Category: Black or Midnight Tuxedo

Patrick Bateman’s Tuxedo

Christian Bale and Cara Seymour as Patrick Bateman and Christie, respectively, in American Psycho (2000).

Christian Bale and Cara Seymour as Patrick Bateman and Christie, respectively, in American Psycho (2000).

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Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, shallow investment banker and possible serial killer

New York City, Spring 1988

Film: American Psycho
Release Date: April 14, 2000
Director: Mary Harron
Costume Designer: Isis Mussenden

Background

Halloween approaching is a fine time to address a monster in human form like Patrick Bateman who may have been a sharp dresser (for the ’80s) but was undoubtedly a terrible human being (in any era!)

You can tell Bateman is trying his best to be seen as a classy host; he plays Phil Collins, after all! Of course, Bateman is hindered by the fact that no classy evening should ever include the words “don’t just stare at it, eat it!” Continue reading

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Robert Redford’s Black Tuxedo in The Sting

Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker in The Sting (1973).

Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker in The Sting (1973).

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Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker, Depression-era con artist

Chicago, September 1936

Film: The Sting
Release Date: December 25, 1973
Director: George Roy Hill
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

To celebrate Robert Redford’s 80th birthday next week, I’m revisiting one of my favorite Redford flicks. After the incredible success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the chemistry of Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the starring roles, both actors re-teamed four years later to play washed-up con artist Henry Gondorff (Newman) and his de facto protégé, Johnny Hooker (Redford). Continue reading

Stanford White’s Midnight Blue Dinner Jacket

Ray Milland as Stanford White in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955).

Ray Milland as Stanford White in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955).

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Ray Milland as Stanford White, debonair playboy architect

New York City, June 1906

Film: The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing
Release Date: October 1, 1955
Director: Richard Fleischer
Wardrobe Director: Charles Le Maire

Background

Tomorrow is the 110th anniversary of the famous Madison Square Garden shooting of architect Stanford White by the deranged Harry Kendall Thaw, one of the first of many incidents dubbed as “The Trial of the Century” by contemporary reporters due to the juicy scandal embellished by manipulative millionaires and illicit sex.

On June 25, 1906, the psychotic Thaw was escorting his wife, actress and artists’ model Evelyn Nesbit, to the premiere performance of Mam’zelle Champagne at Madison Square Garden’s rooftop theater. Nesbit, renowned for her beauty as the archetypical “Gibson Girl”, had married Thaw the previous year despite his violent and manipulative desire to control her. One of Thaw’s most tenacious provocations was the subject of Stanford White, Nesbit’s former lover and the man who had – in Thaw’s eyes – robbed her of her virtue. Continue reading

Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction

Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction (1994).

Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction (1994).

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Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolf, problem solver

Los Angeles, Summer 1992

Film: Pulp Fiction
Release Date: October 14, 1994
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann

Background

I’m Winston Wolf. I solve problems.

Last Friday, Harvey Keitel turned 77 years old, a birthday that was almost certainly celebrated by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino has stated that “Harvey had been my favorite actor since I was 16 years old,” so he penned the character of criminal fixer Winston Wolf – and according to the screenplay, it is Wolf and not Wolfe – specifically for Keitel. Two years earlier, the actor’s involvement in Reservoir Dogs as the pragmatic career criminal “Mr. White” helped shoot Q.T. onto the map of filmmakers to watch. The Wolf may have also been a nod to Keitel’s role as Victor, the ruthlessly efficient “cleaner” in 1993’s Point of No Return. Continue reading

Don Draper’s Black Tie in 1960

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 1.05: "5G").

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 1.05: “5G”).

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Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious and award-winning Madison Avenue ad man

Ossining, New York, Spring 1960

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “5G” (Episode 1.05)
Air Date: August 16, 2007
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

Background

Happy birthday to Jon Hamm, born today in 1971!

While Jon is celebrating his birthday, Don Draper also had a reason to celebrate in “5G” after winning the Newkie(?) award. Although Don is dubious about his own achievements, Betty (January Jones) is very proud of him. Don had reason for concern, though, as his photo in Advertising Age gets him some unwanted attention. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire’s Gangster Black Tie for the New Year

Anatol Yusef, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Vincent Piazza as Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein, and "Lucky" Luciano, respectively, on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 3.01 - "Resolution").

Anatol Yusef, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Vincent Piazza as Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein, and “Lucky” Luciano, respectively, on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 3.01 – “Resolution”).

Vitals

Michael Stulhbarg as Arnold Rothstein, powerful New York gambler and racketeer
Vincent Piazza as Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, the Mafia’s smooth and ambitious future chief
Anatol Yusef as Meyer Lansky, Rothstein’s clever mob protégé
Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rosetti, violent and hotheaded Italian-born gangster

Atlantic City, New Year’s Eve 1922

Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Resolution” (Episode 3.01)
Air Date: September 16, 2012
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield

Background

Not every man is a Nucky Thompson. A group of New York gangsters choosing Nucky’s basement to talk business while a party oblivious heaves forward upstairs leads itself to a major conglomeration of styles – both in leadership and in attire – that illustrate just how much about a man can be determined by looking at the way he puts himself together. Continue reading

Nucky Thompson’s Black Tie for the New Year

Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson in "Resolution", Episode 3.01 of Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014).

Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in “Resolution”, Episode 3.01 of Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014).

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Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, crooked city politician and influential mob bootlegger

Atlantic City, New Year’s Eve 1922

Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Resolution” (Episode 3.01)
Air Date: September 16, 2012
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield

Background

Tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve, an evening that sees many flocking to friends’ houses, bar parties, or an overcrowded section of New York without realizing that even the country’s most populous city can’t handle the lavatory needs of one million intoxicated visitors.

But I digress. For the lovable gang of murderous bootleggers on Boardwalk Empire, New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to party at the home of the town’s gregarious and graft-loving treasurer, Nucky Thompson. To ring in 1923, Nucky has a full evening planned with a literal treasure chest of gifts as well as live entertainment from Eddie Cantor and Billie Kent, his latest mistress an up-and-coming showgirl.

Guests include old favorites like Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Arnold Rothstein, but Nucky also welcomes a relative newcomer, the volatile Italian gangster Gyp Rosetti who doesn’t set a good example for America’s youth about treating a host with kindness.

What’d He Wear?

And then there’s you. Fucking breadstick in a bow tie. You pasty-faced, cocksucking-

Poor Nucky goes to all this work to look sharp for his New Year’s bash, and then he goes and gets insulted for his bow tie and complexion. Although I can’t guarantee that your party’s Gyp Rosetti won’t level a few unnecessary insults in your direction, I can endorse Nucky Thompson’s dinner suit as a fine way for a gentleman to stand out at any upcoming New Year celebrations. Continue reading

Frank Sinatra Turns 100: High Society Black Tie

Frank Sinatra as Mac Connor in High Society (1956).

Frank Sinatra as Mike Connor in High Society (1956).

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Frank Sinatra as Macauley “Mike” Connor, swaggering tabloid reporter

Newport, Rhode Island, Summer 1956

Film: High Society
Release Date: July 17, 1956
Director: Charles Walters
Costume Designer: Helen Rose

Background

100 years ago today, on December 12, 1915, two Italian immigrants welcomed the birth of their son, Francis Albert Sinatra, in a Hoboken tenement. A century later, their legendary blue-eyed son has left an indelible legacy on our culture that can never be replicated. Sinatra’s style, stubbornness, and swagger complemented his natural skill and hard work to make him a living icon and one of the greatest singers of the 20th century.

After enjoying a decade of early success singing with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey orchestras before his personal appeal allowed him to sign with Columbia as a solo artist, Sinatra’s popularity began to decline. The death of his publicist George Evans, his tumultuous public affair with Ava Gardner, and his own throat issues nearly meant the end of Sinatra’s career by the early 1950s.

Sinatra persevered. His records weren’t selling, and he was singing to county fairs in Hawaii, but he wasn’t going to give up that easily. His Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity (shades of The Godfather!) signified the start of a unprecedentedly booming career revival. 1953 also saw Sinatra signing his seven-year contract with Capitol Records that would produce his groundbreaking “concept albums” and – in my opinion – some of the greatest music ever recorded. Despite his perfectionist tendencies, even Sinatra couldn’t help but to agree. After hearing he and arranger Nelson Riddle’s first cut of “I’ve Got the World on a String”, Sinatra couldn’t help but to exclaim:

I’m back, baby, I’m back!

Continue reading

From Russia With Love – Impostor Bond’s Tuxedo

Sean Connery as James Bond (or is he?) in From Russia With Love (1963).

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Sean Connery as an impostor James Bond

SPECTRE Island, Spring 1963

(“SPECTRE Island” is actually Heatherden Hall at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.)

Film: From Russia With Love
Release Date: October 10, 1963
Director: Terence Young
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair

Background

Dressing up as James Bond for Halloween this year or just celebrating the new release of Spectre? You’re certainly not the first to don a 007 costume; even within the series itself, an anonymous SPECTRE bait henchman sported a classic midnight blue tuxedo for his unnecessarily detailed Bond guise during the pre-credits sequence of From Russia With Love.

This sequence provides some interesting cultural context; formalwear was nowhere nearly as prominent in Ian Fleming’s literary Bond adventures as it would become in the films, yet the opening scene of the second film seems to recognize and lampshade the fact that the audience will know this is James Bond because we’re seeing Sean Connery in a dinner suit. Continue reading

George Clooney’s Tuxedo in Ocean’s Eleven

George Clooney as Danny Ocean in Ocean's Eleven (2001).

George Clooney as Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Eleven (2001).

Vitals

George Clooney as Danny Ocean, smooth-talking casino heister and con man

Las Vegas, Summer 2001

Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: December 7, 2001
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland

Background

Although he aimed to distance himself from the original Ocean’s Eleven as much as possible with this 2001 remake, Steven Soderbergh must have realized that you don’t have George Clooney in a movie about slick Vegas con men without placing him in a tuxedo. Danny Ocean’s tux was a very welcome throwback to a time when people didn’t wear graphic t-shirts, cutoff jorts, and fanny packs to casinos. (Although, since Frank Sinatra didn’t wear a tuxedo at all in the 1960 film, it could be argued that Clooney’s dinner suit is more of a throwback to characters like Cary Grant‘s gentleman thief in To Catch a Thief.) Continue reading