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Best of the Best 2007: Wardrobe Essentials: Elements of Style

William Kissel

SUITS
Oxxford Clothes
Isaia * Kiton

If your perception of Oxxford Clothes involves images of grandfatherly types in beautifully tailored yet old-fashioned suits, it is time to revisit the nonagenarian Chicago brand. Mike Cohen, Oxxford’s 41-year-old chief executive, has ushered in feathery superwool and cashmere fabrics, lighter constructions, and a more modern, streamlined model called the Mason, which features thinner lapels, higher armholes, and lean, flat-front slacks. Oxxford’s completely hand-sewn suits incorporate the lightest of horsehair canvas inner linings and sleeves that are attached with a distinctive chain-link stitch, instead of with the stiff, unyielding tape that many suitmakers prefer.
Oxxford Clothes, 312.829.3600, www.oxxfordclothes.com

Kiton (212.813.0272, www.kiton.it) continually advances the art of suitmaking by introducing new shapes cut from tissue-thin wools and other rare fibers. For fall, the Naples, Italy, brand presented a six-button, peaked-lapel, double-breasted suit produced by hand from pure vicuña, one of the world’s scarcest and most expensive natural fibers. The T model from Neapolitan suitmaker Isaia (888.996.7555, www.isaia.it) features a shorter jacket with shoulders that are slightly wider than those of other Neapolitan suits and narrow, tight sleeves that are surprisingly comfortable. For its Solo 8 program, Isaia will produce only eight suits from each of 100 different superfine 13.8-micron wool fabrics. Retailers who select a particular fabric are required to purchase all eight garments, so that no two stores can offer similar suits.

SPORT COATS
Corneliani
Etro * Isaia * Sartoria Partenopea

For its id collection, Corneliani added outerwear attributes to a three-button blazer, creating a hybrid called the Identity Jacket. The jacket is tailored like a classic sport coat, but it has suede or knit panels attached to the inside lapels, which create the illusion of layers underneath. Functional details include throat tabs to close the front during inclement weather and zippered pockets trimmed in suede.
Corneliani, 800.222.9477, www.corneliani.com

Italian suitmaker Sartoria Partenopea (distributed by Glazer Imports, 212.582. 0042, www.sartoriapartenopea.it) offers a reversible sport coat, with plush cashmere on one side and cashmere corduroy on the other. An unconstructed jacket from Etro (212. 247.1200, www.etro.com) is made with double-faced wool, a single fabric with two finished-looking sides. The multicolored interior complements the garment’s solid-colored exterior. Isaia (888.996.7555, www.isaia.it) rendered its Aquacashmere sport coats wrinkle-, stain-, and water-resistant by applying the proprietary finishing process used for its Aquaspider wool suits.

OUTERWEAR
Stefano Ricci
Belvest * Ermenegildo Zegna * Kiton * Loro Piana

The fall outerwear collection from Stefano Ricci flaunts extravagances—featherweight suedes and leathers, sumptuous furs, and novel sewing techniques—that are characteristic of his apparel and accessories. At least one piece from the new collection also displays practical qualities; a green suede car coat has a colorful silk lining under a detachable beaver fur lining, making it suitable for cold or mild weather. For a new collection of mink shearling vests and topcoats, Ricci left the cuffs and outer edges unfinished rather than folded and sewn like those on conventional fur coats. Ricci also transformed corduroy into a luxury material by weaving the textured cloth out of silk and manipulating the colors on the warp and weft to produce a subtle two-tone effect.
Stefano Ricci, 212.371.3901, www.stefanoricci.it

Italian suitmaker Belvest (212.317. 0460, www.belvest.com) introduced a rare blend of cashmere and chinchilla and used the fabric to produce a classic men’s topcoat with a comfortable and warm mink lining. Kiton (212.813. 0272, www.kiton.it) subtly employs fur by attaching a sheared mink collar to a double-breasted cashmere peacoat and by using mink as a lining for a zip-front blouson jacket. Loro Piana (212.980.7961, www.loropiana.com) purchased an entire herd of black sheep from a New Zealand breeder to obtain the undyed wool for its popular Roadster jackets and other outerwear pieces. The BT iJacket from Ermenegildo Zegna (212.421. 4488, www.zegna.com) uses Microtene fabrics and Bluetooth technology to allow you to control your cell phone and iPod without removing the gadgets from your pockets.

FORMAL WEAR
Salvatore Ferragamo
Corneliani

Massimiliano Giornetti, a new designer for Ferragamo, added even more glamour to the brand’s formal wear by making Neapolitan-style tuxedos (high armholes and canoe-shaped breast pockets) from superfine wool and cotton velvet fabrics. Giornetti also widened the collars and lapels to emphasize the neck’s curvature. Every Ferragamo tuxedo undergoes more than 40 manual ironings and steam presses so that the jackets retain their form-fitting shape.
Salvatore Ferragamo, 800.628.8916, www.ferragamo.com

Corneliani’s (800.222.9477, www.corneliani.com) Elegance of Luxury collection includes single-button, peak-lapel jackets made from cotton velvet, cashmere, superfine wool, and other plush fabrics. The collection’s topcoats and capes are fabricated from vicuña.

SHIRTS
Finamore
Etro * Luigi Borrelli

By moving its production to a new, larger factory outside Naples, Italy, last summer, the family-owned shirtmaker Finamore was able to accommodate new machinery and expand its offerings. One silk dress shirt collection requires masterful sewing techniques to prevent the material from puckering at the seams. Finamore also improved the one-piece collar design by eliminating the stiff inner band that usually affixes the collar to the shirt and keeps it upright.
Finamore, distributed by Ellegi, 212.246.7034.

Neapolitan shirtmaker Luigi Borrelli (212.644.9610, www.luigiborrelli.com) has started using lemony-scented Vetiver water when pressing its superfine cotton shirts, which are distinguished by three-point crow’s-foot stitches that fasten the buttons in place. The company’s original seamstress and founder, Anna Borrelli, devised the hand-stitched detail in 1918. Kean Etro designed shirts for the family-owned brand Etro (212.247.1200, www.etro.com) using woven fabrics digitally printed with magnified photographic images of knit weaves. The patterns create the illusion that the shirts are knits.

NECKWEAR
Stefano Ricci
Hermès *  Massimo Bizzocchi

Until this year Stefano Ricci has not made neckwear featuring patterns woven into the silk because he could not achieve the same quality that he could by printing his designs. However, after devising a method for producing precise patterns in the weaving process, he created a new tie collection for this spring and expanded it for fall. The technique involves incorporating organzine, a highly twisted silk thread, into the warp of the cloth and slowing down the machinery so the patterns can be closely monitored for color and clarity.
Stefano Ricci, 212.371.3901, www.stefanoricci.it

Italian designer Massimo Bizzocchi (212.675.4055, www.massbizz.com) affixes a sterling silver tip to the end of a tie’s lifeline—the single thread that runs down the back of the tie to hold the folded material in place. You can have the beadlike tip monogrammed, and you can remove it from the tie and wear it on the leather bracelet that comes with each tie. For its Manifeste collection, Hermès (800.441. 4488, www.hermes.com) scaled down the width of its ties to a trim 2.75 inches and eliminated the linings to give them sleeker profiles. The silk fabrics feature pointillist images—such as a horseman on a galloping steed—which become discernible at a distance, much like the Postimpressionist paintings of Georges Seurat.

KNITWEAR
Loro Piana
Colombo * Hermès * Zanone

Each may, the owners of the Italian textile and clothing company Loro Piana fly to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, then drive 20 hours to the sparsely populated inner valley. There they acquire the baby cashmere fibers used to create the company’s finest knitwear. Mongolian baby cashmere is considered the rarest and most precious of all cashmeres because the supply is limited by the number of indigenous kel goats born annually. The fiber can be combed only once from a 3-to-12-month-old animal. Loro Piana is the exclusive supplier of baby cashmere to the fashion industry and has the only patent to produce knitwear from the fiber.
Loro Piana, 212.980.7961, www.loropiana.com

Colombo (distributed by Glazer Imports, 212.582.0042) produces knitwear for Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi, but the Italian textile maker saved its cashmere/chinchilla and cashmere/mink knit blends for its own signature sweater collection, which it is debuting for fall. Zanone (646.492.5047) knits sweaters using Cashmere Tech, a cashmere yarn that is twisted around an elastic core measuring a single micron in diameter. The knitwear retains its stretch qualities longer and resists pilling. Hermès (800.441.4488, www.hermes.com) eliminated the bulk from its knitwear without sacrificing warmth by fashioning pullovers and cardigans from delicate, heat-retaining merino wool.

PANTS
Zanella
Corneliani * Evisu * Incotex * Valentini

 

A new partnership formed with Piacenza, one of Italy’s oldest and finest cashmere fabric makers, gave Zanella access to higher-quality cloths for its Platinum trouser line. The agreement enabled the Italian pant maker to expand the collection from subtle and safe patterns to include more contemporary designs. Zanella’s construction features skirted and pleated interior waistbands with split backs that make the pants more comfortable, and three separate fly closures so the fronts stay smooth and flat.
Zanella, 888.926.3552, www.zanella.com

Incotex (646.492.5047), the Venice, Italy, pant maker, has dressed up classic five-pocket jeans by fabricating them from Super 150s wool, which typically is used to make tailored clothing. For fall, Corneliani (800.222.9477, www.corneliani.com) presented the first pair of six-pocket jeans made from stretchable wool flannel. The lines in the new collection of casual corduroy slacks from Italian pant maker Valentini (distributed by Glazer Imports, 212.582. 0042) are horizontal instead of vertical. The slacks incorporate the same finishing details—hand-sewn buttonholes and waistbands—as do its wool dress pants. Japanese jeans maker Evisu (800.278.0272, www.evisu.com) produced 500 pairs of five-pocket denim jeans made from its proprietary fabric woven with gold kimono thread.

LEATHER GOODS
Ermenegildo Zegna
Hermès * Loro Piana

The top-of-the-line  bags, wallets, and briefcases in Ermenegildo Zegna’s first collections of small leather goods are lined with a pin-striped cloth resembling the wool the family-owned company uses for its suits. Zegna produces the three new collections—Trofeo, Condotti, and Heritage—through a joint venture with Salvatore Ferragamo. The Heritage pieces are made by hand from premium alligator and calf skins that have been printed to resemble textured goatskin. They are appointed with matte silver- and gold-plated hardware.
Ermenegildo Zegna, 212.421.4488, www.zegna.com
 
Hermès (800.441.4488, www.hermes.com) employs a new manufacturing technique in which it frames its luggage and briefcases in durable leather and then wraps them in sturdy canvas accented with calfskin details. Loro Piana (212.980.7961, www.loropiana.com) crafts each of its My Office briefcases from a single hide of supersoft and scratch-resistant Fjord leather from the Hermès-owned tannery. The Italian luxury goods maker also presented a boxy, twill-lined leather travel bag called the No Carry. It has compartments for electronic devices that also can hold two bottles, a cocktail shaker, and other bar accessories.

FOOTWEAR
Martin Dingman/Handmade by Silvano Sassetti
Barker Black Ltd.

Arkansas leather goods manufacturer Martin Dingman combined his sophisticated taste with Italian Silvano Sassetti’s bench shoemaking skills to create ready-made footwear with styling and craftsmanship usually reserved for bespoke shoes. Chukka boots, wing tips, and cap-toed bluchers all feature Goodyear welted soles and integrate unique finishing techniques for burnished alligator, oiled African llama, vintage-looking calf, and a proprietary waxed suede.
Martin Dingman/Handmade by Silvano Sassetti, 800.955.2358,
www.martindingman.com

Former Ralph Lauren designer Derrick Miller partnered with England’s 127-year-old Barker shoes to launch the contemporary Barker Black Ltd. (212.966.2166, www.barkerblack.com) collection, which Miller appoints with skull-and-crossbones motifs. Barker Black’s Walter Hagen– inspired, two-tone crocodile-and-suede, spectator-style golf shoes are produced in limited editions of 100 pairs per year.

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