Traditional menswear manufacturers, left to their own devices, are often rule-bound, stodgy and dull (cardinal sins in the world of fashion). However, even elementary items–suits, shirts, ties–can turn glorious in the hands of the right designer. Make no mistake: tinkering with the basics is tricky business, requiring an appreciation of tailored subtleties leavened with just enough originality to make the old new; and while "updating the classics" may sound like a walk in the park, it's more like running a marathon. Long apprenticeships, followed by years spent building credibility, will exhaust even deep reserves of stamina.
And yet, sometimes–like Athena springing fully formed from Zeus's head–a not-so-traditional menswear collection seems to appear out of nowhere. Such is the case with Devon Scott. This dashing young man from High Point, North Carolina has no formal design training (he moved to Manhattan to pursue acting), but growing up with a stylish grandfather left him obsessed with the finer points of classic tailoring. This served him well as a sales associate at Jeffrey New York (a job he took to pay the bills while pounding the pavement), where he gradually realized he wanted to design clothes rather than merely sell them. His first collection of dress shirts sold out, giving him confidence to take on tailored clothing. He found a small Long Island factory presided over by a third-generation tailor; and although the learning curve was steep, Scott was a quick study. He's also a quintessential gentleman, so even though some of his requests (for details like high armholes, slim lapels and very narrow silhouettes) were met with disbelief, he persevered and eventually won over the factory's resident experts.
Scott's clothes aren't flashy, but they're sharp, smart and beautifully detailed–a burgundy blazer, cut from buttery cashmere, has a softly-draped shawl collar and real mother-of-pearl buttons, and a grey flannel suit, though double-breasted, is so Art Deco-sleek it has no extra bulk. The pièce de résistance is his vested dinner suit, with roped shoulders and a trim waist. It's simply perfect, the sort of wardrobe staple a man appreciates every time he puts it on. As for the designer himself, he's too modest to praise his work: "The clothes," he insists, "should speak for themselves." They do, Devon, in dulcet tones, and FA2L loves what they say. At Jeffrey New York, 212.206.1271.
Photo 1: Wool suit by Devon Scott. Cotton shirt by Gucci. Silk-and-cotton tie by Alexander Olch. Photo 2: Cashmere blazer by Devon Scott. Cotton shirt from the Black Fleece Collection by Brooks Bros. Jeans by Edwin. Alligator shoes by Gucci. Photo 3: Wool 3-piece tuxedo by Devon Scott. Cotton shirt by Costume National Homme. Shoes by Bottega Veneta. Photo 4: Cotton shirt by Devon Scott. Sterling silver cuff links by Robin Rotenier.
Photographs by Michael Stratton. Grooming by Lorenzo Martone at Link NYLA. Michael Whittaker and Michael Elmquist at dna models. Styled by Mark Grischke. © Fashion As a 2nd Language & Michael Stratton.