By Andrew Yamato
No one knows classic menswear like the Japanese. I mean really knows it — accruing vast research libraries on the subject, combing through flea markets for authentic specimens, documenting and cataloging their finds like so many Victorian naturalists. While the Easy Riding western world was gleefully casting off its meticulously constructed menswear traditions in the 1960s and 70s, it was the Japanese who picked up the pieces from the side of the road, dusted them off, and installed them as icons of timeless taste. Little surprise that when Alan Flusser emerged on the fashion scene, resplendently and unapologetically classicist, he was immediately Big in Japan.
The 36-year-old captured in this 1982 spread for the highly influential Men’s Club fashion magazine is Alan at his most exuberantly dandyish. Defiantly anachronistic elements (collar pins, boutonnieres) play with unexpected color combinations for an effect that transcends nostalgia. Indeed, these clothes were actually very much of their fashion moment, as the 1981 Granada adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited had been a transatlantic blockbuster — the Downton Abbey of its day — inspiring a mainstream mania for the interwar Anglophile style that had already been inspiring Flusser for years. (The Gordon Gekko look Alan would go on to famously create for the 1986 movie Wall Street was itself a slightly less whimsical, more aggressive iteration of this same aesthetic.)
We don’t often make such drapey and dandyish clothes anymore. The only thing truly permanent about fashion is change, and tastes — including Alan’s own — have trimmed up and stripped down over the past thirty years or so. But this is the stuff that got me dressing in the first place. Reading Alan’s Clothes and the Man and watching Brideshead as a student in the 90s transported me into a more elegant and romantic world than I’d known, and I’ve been trying to spend as much time there as possible ever since. I’m in good company these days, as menswear classicists worldwide have coalesced into an influential style tribe, and I suspect they'll find Alan’s “Trad Seminar” as interesting and inspiring as did the original audience of Japanese style-obsessives in 1982.