Fashion: Vive Europa
From the Print Edition:
Rudy Giuliani, Nov/Dec 01
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When economic austerity returned to the United Kingdom, England retreated to hang its reputation for fashion on the corner of Savile Row, an area of London's West End fenced in by Bond and Regent streets (west/east), and Burlington Gardens and Conduit Street (south/north). For years the Europeans embraced anything that looked or felt "American." Today American designers borrow freely to create their own Savile Row styles. Many, such as Ralph Lauren, have opened shops on Bond Street, advertising that very English- tailored look.
The English have segued into the modern language of today's business attire with comfort fabrics from Italy and beyond, measurements from the New World of America, and colors inspired by France and Scotland. But the shapely, silhouetted details long associated with English design, such as a slender, yet sporty fit appropriating ticket pockets, side vents and three-button closures, are cross-pollinated today with the more relaxed silhouette of Italian clothing and the uptight French styles.
Fashion-forward clothiers from London, such as Oswald Boateng, Richard James and Hackett, have embraced English heritage and craftsmanship, while ushering them into the hip, new era of Cool Brittania. Alfred Dunhill, head of another highly respected English lifestyle company, was one of the first Brits to capture the lifestyle brand approach to dressing. Consider The Dunhill Man and compare him with America's Marlboro Man -- just a bit more buttoned-up in his attire and savvier in his smoke. Dunhill smoking jackets, traditional suits and upscale luxury accessories (for both the smoker and the nonsmoker)\ are available round the world.
The preferred customer scenario has a robust physical build, an athletic definition of life, and a tough crossover business/personal life. He is a banker, a real estate mogul, a hotelier, a Texas oil magnate, a college professor. Wear clothing from Dunhill, Burberry, Richard James, Oxxford, Paul Smith, Nicole Farhi and the Savile Row firms of Hardy Amies; Kilgour, French & Stanbury; and Gieves & Hawkes.
You might assume you could stamp "French" on the passport of any traveling gentleman seen sporting a cadet blue-hued French cuff shirt or navy-and-white horizontally striped knit shirt under a narrow-shouldered, slender-cut midnight serge suit. Sacré bleu! You'd probably be right. However, shape is more to the point when describing French style, which is so much more than what colorfully meets the eye.
The French, at once diminutive and tightly wound, have held the historical record for jackets with slender point-to-point shoulder widths, high armholes, shorter lengths and nipped cuts that fit snugly against the body. Obviously, the French inherited that more petite body build, but the Napoleon complex reflects more than just size. It's about adopting what's best from other cultures, imprinting it with a Gaulish savoir faire and calling it French.
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