My infatuation with Paul Stuart is no secret. From the quality of their product, to their focus on fit, fabric, and color, Paul Stuart’s tailored clothing inventiveness rarely disappoints. As the former President, Cliff Grodd, once said,
“I abhor dullness and resist flamboyance. That’s a hard line to walk — to be distinctive, subtle, disciplined, but with a sense of humor.”
It’s exactly this sentiment that keeps me and legions of dedicated clients coming back to Paul Stuart with an unwavering dedication. It’s that rakish but charming image, purposefully ignorant of trends but far from unaware, that’s just as captivating now as it was in Grodd’s time.
There’s no doubt this personality was established through decades of dedication and refinement. From Ralph Ostrove, the founder of the company and grandfather to the current President Michael Ostrove, to design director for both Paul Stuart and Phineas Cole, Ralph Auriemma, the style that Grodd refined continues to guide the brand today. And each year, for the past 50 years, it’s put on display in the company’s semiannual catalogue.
2013 is particularly special as it marks the Anglo-American brand’s 75th Anniversary. Paul Stuart has been outfitting the world’s most stylish individuals since 1938, placing them in an elite class of American companies whose histories are tied directly to the history of this nation.
To help celebrate those 75 years of success, Paul Stuart invited me to document their Spring/Summer 2013 Collection for a rare glimpse inside what really goes into creating the unique Paul Stuart vision.
Set at the CORE: club, home to one of New York City’s premier private organizations, the shoot featured legendary father-and-son jazz guitar duo John and Bucky Pizzarelli.
Not unlike the Ostrove family, the Pizzarelli’s have passed down their family’s craft through several generations. Hearing father and son play side-by-side was a incomparable touch that echoed the legacy of the company’s own milestone. John and Bucky were naturals in front of the camera. They collectively picked up their seven string guitars and began playing for the crew, all the while elegantly dressed from head to toe in Paul Stuart. You could tell this wasn’t the first time they’d been the life of the party and there was a level of comfort and ease in their playing that spoke to the vibrant spring colors of the collection.
Aided by the sportswear’s neutral linen tones, cream cottons, and snuff suede, Spring / Summer 2013 represented a more natural and airy approach to the Paul Stuart aesthetic - a casual refinement. As always, the tailored clothing pieces were the real standouts with soapy, cobalt blues, purple windowpanes, and plaid and paisley ties dominating the collection. But it was the combination of these elements that I thought really accomplished the visual team’s goal of creating a fun but luxurious vibe.
It’s the responsibility of that small but focused team lead by Tom Mastronardi, Paul Stuart’s Marketing Director, to cover everything from pant hems to story narratives. Throughout the two days of the shoot it was evident that this was not their first go-around. Although they had a clear idea of what they wanted the final book to represent, creating the images and story lines was a much more organic process than one might expect.
From art direction by Tom, Cain Semrad, Mona Reilly, and Monica DyBuncio to styling by Michael Verbert, and photography by Holger Eckstein, the man responsible for many Paul Stuart and Phineas Cole lookbooks, the shoot was a true collaborative effort. The team worked together seamlessly to create a campaign that really captured the essence of the Paul Stuart aesthetic.
The final product is both unmistakably Paul Stuart and a well deserved chance for the brand to celebrate all that they’ve accomplished over the past 75 years. A distinctive but subtle touch, as Mr. Grodd might put it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the catalogue.
Here’s to another 75.
To see more of Paul Stuart’s Spring / Summer 2013 campaign visit their website.
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