Village Voice 05.10.2017 : Page 8

10 May 10 -May 16, 2017 VILLAGE Fashion’s forgotten man: Barry Boonshaft in his UES living room A little-known, nearing-ninety Upper East Sider claims to have changed men’s fashion. Does his name belong in the history books? BY KENNETH R. ROSEN • PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF BROWN ictating a memoir he could not write, Barry Boonshaft sat in his Upper East Side apartment, all alone save for the dog that lolled nearby. Over the course of the after-noon, in the winter of 2015, he spoke into a microphone connected to his computer; when he was finished, he printed out 150 single-spaced pages and decided on a title: The Man Who Changed the Way Men Dress . It was a grand pronouncement from someone with nothing left to lose. Boonshaft, 88, with a crop of salt-and-COLOR ME BARRY LIVES D pepper hair and a cutting tenor, credits himself with suffusing men’s fashion with color at a time when white shirts were the standard. He says he helped make color dress shirts a staple of every-day living, putting the flash of the coun-terculture inside the mainstream. As Boonshaft tells it, in 1967, when gainfully employed men didn’t stray from white oxford button-ups, he intro-duced a line of colors both modest and gaudy: lavender, auburn, pink, fuchsia. Soon after, the popularity of solid-and multi-color patterns took off — but left him behind. Too overcome with sales orders for Boonshaft Inc. colored shirts, and later busied by an up-start apparel company called Nik Nik (known for its stretchy nylon disco-era garb), Boon-shaft hasn’t sought recognition until now. The significance of this quest brings to light a very specific, often ignored exis-tential dread: When we are gone, who will remember us? Will anyone tell the story we lived? Vintage shirts for sale online are em-blazoned with his name alongside that of Oleg Cassini, the legendary designer and dressmaker for Jackie Kennedy. A com-pelling argument can be made for Boon-shaft, though, in some cases, it rests with the dead. Many of his longtime friends have passed away: Larry Phillips, the clothier; Herbert R. Aronson, president and CEO of Manhattan Menswear; and the winsome fashion trade paper colum-nist Stanley Gellers. Even Boonshaft’s black Bouvier des Flandres, Kelsey, was put to sleep last year. He lives with his wife of forty-two

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