Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, cold and calculating Mafia boss
Havana, December 1958
Film: The Godfather Part II
Release Date: December 12, 1974
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
Get into a smooth, summer relaxation mood for this Mafia Monday post that takes a look at Michael Corleone’s style for Hyman Roth’s birthday party in Havana… an appropriately timed post as my dad just returned from a trip to Cuba. (Yes, he brought back some Cohibas!)
What’d He Wear?
For all of his power and prestige, Michael Corleone has a considerably limited wardrobe, designed by the legendary Theadora Van Runkle (Bonnie and Clyde, Bullitt, and The Thomas Crown Affair are all among her repertoire.)
Michael makes good use of his four unique suits in The Godfather Part II, sometimes wearing a three-piece suit without a vest or, as we see in this case, adopting a more luxuriously casual look by swapping out the shirt and tie for a soft polo and a day cravat.
Although it appears a flat tan at the outset, this fully cut two-piece suit consists of a fine tan and cream plain weave glen check with teal blue on the outer check to create a teal windowpane effect throughout.
The single-breasted jacket has a 2-button front that he typically wears open, even when opting for a more formal look with a tie as he does when initially visiting Roth in Miami. The fully-cut suit coat’s padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads and ventless back is typical of the 1950s.
Michael’s suit jacket has a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, and purely decorative 3-button cuffs. The notch lapels have no buttonholes.
The flat front trousers have a fashionably high rise and, like the coat, are fully cut down to the cuffed bottoms. Although Michael wears a slim brown leather belt through the trousers’ outer belt loops, the auction photos also reveal that it was fitted with white buttons sewn around the inside waistband to be used for potential suspenders. The trousers close with a concealed hook at the top of a straight zip fly.
He may not be the most cosmopolitan fashion plate, but Michael Corleone knows to match his shoes to his belt. He always wears a pair of brown leather penny loafers and tan socks with this suit.
Both in Havana and Lake Tahoe, Michael makes extensive use of a day cravat worn under a polo shirt’s open collar. As sported by James Bond, Cary Grant, Sidney Reilly, and countless other men on holiday, the day cravat sends a clear signal that the wearer is a fashionable, confident man who is able to afford luxurious leisure. The look was also popular with nattier gangsters like “Bugsy” Siegel.
In Havana, Michael wears a vibrantly printed silk day cravat in abstractly patterned earth tones like gold, bronze, and brown.
Michael wears a white knit cotton short-sleeve polo shirt with a patch pocket over the left breast. The top of the three buttons is worn open to display the day cravat underneath.
Outside of his plain gold wedding ring, Michael’s only visible accessory is the yellow gold wristwatch on his left wrist, which some have speculated is an 18-karat Omega Constellation.
Here’s something cool! Apparently, this suit has been auctioned at least twice in the last two decades. It was first included as Lot 173 in Christie’s “A Century of Hollywood” auction on May 24, 2000 and described in that auction as “A two-piece checkered suit worn by Al Pacino in the film, Godfather Part II. The suit was worn prominently in the movie. Inside the pants is a Western Costume Company tag with Al Pacino’s name typed on it.”
Two years ago, it popped up again during the Premiere Props Hollywood auction extravaganza on September 27, 2014 and was expected to fetch $12,000-$14,000:
This is Al Pacino’s actual hero screen worn suit from this amazing Miami sequence. It includes both his jacket and matching pants. Both the pants and the jacket have numerous official “WCC” (Western Costume Company) stamps inside (including the period marking of “1950” on both the coat and pants), as well as the original sewn-in Western Costume Co. Hollywood wardrobe label which has the production number #2703-1, Name: Al Pacino and Waist and Inseam measurements (Waist 32/ Inseam 29) type printed on them. The iconic outfit is in excellent condition. The official labels are sewn into the inside belt seam of the pants, and inside the wallet pocket of the jacket. They were original purchased from Christie’s Auction House, and include both the original Christie tags, plus a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Breanna S. Livie, Vice President of Eastern Costume Company, as well as a Letter of Provenience handwritten by the consigner.
How to Get the Look
- Tan-and-cream glen check – with teal windowpane grid effect – two-piece suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Flat front high-rise trousers with belt loops, straight fly, side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White knit cotton short-sleeve polo shirt with 3-button collar and left chest patch pocket
- Earth-tone printed silk day cravat
- Slim dark brown leather belt with silver-toned rounded single-prong buckle
- Brown leather penny loafers
- Light brown ribbed socks
- Gold wristwatch with round light-colored dial on gold expanding bracelet, left wrist
- Gold wedding band, left ring finger
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