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Suitable Visions

Kimberly Cihlar
From the Print Edition:
Gene Hackman, Sep/Oct 00

Casual Fridays, dot-com startups, and jeans notwithstanding, the classic business suit is--as it was for the last century--the corporate uniform of the day. After all, who would, for instance, hire an attorney who went to court in shirt sleeves? When it's time to really get down to business, the traditional suit comes out of the closet.

And yet, as with all things fashionable, styles change. So we asked a select group of men's clothiers to create ensembles from their wares and share their visions for the suit in the coming fall season. Some spoke in specifics--noting variations in button stances, lapel widths, shoulder padding. Others were more general--referring instead to directions in style, flexibility, casualness. But all affirmed their belief in the suit as the mainstay in a man's wardrobe.  


"It's just not true that this casual-Friday trend is destroying the suit market," Brioni USA chief executive officer Joseph Barrato confidently states. The expanded Escorial line includes a new model, the Millennio, "geared to the young man." The look is very '50s, with a higher gorge and button stance, shoulders that are very soft and a slightly narrower lapel. Predominate colors are gray and blue, with new tones such as tan, rich greens, browns and neutrals. The line also includes exclusive patterns. Shoes by John Lobb.  


Executive vice president Jack Ferrari is sweeping in describing the Hickey-Freeman approach for fall: "'Your statement, perfectly made' is our philosophy for the season, encapsulating our belief that the Hickey-Freeman man expresses his own distinctive tastes and individuality while wearing our clothes." The key elements to a lasting impression, he says, are "quality, luxury, comfort and perhaps most significantly, versatility." Shoes by John Lobb.  


William Foy, sales manager in the United States, is more exacting. "In this new collection, the novelty is the classic three-button jacket that buttons very high, in several fabrics that reflect the tradition of the bespoke suit but with a more modern point of view." The look depends on "new and precious fabrics" such as cashmere in various melange nuances, enriched with double-hand stitching. Other fabrics include English wool finished to produce more brilliance, vicuna and guanaco. Foy also touts the D'Avenza evening suits, which include velvet tuxedos infused with Lurex and one model featuring a longer length with hidden buttons. Shoes by J.M. Weston.  


"More than through a garment or a style, the Giorgio Armani man defines himself through his attitude to life," according to Armani. Nevertheless, Armani's fall look is definable in far less ethereal terms. Precise lines emphasize the contours of the body. The waist is defined, shoulders are strong, trousers are straight. Flexibility is maintained through the combination of innovative and traditional fabrics that are full-bodied: double-face wools and techno-wools with polyester for a washed effect and subtle padding. The palette is wintry: iceberg gray, polar blue, frozen aquamarine, frosted lilac, fog white and intense, deep-sea blue. The Giorgio Armani signature of subtle patterns, optical signs and micro-geometry is reaffirmed.  

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