a dapper FDR (center) in Yalta in 1945 sporting a Brooks Brothers cape, seated next to Winston Churchill & Joseph Stalin (photo: MensVogue.com); a look from the new Brooks Brothers Black Fleece label
As the first guest designer invited to create a collection for Brooks Brothers fancy new Black Fleece label, the 2006 CFDA Menswear Winner Thom Browne has made great strides toward making the venerable (but until recently dusty & downmarket) house relevant to high fashion. Even the pricepoints are pure high fashion - $3900 for a floor-length wool dress, $10,000 for a fur-lined wool cape. "Thom Browne's brilliant eye, his ability to foreshadow the market and offer a special look will bring a new dimension to Brooks Brothers," notes Claudio Del Vecchio, the Italian owner of Brooks Brothers since late 2001.
An heir to the Luxottica Group family fortune, Del Vecchio recognized the dormant luxury potential in the almost 200 year old house which once supplied the cape that Franklin D. Roosevelt wore at Yalta, the neckties the Fred Astaire rocked as belts (be sure to check out BB's Fred Astaire Style book), and acted as sartorial Ground Zero to countless Wall Street men in gray flannel suits. In rummaging through the company's extensive archive, Del Vecchio realized that in an age where people don pricey jeans to put on the ritz, outfitting modern dapper dandies for the "dress for dinner" lifestyle could actually be profitable. (Just ask Ralph Lauren.) "Yes, we're not in 1940 anymore," he recently told Time Style & Design (The Man Who Brought Back the Golden Fleece, Fall 2007), "but this sort of lifestyle still exists today."
Thom Browne delivers preppy-chic fabulousness under the new Brooks Brothers Black Fleece label:
- flannel Chesterfield coat - $2900
- Scottish cashmere cricket sweater - $1200
- houndstooth knickers - $700
- wool houndstooth cape with Astrakhan fur lining ($10,000) & tone-on-tone grey wool clutch ($3500)
- plaid cashmere dress ($1900) with matching plaid cape adorned with brass buttons ($2500)
- silk & cotton stripe patch pocket schoolboy blazer - $2100
- boiled wool floor length dress with cotton/silk bar stripe inset - $3900
- oversized Astrakhan fur clutch with sterling silver frame & chain (17.5" x 8.5") - $5900
- Leley Scott