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2009 Luxury Preview: Lighter, Brighter Zegna

William Kissel

For nearly a century, Ermenegildo Zegna has pioneered proprietary fabrics and technologies that have redefined modern menswear. In 2006, Zegna Sport debuted the iJacket, which boasts a built-in touch-control panel made from sandwiched layers of conductive carbon-coated nylon, enabling the wearer to interface with his iPod simply by touching his sleeve. For fall 2008, the design house unveiled the Solar Ski Jacket; its solar-cell-filled neoprene collar charges the wearer’s personal electronics while he is on the slopes. Zegna’s latest advance for spring 2009 is the $845 Freeway Jacket. The garment’s super lightweight, breathable, waterproof Microtene fabric keeps the body temperature constant in all weather conditions. But comfort and functionality are not the jacket’s only advantages: An LED system in the collar lights up in the dark to ensure that the wearer remains visible when traveling at night—hence the name.

888.880.3462, www.zegna.com

2009 Luxury Preview: Sporting Savile Row

William Kissel

Although Italian sportswear designer Brunello Cucinelli only recently announced plans to launch his first men’s tailored clothing collection for spring 2009, his distinctive style has subtly influenced the designs of traditional suitmakers for years. Suede elbow patches, throat tabs on lapels, and embroidered insignias concealed under elegant felt collars—all hallmarks of Cucinelli’s cashmere sportswear—have become familiar features on tailored clothing and sport coats in the past few seasons. For his first foray into tailored clothing, Cucinelli looked back to the glory days of London’s Savile Row for inspiration. His sleek, trimly cut three-button suits, with softly shaped shoulders ($2,500 to $4,000), incorporate age-old sartorial details, such as pick-stitched Bemberg linings and boutonniere stays under lapels. Cucinelli retains his signature elements—red tack-stitched interior pockets and suede elbow patches—to lend the suits the same youthful aesthetic that has always defined his stylized sportswear.

212.627.9202, www.brunellocucinelli.it

Wardrobe: Perfect Scale

William Kissel

Italy’s Tardini family has a long-held passion for cold-blooded creatures—or, at least, for the hides of one in particular: Alligator mississippiensis. Yet Giuseppe Tardini’s pursuit of perfect skins used to lead him only to frustration. The specimens of alligator that he had been obtaining from American traders were coarse and frequently blemished—hardly suitable materials from which to craft his exotic-skin belts for men. Irritated at the bite these inferior samples were taking out of his business, he decided to bite back by purchasing a minority stake in a Louisiana farm in 1984 that enabled him to breed his own gators. These carefully reared reptiles have contributed their glossy scales to an expanded collection of accessories that will debut this fall at Tardini’s first in-store shop at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Tardini’s strategy has had the dual benefit of improving both the quality and the quantity of his leather. With the consent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, each summer the farm collects alligator eggs from the wild and raises them in a controlled environment to ensure that the skins remain supple and undamaged by conditions they might encounter in the wild. The skins harvested from smaller animals on the farm, along with larger skins that Tardini secures legally in the wild, have enabled him to expand his collection to include luggage, briefcases, footwear, small leather goods, and even decorative home accessories.

Tardini’s co-ownership of the farm has had the unexpected consequence of making him a participant in the effort to protect and preserve the alligator species. His agreement with the government requires him to return 16 percent of the farm-raised alligators to the exact place in the wild where the eggs were retrieved. (Only approximately 10 percent of the alligators that are born in the wild survive there; the majority of the other 90 percent are killed by predators.)

The business has grown, yet it remains a family concern—just as it was in 1958, when Tardini’s father, Luigi (a belt maker), created the brand. The harvested reptile skins are sent to the company’s factory in Modena, Italy, where Giuseppe works with his wife, Ombretta, and his two sons, Andrea and Stefano. Giuseppe oversees the elaborate sizing, tanning, and dyeing processes, as well as the precision tooling that transforms the hides into finished accessories. The company uses fewer than 25 percent of the 60,000 alligator skins processed every year by the farm to fashion its leather goods; the remaining skins are sold to other brands to help fund the breeding operation at the Louisiana property.

Though Tardini’s new exotic-skin footwear, pens, and cuff links exhibit the same methodical attention to detail that has characterized the brand since Luigi’s day, the items introduce a few new techniques and concepts. For instance, while most shoemakers use plain calf leather on the soles of their alligator shoes, Tardini’s footwear combines alligator uppers with calfskin soles that are embossed to resemble the exotic skins. Another unique feature that appears on many of the company’s shoes is an old-world, hand-applied finishing technique that leaves a waxy gloss at the heel and a matte toe, for an elegant, vintage look.

Other accessories also are in the works. But despite this greater diversity of items in the collection, one unifying theme runs throughout the brand’s offerings: "Always," Tardini says, "there is some connection to the alligator."

Tardini, +39.02.6208.6004, www.tardini-accessories.it

A Material Difference

William Kissel

A glass of red wine that accidentally spilled on his trousers prompted Italian fashion maverick Gianluca Isaia to explore the possibility of creating a waterproof fabric made entirely of natural fibers to protect his luxurious suits. After months of experimentation with an Italian textile mill, he unveiled a waterproof wool fabric called AquaSpider, from which evolved a series of innovative, proprietary Aqua materials that are the foundation of Isaia’s stylish new designs.

The 45-year-old’s inventive spirit and unabashed knack for mixing classic, tailored lines with edgy materials and colors have pushed this third-generation suitmaker to the forefront of Italian fashion. Isaia’s distinctive design philosophy will be on vivid display in December at the long-awaited opening of his flagship boutique on Via Verri in Milan’s Golden Triangle shopping district.

The Milan store reflects its owner’s singular sense of style and somewhat unorthodox pairings, which have included a $5,000 plaid cashmere suit with inexpensive leather fisherman sandals. But, Isaia insists, there is a like-minded customer for his quirky mode of dress. He describes his client as "a man who is comfortable enough in his own skin to take the best of one world and combine it with something from another, to create a style that is uniquely his own."

This idea informs the aesthetic of his new store, a two-level, 3,000-square-foot space bedecked in warm woods and cool, white, hexagon-cut Carrara marble that strikes the right balance between classic and contemporary. The main level showcases the full collection of suits, sportswear, shoes, and accessories; pieces are arranged on mannequins in the way that Isaia foresees his apparel being worn on the streets. The upper level offers ready-to-wear designs and an area devoted to made-to-measure clothing that includes an interactive lounge with touchscreen monitors detailing each garment’s construction and materials.

Not immediately visible is the shop’s VIP club room. It is tucked away on the second floor and has a bar, sofas, and—in keeping with Isaia’s playful personality—a PlayStation. The by-invitation-only club serves Isaia’s best customers and those who require privacy when they shop. "It will be like a little men’s club, but it will also offer a place to have a little fun," says Isaia, adding that the store’s mix of masculine sartorial style with easy sportswear will appeal to the man who is just as comfortable in a denim emporium as he is in a tailor’s shop. The Milan location is the first fully owned Isaia store in a series of shops scheduled to open in Shanghai, Macao, and New York before the end of 2009.

This expansion into the retail arena represents a new era for the Italian fashion brand, which was established in 1957 by Isaia’s grandfather, a textile salesman named Enrico Isaia. Enrico’s three sons eventually succeeded him in the business, and by the time Gianluca entered the company in 1989, it was already known for producing suits for major American retailers such as Brooks Brothers, Paul Stuart, and Louis Boston, among others. Nevertheless, Isaia, who grew up in the age of designer sportswear, wanted to create a younger, more modern kind of tailored clothing he might wear himself.

Thus his collection fuses the look of signature designer jackets (the short stature and slender lapels on sport coats by Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent come to mind) with the precision hand-tailoring that is characteristic of classic suits by Brioni and Kiton. The suits, which start at about $3,200, are cut with slightly pinched shoulders and a high armhole that gives the illusion of a trim waist. The distinctive canoe-shaped chest pocket, called the barchetta, is used by any number of Italian tailors, but Isaia also crafts its own pocket variation called the pignattiello. "This is a very typical Italian pot in which we cook beans," Isaia says of the pot-shaped patch pocket that graces many of his suits and sport coats. Even the trousers have been modified: Isaia’s are athletic and lean but not uncomfortably snug, and they are rarely pleated.

Yet Isaia’s inventive use of fabrics, which began with the creation of AquaSpider, defines his collection. This waterproof wool is produced by treating the individual yarns before they are woven into cloth, rather than by applying a protective membrane to the finished fabric. The technology has inspired an entire range of Aqua fabrics, including AquaCashmere, AquaChino, and, for spring 2009, AquaLight, a superlight wool with half the weight of its conventional counterpart. Isaia is also giving classic textiles a contemporary edge. He favors the look of vintage suit textiles but dislikes their heavy appearance and feel. His solution has been to scour a century’s worth of mill archives to find bold checks, stripes, and plaids that he can reproduce in lighter-weight materials and modern color combinations, such as this fall’s Napoli blue, bright orange, tan, and various shades of gray. Moreover, he translated the traditional, heavy Falkland Island wool—a popular fabric for overcoats in the 1930s—into a lighter-weight cloth called Tonic for his new collection.

"My grandfather was in the cloth business, selling to the best tailor shops in Naples, before he opened his own company," recalls Isaia, who has made creative fabrics his signature. When he introduced sportswear in 2002, for instance, he chose a blend of cashmere and alpaca for jean jackets. Even his sweatshirts are made of cashmere. This year, when he unveiled his first collection of travel bags, Isaia made them from the same AquaCashmere cloth found on the brand’s new Superga-designed sneakers, which start at $395. As an extension of his love for unconventional materials, and to encourage his clients to express their individuality, Isaia is inviting customers to bring their old jackets—whether they are from Isaia or another brand—to his Milan store to have the fabric reworked into a pair of Superga sneakers designed for Isaia. His goal, he says, is for clients to "never have to throw away an old jacket."

Isaia, 212.245.3733, 888.996.7555

Threads of State

The Editors

With all eyes on Washington, D.C., these days, the man of international affairs must cultivate a variety of impeccably tailored looks to fit any situation, whether he is lobbying for change on Capitol Hill, negotiating trade agreements on Embassy Row, or engaging in diplomatic relations of another kind in a suite at the legendary Hay-Adams hotel on Lafayette Square.

Photo 1. On him: Gianfranco Ferré double-breasted wool jacket, $2,800, wool pants, $715, and wool shirt, $515; Torino black Nile crocodile belt with brushed-nickel buckle, $495. opposite page, on him: Borrelli three-button, single-breasted suit, $3,950, striped cotton shirt, $640, flecked tie, $195, and pocket square, $75; Cartier Ballon Bleu leather-strap watch, $17,300. On her: Gianfranco Ferré wool bolero, $2,120, and cotton shirt, $1,425; Stella McCartney flat-front, wide-leg pants, $1,595; Tiny Jewel Box spinel-and-antique-kashira necklace, $27,500; Gurhan earrings, $1,960; Yossi Harari bracelets, from $1,725.

Photo 2. On him: Kiton double-breasted cashmere suit, $9,375, cotton dress shirt, $825, patterned silk tie, $250, and white pocket square, $175. On her: Ralph Lauren Black Label Caden top, $555, and Black Label Caden Kellyn skirt, $698; Emporio Armani pony-skin peep-toe shoes, $650; Paul Morelli diamond-and-pearl earrings, $10,060; Jack Kelége diamond-and-platinum ring, $15,900; A. Link diamond-and-platinum necklace worn as a bracelet, $36,000.

Photo 3. On him: Tom Ford Onda black moiré grosgrain cocktail jacket, $4,050, white voile evening shirt with plissé plastron, $1,360, and black velvet bow tie, $190; Ermenegildo Zegna Couture white cotton pocket square, $120; Dunhill Sidecar red resin cuff links, $235. On her: Hermès viscose jersey dress, $4,975; Kwiat diamond-and-platinum earrings, $91,100, and necklace, $132,300.

Photo 4. On him: Ralph Lauren Purple Label single-breasted Chesterfield Notch topcoat with velvet collar, $5,995, single-breasted, three-piece Drake suit with Madison pant, $4,995, Keaton striped French shirt, $395, and silk tie, $165; Louis Vuitton leather boots, $795. On her: Stella McCartney double-breasted wool jacket, $675 Louis Vuitton wool halter T-shirt with jewel neckline, $3,265, and wool skirt, $955; Salvatore Ferragamo gray python handbag, $3,150; Stuart Weitzman snakeskin peep-toe shoes, $525; Kwiat diamond-and-platinum earrings, $9,020.

Photo 5. On him: Ermenegildo Zegna Couture double-breasted, two-button cashmere overcoat, $5,995, single-breasted, three-button plaid suit, $2,495, dress shirt, $265, silk tie, $160, and calfskin belt, $495; Fratelli Rossetti lace-up oxford shoes, $590; Ebel chronograph watch, $6,950.

Photo 6. On him: Burberry single-breasted, three-button grosgrain suit, $1,295, and textured cotton shirt, $225; Dunhill striped tie, $130; Massimo Bizzocchi hand-rolled silk pocket square, $90. Turban and glasses: model’s own. above center, on him: Belvest single-breasted, two-button striped cashmere-and-chinchilla suit, $7,815, cotton shirt, $345, and silk tie, $165; Massimo Bizzocchi hand-rolled silk pocket square, $90; Torino vintage American alligator belt with silver-finish buckle, $495. On her: Stella McCartney single-breasted, pin-striped jacket, $1,895, matching pant, $595, and cotton peasant blouse, $795.

Photo 7. On him: Stefano Ricci single-breasted, two-button suit, striped shirt, silk tie, and pocket square, prices available upon request. On her: Francisco Rosas wool flannel dress, $2,175; Sergio Rossi Edwina patent-leather-and-satin platform sandals, $650; Ralph Lauren Collection sunglasses, $210; Tiny Jewel Box gray Tahitian pearl necklace, $28,000, and earrings, $4,500.

Photo 8. On him: Canali Couture single-breasted, three-button cashmere-and-chinchilla striped coat, $7,595, and single-breasted, two-button pin-striped suit, $2,595; Isaia striped shirt, $375, and tie, $225; Torino ostrich-leg belt, $170; Berluti lace-up leather shoes, $1,850. On her: Belvest baby-cashmere topcoat with orylag collar, $4,125, and English cashmere jacket with flared skirt (not shown), $4,965; Brioni silk shirt, $965, and V-neck cashmere sweater, $1,265; Tiny Jewel Box multicolored pearl necklace, $18,370, and pearl-and-diamond earrings, $5,275.

A. Link
212.838.5355, www.alinkandco.com
Belvest 212.317.0460, www.belvest.com
Berluti 212.439.6400, www.berluti.com
Borrelli 212.644.9610, www.borrelliboutiques.com
Brioni 888.778.8775, www.brioni.com
Burberry 800.284.8480, www.burberry.com
Canali 212.842.8700, www.canali.it
Cartier 800.227.8437, www.cartier.com
Dunhill 212.753.9292, www.dunhill.com
Ebel 800.920.3153, www.ebel.com
Emporio Armani 866.602.7799, www.emporioarmani.com
Ermenegildo Zegna 888.880.3462, www.zegna.com
Francisco Rosas available at Neapolitan, 847.441.7784, www.neapolitanonline.com
Fratelli Rossetti 212.888.5107, www.rossetti.it
Gianfranco Ferré 212.717.5430, www.gianfrancoferre.com
Gurhan 646.230.1122, www.gurhan.com
Hermès 800.441.4488, www.hermes.com
Isaia 888.996.7555, www.isaia.it
Jack Kelége 213.622.1290, www.jackkelege.com
Kiton 212.813.0272, www.kiton.it
Kwiat 800.927.4367, www.kwiat.com
Louis Vuitton 866.884.8866, www.louisvuitton.com
Massimo Bizzocchi 212.675.4055, www.massbizz.com
Paul Morelli 215.922.7392, www.paulmorelli.com
Ralph Lauren 888.475.7674, www.ralphlauren.com
Salvatore Ferragamo 800.628.8916, www.ferragamo.com
Sergio Rossi 212.223.7114, www.sergiorossi.com
Stefano Ricci New York boutique, 212.371.3901; Beverly Hills boutique, 310.858.9595; www.stefanoricci.com
Stella McCartney 212.255.1556, www.stellamccartney.com
Stuart Weitzman New York boutique, 212.750.2555; Beverly Hills boutique, 310.860.9600; www.stuartweitzman.com
Tom Ford 212.359.0300, www.tomford.com
Torino available at Mitchells of Westport, Conn., 203.227.5165, www.mitchellsonline.com
Yossi Harari 212.463.7950, www.yossiharari.com
All jewelry on these pages available at Tiny Jewel Box 202.393.2747, www.tinyjewelbox.com

Snapshots from the Edge

The Editors

A rendezvous along the Pacific Coast calls for a multifaceted wardrobe of distinctive sport coats and stylish casual wear.

Photo 1. On him: Dunhill suede jacket, $2,450, plaid shirt, $270, wool vest, $190, striped wool pants, $2,195 (for suit), and driving gloves, $200; Salvatore Ferragamo loafers, $520; Hublot Big Bang Ice Bang watch, $14,500.

Photo 2. On her: Louis Vuitton leaf-print dress, $4,760; Versace strap heels, $730; Norman Silverman diamond chain necklace, diamond bangles, and ring, prices available upon request.

Photo 3. On her: Stella McCartney pink button-down sweater, $695; Norman Silverman diamond cuff bracelet and yellow-diamond ring, prices available upon request. On him: Massimo Bizzocchi wool-and-silk sport coat, $1,800, woven silk tie, $155, and hand-rolled pocket square, $90; Lorenzini cotton shirt, $385; Avon Celli cashmere zip-neck sweater, $1,895; Corum Admiral’s Cup Competition 48 watch, $9,000.

Photo 4. On her: Chanel muslin dress, $10,100, and Paris-Londres Collection pumps, $650; Norman Silverman diamond cuff, price available upon request. On him: Brioni lambskin-suede jacket, $7,275, printed silk shirt, $750, wool-and-silk knit vest, $745, and cotton trousers, $435; Canali leather belt, $195, and leather oxford shoes with perforations, $495; Bottega Veneta woven-leather bag, $4,508.

Photo 5. On her: Diane von Furstenberg silk dress, $325, available at Barneys; Salvatore Ferragamo ribbon-tie leather shoes, $550; Norman Silverman diamond bracelet, price available upon request. above, On him: Salvatore Ferragamo suede jacket, twill trousers, and woven leather belt, prices available upon request; Mel Gambert Bespoke hand-sewn cashmere plaid shirt, $3,250; Bottega Veneta dark Baltic wool knit vest, $710; Louis Vuitton patent-calfskin box-toe shoes with buckle, $795; Punto for British Apparel Collection socks, $35.

Photo 6. On him: Louis Vuitton two-button corduroy blazer, $2,250, cotton shirt, $645, V-neck sweater, $735, charcoal pants, $1,090, and cap-toe shoes with buckle, $895; Ermenegildo Zegna black-and-blue polka-dot silk pocket square, $85.

Photo 7. On her: Diane von Furstenberg silk dress, $325, available at Barneys; Salvatore Ferragamo ribbon-tie leather shoes, $550; Norman Silverman diamond bracelet, price available upon request. above, On him: Salvatore Ferragamo suede jacket, twill trousers, and woven leather belt, prices available upon request; Mel Gambert Bespoke hand-sewn cashmere plaid shirt, $3,250; Bottega Veneta dark Baltic wool knit vest, $710; Louis Vuitton patent-calfskin box-toe shoes with buckle, $795; Punto for British Apparel Collection socks, $35. opposite page, On him: Louis Vuitton two-button corduroy blazer, $2,250, cotton shirt, $645, V-neck sweater, $735, charcoal pants, $1,090, and cap-toe shoes with buckle, $895; Ermenegildo Zegna black-and-blue polka-dot silk pocket square, $85.

Avon Celli 212.702.0136, www.avoncelli.com
Bottega Veneta 877.362.1715, www.bottegaveneta.com
Brioni 888.778.8775, www.brioni.com
Canali 212.842.8700, www.canali.it
Chanel 800.550.0005, www.chanel.com
Corum 949.788.6200, www.corum.ch
Diane von Furstenburg www.dvf.com
Dunhill 212.753.9292, www.dunhill.com
Ermenegildo Zegna 888.880.3462, www.zegna.com
Hublot 800.536.0636, www.hublot.com
Lorenzini 212.702.0136, www.lorenzini.it
Louis Vuitton 866.884.8866, www.louisvuitton.com
Massimo Bizzocchi 212.675.4055, www.massbizz.com
Mel Gambert Bespoke 973.344.3440, www.gambertshirts.com
Punto for British Apparel Collection 800.451.3985, www.britishapparel.com
Salvatore Ferragamo 800.628.8916, www.ferragamo.com
Stella McCartney 212.255.1556, www.stellamccartney.com
Versace 212.813.0190, 888.721.7219, www.versace.com
All jewelry on these pages provided by Norman Silverman, 213.687.3985, 877.687.3985.

Men's Style: Extraordinary Accessories: Beyond Basic

William Kissel

Intricate Elegance. It is often the small, discreet details that define true quality. A closer look reveals the subtle design nuances and delicate workmanship required to create these extraordinary accessories.

Photos: Ermenegildo Zegna (888.880.3462, www.zegna?.com) Diplomat calfskin briefcase, travel case, and wallets, $310 to $2,350; Versace (212.317.0224, www.versace?.com) calfskin belts with signature Greek-key buckles, $450 (top and bottom) and $605 (center); TAG Heuer (800.321.4832, www.tagheuer.com) limited-edition titanium Speedway sunglasses, from $360; Loro Piana (212.980.7961, www.loropiana.com) calfskin briefcase, $3,645, bull-skin-lined crocodile belt, $1,175, waterproof suede ankle boot, $925, and baby-cashmere scarf, $995.

Men's Style: Extraordinary Accessories: Carried Away

William Kissel

Daring Duffels. Once relegated to the locker room, the duffel bag has emerged in versions that serve as tasteful travel carry-ons or computer bags. In deference to their freshly elevated status, the newest fall bags feature tissue-soft leathers, exotic crocodile, ostrich, and alligator skins, and even fine suitmaking materials, such as lightweight wool flannel and cashmere. Many of these versatile bags are equipped with useful compartments for mobile phones, passports, and other essentials.

Photo from top: Bamford & Sons (+44.20.7881.8010, www?.bamfordandsons.com) bag made of gray wool-and-cashmere flannel with leather accents and checkered lining, $1,695; Avon Celli (www?.avoncelli.com; available through Mach III, 212.702.0136) pressed-deerskin duffel, $4,000; Tom Ford (212.359.0300, www.tomford.com) medium-size crocodile zipper bag, $27,190.

Men's Style: Extraordinary Accessories: Finishing Touches

William Kissel

Singular Style. To help their clients dress from head to toe in a comprehensive style, menswear designers are crafting ever-expanding ranges of unique and personalized accessories that complement their suits and sportswear. Many use color, exotic materials, and even elements of whimsy to infuse everything—from neckwear and cuff links to loafers and leather goods—with playful panache.

Photos: Bulgari (800.285.4274, www.bulgari.com) Auto d’Epoca Saglione silk seven-fold necktie featuring classic cars and sporty derbies, $175; Dunhill (866.929.0637, www?.dunhill?.com) train-wheel cuff links with enamel details, made of the original steel from the Flying Scotsman train, $695; Zilli (+, www?.zilli.fr) handmade ostrich trolley and carry-on, $34,900; Silvano Lattanzi (212.734.2962, www?.silvanolattanzi.com) Missoni multicolored lizard loafer with horse-bit detail, $18,500 (available only by special order).

FrontRunners: Footwear Fetish

The Editors

Steven Taffel wants you to stop suppressing your footwear fetish. "Men enjoy great shoes as much as women do; they just don’t talk about it," says Taffel, who recently opened Leffot (www.leffot.com), a men’s footwear boutique in Manhattan’s West Village. The shop carries seven European brands of handmade shoes (priced from $610 to $1,315), including the first U.S. offerings from English shoemaker Gaziano & Girling and the French brand Aubercy. Taffel, a fashion-industry veteran who previously worked at Bottega Veneta and Prada, serves customers himself and will help design custom-order shoes. His shop resembles a dining room, with a 14-foot-long, solid-ash table sitting under a crystal chandelier and displaying footwear like an array of delectable treats. Chairs covered in elegant white slipcovers are set against the room’s walls. "It’s meant to be inviting," Taffel says of the room’s decor, "but masculine at the same time." rel="nofollow"