The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on July 27, 1969 · Page 81
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July 27, 1969

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 81

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Des Moines, Iowa
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Sunday, July 27, 1969
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Page 81
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Cooper on Clothes (from page i>) but tan with a sort of pink shine to it. Well, about a year ago almost every department store here was filled with officer's pink cavalry twill. And I've always worn pants with narrow legs — I never rould stand those tents. When I bought a suit, I used to have to take it to the dry cleaners and have the legs made straight down. I wore shirts with big red and white stripes ten years ago, when they were still kind of startling. TW: Do you think men have the same natural interest in clothing as women? Do run see this interest in vow sons, and ihi you encourage it? COOPER: Well, the'older two— 17 and 19—are going through the workman thing right now; they won't wear anything but dungarees and shoes tied with rope. But Anderson, who'« two, has absolutely definite ideas about what he wants to wear, and we let him rhoose within reason — although, of course, we don't let him wear sneakers to church. Carter, four, likes to wear his military uniform and a helmet that has a big feather on it when he goes to the park. It embarrasses the nurse, but I, think that what one chooses to put on dramatizes how one sees oneself. And I think people discourage children from having a preference by imposing preferences on them. TW: Dues Mrs. Cooper select any nf your ilatiling? COOPER: When she was in Paris recently she got some boots for me at Cardin's. They're marvelous boots. But I don't think that she could pick my suits. I don't think that she would automatically know whether or not a suit's cut would be right for me. She a4so bought this great belt for me [indicating the silver Indian belt he was wearing]. TW: Where do you'buy your clothes? COOPER: At Pierre Cardin's Boutique in Bonwit's. I also have some Bill Blass things: a white linen suit; my maxi-coat, and this shirt [the navy and red striped Jersey]. TW: What dues a man need in his basic wardrobe today? COOPER: Pretty much the same as always. First he needs a good dark suit for funerals, weddings, and going to church, if he goes to church. Most men look best in a good blue serge suit if it's well-fitting. What I call a Dean Acheson suit — with vest, three buttons, single-breasted — is very good for most men. Most men m-cd a sport jacket, something like a houndstooth. Also a good thing, especially for young men, is a blue bla/.er with gold buttons!. For a second suit, there is nothing as good as a gray plaid. With these — the good dark suit, the sport jacket, and the gray plaid — a man can go anyplace. TW: What is the most important accessory Jor men today? COOPER: Probably tics. Though I tend to go to restaurants where one doesn't have to wear them, actually I like them because they can add color to one's costume. A red tie can do marvelous things for a blue and while shirt, for instance. TW: Do you own afar coat? COOPER: No, I can't afford it. Seriously, I find . something a little embarrassing about clothes that cost that much. If somebody gave me one, I'm sure that I would march happily down the street in it, but I couldn't spend that much on myself. TW: What do you plan to buy Jor fall and winter? COOPER: I don't particularly have any plans. I have several Cardin six-button, double-breasted suits in twill, which I will wear. And I'll wear my maxi-coat from Blass again. It's very warm, and it makes marvelous sense in the rain. It is navy, with a coachman's collar, and reaches about half-way between my knees and my ankles. TW: How do you decide tvhat to buy? What advict would you give other men? COOPER: I'm a very'cautious buyer, not an impulse buyer. Usually when I buy something I know what sort of place I want to wear it. I see things and I think, "That would be good to wear next summer at the beach or for a long weekend at Southampton." I think something that is very important for men is to learn how to look at themselves and see what works and what doesn't. Also, men should never look affected: whatever one does to oneself, it should look'as if it just happened. TW: Do you ever purchase something specifically for a particular occasion? COOPER: The nearest that I ever came to that, I suppose, was when I was to give the commentary for a fashion show in Philadelphia. I wanted to wear something a little more outstanding than a plain dinner jacket, so I had a velvet one made up in a certain way, with a sort of Abe Lincoln high collar, to wear with a green brocade vest. But it was something I had wanted and I would have eventually had it made up anyway, if not for the Philadelphia show. TW: Are men moving to the point where they'll sqv"Oh, I can't wear that suit to the theatre — / wort it to the Joneses' party last week and everyone saiv it"? COOPER: I think possibly to some tiny degree and among a very limited number of men. I don't think it will ever be a popular attitude. -Since being named best-dressed, I do become aware that I'm repeating, but that doesn't keep me from doing it, and I don't think men are ever really going to be too concerned. TW: What do you think about the unisex trend? ' , - COOPER: Gloria and I are often mentioned as people who dress alike, and it all comes from those coats. [A, photograph of the Coopers that was widely circulated at the time the Coopers were named best-dressed showed him in his maxi-coat by Blass, Gloria in a similar coat by Adolfo.] But we've never had identical outfits although we try to, complement each other. We have an awareness of each other. For example, if she were going to wear a very lightweight material, I wouldn't wear something very heavy. On the very young, I think dressing alike can be quite charming. TW: Presidents are said to influence the nation's styles. "What do you think Nixon's influence will be? COOPER: John Kennedy did have an extraordinary influence on men's ideas of themselves. He had the most important job in the world, but he didn't think that he had to look like a portly businessman. He was slim, jaunty, and athletic, and suddenly men were able to see themselves in an entirely new way. As for Nixon, hopefully he'll be ignored as much as possible. TW: Which is the vainer sex? The male or female? COOPER: Their vanity takes different forms. You could say, for example, that a man's feeling that he doesn't have to pay any attention to his appearance is rather vain. Both men and women are becoming increasingly preoccupied with themselves. Such vanity can be excessive, but, on the other hand, pride is quite a marvelous thing to have. And the really well- dressed person gives pleasure to the beholder and glorifies the race. Q By MICKEY HERSKOWITZ ot since the Emperor and his new clothes has interest been so high in the field of male fashions. Why this is so and where it will lead us may not be clear, but there is no mistaking where it came from. The revolution in mcnswear was imported to these shores from merry old England, along with the Beatles and Twiggy. It may or may riot be their way of paying us back for the War of 1776. It has been described as the Peacock Revolution, and the idea is to inspire a man to express himself through clothes, to say it with threads. The only article of faith, really, is that he should wear what pleases him, what becomes him, and to hell with conformity. Somewhere out there, between Tiny Tim and the Duke of Windsor, exists a style for each of us. To understand what is happening, one must first remember the way it has been. In the world of fashion, the men's department was a sort of hospital zone, quiet and colorless. Men wore clothes because it was against the law to go naked. A fashion plate was any guy who could match his tie and socks. The market was geared to what the industry refers to as a "replacement" wardrobe, meaning that when the scat on your navy blue gabardine slacks developed a shine, you replaced them. And when the cuffs on your white dress shirt grew frayed, you bought a new one. It wasn't necessary to know who designed what one wore, or why one wore it. Unlike Por/no/f Complaint and last night's ball score, this was not the stuff of cocktail party talk. If six men in the country cAbout Clothes "They are a protest, a freedom, a do-it-yourself, go-to-hell kind of thing...' were regarded as experts oh fashion, they were known only to each other. Style was like spelling Czechoslovakia; some days you had the hang of it, some days you didn't. So now comes the revolution. Putting it simply, contemporary man cares. He is aware of the shaped look, the total look, the psychedelic look. He is breaking away from the straight and Nehru. To take the current fashion pulse, THIS WEEK went window shopping with those who -put the clothes on our backs. Each represents a different taste or viewpoint. Listen to: + Bill Miller, whose designs are best described as avant-garde. "When a look is achieved, I want to go a step further. My goal, basically, is to get men out of the uniform." + John Weiti, a spokesman for the conservative look who, like all designers, objects to labels. "I prefer to think in terms of modern life, of today's needs, of function and taste. It isn't conservative to disapprove of 1860 clothes on 1960 gentlemen." + Oleg Castim, the colorful designer of clothes that are "halfway-out." "The yean of darkness are gone forever. We take our lead from the young.' The fashion revolution is related to the economic, political, and social changes. War, pestilence, death, these bring change." + Mori Gordon, editor of Men's Wear, chronicle of the fashion scene. "We have a new era of elegance. Actually, elegant is not a good, masculine word. But we now have a look that is unstudied, good taste with, well, elegance." + Neal Fox, men's buyer and a vice president of the Neiman-Marcus stores in Texas. "For the first time selling is now based on an emotional appeal, on vanity, on wanting to look other than safe and severe. In the past you'd walk into a room filled with men, all wearing the same suit you had on, and right away you'd feel comfortable." i "The fashion explosion was a natural reaction," says Cassini in that raspy, European Andy Devine voice of his, "to those boring years that came before. It helped establish the fact that we need novelty. It is a protest, a freedom, a do-it-yourself, go-to-hell kind of thing." As a result, what we are seeing more of on the streets is the shaped look, featuring the wider lapel,; a slightly longer coat (double or single breasted), gently tapered waist, and blunt'shoes. The emphasis is between the chin and the chest, meaning turtle necks, mock turtle necks, silk scarves, and wide ties. Shirt collars are higher.. Ties are bolder. Inverted coat pleats are back. "There is nothing new in fashions," says Bill Miller. "You speak to the oldtimers and they'll tell you they've seen all' the looks." Neal Fox agrees. "We're reverting back to the Fred Astaire look of the mid-3o's. You see an Astaire movie on the Late Show and he looks right in style. Today you have an updated version of what was popular then. High collar, long points, knot and wide ties, full throat." Cycles move slowly in men's fashion, and obviously stores and salesmen do not respond to change as rapidly as the designers would prefer. "They arc locked in by the system," says Miller. "Even if their minds were open, which they aren't, they need minimum orders, and therefore they play it safe. So what happens is that the Nehru catches on, and suddenly you have a deluge of them, and the people who bought it because they want to look different no longer do." (Incidentally, if you ever wondered what Nehru called his jacket, he called it a sherwani.) It may be touch and go, but the feeling persists that good taste and sense of adventure will both survive. "In every city," says Cassini, "there is an elite willing to innovate." Predicts Wcitz: "We are shedding our feelings of Puritan guilt about spending money on oneself." From the Edwardian frock coat with black satin piping, to the western touch of ruffled shirt and leather vest, what matters — and the only thing that contemporary fashion gives a hang about — is what looks well on a man. A style that's considered slightly scandalous today will probably be regarded as merely stylish tomorrow. "It isn't necessary to become a tourist attraction," sums up Mort Gordon. "But today a man wants to be noticed without being stared at." Q THIS WEEK Mo-jozint / July 27. 19*9

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