“Honestly, it was all really selfish,” says Ilaria Urbinati, with a laugh, about designing her new suit collection in collaboration with Arkansas-based brand Strong Suit. “I work with 40 different men and I need stuff all the time, so I was thinking, ‘What do I need for fittings that I can’t get?'”
For the power stylist, whose clients include Armie Hammer, Donald Glover, James Marsden and just about every other best-dressed dude contender in Hollywood, such needs included spezatto suits (where trousers and sport coats are different colors), pleated pants that aren’t too baggy (“We always have to tailor them”) and a higher-waisted trouser, which helps clients avoid an awkward gap between the pants and vest of a three-piece suit, where an unsightly shirt might peek through.
True to form, Urbinati didn’t shy away from patterns and texture (“They gave me books upon books of fabrics to choose from”) or color, choosing a range of spring-appropriate hues — from hunter greens to turquoise to cranberry — that round out the offering. Silhouette-wise, the collection offers a little something for everyone, too; more casual, unlined linen suits for summer are found alongside traditional, structured numbers, as well as a pair of snazzy tuxedos with velvet detail.
“I was also inspired by the recurring things [my clients] want, the little things that bother them,” Urbinati says of the collection, which will launch at Nordstrom’s new men’s store in New York as well as at The Grove location in Los Angeles beginning in April. “They all like a comfortable suit that pushes the envelope a little bit.” When asked if there was a particular client who is pickier than others, she laughs, “I mean, yeah, but I’m not going to say who. He wouldn’t like that.”
The stylist tells The Hollywood Reporter that she’s been itching to design more suits since her last collection with Albert Hammond Jr. for her store Confederacy, which closed in 2013. So when the opportunity to work with Strong Suit founder and creative director Jamie Davidson arose, she jumped. “I was using Strong Suit already,” Urbinati says of the millennial-focused label. “Most of the brands I use for men are the Guccis and Dolces; this is one of the few that’s more affordable and I was really surprised by the quality of their stuff.”
Strong Suit’s more reasonable price point ($500-$600 range) compared to that of the typical designer labels worn by her clients was also a major selling point for Urbinati. “When I post things on Instagram, my friends can see it and go buy it for themselves,” she says. “[Designing] is kind of like when you’re an actor and you want to do a movie people will see. For the suits to be at Nordstrom is amazing, because everyone knows Nordstrom and can get their hands on one. They’re not at some obscure boutique.”
An added perk of working with Davidson was the pair’s shared love of literature, which is folded into the collection as well. Each suit is embroidered with the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not,” and is named for some of Urbinati’s favorite literary characters, among them Roark, Kilgore and Buddy Glass.
“I love reading and I love movies, so I love to try to tell a little bit of a story,” she says. “I’m inspired more by that than any trend. I recently watched Mean Streets — and suddenly everyone had to look like a Scorsese character. You can see that inspiration in the ‘70s notch lapels.”
And yes, you can bet Urbinati’s men will be rocking the collection very soon. “I have really supportive clients, they are like family to me,” she says, adding with a laugh, “but I keep telling them, ‘You don’t have a choice.'”