A Southern Gentleman's Style
A Broadway, film and television actor, along with author, designer, and civic activist, Bryan Batt’s fashion feet are well grounded as a “Southern Gentleman.”
“I like classic clothing with a twist, and have always enjoyed a flair for fashion,” he says, as he shares how he took classes at Parsons School of Design while in New York waiting to break into show business. “Soon I was cast in my first Broadway show and I followed my first love of becoming an actor.”
A member of the original cast of AMC’s long-running, award-winning “Mad Men” TV show, he was a handsome addition to the somewhat fashion-driven weekly series.
“Janie Bryant, my pal who designed the mid-century looks for “Mad Men," is a genius and I adored everything she dressed me in,” he says. “Her use of tone and texture is so subtle, but it makes a clear statement. Although it was rare, every so often I’d discover an ‘actor’s choice’ in my trailer for the show. Maybe it was just socks or a tie bar, but having a little say was great.” Then he adds, “I loved every moment of being an integral part of one of the best television dramas in history. It was an incredible gift, a once in a lifetime job as an actor.”
At the other extreme of his “Southern Gentleman”-cum-“Mad Men” style, Batt has two favorite Broadway costumes. The first was Jane Greenwood’s romantic late 19th century period-perfect costumes for “Scarlet Pimpernel.”
“The costumes were stunning,” he says. “I loved the starched cravat, smart brocade waist coat, tri-corner hat, and walking stick. I still have the gorgeous custom Italian riding boots I wore in the show. His other favorite is Antony Powell’s costumes for “Sunset Boulevard.” “Every suit was tailored to perfection and made of the finest fabrics available. Even the shoes, shirts, hats – everything was bespoke so that each color, texture and look all worked together to create the world of 1950s Hollywood.”
A graduate of Newman High School, he says he immediately high tailed it to New York City after graduating from Tulane University, where he majored in theatre arts, to pursue his love of theatre that developed mostly by being involved with plays at Le Petit Theatre in the French Quarter. “I loved the pace and style of NYC, but I never gave up my true ‘Southern Gentleman’ style that is deeply a part of me.”
Along with Tom Cianfichi, his husband and 27-year partner, Batt owns Hazelnut, a fine gift and stylish home accessories shop on Magazine Street. The couple live a bi-coastal lifestyle.
“It is interesting to split my time between the Big Apple and the Big Easy,” he says with a smile. “When I was cast in ‘Mad Men,’ I became tri-coastal, splitting life between Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, we made our permanent home in New Orleans, helping with the resurgence of New Orleans, and today we definitely call ourselves proud New Orleanians.”
Much to his credit, Batt has always supported theatre in New Orleans.
“I am proud to have served on the board of Le Petit Theatre for many years and even prouder to have been a part of the board that saved the theatre for closing its doors permanently. The 2016-17 season marks Le Pettit’s 100th anniversary.” Then he reminisces and adds, “To be given the opportunity to really grow and the responsibility of carrying a show was a great gift, and I have the late director Eddie Vedrene and Le Petit Theatre to thank for helping shape my love of theatre.”
What is Batt doing today? “I’m working on a new book, designing new products for Hazelnut and the NOLA tri-centennial, filming season two of ’Scream’ for MTV, working on a new film (with several films waiting for release dates), as well as a few stage projects, and a new cabaret show for London.”
Batt is a treasured local who has always remained true to his “Southern Gentleman” style. “Aspects of your style can vary and change over the years, but either you care about how you look and present yourself, or you don’t. You can’t be truly stylish without taking a risk now and then.”