Born Anthony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon led a privileged and prosperous life well before marrying the Queen's sister, Margaret, in 1960, whereupon he was thrust into the ultra-elite royal swirl and soon acquired his lordly moniker. In that uniquely English way, the 80-something gentleman of the arts is highly eccentric, still, so when he takes the lavishly spartan portraits of actors, art-world giants, literary lions, political leaders, and royalty that he's known and celebrated for, he has a peculiar habit of asking those subjects—some, not all—to change into a solid blue shirt he happens to have on hand. This is done so as not to distract the viewer with an unnecessarily silly color or indecorously frivolous pattern. As Snowdon himself has said, “The blue shirt is anonymous and yet kind of a uniform. It is like a simple backdrop that leaves us to focus on the sitter’s face without being distracted.”
If it sounds like a collaboration waiting to happen, you'd be very right. Acne's Johnny Johansson caught wind of this sartorial idiosyncrasy in the pages of a 2007 issue of Acne Paper and got to work on a collection of eight blue shirts inspired by and suitable for Lord Snowdon, as well as the book Snowdon Blue with 60 such portraits.
Both the shirts ($220-340) and the book ($120) are available at Barneys New York (beginning May 15), Mr Porter and the Stockholm store Très Bien.