Stephen Graham as Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, brash New Jersey mobster
Miami, Summer 1972
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“Next time you come in, you come heavy or not at all.”
“Meeting in the middle of the desert always made me nervous. It’s a scary place. I knew about the holes in the desert, of course, and everywhere I looked, there could have been a hole.”
“Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again.”
The annals of mob fiction are laden with rules and etiquette surrounding meetings in the world of La Cosa Nostra, and Martin Scorsese’s latest continues that grand tradition in The Irishman when hotheaded capo Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano (Stephen Graham) meets with famously outspoken labor official Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) in Florida. As with most of his opinions, Hoffa has been clear about where he stands on tardiness:
You don’t keep a man waiting. The only time you do is when you want to say something… when you want to say fuck you.
The intent of the meeting was to make peace between the two strong personalities, but Tony Pro already has two strikes against him when he strides into the meeting 15 minutes late and sporting a loudly printed shirt and shorts. Tony Pro makes his case that Hoffa is unfamiliar with the meeting decorum of the Sunshine State, but the damage is done.
On this midsummer #MafiaMonday, let’s take a closer look at one of the more noteworthy depictions of a celluloid gangster dressing for the heat and putting a new spin on what it means to be “fashionably late.”
What’d He Wear?
“You’re making a point? You makin’ a point dressin’ like that?” asks an offended Hoffa. “This how you dress for a meeting?”
“And this is how you dress in Florida?” counters Tony Pro. “In a suit?”
Well, Tony Pro, there are such things as summer suits, and we should give Hoffa some credit for that rather than suffering through the Florida heat in a heavy charcoal worsted just for the sake of decorum. However, that’s not the point here as Pro seemingly channeled his stubborn Taurus energy into spending Hoffa’s precious time that morning digging into his own closet for the least professional pieces he could find just to inflame the irascible labor leader.
In breaking down what they describe as probably “the most talked-about outfit in the film”, The Irishman‘s Oscar-nominated costume design team of Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson recalled in a video for Vanity Fair that the only real direction from the original script was that Tony Pro would be wearing shorts.
“We just got about a hundred pairs of shorts, a hundred different shirts, and had a session where we tried on lots of different shorts, lots of different shirts in various combinations,” explained Powell, “and we hit this one fairly early on.”
“He knew the minute he had the right shorts,” Powell explained to GQ of the white lightweight cotton flat front Bermuda shorts that Graham wore when striding into the room. The short, thigh-length inseam offers up plenty of bare leg down to his white patent leather Gucci loafers. These slip-on shoes are detailed with a gold horsebit over each vamp strap, patterned in Gucci’s signature green-and-red Web stripe. The smooth apron-toe differs from the moccasin-style toe of the original Gucci loafer introduced in 1953.
(As of July 2020, the closest applicable shoe in Gucci’s current lineup is the white leather moc-toe driver for $590.)
When Tony Pro sits down, we get a better look at that shirt, patterned in a panel print echoing the mustard and brown hues popular in the early ’70s. The white vertical stripes with their black and rust-on-orange tribal patterns alternate with a wider brown melange strip, bordered on each side by a mustard-shaded series of diamonds and filled in through the center with tropical imagery including pineapples, angelfish, a tiki statue, and flowers.
“We chose the boldest of all of them,” Peterson recalls, and the effect of this decision isn’t lost on the viewer… or Hoffa, who stews as the angelfish on Tony Pro’s panel-print shirt swim through his field of vision. The original shirt worn for most of the scene was a true vintage piece, though Powell and Peterson’s team had to digitally copy its unique print to make the multiples for Graham to wear when Tony Pro’s conflict with Hoffa becomes physical.
This short-sleeved shirt has a wide camp collar, breast pocket, and four cream-colored sew-through buttons up the plain front, though Pro only fastens the bottom two to reveal the yellow gold “figaro”-style chain link necklace hanging low on his chest. The shirt’s straight hem is meant to be worn untucked, though no one has to tell our über-casual Tony Pro twice.
Tony Pro compounds his blatant show of disrespect by not removing his sunglasses when sitting across from Hoffa once the meeting has commenced… no doubt planning, if challenged, to claim that he needed them as the sunlight was shining directly into his eyes through the window behind Hoffa’s head. The style is typical of the era, with oversized tinted lenses in dark tortoise plastic-based teardrop aviator-style frames with a double bar bridge.
In November 2017, Stephen Graham Tweeted “Welcome to the world of Tony Pro…” with what appears to be a photo of his screen-worn sunglasses. Sunglasses like these are still offered from major eyewear brands like Ray-Ban (via Amazon or Ray-Ban) though more affordable frames are also available from SOJOS (Amazon) and zeroUV (Amazon).
No flashy gangster would be completely dressed without his pinky ring, and Tony Pro doesn’t disappoint here either, wearing a gold shiner on his left pinky with a large diamond. He also wears a gold wristwatch with a square black dial set flush on a flat gold bracelet, reminding me of the luxury “bracelet watches” offered by Bueche-Girod during the 1970s (and also worn by Robert De Niro in Casino.) See vintage Bueche-Girod watches at Antiques Atlas, Aspire Auctions, J&P Timepieces, and Parkers Jewelers.
In a scene where character wardrobes are essential, costume designers Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson illustrated what made them worthy of an Academy Award nomination with not just the context of Tony Pro’s garish garb and Hoffa’s subtler summer suit but also the others in the room. Much as Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone (Patrick Gallo) serve as neutral mediators looking to find common ground between their respective friends, the two men also bridge the sartorial divide in the room, each clad in checked sport jackets and open-neck shirts that concede to Tony Pro’s point about the laidback Floridian culture while still maintaining a Hoffa-approved level of decorum.
Tony Pro’s costume was so memorable that Hoffa was still talking about it almost a year and a half later, asking a beleaguered Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci): “Who wears shorts to a meeting?” “Nobody,” Russell concedes.
How to Get the Look
Tony Pro redefined “fashionably late” with his Florida-friendly tropical-patterned camp shirt, white shorts, and Gucci loafers, so it’s quite understandable why this was “the most talked-about outfit in the film”, both from audiences and fellow characters.
- Brown, mustard, and white tropical-motif panel-print short-sleeved vintage aloha shirt with camp collar, breast pocket, 4-button plain front, and straight waist hem
- White lightweight cotton flat front shorts
- White patent leather apron-toe Gucci loafers with gold horsebit detail and green-and-red striped instep strap
- Dark tortoise oversized acetate aviator sunglasses with double bar bridge and purple tinted lenses
- Yellow gold “figaro”-style chain-link necklace
- Gold pinky ring with large diamond
- Gold “bracelet watch” with flush black square dial on flat gold bracelet
As with many vintage aloha shirts, it would likely be next to impossible to find the exact one Tony Pro wore without replicating it yourself, so I suggest going on a hunt to find your own unique shirt, whether retro or retro-inspired like the “Fancy Feathers” shirt by Straight to Hell Apparel.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie, currently streaming on Netflix, as well as Charles Brandt’s source book I Heard You Paint Houses.
You can see photos of the screen-worn costumes worn by Graham, Pacino, and De Niro in this scene at Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props, which also includes the costumes Carrie Bufalino (Kathrine Narducci) and Irene Sheeran (Stephanie Kurtzuba) wore during the road trip with their husbands.
In my mind, it’s always eight degrees in New York, I’m makin’ a point.