Chip Tolbert, the longtime fashion director of the Men’s Fashion Association, died Thursday afternoon at an assisted living facility in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., from respiratory distress. He was 86. Services had not been set by press time.
After receiving a journalism degree from the University of Alabama, Tolbert’s first job — a copywriter assigned to hosiery, lingerie and suit accounts — led him to stints at fashion retailing in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, then to Esquire magazine, where he spent 17 years, from 1954 to 1971, working his way up to fashion director.
After leaving Esquire, he went to Rome to advise designers there on the U.S. market before, in 1973 joining the MFA, where he was a fixture at conventions, on radio and TV as the fashion authority for the men’s wear industry’s publicity organization.
Tolbert retired from the MFA in 1992. He relocated to West Palm Beach, Fla., where he worked part-time as a design assistant for Jennifer Garrigues Interior Design. He moved back to New York eight years ago when his wife was in failing health and lived in Cortlandt Manor. For the past year, he had been living at an assisted living facility there, according to his son, Andrew.
Topsy, as he was known to many of his friends, had a reputation as a natty dresser and was listed on the Eleanor Lambert International Best Dressed list in Vanity Fair. Tall and blonde with a ruddy complexion, Tolbert made it a personal quest to introduce fashion to a nation of navy-blue-blazer-wearing button-down men. He was often seen out and about in emerald blazers and cherry dinner jackets.
He served as chairman of the Coty men’s wear awards and the Cutty Sark men’s fashion awards for eight years, and was on the selection committee for the Uomo Moda awards and received a Woolmark Career Achievement award.
“Chip Tolbert represented the best of the men’s wear industry during such pivotal decades of change — the Seventies through the Nineties,” said Tom Julian, who succeeded Tolbert as fashion director of MFA. “He was known for his TV persona, his quotability in the media, his international reach with men’s wear leaders from Nino Cerruti to John Weitz to Pierre Cardin. But more importantly, he helped evolve what was a manufactured clothing industry into an American designer world.”
Tolbert is survived by his son, his daughter-in-law Joy and two grandchildren. His wife, Franca, died in 2011.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)