The well-dressed anti-heroAlan Flusser, the dapper menswear...

The well-dressed anti-hero

Alan Flusser, the dapper menswear designer, has made a nice sideline out of dressing anti-heroes for the movies.


Mr. Flusser, who made the power suits for Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko character in "Wall Street," recently designed the suits worn by cast members in "Barbarians at the Gate," the Home Box Office film that traces the takeover of RJR Nabisco by Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co.

Wearing Mr. Flusser's designs will be Jonathan Pryce, the actor who plays the takeover king Henry Kravis, as well as the actors who play James D. Robinson III, the chairman of American Express, and Peter Cohen, the chairman of Shearson Lehman. Mr. Flusser said that some of the men portrayed have actually bought suits from him in real life.


Is the designer concerned about being associated again with that mean old 1980s look?

"It just so happens that these very successful men like very stylish clothes," he said. "I'm not in their heads -- I'm on their bodies. Ironically, for all the talk of the investment community being more understated, just look at the outlandishness of the ties today. They're much more aggressive than five years ago."

To read the new book about Salvatore Ferragamo's shoemaking career is to take a walking tour of fashion history -- through the perspective of a shoe.

The book, "Salvatore Ferragamo: The Art of the Shoe,1898-1960," (Rizzoli International Publications, New York; $45), was published the companion catalog to the recent retrospective exhibition of Ferragamo's work and art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Flipping through more than 200 color photographs of expertly illustrated shoes could be enough to show Ferragamo's mastery. But accompanying chapters detail how the Italian immigrant took shoemaking from craft to art at a crucial time in the history of the world, fashion and cinema.

It is perhaps the designer's relationship with Hollywood that makes the most fascinating reading. Such legends as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo were loyal Ferragamo customers.

This is a book that elevates footwear from its low place in fashion history to the spotlight. Readers don't need a special fascination with either fashion or footwear to appreciate the story of the Ferragamo family's successful efforts to make shoes something to love.

If this will be, as some fashion experts proclaim, the Year of the Belt, now is not too soon to start cinching in. The belts the style seers are talking about are at least two inches wide and bind the waist with a firm grip.

They probably have an impressive buckle, and might have a few bits of metal here and there, but generally, the plainer the belt, the better. One of these wide belts, cinched around a cotton shirt or an oversized T-shirt, would give an outfit a whole new look. Next fall, try circling one around a longer-lined suit jacket.