By  on March 31, 2010

Jackie Rogers, a doyenne of New York design who has been dressing society women for more than three decades, will unveil her first men’s collection in recent memory today with an eight-look runway presentation at her Madison Avenue store.

The collection, a group of slick tailored-oriented separates that echo the simple chic of her women’s line, is a homecoming of sorts for the outspoken, seasoned designer, who started her retail career with a men’s wear boutique and barber shop in the late Sixties at 787 Madison Avenue, a space that eventually became her current New York shop. From the start, the men’s store was a haven for the period’s movers and shakers like Jack Nicholson, Michael York and Michael Douglas, and it was a leading purveyor of new lines, including the up-and-coming Giorgio Armani.

Thirty years later, Rogers said she is hoping to return some of that élan to Madison Avenue men’s wear. “My clients have been asking for it for their husbands for so long,” said Rogers, who also operates a store in Palm Beach, Fla. “And men’s wear is so boring now, isn’t it? It needs a bit more sexiness. Sex is really what it’s all about.”

Rogers’ vision of male sex appeal comes in closely cropped velvet double-breasted jackets, T-shirts with patent leather appliqués, trim trenchcoats and a whipcord one-button suit paired with a turtleneck.

“No vents,” said the former model and design assistant to Coco Chanel. “It shows off a man’s shape better.”

Jackets start at $2,000, suits at $4,000. The men’s collection also includes more conservative styles for the boardroom. Like her women’s collection, Jackie Rogers men’s will be produced in her Upper East Side workshop.

Rogers, whose own life of style and privilege rivals that of her clients, has been producing some men’s wear all along for special clients. “Last year a male client ordered a suit in black lamé,” which she pronounces in her still-discernible Boston accent as “lom-yay.” “Where would you wear such a thing? I don’t know.”

But why did she leave men’s wear in the first place?

“Editors encouraged me to start women’s, as did potential clients,” Rogers recalled as she eyed the photos of her with Yves Saint Laurent, Gore Vidal and Andy Warhol that line one wall of her shop. “So I moved over to women’s in 1979 and stopped men’s a year later. You know, Coco Chanel told me not to go into women’s. ‘It will drive you crazy,’ she said with a wink. But you know, she loved men.”

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