How To Channel Richard Gere In American Gigolo


An ode to the figure and film that has shaped our Autumn/Winter ’18 collection.

Speaking of the impact of “American Gigolo”, esteemed fashion writer Christopher Laverty commented: “[The film] is not even about its protagonist, it is about what he wears.”

Although the 1980 film divided critics, it won over legions of men who looked to its protagonist, Richard Gere’s Julian Kay, as the pinnacle of male style. His almost-exclusively Armani wardrobe, from the double-breasted blazers to the endless Wall Street-esque suiting (albeit with a now-unmistakable rakish slant) catapulted the Italian luxury fashion house into the public sphere and – arguably – raised the bar for how men should dress themselves.

Bringing to mind the age-old adage, he wore the clothes, the clothes didn’t wear him, Gere’s sympathetic character didn’t so much wear the clothes as he was his clothes. This was at a time before the Wall Street power suit became just that, and Armani’s suiting introduced a new silhouette to the business class – a group Gere perfectly embodied in the film. Sexy, self-assured, Gere’s character introduced a whole new wardrobe, helped launch a fashion powerhouse on a global scale and shaped some of the pieces from our Autumn/Winter ’18 collection.

Above all, “American Gigolo” introduced a different aesthetic to what a tailored outfit could look like upon its release: deconstructed, relaxed and adaptable to the mood you wish to convey (in Gere’s case above, a brooding sensuality). The soft shoulders and padding of the suit jacket evoked Armani’s desire to change the status quo of Savile Row tailoring. Through Julian Kaye, the designer’s ambitions for fluid and flexible smart attire were realised. This very same fluidity is now carving out a new landscape in men’s tailoring this season, which captures that rakish elegance through more commuter-friendly suiting.

The entire film – right down to the wardrobe – was influenced by Italy. Ferdinando Scarfiotti, the famed Italian art director – envisaged a new way of shooting Los Angeles, bringing an unmistakable European flair to the film’s visuals. This aesthetic was further realised through Gere’s wardrobe, particularly with the camel tie and double-breasted blazer: a look so far ahead of its time that it now sits perfectly in line with the current camel fascination sweeping menswear. The double-breasted silhouette, too, strikes a chord with our AW18 tailoring collection, which introduces a new sartorial twist on the standard two-piece suit.

Although John Travolta was originally set to play the protagonist, it’s hard now to imagine anyone other than Gere embodying Julian Kaye’s sheer swag (rumour had it that Armani was so impressed with Gere’s performance that he never needed to pay for a suit again). Even here, a standard evening look is transformed through a razor-sharp streamlined simplicity. A feat of sartorial ambition, the relaxed yet refined elegance of the suit birthed a more informal masculinity that was less about stiffness and more about being one’s self. Remarkable, really.