. Is that a kind of signature color for you?
UB: I like wearing purple, I like the darker solid colors; purple, black, dark blue and stuff like that. For the designs we tried to mix it up old-school and new school.
(Bolt's agent, Ricky Simms, jumps into the conversation to explain that the bold graphics and foil screen prints from the inaugural season were meant to tap into the Ed Hardy/Affliction look that was still hugely popular at the time.)
ATR: The current pieces -- in the fall-winter 2011 collection -- has a much stronger emphasis on a silhouette of you doing your victory pose. What exactly are you doing when you strike that pose? Hurling a lightning bolt? Pointing to the history books?
UB: It's called "to the world," that's it. It's just me to the world. It's like the [Michael] Jordan [Jumpman] stuff you know?
ATR: Do you have a favorite piece in the Bolt collection?
(Usain Bolt points across the room to a black T-shirt on the end of a rack of brightly colored pieces. The torso of the T-shirt is completely filled with out-sized neon yellow letters.)
UB: I love that one.
ATR: The one with the words "Bolt Runs Tings"?
Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man, the namesake of an aspiring lifestyle brand who hopes to capture lightning in a bottle a second time at next summer's London Olympics just smiles widely and nods his head as if to say: "Yeah, he does."
-- Adam Tschorn
Top photo: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt at the start of a Sept. 27 Beverly Hills charity race against local school children, one of the many things in which the three-time gold medal Olympian participated during a week-long whirlwind visit to the Los Angeles area Credit: Hublot
Middle photo: Shoes from Puma's Bolt lifestyle collection. Credit: Puma
Bottom photo: A shirt from the Bolt collection emblazoned with the sprinter's victory-pose silhouette. Credit: Puma