Fred Astaire Flair: Stinson R. Ely Resurrects Hollywood Waistband Slack Astaire Dubbed His "Third Dance Partner."

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Drawing on two-decades of period movies and archival studio stills from the '30s to mid-1940s for its design inspiration, Stinson R. Ely's Astaire Collection revives the Hollywood Waistband slack Fred Astaire designed and called his "third dance partner."

Freshman designer, Andy Stinson, may be the gutsiest designer since Ralph Lauren’s own contrarian gamble on the wide-tie struck pay dirt in the late-‘60s.

No shrinking violet, the one-time brand image guru turned luxe designer pinned his collection’s success - along with the future of his Stinson R. Ely brand - on a sink-or-swim redux of the 1940s-era, Hollywood Waistband slack, an Americana fashion icon that hasn’t been voguish in 70-years.

Like Lauren’s own wide-tie wager, Stinson’s high waisted, full-cut slack gambit cuts cross grain against prevailing fashion trends and pits his full-cut, Hollywood Waistband slack against the opposite and still red hot, plain-front, slim-cut silhouette.

With pleats only now flirting at fashion’s leading edge, Stinson’s mostly 2-pleat-front line-up is already a high- stakes bet on a pleat-front revival. But it’s Stinson’s most aggressive model, his four-front-pleat, Astaire Collection, that ranks his boldest, and certainly most audacious, risk. Named for the legendary dancer, Stinson’s four-pleat Astaire group is modeled after Fred Astaire’s own re-design of the Hollywood Waistband slack, a pant he called his "third dance partner."

Once the signature of Hollywood’s most dashing, Silver Screen legends, thank the Hollywood Waistband’s physique flattering, sleight-of-hand knack for transforming the era’s most debonair cinema icons into slim waisted, long-legged, he-hunk Adonises for its movie star cachet and eponymous, "Hollywood" sobriquet.

Inspired by the slacks from the Duke of Windsor’s famed "Drape Suit," the Hollywood Waistband slack boasts a tall waist and full-cut thighs stylishly enhanced by dropped belt loops. Absent a waistband, a fluid, uninterrupted drape sleekly tapers from its high waist to narrow, pegged cuffs. The figure flattering lines of its tall, streamlined, "V"-shaped silhouette creates an athletically masculine look that magically slims the waist and adds the illusion of long legs.

Hollywood Waistband’s heyday was also the salad days of song-and-dance musicals and tinsel town’s top "hoofers," from Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, instantly made the Hollywood Waistband slack their own. Beyond its physique flattering look and illusion of longer legs, the slack’s one-piece design, pleated front and full-cut leg delivered an rivaled freedom of movement and comfort that dancers found irresistible. Fred Astaire, added his own twist: To its sometime one, but typically two-pleat-front, Astaire added still two more pleats; his totaling four-front-pleats, a hat trick that gave Astaire the freedom to work his legendary dance magic.

Drawing on two-decades of archival film and vintage studio stills that spanned the early-'30s to the mid-1940s for its design inspiration, Stinson R. Ely’s Astaire Collection includes both a belted style and another configured for braces, its tab buttons rigged for outside placement ala '30s style.

Astaire, tells Stinson, wore both styles with equal aplomb, favoring the added freedom of suspendered versions for suit scenes and belt loops for slack-and-sport shirt shots. To his casual scenes Astaire, added yet another flair that became his personal signature: A silk four-in-hand tie threaded through his belt loops. Still another Astaire-created fashion twist, one that sparked its own craze, was a traditional belt but buckled at his left side, rather than at the front.

About Stinson R. Ely:
Born from the 22-year-old, Stinson/R. Ely & Partners, Inc. - the brand imaging firm formed in 1988 by Andy Stinson and Robbi Ely - the debut collection of their luxe menswear brand features neckwear and pocket squares, dress slacks, sport coats, hosiery and dress shirts. Bereft of basics, it’s a dandy’s collection, exclusively, its designs inspired by the Duke of Windsor and popularized by Hollywood’s dashing, Silver Screen idols.

Stinson R. Ely - along with its parent, Stinson/R. Ely & Partners - is headquartered in San Diego, California, at 8775 Aero Drive. Zip code is 92123. Website is Fall-Winter 2012 "look book" is available in print or PDF versions. Phone for Stinson/R. Ely & Partners corporate offices, Stinson R. Ely, or its co-designer, Andy Stinson, is 858-573-1698.

Stinson R. Ely is a founding member of the Alliance of American Luxury Makers (ALM).


J. Andy Stinson, co-designer

Bobbi Koller, associate designer

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