Archive - July, 2007

Post-Communist and Classless

Gorbachev with Louis Vuitton bag

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former General Secretary of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party, is now shilling for Louis Vuitton.  Some years ago, the one-time world leader took flak for appearing in an ad for Pizza Hut (though Domino’s would have made more Cold War sense), but at least that was an innocuous product for the People, unlike Louis Vuitton bags, which are ugly status symbols favored by the most emptily materialisitc of the elite.  And to see Gorbachev and satchel photographed by Annie Lebovitz near what looks like the Berlin Wall—well, it almost makes Izzy feel wistful for the bad old days.

In Need of a Bro?

Roberto Cavalli with man boobs

As glam fashion designer Roberto Cavalli demonstrates, an unfortunate choice of shirt can make a gentleman appear to have man-boobs a/k/a breasticles.  And gynecomastia is never a pretty sight. (Link not for the squeamish.)  At least Seinfeld’s Kramer invented with a partial solution.

Speaking of hideous sights, Cavalli happens to be the owner of the world’s ugliest, most pimped up yacht.

Decline and Fall

According to the Drudge Report, on Monday at around 7:30 pm, Republican Congressman Gary Miller strode on the floor of the House during a vote wearing a loose-fitting Hawaiian shirt, linen pants, and slippers.  Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (not exactly a paragon of proper dress herself) rebuked him by noting, “The chair must remind Members that the proper standard of dress in the chamber is business attire, which includes both coat and tie for gentlemen.”

Izzy fears for his country.

Armbandit

Having lavishly praised the utlity of spring-steel armbands, Izzy would like to notify his loyal readers of a downside he just discovered.  In a world of ubitiquitous metal detectors, those bands can be troublesome.  Izzy hoped he could step through a security portal without triggering the alarm, but he was sorely mistaken.  Not only did he have to suffer the indignity of removing his jacket, but the guard eyed the bands suspiciously at best, mockingly at worst: ”What are those for, to make your arms looks bigger? Heh heh.”  Izzy took off the bands, politely showed them to the guard, and then used them to strangle the insolent martinet.

Candidate Noir

Obama in black suit

In his article about the attire of presidential candidates, The New York Times’ Guy Trebay includes a shocking detail:

“That is a tremendous suit you have on,” David Letterman told Senator Barack Obama last April when he made an appearance on the “Late Show.” “That is a very electable suit.”

Mr. Obama’s outfit that night was in some ways standard-issue Capitol Hill: a single-breasted two-button suit whose only nod to fashion was in the choice of color — black in place of the regulation dark blue. His shirt was white and starched. His tie was a reassuring blue and of a width (2.5 inches) that locates him squarely in the middle of the sartorial road.

Woah, even a 3 inch-wide tie is narrow by today’s standards.  Either Obama is trying to look like a member of the Rat Pack or that “2.5 inches” is a typo. 

Izzy is far more concerned, however, about the color of Obama’s suit.  There’s a lot of buzz about whether America is willing to elect a black president, but should we be willing to elect a president who wears black suits?  According to the “rules,” a black suit is quite a gaucherie.  High-end haberdasher Paul Stuart has even bragged that it has never offered a black suit for sale. Excepting the priesthood, black suits are either extremely fashion-y or worn by people who don’t know any better.  They bring to mind the thugs in Reservoir Dogs, the bad-guy Agents in The Matrix, and Cornel West, the faux preacher, Ivory Towered would-be rapper, and Marxian socialist (who, incidentally, makes a cameo appearance in the second and third Matrix movies). 

 Cornel West in black suit

If this is the sort of company Obama wants to visually associtate himself with, then he’s far more out of the mainstream, sartorially, than The New York Times recognizes. 

Black Udder

black udder

A mischievous woman at a fashion show channels Howie Mandel.

Do I Make You Thorny?

porcupine headgear

The porcupine hat is all well and good—until you move in for a kiss.

 

 

Browne’s Black Ops

Thom Browne Black Fleece

The Wall Street Journal just published a detailed article on Black Fleece, the forthcoming, highly-anticipated Brooks Brothers line designed by Thom Browne, the trad yet avant-garde designer:

Can Brooks Brothers appeal to a younger, hipper customer?

Next month, the privately held haberdashery will launch the biggest print-ad campaign in its 189-year history to introduce Black Fleece, a high-end collection by avant-garde designer Thom Browne. It’s part of the retailer’s broader effort to signal that it’s keeping up with the times and to draw in new customers.

Featuring clothes by Mr. Browne, known for ankle-baring gray-flannel suits and cropped jackets, is a departure for the venerable Brooks Brothers. Mr. Browne’s suits developed a cult following as the slender, 5-foot-10 budding designer sported them around New York’s Meatpacking District, where he began his own business in his apartment in 2001…

The Brooks Brothers collaboration with Mr. Browne is the latest effort to reach new customers, with a strategy now widely used in fashion and retail. Just as the brand Louis Vuitton became hip again under designer Marc Jacobs and Target Corp. upped its stores’ cool factor with Isaac Mizrahi, fashion marketers today “can’t operate without having a cutting-edge designer name,” says David Wolfe, creative director of Doneger Group retail consultants. “Thom Browne allows Brooks to layer in a designer name that has nothing to do with its core business, but enhances the image and cachet – that helps them move the regular merchandise.”…

It remains to be seen how Mr. Browne’s collection at Brooks Brothers will go over with customers. Mr. Browne’s fans won’t see his name on the label, which features the Brooks Brothers fleece logo in black rather than gold. Though not as extreme as his own label, which will continue to sell at other stores, the clothes have a decidedly close-to-the-body fit. Men’s sizes go up to only a 46-chest jacket. All the pants in the collection, however, come with unfinished bottoms that can be hemmed the way the customer wants and don’t have to be as short as Mr. Browne wears them.

On Brooks Brothers chief merchandising officer Lou Amendola, who has been working closely with Mr. Browne, a gray-flannel style that he was test-driving looked like a snugger version of a Brooks Brothers suit. He says Black Fleece is aimed at an “attractive 30-plus, young professional who needs to dress up but wants a little bit more of a style to conservative clothing.”…

Brooks Brothers plans displays of Black Fleece items on tables with jackets opened so customers can study the handwork that went into the garments….

Mr. Browne, who will make appearances at several Brooks Brothers stores, including one near his hometown of Allentown, Pa., acknowledges that his styles could take some getting used to. But he says that once men put on the jackets, they’ll discover that they can move their arms despite the snugger fit. “People don’t realize fitted clothes make you look thinner,” he says.

Izzy wholeheartedly agrees with the sentiment, and is eager to check out the new line when it debuts.

The Man in Mostly Black

Johnny Cash's first black suit

Before Johnny Cash extinguished the light completely in his wardrobe, he dabbled with some silver piping and other details on this, his first black suit

Izzy wonders: With his later all-black, un-ornameted uniform, did Cash style himself to be the anti-Elvis, at least sartorially?

Oxonian Trousers

Oxford cloth trousers

Izzy is intrigued by the idea of trousers made of oxford cloth, the thick cotton fabric normally used for hard-wearing shirts (such as those in prep-school uniforms).  Do any of his loyal readers have any experience with the unusual pants?

 

Beachy Clean

Beach Boys' Mike Love in linen

While Izzy doesn’t fear formality, he recognizes that there are times when one may let it all hang out—”it” being a shirttail.  Slim-cut linen shirts are ideal for such untucking, especially when those shirts have an awning stripe, like this one draped on Mike Love, co-lead singer of the Beach Boys.  Also note his crisp white linen cargo trousers, something difficult to pull off for a sexogenarian.  Izzy tips his piña colada in Mr. Love’s direction.

Striking a Match

Daniel Radcliff in identical shirt and tie

In How to Lose Friends and Alienate People—the self-loathing memoir about a coke-snorting, alcoholic womanizer who gets a job at Vanity Fair magazine—we learn that one of the subtle insults at Conde Nast is to call someone’s attire “too match-y.”  But if ever there was a occasion of too much matchiness, it is this shirt and tie combination on Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe.  Perhaps it’s an attempt at suburban camouflage, but the movie Garden State demonstrated why that is always a bad idea.

Garden State wallpaper

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