Best Of The Best 2006: Elements Of Style
Sport And Dress Shirts
Neapolitan shirtmaker Luigi Borrelli went into its century-old archives and emerged with the concept for this year’s Luxury Vintage label, a collection of dress and sport shirts built around timeless patterns and a proprietary garment-dyeing technique. These extremely soft and slightly weathered-looking shirts feature fine dress-shirt details—including seam threads and mother-of-pearl buttons that are dip-dyed to match the fabrics, handmade buttonholes, hand-sewn sleeves, and, in some cases, collar stays—which Borrelli uses even in polos and other sporty knits.
A frequent risk-taker, Isaia president Gianluca Isaia continues to tweak the lines of his tailored clothing by adopting new silhouettes. This fall’s two-button, peaked-lapel V model features a trimmer waist and slightly more roped (or structured) shoulders, while the brand’s new three-button, notched-lapel G model is shapely, shorter, and can be constructed entirely without lining. Isaia also used center back vents—rather than traditional side vents—in most of his hand-finished suits and sport coats this year.
For its High Styled Business Collection line of bags and briefcases, Schedoni—the Italian leather goods company that has produced custom-fitted luggage and related auto accessories for Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Pagani Zonda for more than two decades—adopted some of the auto industry’s high-tech manufacturing methods. The highlight of the collection is a sleek, suede-lined briefcase made of resinated carbon fiber that endures the same multistep 12-hour kiln baking process as the bodies of Formula One racecars.
Zanella’s Platinum trouser collection is made from wools ranging in fineness from Italian Super 130s to Super 180s—compared to the Super 120s cloths used for the brand’s standard label. The Platinum line also has superior design and comfort features, including pleats inside the waist for greater mobility, a notched V-back split waistband for a better fit, and basted pockets similar to those found on slacks produced by the finest bespoke tailors.
Amedeo Testoni by A. Testoni
The predominantly hand-stitched Amedeo Testoni line of dress shoes from A. Testoni combines hand-dyed calfskin leathers with some of the richest exotic skins—including crocodile, ostrich, and sharkskin. The firm also employs the Norvegese and Rapid construction methods, which dictate multiple layers of stitching to attach the upper to the welt and to the sole. Testoni finishes the extremely lightweight collection with its proprietary Piuma soles to add superior flexibility and envelop the foot like a leather glove.
Catherine M. Zadeh
While searching for paintings to furnish her Manhattan apartment last year, jewelry and accessories designer Catherine Zadeh encountered the works of contemporary and Art Nouveau painters Keith Haring, Gustav Klimt, and Paul Klee. A short time later, Zadeh reinterpreted their curvy shapes and abstract brushstrokes and cast them into handmade sterling silver buckles on crocodile straps.
Catherine M. Zadeh
Stefano Ricci first added cuff links to his collection six years ago as a limited-edition line that would mark the new millennium. However, those diamond-encrusted, white gold pieces and the ones that followed were so well received that Ricci has since added two jewelers to his staff. He also has expanded his offerings to include cuff links in pink gold and designs set with sapphires, rubies, lapis lazuli, and topaz. Because many stones, especially sapphires and larger diamonds, are difficult to purchase in matching pairs, Ricci has nearly 40 percent of the gems cut from raw stones. (Click image to enlarge)
Small Leather Goods
The name of Hermès’ MC2 collection indicates what the items are intended to hold: money and credit cards. The pieces are fashioned from buffalo hide, calfskin, or rare exotics including crocodile, and each is made by a single Hermès craftsman from start to finish. The company named the different designs for philosophers, explorers, and scientists, and produced them in sizes and formats that will accommodate various world currencies.
To produce his 11-fold neckties, Dolcepunta designer Ronaldo Scapellato sews together two large panels of silk and then folds them onto themselves 11 times, thereby eliminating the need for linings. The fabric must weigh no more than 4.4 ounces to ensure that the excess folding does not add too much bulk to the tie. With this year’s collection, Dolcepunta unveiled a colorful new range of silk satins, foulard prints, and richly colored jacquard weaves.
Dolcepunta, through Luciano Moresco
Alfred Dunhill London
Alfred Dunhill hired four high-profile British designers—Richard James, Bill Amberg, Nick Ashley, and Tom Bolt—to revamp its image and revisit the 110-year-old brand’s quirky British automotive roots. Amberg’s new soft-sided cricket computer bags are made from a remarkably durable chestnut-colored leather, and his granule leather and canvas Sidecar hold-alls feature waterproof linings, protective covers for inclement weather, and easy snap closures designed to look like the buckled straps that once held automobile hoods in place. Other pieces reference the brand’s motoring heritage with racing stripe–adorned shoulder straps and glove compartment–like storage areas for iPods, BlackBerrys, and other electronic devices.
Alfred Dunhill London
Luxuriator by Franco
Eyewear designer Franco Vahe Eyramian’s diamond-studded Luxuriator frames originated as a one-of-a-kind special order for a celebrity pal and evolved into a showy, sometimes outlandish collection. Eyramian fashions each pair from such fine materials as hand-tinted French buffalo horn, Belgian diamonds, specially designed Swiss-made hinges, and South American crocodile and other exotic skins that have been hand-painted, and later hand-polished, in soft metallic hues.
Zegna’s new reversible Pelle Uovo (eggshell) collection includes a jacket made of lightweight, water-resistant cotton and a new microfiber car coat that reverses to either cashmere or leather. Zegna also consulted with professional golfers Mike Weir and Matt Kucher while developing its reversible Aqualite jacket, which is made from a wind- and water-resistant nylon material that produces little noise during movement.
Avon Celli’s new designer, Alfredo Argiro, has reproduced some of the Ferrara, Italy, knitwear company’s archival double-knitted designs and micro-jacquard patterns with new weaves executed in cashmere, fine merino wool, and an airy cashmere/silk blend. Sporty details—such as johnny collars, zippered pockets on sleeves, and blocks of color at the neck—as well as more tapered silhouettes, give the traditional brand’s knits a modern, youthful look.
Avon Celli, through Mach III
Hermès has added tuxedos to its ready-to-wear mix this year with its 24 Cut model, which features strong, straight shoulders; a long, tapered body; a single center vent in back; and sleeves with tailored vents to accommodate adjustments in length. Every jacket also incorporates such details as inside chest pockets piped in the same cloth as the coat, and hand-sewn collars, linings, and vents for better comfort and fit.
Ermenegildo Zegna claims the idea for its new fabric treatment came from observing lotus flower leaves, which have uneven surfaces that prevent the plant from absorbing dirt and water. Zegna’s Micronsphere Traveller collection of suits is made from fine wools treated with this proprietary method, and it is surprisingly wrinkle-, water-, and stain-resistant. Unlike earlier wrinkle-free technology developed by other labels, Zegna’s process does not affect the luster and feel of the finished cloth.
Flexa by Fratelli Rossetti
First introduced 18 years ago, Fratelli Rossetti’s Flexa rubber sole design features an anatomical insole that, while cushioning and stabilizing the foot, helps align the spine and reduce pressure on it. The Italian shoemaker’s latest collection, Active Tech, continues its evolution from bulky, orthopedic-looking footwear to more aerodynamic designs. Active Tech also features unusual materials such as colored suedes and calfskins mixed with patent leather, cording, and mesh netting.
Flexa by Fratelli Rossetti
For 125 years Pantherella has used only multi-ply yarns of micro-denier cashmere, silk, cotton, and wool to produce its men’s hosiery. Using such fine yarn, the Leicester, England, sock maker requires 30 percent more fiber than other manufacturers to create each pair. The brand is also the only company to link-stitch every toe by hand rather than by machine, creating a tighter, knot-free closure. This year, Pantherella incorporated these quality standards into three new offerings: a Woodsman collection for outdoor enthusiasts; a Sport line that incorporates Coolmax; and an Artist Tribute series bearing hand-painted reproductions of the work of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.
Pantherella for the British Apparel Collection
Brunello Cucinelli’s new trim-cut trouser collection is made from superlightweight 21-wale cotton corduroy that is washed until the fabric achieves the softness of cashmere. Rendered in sun-faded shades, the pants, which include a five-pocket jean, have such distinguishing details as contrast stitching and ribbon taping under the cuffs, for when the bottoms are rolled.
Brunello Cucinelli, through IMC Group