Pinpointing the origin of the tuxedo in America has always been a bit of a mystery.
The prevailing story is that Griswold Lorillard, the 22-year-old son of tobacco magnate and Tuxedo Park, N.Y., founder Pierre Lorillard, cut the tails off his jacket when attending the inaugural Autumn Ball at the Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo Park in 1886, causing a scandal and spawning a new fashion trend.
It’s true that Lorillard and several friends attended the dinner party in bastardized tailcoats, said Chris Sonne, town historian for Tuxedo Park, but that’s not the whole story.
“The press picked it up and said they looked ridiculous,” he said. “A lot of people said it was the beginning of the dinner jacket but if you cut off the tails of a tailcoat, you’ve got a mess jacket that just goes to the waist. A tuxedo is a suit coat.”
The real story actually starts 150 years ago on London’s Savile Row, where bespoke tailor Henry Poole created a less formal version of the tailcoat for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. James Brown Potter, a Tuxedo Club member, attended a dinner at the prince’s country estate, Sandringham, early in 1886. Potter asked the prince for some fashion advice and he was sent to Poole, where he was fitted with a short black jacket and tie. Potter liked the new look so much that he brought it back home to Tuxedo Park, and he and his friends wore the dinner jackets to a bachelor’s dinner at Delmonico’s in New York City and then to nonformal dinners in Tuxedo Park. Asked why they were “out of uniform,” the group responded that they were wearing the latest Tuxedo fashion and the name stuck.
This weekend, descendants of Henry Poole and James Potter will be back in Tuxedo Park to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that little black jacket.
Planned festivities include an exhibition by the London College of Fashion at the Tuxedo Historical Society Friday night, followed by the return of the Autumn Ball at the Tuxedo Club Saturday evening. The Autumn Ball, which has been dormant since 1971, is being sponsored by Giorgio Armani.
The exhibition will be on display at the Tuxedo Historical Society through Nov. 4 and will showcase the winning designs from London College of Fashion students who were charged with reinventing the tuxedo for the 21st century.
“It started over a year ago when Steven Dell [program director for the college] got the idea to work with Henry Poole and second-year bespoke tailoring students to celebrate 150 years of the tuxedo,” said Ben Whyman, curator of the exhibit. And when they discovered that it was also the 125th anniversary of the Tuxedo Club’s Autumn Ball, “we decided to celebrate two great milestones,” said Roma Vaccaro, project manager.
Interestingly, the winning design, by Maria Thelin, is actually a women’s tuxedo and features an outside jacket that attaches to a waistcoat and a keyhole detail on the back.
The exhibition opened in London on Sept. 7 and then was shown at Harrods and the Burlington Arcade in that city before traveling to New York.
Vaccaro said plans call for it to be shown in Brazil next spring and the hope is that it will also be exhibited in Japan and Paris.
In addition to Thelin’s winning design, about a dozen of the students’ works will be on display along with two behind-the-scenes films on the project, produced by Vaccaro. There are also a series of black-and-white photographs of various people — musicians, actors, playwrights, bankers and students — “who share a collective appreciation of the tuxedos,” Vaccaro said.
The Tuxedo Historical Society display also includes some vintage formalwear pieces, including a Brooks Brothers tuxedo, an array of bow ties and a scarlet waistcoat.
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)