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NoHo Hank isn’t your average Chechen mobster. Prim and polite, his cheery demeanour and flashy exterior hide a tortured soul, an outsider in a world of bloody violence. Sure, he’s as power-hungry as any criminal but I never saw even one Eastern European gangster in a knitted turquoise polo with a zip collar in over 500 minutes of John Wick movies. NoHo Hank is special and so is his wardrobe.
He’s the type of guy who wears slim-fit slacks, leather loafers with no socks, unironic Ed Hardy T-shirts, bomber jackets in a range of pastel hues, open-collared polos with a gold chain glinting through signalling his fealty to an orthodox God (denominationally, not behaviourally). It’s a style some might term Euro-trash, the kind of get-up you’d find at a slick casino nightclub or in a Y2K-era music video by Scooter. He dresses like one of the mannequins at a Politix or a YD at your nearest Westfield. And yet NoHo Hank, with his goofy and good-hearted charm (maybe actor Anthony Carrigan’s alopecia helps?), pulls it off with inspired aplomb.
Barry’s charming Chechen mobster is TV’s most powerful dresser.Credit: Marija Ercegovac
His irrepressible style was apparent from the beginning. When we first encountered Hank in Barry’s earlier seasons, he already stood out from the other slobs in his syndicate. The flashy polos were there, tucked into neat tan chinos, aviators and a brown leather Member’s Only jacket completing the look. Even if it did often have the look of someone playing the part, Hank’s true self always peeked through. If I was a rival gangster – say, a Bolivian or a Burmese – I’d be honoured to die at the behest (Hank doesn’t bloody his hands) of someone so stylish.
Gangsters in Australian TV shows are embarrassing by comparison. There are either thongs and goatees involved, or a tired reverence for Scorsese’s disco-suited ’70s wiseguys. Give me a Chechen boss in an open-buttoned Hawaiian shirt any day.
At NoHo Hank’s happiest, at the beginning of season four, on the lam in Santa Fe with his Bolivian cartel foe-turned-lover Cristobal, his fashion was at its most playful: a beaded fedora hat, like he was a guitarist in an ’80s hair metal band; an earthy poncho to match his holiday surrounds. It signalled a new level of letting go, the confident chances one takes when comfortably content or, to paraphrase Drake, off the market and off the map.
And then Cristobal died, executed, largely – well, completely – as a result of Hank’s own ill-considered betrayal. If you thought losing the love of his life would mute his tones, it did not. When we encounter NoHo Hank eight years after the incident, now as the hustling CEO of his own sand empire in Nohobal Enterprises, he’s rocking an aquamarine three-piece suit with a bright button-up patterned like koi. His soul’s calcified but his essence remains. Because NoHo Hank knows no matter the inner turmoil, one has to keep up appearances, a lesson for all who aspire to rule over their own empires of sand.
Barry’s series finale airs on Foxtel on Monday, May 29 at 9.30pm.
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