Frank J. Mariani

Title: President

Company: Albert G. Mariani Inc.

Born: Philadelphia, 1918

Education: John Marshall High School, Los Angeles

Career Turning Point: Becoming an apprentice to his father, Albert

Hobbies: Collecting classic cars and painting, especially watercolors

Most Admired Person: Ronald Reagan

Personal: Widower, two grown children

Frank Mariani has been called L.A.'s dynamo of custom tailoring. He'll be 80 years old next month, but still shows up at his Beverly Hills shop five days a week to craft some of the finest clothes west of Saville Row. His current list of clients includes some of the wealthiest, best known and most powerful people in town former President Ronald Reagan, Donald Bren of the Irvine Co., Earl Jorgenson of Jorgenson Steel and actors Walter Matthau, Don Rickles and Charlton Heston.

His list of former clients is a who's who of Hollywood, including James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Bob Hope and Humphrey Bogart. There were also darker characters like the notorious gangsters Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Mickey Cohen.

Mariani, who makes about 300 suits a year, got his start in custom tailoring in 1938 at Albert G. Mariani Inc., his father's custom tailoring shop in downtown Los Angeles. It had been open since 1926. Frank, who had just graduated high school, started at the bottom, picking up scraps of cloth from the floor. He went onto drafting patterns and then cutting fabric.

Mariani left his father's shop in 1959 and opened his own tailoring shop in Montecito. He returned in 1975 to take over his father's business, which by that time had relocated to Beverly Hills.

Question: What kind of a dresser is President Reagan?

Answer: He has never changed with all the fads. He likes the soft California look, a loose coat and not too much shape, a gentleman's suit. Blues and browns, he doesn't care much for grays. Tans and browns are his best colors and he prefers buttons to zippers. No secret pockets, either. We have been making his clothes since 1936. He likes cuffs on his trousers, and pleats.

Q: What do you think of President Clinton as a dresser?

A: I thought nothing of him in the beginning. He's improved but he should find somebody to give him some life to his clothes and a little style. He looks like a plain, ordinary guy.

Q: What would you do to help him?

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