Byline: Holly Haber

Richard Tyler is happy. Suits and men’s wear styles are making a big statement for fall, which brings a smile to the face of the genial Aussie designer known for impeccable tailoring.
“It’s great suits are coming back so strong because that’s my passion,” Tyler said in an interview at Neiman Marcus’s downtown couture salon. “Our customer wants rock ‘n’ roll and fun and more androgenous suits, but they have to be boned, sexy and curvy. If you’re going to wear a suit, it has to be fun.”
Tyler has even more reasons to grin. He’s cut back distribution of his pricy collections to focus on key accounts, including Neiman’s, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, which has freed him to have more time with his wife and seven-year-old son, Edward.
“It’s nice to enjoy life instead of working seven days a week,” he mused.
And business is solid. His year-old bridal collection has taken off, contributing about $2.5 million to his firm’s annual wholesale volume of $12 million.
Tyler visited Dallas as guest designer for the annual Valentine’s Day Luncheon and Fashion Show, benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Sponsored by Neiman’s, the event netted more than $150,000 for the charity.
Tyler fretted before the runway show because his spring styles had been cut extra short and sheer for their initial presentation on lifeless mannequins. But the sophistication of Dallas ladies has clearly ratcheted up, and the racy show of bare breasts and peekaboo bottoms elicited nary a gasp from the audience of 800 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas Hotel.
For fall, Tyler’s been inspired by the turn of the century through the Twenties, including nipped, corseted waists, women suffragettes and Salvation Army chic.
“There’s nothing better than sexy suffragettes and the Salvation Army,” he laughed.
Tyler says he’s pleased with the reception of his designs, which are worn by such celebrities as Juliette Binoche and Faith Hill. But he’s more attuned than ever to his customers’ desires.
“Designers have to be a lot more careful,” he reasoned. “As a designer, I have to keep my ego on the back shelf. You have to make clothing that will sell. You have to deliver a good quality product because if it’s not worth it, it will be returned. The days of shipping anything and getting away with it are gone. People are really paying attention now.”
Especially when they are paying $3,000 for a suit.
“We found a place for us, and I’m not trying to grow,” Tyler continued. “Edward is seven, and we don’t want to travel as much.”
But he would like to do men’s suits and may open a custom atelier in the basement of his new home in New York.
Tyler had nothing but praise for Dallasites.
“Dallas is by far my favorite place outside New York and Los Angeles,” he enthused. “It’s the people — everyone is so sweet and supportive. I feel like it’s home here.”
Tyler got the royal treatment during his visit when he was feted at a cocktail party at the extraordinary Richard Meier-designed private gallery of Howard and Cindy Rachofsky, who took care of every detail right down to the fortune cookies with messages that read “Wear Richard Tyler in spring 2001.”
“The style here has totally changed over the years,” Tyler observed. “It’s not stereotypical, even though people in Los Angeles still think of big hair. I saw the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan people, and so many beautiful women with incredible bodies.”