By Roxy Manning
Photography by Giuliano Bekor | October 10, 2011 | Style & Beauty
Occupation: Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star Right Fielder
Suit: Astor & Black Custom Clothiers
Andre Ethier knows a thing or two about donning a uniform. On the field he sports Dodger blue and white, but off, he is all about Astor & Black Custom Clothiers, a bespoke suit maker with a boutique on Miracle Mile.
Upon arriving in the major leagues in 2006—when Ethier wore “just any” suit—he discovered what the players wore when traveling between games served as a representation of their personality. Ethier made his own leap into high fashion when he bid on and won a bespoke suit from Astor & Black at a charity auction several years ago. The rest is perfectly fitted history. “At first I was a little overwhelmed when the tailor arrived at my house with his roller case full of books of fabric,” says Ethier. (More than 1,000 different cloth swatches, to be exact.) He was quickly a custom convert.
Ethier’s personal haberdasher, Aaron Benami, takes 30 specific measurements in order to achieve the perfect fit, and has even delivered the finished suits to the Dodger Stadium locker room. “We take the stress out of shopping for Andre,” says Benami. “[We do] everything from coming to him to place his order to bringing him the suits pressed and ready to go within six weeks.” The athlete wears suits from the Nobility line, which means each contains more than 2,400 stitches. Sweat guards, Bemberg silk lining in the jackets and a personalized nameplate are all custom details. Typically Ethier has his first and last name embroidered inside his jackets, but Benami adds another special touch: “His last name is monogrammed under the collar of his jacket. I told him it’s not something people will see, but you’ll know we did this for you.”
What also makes the suits stand apart is a signature canvassing method Astor & Black founder David Schottenstein describes as “making an impressionable foundation for the suit, thereby allowing the garment to drape like no other.” For Ethier, suits are more than just items of clothing. “[My custom suits] give me a feeling of accomplishment,” he says. “They symbolize the tough road I have been down over the years and show that some of my hard work has paid off.”
Full look, Ethier's own
Occupation: President of 7 for All Mankind
Suit: John Varvatos
Perhaps it was fate that made Barry Miguel gravitate to John Varvatos suits. The president of LA’s designer denim brand 7 For All Mankind (owned by VF, as is Varvatos) wears the designer’s ensembles because “I look finished and exude confidence and strength.” That’s exactly why he wore a lightweight, narrow-silhouetted, charcoal-gray Varvatos suit with a notched lapel to interview for his current position, which he landed in April 2011.
Just as Miguel cites the three most important elements in a classic pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans as “the fit, the feel and the finish,” similarly Varvatos calls out features of his wildly popular suits: “The fit comes first, then great fabrics and then the silhouette.” The designer connects to the “lost art” of suit making via such “hidden treasures” as precise lapel shapes, well-constructed shoulder pads and unique finishing patterns. Making the ready-to-wear label even more distinctive, says its namesake, is the fact “my suits are made in Italy, with 60 percent of the sewing done by hand.” Varvatos adds, “Most of our customers fall into the category of a creative executive. Someone who has confidence and style with a rock ’n’ roll attitude.” It’s as if he is referring to Miguel specifically.
As for how Miguel developed his undeniable sartorial style, it began when he was a teen working in San Francisco clothing stores. Later, his love for fashion helped him ascend through the ranks of design houses including Versace, Marc Jacobs, Tracy Reese, Nike and Zac Posen. While his fondness for denim and a proper suit is obvious, it’s not mutually exclusive: A favorite look is his denim suit, which consists of a pair of ruby-red 7 jeans, a white button-down and dark denim jacket.
“I am a firm believer in clothes not wearing the man, but rather the man wearing the clothes,” says Miguel as he slips on his favorite medium-weight charcoal Varvatos suit, complete with a 7 For All Mankind denim tie. “I like a powerful visual.”
Occupation: Motion Picture Talent Agent and Co-Head of Creative Artists Agency's (CAA) Comedy Department
“Putting on a suit in the morning is my ritual,” says Jason Heyman. “It gets me focused.” In his role at CAA—where he manages top talent including Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis and Vince Vaughn—Heyman looks to the Italian label Isaia for suits that easily take him from movie premieres to client dinners to set visits in the course of a day.
But even in his high-powered setting, this married father of three reveals an adventurous fashion sense. While his fellow agents sport dark blue suits with white shirts, Heyman mixes it up with gingham shirts and—on occasion—a seersucker suit, his latest dapper purchase. The agent was first introduced to Isaia by a celebrity client who gifted him with a beautiful suit from the label for Christmas a few years ago. It was a tiny detail—the unusual design element of four functioning buttons on the sleeves—that caught his eye. “I had never had a suit with that feature before,” he says. “It was a way to express individuality.”
Unique buttons are just one facet that distinguishes the 54-year-old Italian label from the masses. According to CEO Gianluca Isaia, the heart and soul of the company are its employees, including four master tailors who painstakingly create each garment. “It looks like the tailors are holding a baby when they touch the suit,” says Isaia, who finds inspiration in his travels. He uses the finest fabrics from Italy, England and Scotland—such as Aquaspider, Aquacashmere and Aquachino—which are treated at the fiber level in a special mill to be “not only water-resistant, but also stain-resistant and so soft and luxurious.”
Traditional Neapolitan styling is evident throughout the suits in, for example, “the shape of the breast pocket, which symbolizes the wooden boats people from Naples use to go fishing.” Even the logo refers to coastal living: It is a little piece of coral embroidered under the jacket collar, which, according to mythology, is also a sign of good luck. But of all the contemporary details in Isaia suits, the founder says cut is most important of all. “I want a man to feel like he is wearing his second skin.”
Suit, Isaia ($2,850). Neiman Marcus, 9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-550-5900. Dress shirt, Ermenegildo Zegna ($325). 301 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-247-8827. Tie, Hugo Boss ($95). 414 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-859-2888. Silk pocket square, Ermenegildo Zegna ($95). SEE ABOVE. Shoes, Heyman’s own
Occupation: Copresident of Marvel Studios
Suit: David August
It makes the tailoring process much more fun when your personal suit designer is also a close friend. Such is the case with Louis D’Esposito, copresident of Marvel Studios since 2009, and David Heil, founder, CEO and lead designer of OC’s custom-fashion house David August. “Everybody who knows Louis loves the guy; he’s so incredibly genuine,” says Heil of the powerful movie studio head. Of wearing David August suits, dress pants, button-down shirts and sports coats exclusively, D’Esposito says, “I feel confident I am going to make a good first impression.”
With The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 currently in production and development, D’Esposito’s job gives him a schedule only a superhero could maintain. Luckily, Heil meets him almost anywhere—his office, home or on set. While filming The Pursuit of Happyness, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, D’Esposito’s bespoke deliveries caught the attention of Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr., who are now repeat customers. D’Esposito even introduced Heil to the costume designer on Iron Man 2, and they decided Heil should make David August suits for Dow ney to wear in the movie.
For six years D’Esposito has been loyal to the David August Couture line, which boasts suits crafted—start to finish—over four to six weeks. D’Esposito’s suits have his name embroidered inside and each suit is coordinated with David August hand-tailored shirts, ties and pocket squares, as well as matching shoes and belts.
The custom process begins with a thorough interview followed by 35 to 40 measurements to ensure the clothes will have “curb appeal” for each individual client. Next come the fittings, after which garments are fine-tuned and any adjustments are updated to the individual’s final pattern. “When I design suits, I start from the shoulders down,” says Heil. “If the shoulder isn’t balanced, the suit won’t drape correctly. If your $5,000 suit isn’t balanced, it’s going to look like a $200 suit.”
David August suits are made of wool, silk, mohair and cashmere fabrics from Italy, England, Belgium, Spain and France that start at super-120 grade (the higher the grade, the finer the fabric) and go up from there. Says Heil, “I want my customer to have the reputation for being the best-dressed man in town.”
Full look, D’Esposito’s own
Occupation: Architect, Founder and Design Principal of Studio Pali Fekete Architects
Suit: Tom Ford
Structure is a concept that pervades the lives of both LA architect Zoltan Pali and famed menswear designer Tom Ford. Both were trained as architects, and their individual works share closely related elements: clean lines, modern influences and well-refined details.
In his professional life, Pali boasts a résumé that includes coveted projects such as the renovations of the Pantages Theatre and The Getty Villa, as well as the current construction of the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. Married with two sons, Pali (who enjoys drinking a martini while he sketches) turns to Ford when an occasion calls for a suit.
Pali discovered the designer during an investigation into the “panorama of suits” in Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills’ men’s section, where Pali picked up a Ford garment and never put it down. “As soon as I tried it on, it felt perfect. It made me feel handsome,” he says. Being a consummate researcher, he quickly discovered his and Ford’s shared bond: architecture.
Quality, along with meticulous detail, is what truly makes a Tom Ford suit. Sewn from the finest Italian wools, his suits exude an indefinable charm, from the signature ’20s- and ’30s-inspired peaked lapels down to the side adjusters on the pants—design elements included in many of Ford’s exquisite garments. Sleek lines and luxurious fabrics contour a man’s body, creating a strong masculine silhouette. Ford created his menswear line in 2007 and has said it was a response to not finding what he wanted in the marketplace as a consumer; his collection seems to fulfill his personal wish list.
In his favorite Tom Ford suit, Pali notices a design philosophy he believes they both share. “I feel I have one foot in the past, one foot in the future and I straddle the present,” he says. “This is similar to the Tom Ford suit because the tried and true is there, but there is a lot of flair that represents now.”
Suit and dress shirt, Pali’s own. Pocket square, Hugo Boss ($30). 414 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-859-2888
styling by miriam sternoff for exclusive artists management; grooming by erica sauer at exclusive artists management