The Brits

Designers Miscellaneous What to Wear

  The quirky opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games now in progress in London reminded us how we do love the Brits! Especially since so much of what has come to be classic men's clothing derives from the iconic tailored styles they were wearing in the early 20th century, styles from Savile Row and Jermyn Street that have evolved to return again and again. So, we decided, time to revisit both those worlds by watching "Chariots of Fire", the 1981 movie about the British track team entered in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Started not long after World War I, those...

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Savage Beauty

Designers

If you've always thought that clothing design is for sissies, empty-headed and giddy, this retrospective of the career of Alexander McQueen currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum will change your mind. Up close his creations are magnificent-- boldly executed, finely detailed, and wonderfully, often shockingly, imaginative. Step back and look again. These are not clothes many women would wear. Instead they are meant for the rapacious female creatures of nightmares-- powerful, preying, sinister and at the same time mesmerizingly beautiful and seductive. Savage Beauty is a tour de force of McQueen's remarkable imagination and well worth seeing. But be...

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Sylvia Heisel's Rental

Designers Miscellaneous

  Longtime designer and friend of PlainClothes, Sylvia Heisel is full of ideas and that creativity just has to come out. Usually she expresses herself through the clothes she designs, but recently frustration pointed her in another direction. The sleek apartment she and husband Scott moved into just a year ago became a renter's nightmare-- a brand new building in which high-style fixtures fell off the walls while pleas for maintenance were ignored. Finally, a crew setting up scaffolding outside cracked the enormous sheet of glass that was their only window on the world, resulting in a rather skewed view...

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Joan Vass

Designers

  Joan Vass was not your average designer. With no formal design training her early career path took her into the art world, alongside her painter/sculptor husband, as a writer, editor and museum curator. As a hobby, she began to knit, then to design hats and sweaters to be knitted. Before long she discovered there were quite a few women anxious to knit up her creations in exchange for the flexibility of working from home, so she built up a cottage-industry--  by women, for women-- to produce her designs. But the small number of pieces that can be made in...

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Luciano Barbera: REALLY Made in Italy

Designers What to Wear

  Luciano Barbera believes in labels. The "Made in Italy" label sewn into his garments means just that -- made in Italy every step of the way. Seems obvious, doesn't it? After all, for decades his family's mill near Milan has produced, slowly and painstakingly, luxurious fabrics sought out by the creme-de-la-creme of fashion designers. Sewn in Italy from its own fabrics, the Barbera men's and women's collections reflect the style, elegance and uncompromising craftsmanship that as consumers we have come to expect as the hallmark of things Italian. Of course, not everyone thinks like Barbera. There are cheaper, quicker...

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