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The Bold and the Beautiful

The Bold and the Beautiful


Michael Maccari’s bright, urban twist on Perry Ellis

Although his career spanned little more than a decade, Perry Ellis quickly established himself as a fashion legend. Along with Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, he helped revolutionize American sportswear in the early 1980s. His premature death from AIDS-related causes came in 1986, but his game-changing vision remains. His are big shoes to fill.

Today, those shoes are being filled by Michael Maccari (pictured, center), a 6-foot-2 designer who wears size-13 leather boots. Maccari's debut 2014 collection as creative director of Perry Ellis marked the brand's return to New York Fashion Week after a two-season hiatus, and immediately rejuvenated a graying menswear line that was drifting farther away from Ellis's casual-cool ideal.

With his full beard, his tattooed arms, and a gold ring on every finger, Maccari bears little resemblance to the slight, clean-cut Ellis. But he does share the passion for elegant and versatile clothing that Ellis had. "I always keep Perry in the back of my mind," says Maccari, who grew up in the Italian-American neighborhood of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn before landing gigs at Donna Karan, J. Crew, and Armani Exchange. "I think of Perry the man, the brand from 30 years ago, and what those design philosophies were: a really honest approach to wearability."

Maccari's first spring collection for the label offers youthful takes on tailored sportswear: two-piece windbreakers in colorful nylons (sometimes worn daringly over suit jackets), flashy graphics inspired by the work of artist Sean Scully, and reflective grid details reminiscent of Manhattan architecture -- an idea Maccari hatched in his office while looking out over Sixth Avenue. "Perry had an appreciation for nature and his environment, but also for the arts," Maccari says. "He had a way of fusing those elements."

Photography by M. Sharkey.
Groomer: Enrico Mariotti. Models: Jack O'Hara/DNA and Chris Moore/Wilhelmina

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