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Flusser, Alan

FLUSSER, Alan

American designer

Education: Studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Parsons School of Design, New York. Family: Married Marilese Flusser; children: Morgan, Kaitlin. Career: Head designer, Pierre Cardin Relax Sportwear (six years); designer, Van Heusen Company, New York; formed own company; hosiery line introduced 1980; women's sweater collection introduced, 1983; custom tailored collection introduced, 1985; East 52nd Street shop opened, New York, 1987; Wall Street shop opened, New York, and Washington, D.C., shop opened, 1989; company reorganized, sold to Copley of Canada, 1993. Awards: Coty American Fashion Critics award, 1983; Cutty Sark award.

Publications

By FLUSSER:

Books

Making the Man, the Insider's Guide to Buying and Wearing Men's Clothes, New York, 1981.

Clothes and the Man: The Principals of Fine Men's Dress, New York,1985, 1987, 1989.

Style and the Man, New York, 1996.

Permanent Fashion: The Art of Fine Men's Dress, New York, forthcoming.

Articles

"Hints on Hats," in the New York Times Magazine, 16 September 1990.

On FLUSSER:

Articles

"Men Will Find a Fashion Coup at Penneys," in Chicago Tribune, 28August 1985.

Boyer, G. Bruce, "The Compleat Outfitter," in Town and Country (New York), November 1989.

Sterba, James P., "Style: Father of the [ED] Look," in the Wall Street Journal (New York), 18 May 1990.

"Mr. Right: If He's Good-Looking, Elegantly Dressed and Socially Sensitive, He Must Be an Alan Flusser Man, in Chicago Tribune, 22 April 1992.

Levine, Lisbeth, "To Dress WellDesigner Alan Flusser [Says] Just Follow Some Basic Rules," in Chicago Tribune, 24 October 1996.

"At Home with: Alan Flusser, Where 'Bespoke' is Spoken Fluently," in the New York Times, 30 January 1997.

Swanson, James L., "Impeccable Fit Custom Tailored or Made to Measure: The Ultimate Suit Makes a Comeback," in Chicago Tribune, 12 September 1999.

***

There is a certain relaxed elegance about the way Alan Flusser designs and styles his tailored clothing. His sartorial skill is best known to those outside the fashion industry through his costuming work for Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street. Flusser's Gordon Gekko dressed with the excessiveness of the 1980s. His wide, bead-striped single-breasted suits with peak lapels and turned-back rollback cuffs showed that he was a man of style, yet not one to follow the rules. Shirts continued the look with bold, heavy, and wide stripes, extra long spread white collars, French cuffs, braces, and ties. To flaunt oneself in this fashion was pure arrogance, not unlike the character Douglas played (remember, Gekko was the originator of the tenet "greed is good").

The commonly known Flusser style, however, is a more understated elegance. His influences run the gamut from the Duke of Windsor to the glamorous gentlemen of film in the 1930s and 1940sincluding Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Cary Grantand stemmed from Flusser's own father, a successful industrial realtor in northern New Jersey, who had suits custom made by Brooks Brothers and shoes and shirts made in London.

Flusser's career as a fashion influence started when he was still in college at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He was following his father's lead, already having his clothing custom-made at Brooks Brothers, and friends, recognizing the style Flusser refers to as "relaxed elegance," would come to him for wardrobe advice. Advising his friends on what was appropriate was not enough for Flusserhe wanted to influence the direction of style and elegance as well.

The archetypal Flusser suit comes from his custom-made business. The environment of his shop is not unlike that of an old-world gentleman's club, and it is from there that the relaxed elegance is derived. A man coming in for a suit can choose between a ready-to-wear suit or one custom made to his size and specifications. It is the latter choice that allows Flusser to create what he is known for. The customer chooses a fabric from a finely edited group of swatches, followed by the style of the suit. Flusser generally tries to be on the scene, supervising and offering helpful suggestions, almost as if he were still advising his college friends.

Then begins the lengthy process of sewing and fitting the garment. More often than not, by the time a Flusser suit is finished, the customer has decided that he must also be fully outfitted with Flusser accoutrements. Flusser ties, shirts, braces, and pocket squares are as exquisitely made and as stylish as the suits they will accessorize.

It is unfortunate that Flusser's attempt to introduce a line of sportswear, in fall 1992, failed. The offerings included tweed sports coats and trousers, rich cashmere sweaters, roomy car coats, and field jackets worthy of any gentleman farmer. The styling of the collection evoked weekends at the country estate. A victim of the economic climate, it offered the wearer of Flusser's formal suits a more casual alternative.

A brush with bankruptcy in 1993 resulted in the consolidation of Flusser's three custom shops into one location at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. Along with Copley Apparel of Canada, Flusser operates a wholesale men's business retailed in 50 stores in the United States. Several Japanese companies currently hold licenses to produce and market products under the Alan Flusser label.

Flusser continues to advocate for his traditionalist style. His designs were again in the public eye when he provided a wardrobe for television host Bob Costas during the 1992 and 1996 summer Olympics, and he regularly contributed a fashion column to Men's Health Magazine. The successful publication of several books of sartorial advice have firmly established Flusser as a respected authority on not only menswear but also on the civilized manner the man wearing the clothing must possess. The man wearing Flusser's traditionalist designs chooses much more than the cut of his collars and lapels, he chooses a lifestyle.

LisaMarsh;

updated by MeganStacy

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