NEW YORK — After making his elegant mark on Seventh Avenue with pared-down dresses known for their rigorous seaming detail, Narciso Rodriguez is set to take on men's wear. Rodriguez's first men's collection will make its debut Tuesday night during the designer's runway show at the Exit Art gallery, and will be available in the spring exclusively at Barneys New York."I draw so much inspiration from men's wear and men's wear fabrics, and I've wanted to do this for quite some time," he said at his design atelier. "It's a true extension of what I do — tailoring, which I love."The men's line is a separate venture from the designer's women's collection, produced and distributed by Aeffe, which rings up annual wholesale volume of $20 million to $30 million and has distribution in about 115 stores worldwide. The men's venture is being produced in-house by Rodriguez and his team, and will be manufactured in the U.S.Italy-based Aeffe, which also markets the Moschino, Pollini and Alberta Ferretti labels, launched Rodriguez's women's business in 1997 under a licensing agreement. It has, at times, experienced an uneasy relationship with the Rodriguez team.The genesis of the tightly focused men's wear initiative was sparked during Rodriguez's trip to Italy in the spring to research his women's line."I found some beautiful fabrics and couldn't use them in the women's collection," he said. "It was obvious to me they were fabrics I'd like to wear, and I said to myself, 'I should just put together a small men's collection.'"One of those fabrics, a double-bonded stretch cotton — think classic mackintosh material — found its way into a number of men's pieces, including tailored suits and shorts."The gist of the collection is tailoring,'' he said. "It's very conscious of the body and structured in the same way that I do women's wear."That philosophy is evident in pants with meticulously crafted seams down the front and back of the legs, a delicately tailored linen shirt with seams that shape it to the body and tailored jackets boasting an extra seam between the traditional dart and side seam."You'd probably never notice it, but that seam provides that extra bit of fit; it accentuates the chest and the waist," Rodriguez said of the jacket. "I like to do things that are quite classic and beautiful, but just changing things a bit — looking at things from a slightly different perspective."
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