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munib-nawaz-pakistan-jacket

Pakistani designer Munib Nawaz shows his national pride by placing an outline of his homeland on the back of a tailcoat.  

The only major brand Izzy can think of that puts a country’s map on its products is the British label Hackett, which every now and then stamps the outline of the United Kingdom across a shirt or and tie.  Izzy himself has been known to don such a shirt—he likes to wear his anglophilia on his sleeve.

You Can’t Spell America Without “C”

TV Colbert Colmes

By wearing a lapel pin that combines the U.S. flag and the letter “C,” Steven Colbert shrewdly blends mock patriotism with self-advertising. Yet, by donning a button-down collar with a tuxedo, he really goes beyond the bounds of taste.

Velvet Underfoot

Christian Louboutin men’s pumps

Unlike The Manolo, Izzy can barely comprehend the mystifying, wonderful world of women’s shoes, but if he had to name his favorite designer for the female foot, it would have to be the fanciful Christian Louboutin.  Hence, Izzy was pleased to discover that the Frenchman has created at least one model  for gentleman.  Now, Izzy wouldn’t actually advise wearing these velvet opera pumps—which are best left to Cinderella’s footmen—but he is happy that they exist.

Top Hat on Your Tail

El Cobrador del Frac

It’s not exactly a scarlet letter, but a Spanish debt collection company has been using a very odd tactic to shame deadbeat debtors into paying up:

If more confirmation were needed of the funereal state of Spain’s economy, it can be found in the shape of The Debt Collector in Top Hat and Tails.

That’s a translation into English of “El Cobrador del Frac,” the name of a company that specializes in sending out men dressed like extras from a 1930s Fred Astaire movie to humiliate debtors into paying up. Its business is booming.

“At the start of the year we noticed demand was increasing,” said Juan Carlos Granda, head of El Cobrador del Frac’s international department.

[...]
Mr. Granda refers to the top hats and tails, whose appearance has unnerved so many Spanish debtors, as the company “uniform.”

“We send collectors in uniform and collectors without uniform. It depends on how the debtor reacts. If we need to do it to collect a debt, we send a collector wearing top hat and tails, so his debt attracts more attention,” he said.

The ethics of public shaming aside, Izzy is dismayed to see a look that was once was the epitome of elegance being debased by such negative association.  It ought to make every hatter mad, and Señor Cacahuete nuts.

Swiss Mister

Arpad Busson

Not being a habitué of Gstaad, Izzy had never heard of French/Swiss financier Arpad Busson prior to the announcment of his engagement to Uma Thurman, but the self-made ladykiller definitely has the rich-playboy style down pat.  Note his high shirt collar, decolletage, unbuttoned (or are they uncuffed?) mitred cuffs, and funky bracelets.

In the past, with a different beauty on his arm, he has even been able to add color to a tuxedo without looking gauche.  But Izzy is even more impressed with Busson’s ultra-slim-fitting peak-lapel dinner jacket. (Are those bracelets his trademark?)

Arpad Busson in tuxedo

Pattern Recognition

Prince Charles in kilt

Izzy gives Prince Charles credit for being, er, ballsy enough to wear kilts in celebration of the union of Scotland and England, but he erred royally in combining a loud tartan with a bold argyle.  Either the kilt or socks ought to have been muted or plain, as the Scottish nationalist Sean Connery demonstrates.

Magnetic North

Roman Polanski in wing collar

Like the directions of a compass rose, Roman Polanski’s hair and open wing collar point in all directions—which, fittingly for a director, makes his face the focal point.

Monsieur de Pompadour

Sean Penn with pompadour

The poet Walt Whitman once rhapsodized:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

But that apologia for inconsistency surely doesn’t excuse Sean Penn’s combining a 1950s rockabilly pompadour with a nineteenth-century-style shirt and tie.  To Izzy’s eyes, chronological contradictions can be the most disagreeable.

A Button Too Far

Clooney and Pitt at Cannes

It may seem like just a minor thing, but Izzy can’t stand that unusually high top button (or is it a stud?) on George Clooney’s shirt.  By being so close to the bow tie, it ruins the simplicity appropriate to formal wear.  And by the way, given the gap between the lapel and his shirt collar, Brad Pitt’s jacket appears to be too small around the chest.

Krazee-Eyez Killa

Christopher Walken in askew bow tie

As if it wasn’t enough to have a reputation for playing imbalanced, crazy characters, Christopher Walken let his bow tie rest at a disturbing angle.  That lack of left-right symmetry is all the worse for someone, like himself, born with heterochromia.

A-droit Attire

young William F Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr., widely considered to be the patron saint of American conservatives, has died (or, to put it more obscurely, is now communing with the eschaton). As befitted his politics, he never swayed in matters of appearance from the preppie style seen in this photo of him around the time of his college days at Yale. Ironically, that look—comprising a button-downed collar, narrow tie with a small knot, and three-button sack jacket rolled to the second button (note the button hole on the lapel)—is now at the height of fashion, and is being copied by labels such as of Band of Outsiders (some of whose wares can be purchased here).

The one time Izzy was in close promixity to Buckley, your humble blogger noticed that Buckley’s tuxedo—which had survived innumerable galas, fundraisers, and rubber-chicken dinners—was so battered that it had a faded brown stripe on its shoulder, the result of years of wear from the leather strap from his briefcase.  Surely there is nothing more trad than a dinner jacket that is no longer entirely black.

The Man in the White Hat

Spike Lee in white hat

With his thick, nearly-octagonal eyeglasses, Obama-for-President button, and bowtie-less tuxedo shirt, Spike Lee had a lot going on at the Oscar’s, but thanks to that dashing white trilby, he proved himself one of the good guys.

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