Class, style and a look that fits

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

OK, folks, it's time to revisit American classics.

When preparing for this interview with Jerry Kaye, creative director for the all-American design line Perry Ellis, I couldn't help but think of my life-long idol - Andrew Canola. Who's that, you ask? Well, just one of the classiest men I've ever known in my life.

For as long as I can remember, he has dressed in a style that categorizes taste and quality, which, coincidentally, mimics his personality. And whether it's with pleated slacks or classic jeans, Andrew has managed to maintain the look that Americans once donned - a unique style that symbolizes self-respect.

"I feel better and good when I dress classy, even when I wear something casual," the Argentine native said from Florida. "I'm not like these people with big shirts and big names that advertise. I don't like it.

"I think good taste never goes away, you know what I mean?" he continued. "It doesn't matter what the new styles are. If it doesn't fit you, don't wear it. That's it."

And that's exactly was the Perry Ellis line signifies - class, style and a look that fits.

When Perry Ellis began his timeless collection in 1980, he added a modern touch to the American style, simultaneously maintaining a classic and tailored look to his line.

Although Ellis died in 1986, six years after starting his line, his classic style continues with the help of Kaye, who began as a designer with the company 11 years ago. Regardless of all the trendy outfits that have hit the streets of America, including the peek-a-boo underwear guys tend to wear - Ellis' line, which can be found at Macy's, doesn't fall short of revolutionizing with style.

What words would define the Perry Ellis line?

It's masculine, but there is still a humor or whimsical look to it, whether it's in the prints or pattern works. It's confident but comfortable. That's the key.

We also do denim but much more tailored and cleaner. It begins with a very clean, more classic approach to the menswear, definitely with a twist.

What is your influence on the line?

This is timeless in a way. I always make sure the collection always represents what the label began with. It was interesting. We were doing some internal things and we had a comparison when Perry was alive to the last two shows I did. The comparison is uncanny, when you see the evolution of today versus a complete change of a brand. Heritage is important today.

How does the Perry Ellis line differ from other collections?

It's our sensibility. We're dressing a very confident business professional who also will dress casually to work, but has a more sophisticated appearance. It's a very no nonsense style.

I have to ask you - is this baggy, dragging look finally coming to an end?

The baggy look is definitely going away. It has slowed down a lot. Those designers are gearing toward what our look is about - more sophisticated, more tailored.

If you're looking at Jay-Z, they're becoming a lot more sophisticated and it's starting to take it's toll on the market. The irony is that they're not even wearing their own clothing. And it's like other hip hop designers, they know they will not survive (with their current style). They realized the customer is more finicky, once they move they go and change, it's gone, and you become part of the good-bye group.

Summer is almost over, but what should men focus on until the fall?

A great blazer with pin stripes in linen or cotton to wear with cotton trousers. Also a polo shirt has been big but something a bit more fitted, not so sloppy like a golf shirt. I think that's very important.

What can we expect to see for this fall?

We walked away from black, but it's a key color to our line for fall. It's the return of black and the use of color with it. It's really more about great classic, easy-to-wear clothes. We went through a fashion cycle, but men are getting back to a cleaner, more modern sensibility. But the idea of black is very important to us.

Do you have a fashion faux pas?

Don't follow a trend just to follow it. It's important that when you see something in a magazine, it's something right for you, not just because it's in fashion.

Any advice for men?

I always say the first thing is making sure whatever you wear you feel comfortable putting it on. It needs to fit your personality. You can put someone in something and no matter how fabulous they look, if it doesn't fit them, it's not a good fit.

That's always essential to me and that's all there is. The pattern, fabric or whatever it is has to fit your personality, that's the single most important thing. That creates the external of your internal. What you wear represents you and that's very important.

By the way, folks, Andrew Canola is my dad.