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To Marc Manigault and Masazumi Chaya, Suits Are More than Clothes

Spend a minute (maybe even less) with Marc Manigault and Masazumi Chaya and you know they’re the real deal. They could finish each other’s sentences if they wanted to, but seem too intent listening to bother interrupting.

Marc, a retired fashion stylist met Masazumi, who works with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, about 40 years ago. In a scene straight out of a romantic comedy, they first saw each other on the subway — “he had a Fiorucci bag, and he was reading Ellery Queen,” Marc says. Masazumi noticed Marc’s cap, but “he was wearing mirrored glasses, I had no idea whether he was looking.” The train stopped and for a minute, Marc thought Masazumi was going to say something, but he went off elsewhere.

A few minutes later, Marc spotted Masazumi from a shop window and thought it was his chance. He ran out, promised he never did things like that and gave Masazumi his number. They didn’t speak for a year. But as soon as Marc shared his number, fate (and New York City) intervened — they spotted each other at the bank, at Bloomingdale’s, and Studio 54, among other places. They took the hint and have been together ever since.

When it comes to suiting, Marc has a history and an expertise. As a stylist, he noted that when he’d dress men in suits they’d always light up a little, stand a bit taller, and project a little more confidence. Going even further back, he tells us how every Easter his mother would take him and his brother to Gimbel’s for a new suit. “You look good Marc, you look good,” she’d say. (He asks for her opinion even today.) Though he knows the importance of a good fit, he first looks for something “that calls my name out.”

Masazumi, on the other hand, is a little more minimal in his suiting approach. “I always like black. Sometimes I might try a little bit of color, but then I go back to black suits all the time,” he jokes. His work, particularly the Alvin Ailey gala brings both of them an opportunity to stunt a little bit. Marc likes to turn some heads when he walks in the room, “I always have to get a new suit, so I’ll get something that’s really a drop-dead knockout and I like that.”

Between the two of them, they’ve got a lot of suits. But despite the Kondo-fever currently sweeping the nation, Masazumi maintains he can’t part with them. First, because you never know when trends will come back around, but second, and more importantly, because he has a good memory with each one, and that’s something neither he or Marc are willing to part with.