ANGELES ó You probably best know actor,
singer-songwriter and musician Darren Criss as the
impeccably groomed Blaine Anderson on "Glee,"
which started airing its fifth season Sept. 26.
Off-screen, the 26-year-old is just as serious about
high-quality grooming products as his alter ego ó so
much so that over the summer, he made the leap from
consumer to investor and third partner in a Silver Lake,
Calif.-based e-tailer of menís grooming products
called the Motley alongside the siteís founding
siblings, Matthew and Madison Ruggieri.
recently had a chance to catch up with Criss about his
personal style and what he brings to the Motley crew.
Youíre an unabashed fan of grooming products. Whatís
the origin of that?
From a mother who always made me wash my face growing up
and suddenly, when I was on my own, I was like,
"OK, I guess Iíve got to keep this up but I donít
want the same stuff you can buy at the corner
store." It was about upping my game a little bit.
Combine that with having to cake my face with makeup
every day, which is so not a good thing for your skin,
and I started searching out things, learning a lot about
And how did you end up finding your way to the Motley?
It was very organic. A friend of mine who knows Matt
Ruggieri told me to check out the website. I immediately
saw a golden opportunity to be involved with something
amazing, so I would have been a fool not to have gotten
in contact with them. So I met with Matthew and Madison
and said, "Let me know if there is anything I could
do to be a part of this."
What will you be doing?
I think so far Iíve helped with visibility ó
bringing the (site) to a wider audience. But Iíve kind
of been all over the place, (helping with) marketing
strategy, product development. We were just over at the
lab we have in Chatsworth, going through the chemical
compounds of things and working on some more of our own
What kind of products?
Without giving too much away, itís sort of expanding
on what weíre doing with (our cologne) Atlas. Weíre
near the end of the testing process, and weíre really
happy with what we have.
Do you have a favorite grooming product, one thatís
always in your Dopp kit?
I have lots of favorites.
Say youíre on a desert island and you could have just
(Laughing) Iíd probably want something that would
nourish me, so I wouldnít die. But, if I was the
vainest person alive ó and all I cared about were
grooming products ó Iíd have to say the Raw
Materials (Skin Grit) face scrub.
Based on the way you hit the red carpet, youíre as
enthusiastic about clothes as you are about grooming. Do
you work with a stylist?
Iíve always been proud of my sense of style, so when
it was first suggested that I work with a stylist, I
remember thinking, "No way, man! I donít want
someone telling me what to wear." But what I
realized is that a stylist isnít telling you what to
wear as much as getting you what you want because you
donít have the time and they have the connections. So,
yes, my stylist, Ashley Weston, is a very good friend of
mine, sheís wonderful, and any time we do something itís
an absolute collaboration.
How does the process work?
We think about what kind of event it is ó youíre not
going to wear what you wore to the VMAs to the Golden
Globes, for example. One of my general mantras in life
is: "Dress for the party." (Ashley) and I are
pretty much in sync on that at this point, so sheíll
come to me with maybe five or six looks and weíll pick
and choose (from that). It turns out to be a really cool
collaboration every single time and itís fun for me
because I really get to paint a picture.
If we went to Rodeo Drive to go clothes shopping and I
said, "Go!" Where would you head?
It depends. How much time do we have? Iím a big
believer in a good tailor, and I think most men donít
know the power of a good tailor. A good tailor and a
good cobbler might sound a little old-fashioned, but for
not very much money, an $80 suit can look like a $200
suit. For me, itís all about having things that fit.
Any other advice?
One thing that drives me nuts is when a guy buys a suit
jacket and he wears it with the vent in the back still
stitched shut. I was in the stairwell the other day
behind a guy and I just wanted to reach out and cut it.
Describe your typical off-camera outfit.
I like a nice, comfy, loose-fabric T-shirt. I donít
like a lot of prints or designs. I like simplicity. When
I need to wear socks, I like colorful socks, but in L.A.
itís always hot so Iíll go without socks and wear a
nice pair of boat shoes or moccasins. Oh, and a nice
pair of sweat pants.
Last question: With Halloween just around the corner, weíre
wondering what youíd wear if you were going to a
costume party dressed as Darren Criss.
This is probably a little cliche, but Iíd have to go
with the Warblersí outfit ó the navy blue blazer
with the red piping ó because itís sort of a
signature. But thatís really Blaine and not me. For
Darren, Iíd go with a T-shirt, sweat pants and scruff,
wearing glasses and carrying a guitar ó and holding a
phone to my head.