If you’ve ever met Chester Osborn, you’ll know he’s a fan of a loud shirt. The d’Arenberg co-owner, chief winemaker and viticulturist says we need to kick the conservatism, live a little and get loud.
“Don’t be shy about it!” he says. “People say you wear black to draw attention to your face but if you wear lots of colour people will look your way.”
Chester would know. He’s sported outrageously bright designs most of his life. “My mother used to send me to primary school in a tie and smart shirts. I was the only person that ever wore a tie at McLaren Vale Primary.”
There have been only a handful of exceptions to his loud shirt rule. As a border at Prince Alfred College where uniforms were essential, and when searching for a spouse. “I had to give this false idea.” He laughs. “I got back into loud clothes pretty quickly though.”
These days, his work hats change often but his shirts never do. Whether he’s out in the vineyards, in the winery office, at home or attending a function, Chester’s shirts are a vibrant constant.
They’re embroidered, stitched, embellished, dyed and fitted in the most outlandish ways. The crazier the better. “Two years ago we had a competition to guess how many shirts I had. I had 360.” His collection continues to grow. He has full wardrobes in both his homes, with extravagant shoes to match. “Even my pyjamas are loud.”
His prized shirts are from all over, picked up on his travels. “I like Robert Graham (US), Anton (Melbourne) and Etro (Italy). A lot of my friends find me ‘Chester shirts’ when they’re away, too.”
None get thrown out. “I’m a hoarder from way back, and I have too many favourites. I pick depending on how I feel on the day.”
There’s no method to the madness. “I don’t abide by the rules – stripes and stripes don’t go together – I don’t worry about that at all. I think it makes it even better. It’s only a clash if it is in your mind. I’ve actually done a test and I’m a type of colour blind that makes you more sensitive to colours. I see colours more accurately, so maybe that helps!”
It’s as much for the benefit of those around him as it is for himself. “Everyone around you comes alive. I call them hangover shirts because when everyone is loud and buzzing around you it makes you get over your hangover quicker and makes you feel more positive. Just like the Cube [a five-story function centre due to open during summer], I want it to be challenging, interesting and mind-breaking.”
Chester has designed his own line of shirts, which will eventually be available to purchase at the Cube. “We’re only here for a short time and we’re a long-time dead. I say make the most of life. Every day is an opportunity to wear something that has impact and character.”
Catch our wine columnist and d’Arenberg brand manager Tash Stoodley for some solid cheapskate wine advice.