The first thing Luciano Franzoni noticed about the governors gathered for dinner was their shoes. "People do wear the most curious things with their tuxedos," he says, counting loafers and other casual styles among the shoes that not only the governors but others got away with when wearing black tie.
Franzoni, as creative director of Hartmax, a billion-dollar volume manufacturer of men's tailored clothing, probably has more influence on what most men wear than all the big-name designers. So his view on men's clothing is worth noting.
The big message, subtle colorations, is obvious in the suit he is wearing -- navy worsted with a visible green stripe and darker blue stripe. With it he wears an irredescent pale green tie and ecru shirt. "I don't know if it really works, but I like to take chances," Franzoni says. He confesses he sometimes makes mistakes, "which I find out immediately after I leave home. I just have to live with it."
The suit has not vent, a style he thinks will never become widely popular. "Most men don't know what to do with their hands, and without a vent, it is hard to put your hands in your pockets," says Franzoni. "I'm Italian. I talk with my hands."
The curreent popularity of the double-breasted suit, which many men bypass as unflattering, surprises him. "I remember King Farouk roaring through the Roman night in a dark double-breasted suit," recalls Franzoni, who worked in Rome before joining Hartmax 15 years back. "Farouk's designer cut the jacket to show a little of the linen shirt , to flatter his size," he says.
Franzoni was in Washington to promote a film on proper dressing. He wasn't counting on picking up much fashion inspiration here -- neither from the governors nor from the White House. "I detect a strong passe West Coast influence in his [Ronald Reagan's] clothing. the reddish-brown that matches his hair and the electric blues and undefined plaids suggest very old Hollywood," says Franzoni, adding quickly, "He finds himsef comfortable with that look and is entitled to wear it, since that is what he likes."
Franzoni, however, would prefer that the president's shirt collar sit higher on his neck.
But he has some good things to say about the president. "he looks great in jodhpurs and riding boots. Unfortunately, he cant go to the Oval Office in jodhpurs."