Domenico Spano dies at 79; The draper to the stars found his own fame | ET REALITY


Domenico Spano, a New York tailor who dressed captains of industry and Hollywood stars, and whose own dandy style made him a highly recognizable peacock on the city streets as well as in the fashion pages of newspapers, has died. on October 23 in Manhattan. He was 79 years old.

His daughter Elisabeth Spano said that his death, in a hospital, was due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Spano, nicknamed Mimmo, was born in the Calabria region of southern Italy. But although he grew up in a country known for its illustrious fashion history, he made a name for himself in New York as an advocate of classic American style, epitomized by the timeless elegance of film legends such as Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Cary Grant and Gary Cooper.

Wearing his own eye-catching outfits, crafted in colorful patterns and bold prints and complete with fedoras, cashmere scarves, suspenders, bow ties and an ever-present carnation on his lapel, he became a fixture in street style columns such as The New “On the Street” from the York Times, written and photographed by his friend, photographer and global fashion institution Bill Cunningham.

In a 2014 column, Cunningham celebrated what he saw as “signs of a new peacock revolution” and cited Spano as “a star of the movement.”

“He likes my style because it’s typical American,” Spano said of Cunningham in a 2012 interview with GQ magazine. “Everyone always tries to look elsewhere for inspiration, but we have an incredible legacy here. In Hollywood in the 1930s, we dictated style around the world.”

He adapted his own sartorial flourishes to suit the needs of billionaires, CEOs, and leading men like Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins, first as a salesman and manager of custom clothing at Dunhill and Alan Flusser, then as a designer of custom suits for Bergdorf Goodman. and Saks Fifth Avenue, and finally at his own workshop on West 57th Street.

With suits costing around $6,000 in recent years, the Spano style was not cheap. But for some customers, money was no object.

Spano told the men’s fashion website Film noir fan that a billionaire client once flew him to the Caribbean on his private 737 jet to lounge in his new villa and sample wines from his winery so Spano could get a taste of the lifestyle of his creations (ultimately linen suits by value of $283,000). tuxedo and similar things – would inhabit.

Quoted in the 2013 book “I Am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman,” by Nathaniel Adams and Rose Callahan, Spano recounted an occasion when a Japanese client wanted an exact copy of a beloved old herringbone cashmere jacket. green. Mr. Spano informed him that the necessary fabric was no longer available. “I have to make a minimum of 70 meters in the mill,” he told the client. “The jacket only requires two meters.”

The client, undeterred, contributed the necessary tens of thousands of dollars and used the remaining 68 square meters to upholster his private plane.

Domenico Spano was born on August 17, 1944 in the town of Scigliano, the middle of three children of Salvatore Spano and Elisabetta Oliva.

Because he came from a long line of military men, there was little in his background to suggest the career he would follow. He even followed in his ancestors’ footsteps in 1970 by graduating from officer school in Florence for the Carabinieri, the Italian military police.

Love, however, took him in a very different direction, when he met his future wife, Rina Gangemi, an American studying in Florence. “Three days after we met I told her that I was going to marry her, leave everything about her and follow her to this country” he said in a 2013 interview. with Keikari style website. “I am an incurable romantic by nature.”

The couple married in 1972 and settled in Jersey City, New Jersey. Mr. Spano took a job as an accountant with his father-in-law, Joseph Gangemi, a custom clothing manufacturer in Midtown Manhattan, before starting his own business.

As a traditionally minded haberdasher dedicated to an elegant style of yesteryear, Spano found himself swimming against the current in a style world dominated by the casual style of the baby boomer. “My generation was the worst,” he said. “Long hair, casual suits, flared pants. “It was a terrible generation.”

He also had to remind people that he was not a tailor. “In fact,” he told Keikari, “I don’t know how to sew a button.”

In addition to his daughter Elisabeth, Mr. Spano is survived by another daughter, Cristina Spano; a granddaughter; and a sister, Tina Spano. His wife died in 2003.

Mr. Spano’s instincts always ran toward the abstract. “I dream 24 hours a day,” he said in “I Am Dandy.” “Dreaming is cheap. “It doesn’t cost anything.”

“Sometimes,” he added, “I dream that I’m in these ’30s movies. I can’t be a guy like Humphrey Bogart, with my accent, but I can play a criminal or a gangster.

“I feel bad for people who don’t dream.”

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