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7.10.06

Clothier tips his hat to elegant British designs

Got Style? Dwayne Collins Does and shares his know how.

If Dwayne Collins has a vice, it's his affinity for high-end attire. The new chairperson of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus says his sense of style served him well in his role as an image consultant and compelled him to host the stylish cable show "Gotham Sophisticate." Today Collins, 38, is a custom clothier with DW Designs and is finishing degrees in both English and religious study at Johnson C. Smith.

Q. How long have you been interested in fashion? I've been excited about clothes since I was a junior in high school. In 12th grade, me and three other gentlemen were considered the best dressed at Garinger High School in 1985.

Q. What did you wear in high school? I was real fashion forward. Cotler suits. Giorgio Brutini shoes. Thankfully, as we got older our tastes evolved.

Q. What do your clothes say about you? Hopefully they say I'm a bit of a dandy.

Q. Can you define a dandy for me? A dandy is somebody that is almost costume-ish, but not quite. Particularly the hats make me a dandy.

Q. How does this show up in your clothing choices? My suits are very traditional, but I'm a bit unpredictable. I usually wear hats. Fedoras, homburgs, sennit or straw border hats. I also wear braces. I like to have fun with my hosiery. I have a great admiration for British style. Particularly Burberry and Ralph Lauren.

Q. Where do you buy hats here? There's a new hat shop on Independence Boulevard called Alexander Hats. Sometimes I go to Brooks Brothers in Atlanta. J.O. Jones in SouthPark used to have great hats.

Q. What do you like about clothes made by British designers? The elegance. It is something that speaks to longevity. These particular suits I have embrace the height of men's elegance, which was the 1930s.

Q. Tell me someone whose style you admire. The Duke of Windsor. He would go to the Belmont races and was noted one time for innovating a seersucker suit, a boutonnière, a straw bowler and brown suede shoes. At that particular time they were considered effeminate, but he brought masculinity to brown suede shoes. He popularized argyle socks. The Windsor knot was named after him. He was the beacon light of hope for men's elegance at that time.

Q. Anyone else? I also like Louis Armstrong. He liked to mix patterns. One time he had a windowpane shirt on with a polka dotted bow tie. He was sincere about his style. He mixed patterns in a tasteful way.

Q. What was the first piece of designer clothing you remember buying? A Christian Dior tie. It was a glen plaid tie. more...

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