Good Night, Sweet Prince: Exclusive Bruce Boyer Tribute To Charlie Davidson

There are men all over the place reminiscing and telling stories about Charlie Davidson. Everyone either knew him or knew of him. Charlie ran The Andover Shop in Cambridge for more than a half century, and saw to the sartorial needs of professors and politicians, students, jazz musicians, and mere male mortals who wanted to look decently attired. He helped them all and made them better for it. 

He was undoubtedly a good businessman and salesman, a tastemaker with the eye of a cosmetic surgeon and the insight of a psychiatrist combined. Hundreds of well-dressed men depended on Charlie for advice on their wardrobes. But above it all, as one Ivy Style reader said, he had a talent for friendship. His interests were wide, his knowledge deep, and his mind’s eye a sparkle. His wit quick and memorable, Charlie was a raconteur supreme, an urbane gentleman who could make you smile just to be in his company. Wonderful people have a way of making us feel wonderful.

Of the times I’ve spent with Charlie, I remember a particular evening that sums up for me what Charlie was. It was the opening night of Bobby Short’s last engagement at The Carlyle. Charlie invited my wife and me, Charlie Bourgeois, and Catherine Uy to the event. Of course Short knew Charlie well, as did all the other musicians in the group. Almost every jazz musician who played The Newport Jazz Festival over the years stopped at The Andover Shop to see him. When Charlie led us into the room, the band stood up in recognition. It was the beginning of a glittering evening full of wonderful music and champagne. After the music ended and the band left after midnight, Bobby Short came to our table and we sat and talked for another hour or so. Charlie was in his element, the rest of us were in Heaven.

After that I talked with Charlie over the phone, but didn’t see him until several years later when Patricia Mears, Deputy Director of The Museum at FIT, and I went to Cambridge to try and lure Charlie to our exhibition of Ivy styled clothing. “I can’t come to Manhattan any more,” he said, “all my New York friends are gone and it’s too painful.” And now Charlie’s gone, too.

It really does seem like the end of an era, a time when jazz musicians were heroes, and men dressed with an easy elegance. A time when substance had style. — G. BRUCE BOYER

13 Comments on "Good Night, Sweet Prince: Exclusive Bruce Boyer Tribute To Charlie Davidson"

  1. Richard E. Press | December 4, 2019 at 11:45 am |

    A triumphal tribute.

  2. Grey Flannels | December 4, 2019 at 12:23 pm |

    Mr. Boyer,
    It was also a time when style had substance.

  3. Jonathan Dorfman | December 4, 2019 at 2:14 pm |

    With Charlie gone, everything just seems grayer.

  4. Franklin Lanier | December 4, 2019 at 5:13 pm |

    Mr. Davidson is one of very few people I read about passing away that I hate I never met!!

    By the way, after having just found Ivy Style this week, I ordered 4 oxford button downs and a pair of Weejuns just to show the world that I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks is hip or cool. THANKS IVY STYLE!!!!!

  5. More about and from Charlie:

    https://fuckyeahcharliedavidson.tumblr.com/

  6. Without taking away from the focus on Charlie himself, but we should all (and some commenters in particular) take note: Bruce’s tribute here is what really good writing looks like.

  7. Mary Davidson Graham | December 5, 2019 at 11:18 am |

    Thank you, Mr. Boyer. My Uncle had a heart of gold, wanted to know all about the other people in the room and enjoyed life to the fullest. He will indeed be sorely missed.

  8. White Pinpoint | December 5, 2019 at 12:11 pm |

    @Paul

    Too bad Alan Flusser can’t write like this.

  9. Just got off the phone with Alan. I thought he’d called to complain about comments like this!

    I suppose men write like they are. Myself included of course.

  10. I think the greatest compliment one has ever paid to my own writing on this site was that it was “non-fetishist”. Brevity is next to godliness, I always say.

  11. @White Pinpoint

    How fortunate we are that CC has provided us with the opportunity to be exposed to the insights provided by both Mr Boyer and Mr Flusser.

  12. God Bless You,Charlie Davidson,you were one of a kind

  13. james hinsch | December 11, 2019 at 3:48 pm |

    Easy elegance.

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