Rafa can’t fill all of Roger’s Prada shoes

By now everyone has seen New York‘s fall fashion issue with a shirtless Rafael Nadal on the cover. Well, he’s on the back cover, so it’s difficult to randomly encounter. I’ve had to actively scan all the rags at my newsstand for Christie Brinkley‘s mug (she’s this week’s cover girl) and then flip the magazine over to see Rafa (so much work in the name of men’s fashion!), but it didn’t matter to me. And then I saw the pictures, and read the article, and then it all made sense: judging by Nadal’s influence in the world of fashion, the back-of-book placement is just right.

The Rafa article, penned by Ben Williams, notes that only a man of Nadal’s body type — big, bulging muscles — could pull off wearing his signature (and subjectively feminine) tank-top-and-Capris ensemble in such a way that we would never feel compelled to qualify his look the word “men’s” — i.e., “sleeveless man shirt” or “men’s Capri pants” — and he can thank his muscles for that. He gets brownie points for effortlessly and indifferently sporting his personal style.

But while this nonchalance might be why he’s worth a cover story (I’m sure Borg was equally as casual about putting together his “look”), Nadal is too disconnected from his fashion image; he has admitted to not knowing anything about the design of his clothes, nor does he seem interested in this world. For the NY photo shoot the editors couldn’t even use Rafa’s body to its full potential, only including three pictures of him wearing the exact. same. polo. And not even the most exciting piece from the Nike‘s fall collection. A chance to advance the realm of men’s (tennis) fashion instead goes down the drain.

After all this, things are the same as where we were pre-publication: men’s clothes as an afterthought, a formality, a rote exercise. With this cover, I had hoped that NY could make a case for us to rally around Rafa as a style icon. Alas, it didn’t quite work. While the search for Roger‘s replacement atop the rankings is over, the search for his fashion heir isn’t.

Read:The Beefcake in the Backcourt“, by Ben Williams, New York; also includes a 7-pic slideshow.

More: Two pics after the cut…

Comments

  1. says

    Do you remember seeing the layout some Spanish mag did a few months ago? It featured Almagro, Verdasco and Ferrero, among others. They were in some pretty haute sh*t, but still looked athletic and sexy. Too bad NY Mag missed their chance to do the same with Rafa – I agree that the non-shirtless photos were pointless.

    Rafa is no fashionista – I put him in the same category as Andy Roddick. Good looking, buff, and will wear whatever their moms or girlfriends tell them to. nothing wrong with that, of course!

  2. m says

    There is an astounding shoot of Rafa in sports clothes in one of the French magazines. From the breathlessness of the prose in the NYMag shoot (I subscribe), I’m thinking perhaps the editors were so overwhelmed by the physique that their brains couldn’t work long enough to figure out what to do with it. (Minds out of gutter, please. Rafa is a “nice boy.”)

    And there was an article somewhere – can’t remember where – that Rafa wasn’t happy with the photos. I don’t think NYMag will get that chance again.

    P.S. Feli Lopez is a model, and “Tabasco” Verdasco dates one. They’re always going to have an edge in knowing what their best angles are in a shoot. Cheaters. Wish they’d show me how to photograph to advantage. I’m a girl — they don’t need the pretty. Life isn’t fair. :D

  3. Sonja says

    I loved the pictures, and I love Rafa’s style. Of course he is not like Roger – why should he be?! He is another person. Not everyone can go all “I’m friends with Anna Wintour and Gwen Stefani.” LOL

    I think Rafa just doesn’t care so much about becoming a marketing machine, and I like that about him.

  4. chivitah says

    Anyone that thinks Rafa is not concerned about being a marketing machine is naive, it’s a business and most top athletes retire in their early 30′s. The hope is to make as money as you can, while you can. What other profession do you know retires at 30? Rafa’s marketing team (and believe me he has one), is trying to make him big in America, get as many sponsors as he can, and make Rafa a brand name and best believe this NY mag cover shoot was part of the plan.

    By the way, I don’t get why he doesn’t like the picture, when the photogs were taking pictures of him shirtless, what did he think they were for?

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