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The Tailor's Art


Creation of the Manís Suit
The Suit in the 19th Century
Menís Dressing Gown and Waistcoat Fabrics
Menís Accessories in the 19th Century
Neckties and Cravats
Menís Accessories in the 20th Century
Tailoring for Women
Appropriating the Dandy
Contrast Between the Modern Suit and Feminine Fashion
Mid-Century America: Conformity in Suburbia
Mid-Century Humor: Conversational Textiles
Counterculture Menswear
Contemporary Tailoring for Men
Menswear Fabrics - A Glossary



After the Peacock Revolution of the 1960s, male dressing returned to a relatively staid appearance with only sporadic moments of exuberance, such as Vivienne Westwoodís tartan suit and kilt, or Jean-Paul Gaultierís fetishized suits for men that appropriated womenís dressmaking techniques (such as

ruching) and used zippers as ornament. The two most significant changes in male attire during the late 20th century were the Armani-style suit and the rise of deconstruction.

Italian designer Giorgio Armani sparked a revolution in menswear when he introduced his softly constructed suit in the 1970s.Unlike most menswear of the time, Armaniís suits were elegantly loose and draped with little apparent inner structure. Their casual elegance was further enhanced by his choice of drab earth tones such as beige, stone, and taupe. His suits for women followed the look of his menswear, incorporating the same construction techniques and color palette. The Armani suit dominated fashion for two decades.

Deconstructed garments are often unfinished-looking, with loose, frayed hems and edges. They sometimes appear to be coming apart, or look as if they were recycled or made from composite parts. They are frequently dark in color, suggesting poverty, devastation, or degradation, while their silhouettes tend to obscure the body and lack clear frontality. The pioneers of formalized deconstruction in high fashion were Rei Kawakubo (whose clothing label is Comme des GarÁons) and Yohji Yamamoto. Reviled in the early 1980s when they first presented their all-black collections in Paris, their dark and deconstructed suits have since become the uniform of urban cool.

Abiding by conventional aesthetics while embracing contemporary elements such as reconstruction, young and influential talents, such as New York based tailor Thom Browne, have been pushing the perimeters of male dressing since the late 1990s. Beginning with the concept of deconstruction, or taking garments apart to reveal their inner structure, reconstruction is a process that reconfigures those disassembled parts in new ways. Browneís gray flannel and white cotton pique suit is a brilliant example of this blending of old and new. Browne took apart the three-piece suit by removing the arms of the jacket and placing them on the waistcoat, or vest.

The fresh innovations and dashing aesthetic style of Browne and like-minded young designers have reinvigorated contemporary interest in tailoring and the manís suit.


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All photographs by Irving Solero, courtesy of the Museum at FIT, unless otherwise noted.