For Michael Maccari, becoming the new creative director at Perry Ellis -- his first collection debuts Thursday at New York Fashion Week -- is like coming full circle.
The Massapequa Park native met the original Perry in the '80s, introduced by a family friend when Maccari was in college.
At the time, he had no plans to pursue fashion.
"I was wearing the clothes and didn't quite know what it was about them I liked so much," Maccari recalls.
After graduating from the University at Albany, he stumbled upon a menswear program at FIT, and went on to work at Armani Exchange, Polo Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
His goal at Perry Ellis: to remind us it's more than just suits and shirts. His spring line features unexpected twists -- casual hoodies in faux suede, or a traditional blazer in nontraditional neoprene.
"It feels great -- like a cardigan," says Maccari, who learned from "Mr. Armani" the value of a good fit.
"A guy may not be able to identify why, but if a garment doesn't feel good on, he'll walk away from the brand."