Regis’ millionaire appeal eyed by fashion industry

HOLLYWOOD, CA: Regis Philbin played a big part in reviving the fortune of an entire television network. Now fashion industry PR pros are hoping he can do the same for men’s couture.

HOLLYWOOD, CA: Regis Philbin played a big part in reviving the fortune of an entire television network. Now fashion industry PR pros are hoping he can do the same for men’s couture.

HOLLYWOOD, CA: Regis Philbin played a big part in reviving the

fortune of an entire television network. Now fashion industry PR pros

are hoping he can do the same for men’s couture.



After having helped raise ABC’s sagging fortunes with the Who Wants To

Be A Millionaire? ratings behemoth, the 68-year-old prince of primetime

is now at the forefront of an informal effort to get men to dress

up.



While magazines like GQ, Esquire and the now defunct (but soon to be

reborn) Details have tried to derail the casualization trend, Philbin’s

penchant for monochromatic shirt/tie combos has made dressing up hip

again.



One fashion-industry exec sized up Philbin’s marketability simply: ’We

tried everything to reinvigorate the men’s suiting business, but it took

a game-show host watched by people who probably don’t even own more than

a few suits to get men to think about dressing up.’



Philbin, who favors suits from Hugo Boss and Beau Brummel, has taken his

newfound icon status in stride, meeting fans at Macy’s in Herald Square

earlier this month when the store introduced its Regis Collection of

shirt-and-tie sets by Phillips-Van Heusen. In weeks, the collection

could become as ubiquitous as its muse when department stores around the

country start selling the items separately.



So what is the essence of Philbin’s appeal? ’Regis is a real person,’

said Michael Gelman, executive producer of Live! With Regis & Kathie

Lee.



’He’s got real star quality, but he’s also ’everyman’ - he’s the guy

next door but a lot funnier and more interesting.’ Added Millionaire

executive producer Michael Davies, ’Regis is truly ageless. He has what

I call ’post-ironic youth appeal.’ He’s a firestarter.’



However, Davies deserves at least part of the credit for sparking the

Millionaire fashion craze. The savvy producer, who brought the game show

to America from London, originated the darkly elegant look on the other

side of the pond with Chris Tarrant, Philbin’s antagonistic UK

counterpart.



While most of the contestants on Millionaire show up tieless, Philbin’s

fashion influence is clearly being felt on the air. Clones of the show

on Fox and NBC feature hosts who are parroting more than Philbin’s

affable manner with contestants. Next fall promises a new roster of

ratings and fashion newcomers, including John O’Hurley (best known for

his role as J. Peterman on Seinfeld) who will be wearing suits and

sportswear from Italian clothier Canali on the updated version of To

Tell the Truth.



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