I sat down with Michael Maccari the Creative Director of Perry Ellis in their New York showroom to talk about men’s fashion trends, his personal influences, and what men want in their closets.
Perry was present and sort of the biggest, so it is always a reference point for us. We are really pushing it more towards the late 80’s now; as it turns into 90’s and what that is. For me it talks about shape, it talks about fleece, oversized and that sort of look couldn’t be more on trend right now.
The movie that changed your life:
I was on a shoot in Miami and we were talking about Eyes of Laura Mars starring Faye Dunaway. She sees death and she sees this kinda of really dark pathway to death and murder, so its this mystery but the basis of it is super high style in the late 70’s. I think what she is wearing in it could be Perry Ellis. It looks so much like Perry Ellis, she is at her height of style and fashion and influence. Faye Dunaway looks amazing and the whole thing is really about fashion.
Actor who is revolutionizing menswear in his own way:
There’s a few of them. There are guys who have style, and there are guys who are styled by their stylists. There’s very few who have real style I think. It’s funny we just worked with Dan Stevens. He loves clothes, he always wants to push it further than you want to push with him. He’s really into Doc Martins (he’s English) and loves the idea of his heritage. We just put him in that port stretch suit, and he wore a crazy pair of union jack Doc Martins with it and a white shirt. He’s in his 30’s a slim and fit guy and has a really great personality. He really embodies what we are talking about a really confident but not taking himself too seriously kind guy. He’s a family guy has three kids and a wife and is bi-coastal. To me he’s the great new guy who is going to take over.
The album that gets your creative juices going:
I’ve been thinking about music and for sure I’ve been binging on Fisherspooner’s latest album. I met Casey a few months ago and was impressed with his energy and attitude towards life. My past however does include rock opera- like sounds of Todd Rundgren but also Elton John’s Madmen Across the Water – his first album . Tiny Dancer is my all time favorite track …. but I’d be leaving out a very big part of the process if I didn’t mention Javier Peral, our DJ of choice who has done all of our show and presentation music. It’s a great collaboration as I throw song ideas at him and show him the clothes and talk through seasonal themes and messages. He then goes deep into his references and we have a series of listening sessions before he starts to mix. Leading up to the show, it’s all I listen to, do castings and style looks to the tracks. It’s a way to live with it and ultimately every season I reach that point of getting chills as it all comes together.
What is your go-to museum in New York City:
I love the MET Breuer, it has more edgy exhibitions now, a little more interesting stuff. The building itself is right in the middle of Madison Avenue, I’m so glad they didn’t turn it into condos because it is such an amazing space.
What is your secret weapon as Creative Director at Perry Ellis?
I think being here and my affinity for the brand from a really early age, I used to wear it when I didn’t even really know how or why
it was cool, before I was even in fashion. We had a family member whose best friend was the VP of Merchandising alongside Perry when it was at it’s height. She came around for Sunday dinner and kind of introduced us to the brand. So then it was like wearing clothes, going to sample sales, going to Macy’s to buy the stuff. It was the type of thing where it was pretty classic stuff but it was a little bit twisted, I remember I had this plaid linen suit and the plaid print was gigantic, you couldn’t even see the repeat on your body. I remember my friends that were post-college they would kind of look at me like ‘what the hell are you wearing’ it was kind of acceptable that was my work uniform at the time. I feel like have the history really deep inside of me, and his aesthetic really shaped me.
Honestly, I do believe in pushing it forward while respecting and referencing the rich heritage of the brand. Each season I start with an idea that can encompass a cultural reference, artist ,etc and build in a vintage Perry idea -but in a future-forward way. Timing has to be right and we’ve begun to reference our own work (of the last four years) as we’ve built a new vocabulary – in essence, we are collaborating with ourselves.
Innovation and technology have moved the industry forward but I always ask myself “what would Perry do” while encompassing the brand ideals of confidence and versatility but with a nod to irreverence.
Where is the Perry Ellis man going this Summer?
We just did a ton of market research and we found that, the guy skews a little bit younger than we thought, 25-45 range with the sweet spot in his mid-30’s. And he’s family oriented, weather he has a partner or wife may have kid he’s kinda of at the beginning to middle of his career so value is super important to him and performance and properties and quality is really important to him. He gets up and starts his day and wants to look put together but not overly fashion in a way. He’s going to work he’s riding his bike he’s having drinks with his friend; he’s a normal guy who is very active juggling a full plate. He’s real and likes his style and appreciates the prints and what we do.
What do Generation Z guys have to look forward to from Perry Ellis?
We are doing this retro stuff right now, which I think is what they are into. It’s interesting to me that branding and logos are coming back, because I feel like in the past it meant status and I feel like now, it means heritage, validity, quality, there’s a story behind it. I feel like that is the big difference, and if we can get them involved in our story and realize there is a heritage to it there is something real behind it than I think we will win.
What do men want in their closet in 2018?
I think they want good value, I think they want performance, I do think they want easy care, they want the right amount of fashion for them. I think they need clothes that can really take them through their day. It’s not about ’I’m wearing this really stiff thing to work and then I have to change, and be cool for drinks with my friends, and then I need a uniform for the weekend. That’s why we came up with this uniform concept because its clothes that can take you anywhere. He needs pieces that are going to separate him out a little bit, it could be the logo pieces or the slightly over the top pieces that give him a little personality.
Something you have to have on you right now?
I’m kind of obsessed with sneakers right now. A backpack is always with me right now. A fannypack has actually been something I have been playing with lately. I went to Europe recently and it was super helpful. If it had to be one thing, most days I’m wearing a sneaker. I was in Europe for two weeks and I was in the same pair of Balenciaga sneakers. I didn’t feel underprepared you can kinda dress it up, I feel like it’s really the one piece. I even worked out in them a few times.
Words to live by?
“Never be afraid to take risks, and most importantly, never take the clothes you wear too seriously.”