I blame Alfred Hitchcock – into a 1970s Northern Ireland stepped Cary Grant in North by Northwest as ad man on the run Roger O Thornhill. The immaculate suit, the creative job, the superb styling and suspense.
It all started an obsession with the creative businesses and people around Manhattan’s Madison Avenue in the late 1950s and the 1960s. The gleaming Modernist headquarters all steel, glass and crisp lines. The office spaces furnished in the pieces that Knoll and Herman Miller seemed to produce so effortlessly. Then lunch at the legendary Four Seasons restaurant.
Then there was the look – horn-rimmed frames, the sharpest of Ivy League and Savile Row suiting tailored to perfection, and the crisp white shirts and burnished brogues. Clothing for grown-ups. But it wasn’t just the style – the work was crafted, intelligent, smart and commercial. One look at George Lois’ work at Esquire in the 1960s and you knew this had to be the place to work. Ex-adman Lois effortlessly brought together brand, lifestyle, a rigorous eye and a political message to amazing effect.
In 1963, David Ogilvy published Confessions of an Advertising Man, a bible for us at Irving as we build a new group. Yes, it’s from another era, but it’s still relevant, with thoughts like ‘big ideas are usually simple ideas’. So why the name Irving? Well, it just had to be a name that conjured up our heroes from that golden era – Irving Penn, Paul Rand, Saul Bass or Herb Lubalin.