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Black Tie, No Tails

Tuxedo Park fetes the 150th anniversary of the dinner jacket.

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Men'sWeek issue 10/13/2011

TUXEDO PARK, N.Y. — The tuxedo took center stage last weekend as fashion industry executives and students mingled with society mavens here to fete the 150th anniversary of the little black jacket.

The festivities kicked off Friday night with an exhibition at the Tuxedo Historical Society that showcased updated designs created by London College of Fashion students. In addition to Prof. Frances Corner, head of the university, the evening brought together descendants of the key figures in the creation of the tuxedo. These included Angus Cundey and his son Simon of Henry Poole on London’s Savile Row, who created the first dinner jacket 150 years ago for the then-Prince of Wales.

The elder Cundey, who admitted this was only his second visit to America, said the manufacturer was planning to “take some measurements” at the Tuxedo Club over the weekend to fit some of the members for bespoke suits. Simon, the seventh generation of the original Henry Poole, said he visits the U.S. five times a year for trunk shows at country clubs such as Augusta in Georgia and Lyford Cay in the Bahamas.

The Cundeys were joined by Linda Davison-Michonski and her brother Henry, fourth generation descendants of James Brown Potter, the man credited with bringing the short dinner jacket to America — and Tuxedo, and spawning the name.

On Saturday, the Tuxedo Club, whose male members shocked the country by wearing short dinner jackets to its inaugural Autumn Ball in 1886, hosted a gala dinner party to celebrate the formalwear staple and mark the 125th anniversary of the event. It was hosted by Giorgio Armani.

“I liked that it was a different place,” said Graziano de Boni, chief executive officer of Armani U.S. “And being in Tuxedo is as authentic as it gets, so it made a lot of sense to get involved. Giorgio Armani is known for its dinner jackets and we want to keep it going. There’s nothing like style, nothing like tradition.”

He quipped that the only other time he’d been to Tuxedo was to attend the Renaissance Fair, “but they weren’t dressed like you guys,” he told the attendees.

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