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SILVER SCREEN REVISITED — Wall Street (1987)

by

Bob The wardrobe builder

I’ve seen this film dozens — no, scores — of times. There were several viewings when it was in the cinema in the autumn of 1987 (incidentally, my first year as an undergraduate), and then on VHS, DVD, and now digitally. It is, simply, one of the finest, most stylish films ever made. Classic menswear geeks, such as I, have it near the top of our lists of must-see movies. Let me tell you why I love it so much.

The first think that struck me about this film was the style and setting — the New York financial district in lower Manhattan, the dark suits, smart shirts and ties. Just brilliant! And, when I first saw it, it was still very early days for me in my love affair with classic menswear, so Wall Street was a real eye-opener for this then-teenager from a small town in Canada.

The first quarter hour or so of the film really set the scene and instantly caught my attention, but it wasn’t until this fifteen minute mark that we met one of my style heroes — Gordon Gekko. Portrayed by Michael Douglas, I discovered as the film progressed that GG is an odious, nasty human being. But, what style! This guy dressed the way I wanted to dress. I was hooked, and have remained so for over thirty years.

So, at the fifteen minute mark, we first meet Gekko, in shirt sleeves, wearing a powder blue Oxford cloth shirt, white collar with rolled up cuffs, navy blue braces with a single light blue vertical stripe. He wears a wine red tie with what looks like blue medallions and a tie bar worn on an angle. The shirt has a semi cutaway collar (like a T&A Regent), a gold Cartier watch and a gold signet ring on the pinkie finger of his right hand.

When I thought about writing the piece, I made copious notes on some of the style highlights. Having seen the film as often as I had before, it was kinda weird to watch it and take notes at the same time. I won’t bore you, however, with all those details, but instead I’ll bullet-point some of the highlights:

  • My favourite bit of Gekko’s kit is a white shirt with blue (horizontal!) stripes The details I absolutely LOVE about that shirt are as follows: the blue stripes are narrow and not too far apart, and the stripes are alternating shades of blue — navy and royal. The best details though are the stripings on the collar and cuffs: the stripes on the collar go up and down, as do the stripes on the (double) cuffs. Brilliant detailing!
  • Sticking with shirting, Gekko wears several boldly striped shirts, a lovely small pink gingham checked number, often with contrasting collar and cuffs (as in his opening scene described above), but not always.
  • One of Gekko’s go-to accessories is the navy tie with small white spots — always on point, and can be worn with any of the gorgeous suits we see Gekko sporting
  • And what about the suits – there’s a lovely variety, with pinstripes, windowpanes, solid greys and navy blues.
  • Jackets are single or double-breasted, with peaked or notch lapels, and all are cut impeccably.
  • Trousers have deep, forward pleats and are always worn with braces — yes!

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t reference Alan Flusser here. It was Flusser’s genius that made Gekko my style icon and, to this day, Alan has to be thought of as a legend, amongst all the other big names of classic menswear.

If Gekko came to see us at Bleibtreustraße today, how would we dress him? I don’t think we’d change much, as Flusser’s vision is timeless and elegant. We would have a few suggestions, though … GG would look great in a signature Mogg double-breasted pinstripe by Holland and Sherry, or maybe one of our one button single-breasted numbers with our new, high button stance? How about a pink shirt, with contrasting collar and longer, capacious MM double cuff? He could wear one of his go-to navy, spotted ties. We think that’d look amazing, and would be in the spirit of Flusser. Oh, and if he wanted some superb shoes, we could get our good friend Leonard Kahlcke to craft a pair for him. Gekko might lean towards a pair of black-tasseled loafers with a lounge suit, but we would insist on black cap-toe Oxfords!

Please allow me to close, as I opened, with a personal anecdote. When Gekko and young broker Bud Fox (played by Charlie Sheen) met for luncheon at the 21 Club early in the film, Gekko tells his younger protegé to buy a decent suit. He tells Fox to go to Morty Sills to have the suit made. Although I didn’t know it until ten years after the film was released, Morty Sills was actually a brilliant New York tailor, and your correspondent had the good fortune of meeting some of the Sills family, and we remain friends today. Unfortunately, Morty had passed before I met his nieces, nephews and significant others. Oh, how I would have loved to chat with Morty (and his brother Herb, of Brooks Brothers fame)!

If you’re like me, you’ll watch Wall Street several times and marvel at Flusser’s tailoring. The ghost of Morty Sills lives on in this amazing film. And how lucky we all are that it does. BTWB