When he was asked to dress Leslie Odom Jr. for a Broadway premiere a year ago, designer David Hart had never heard of the actor or the show — a little-known musical called "Hamilton."
But Hart, a Severna Park native, was happy to outfit the thespian with a customized seafoam green, iridescent mohair suit from his spring/summer 2016 collection.
The two remained in contact for the rest of the year, exchanging well wishes while "Hamilton" and Odom grew in popularity and acclaim and Hart's fashion star rose, as well.
So when it came to dressing for the biggest night in theater — the Tony Awards — Odom turned to Hart for assistance.
Hart whipped up a honeycomb woven wool dinner jacket from his fall 2016 collection and bespoke black mohair trousers with a satin stripe for the eventual winner of the Tony Award for best leading actor in a musical.
"It's reminiscent of El Morocco, the old iconic nightclub," Hart said. "Leslie really wanted to look like he was coming out of the past."
Hart also dressed Brandon Victor Dixon, a Gaithersburg native who was nominated for best actor in a featured role in a musical for "Shuffle Along."
Dixon wore a custom cobalt blue mohair tuxedo with a handmade navy organza bow tie by Title of Work, a brand led by Hart's friend Jonathan Meizler.
"It was my first time dressing him," Hart said. "He was amazing to work with. The cobalt that Brandon had on really popped off the screen."
A third actor, Anthony Ramos from "Hamilton," wore a custom navy diamond-patterned silk jacquard dinner jacket and super 150 tuxedo pants by Hart. He completed the look with a pair of velvet slippers from Hart's shoe collection with Johnston & Murphy.
"They all looked fantastic," Hart said.
GQ agreed. Dixon and Odom were named among the best dressed of the evening by men's magazine.
Annapolis native Christian Siriano also had a big night at the Tony Awards, dressing three actresses, including: Laurie Metcalf, nominee for best leading actress in a play for "Misery," who wore a caped color-blocked white and navy gown; Jessie Mueller ("Waitress"), who wore a canary yellow gown; and Nicolette Robinson (Showtime's "The Affair") wore a color-blocked white and navy gown. (Robinson is also Odom's wife.)
The Tonys have become more of a sartorial event in recent years — due largely in part to the watchful eye of Anna Wintour, artistic director for Conde Nast, who has become increasingly involved with the show.
"They have been working to make [the Tonys] a more fashion-forward event," Hart said.
It was Wintour who initially suggested that Hart take a more active role in dressing Tonys attendees. She also referred Dixon to Hart for the actor's blue-hued ensemble Sunday night.
Wintour and Hart have grown closer this past year as Hart was a finalist for the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue Fashion Fund competition. Even though he did not win, Hart has found the insight he has received from Wintour to be invaluable.
"Her team and everyone at the magazine has been really helpful," Hart said. "I can't really ask for more. They have been so supportive."
Even though he's never attended, Hart's work has become a fixture at the Tony Awards.
During last year's show, host Alan Cumming wore three ensembles designed by Hart.
"We did some looks for Andy Samberg for the Emmys. But the Tonys have shown me a lot of love," Hart said.
Part of Hart's success at the Tonys has been because of his working relationship with Sam Spector, a celebrity stylist.
The New York City-based Spector dressed Neil Patrick Harris when he hosted the Oscars in 2015 and Samberg when he hosted last year's Emmys. Actor Daniel Radcliffe is also on his client roster.
"The long relationship I have shared with David is a testament to his ability to create beautiful pieces for my clients' personal and red carpet sartorial needs," Spector said. "David has impeccable taste, strives to achieve a perfect fit and can reference previous decades' style moments at the drop of a hat."
Hart stands out among menswear designers, according to Spector.
"The eveningwear he has created for my clients and me is a breath of fresh air when tuxedos are often one-noted," Spector said.
Hart, who is putting the finishing touches on his fall collection, which he will unveil in July during New York Men's Fashion Week, has yet to see the productions in which his clients have starred.
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"I need to get out and see some shows," Hart said with a sheepish laugh. "But I'm always working."