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Francis Toscani

American, 1915 - 1973

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Francis (Frank) D. Toscani (1915-1973) was one of Philadelphia's most successful and innovative tailors. As a child, he learned the art from his Italian-born father and worked part-time in the city's clothing factories. He made his first suit at age sixteen, started a small custom-tailoring business the following year, and by 1950 had established himself as a designer. H. Daroff and Sons of Philadelphia, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of men's apparel, recognized Toscani's talent and employed him as chief designer from 1959 to 1969. He received numerous national awards and was active in the International Association of Clothing Designers, an organization influential in men's fashion. Appointed president in 1965, he subsequently took the role of chairman of the association's Task Force, charged with predicting trends in menswear.

Toscani worked in the tailoring industry at a time when it was undergoing enormous changes. By the late 1960s, clothes that expressed men's individuality and featured up-to-the-minute styling were increasingly important. Designers of women's fashions, such as Pierre Cardin, entered the menswear market. Their success disconcerted many in the industry, including Toscani, who felt men's apparel designers were actually "creative engineers," overseeing production details, ensuring quality and fit, and gauging market timing.

Toscani's masterful tailoring skills and versatile designs--incorporating unusual elements and unexpected colors--challenged the conventions of traditional tailoring. At the same time, he exhibited his keen understanding of the evolution of men's styles in the historical garments he recreated for fashion shows. Whether contemporary or historical, Toscani's inventive creations are an invaluable contribution to the art of tailoring.

Tailoring Philadelphia: Tradition and Innovation in Menswear, 2010

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