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Alan Flusser

He’s written four books (including Dressing the Man, which is in my opinion the best book ever written about menswear,) he dressed Gordon Gekko, designed costumes for Scent of a Women, and runs one of the most well-known custom shops in the world.  With all that he’s contributed to menswear over the years, Alan Flusser seems to have lived several times over, which is a funny statement, considering that every time Flusser steps out in public it looks like he’s reinvented himself once again.  Few people have had their personal style evolve as dramatically as Flusser has.  I realize that for some people I’m about to tread into sacred territory, and for others this entire post will be bewildering but there’s certainly been good times, there’s certainly been bad times, so let’s take a look at Flusser over the years.

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It’s difficult to write about Alan Flusser without recognizing how polarizing of a figure the man has become.  As we’ve seen in some recent comments, the author/designer’s work isn’t exactly as respected as it once was by the up-and-comers in the menswear world.  Not to mention his personal style at this point, which is slowly turning into a farce of what he once preached.  Yet, there was a time when Flusser reigned as king, when he was declared one of the best menswear designers in America, had a small but influential bespoke shop in midtown, and outfitted some of the best dressed men of that era.

To grasp Flusser’s reach, you have to look no further than what is arguably his greatest work ever, the costumes of Gordon Gekko.  In 1987 when Flusser was approached to design Gekko’s costumes for Oliver Stone’s Wall Street he had already been running his own shop for almost a decade, becoming the tailor of choice for the financial district’s upper crust.  In the face of both triumph and uncertainty, there’s never anything amiss with Gekko’s outfits.  It was all peak lapels, horizontal striped shirts, bold ties, patterned suspenders, collar pins, chalk white pinstripes, trousers without belt loops, and white contrast collar, facets that mirrored the power and prowess of a man like Gekko.

His style embodied old-school New York trad, but also something new, a flashier, more worldly look that embraces the excess of the era.  Gekko is as remembered for his insurmountable greed in the film as he is for his suits, but they both reflect a time period where those on Wall Street thought they were untouchable gods, something that they felt everyone must recognize.

In the end Gekko’s suits cost upwards of fifty thousand dollars, but it was money well spent, the film became a classic, Gekko is now considered one of film’s all-time best dressed characters, and Flusser’s name began popping up everywhere.  Flusser claims that the next year his business quadrupled off the press he gained from the film, but there was also a bit of pushback from Wall Street’s credited custom designer, Ellen Mirojnick.  She wasn’t exactly happy that Flusser ultimately overshadowed her and her work on the film.  So a couple years ago when Oliver Stone began working on the sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, he called on Mirojnick to design the costumes, but in turn Mirojnick never called Flusser, instead choosing to guide the look of the character’s all by herself.

Her decision certainly left the film with a much less iconic style to it, but then again, it’s not like wall street really has any style to it these days.  I can say that I don’t think anyone on wall street actually dresses how Gekko, and Jacob Moore (played by Shia LeBeouf) did in the sequel, because their clothes actually seem to fit them.  As we all know there’s no longer any sort of definitive style to the financial district, unless you consider oversized suits and square toed shoes to be a “style,” but, looking at these costumes in the sequel, it seems a bit confused to me.

Where the original spoke volumes about the literal golden age of wall street and expressed a time when men really put effort into looking good, Money Never Sleeps feels like it heads in the opposite direction.  It’s not that the outfits are bad, it’s just that they’re unimaginative, there’s really no expression to them, the suspenders, patterns, collar pins, all those little touches from the original are absent in the sequel.  The clothes fit, but clothes can also fit a mannequin, and I think in the end that reflects where we are today in the style of New York’s professional class.  There’s a lot of guys with money to spend, but instead of dedicating that money toward getting a suit that reflects who they are, they’re walking into department stores and absentmindedly buying what they think they’re supposed to.  Hell, Gekko might have been greedy but at least he could dress himself.

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