Arthur Mcgee Dexter Gordon Custom Suit, ca. 1987
I bought this in an auction of jazz-related memorabilia in New York City about 12 years ago. It belonged to the great jazz tenor player Dexter Gordon. He wore it for the Academy Awards ceremony. He was nominated for his role in "Round Midnight" as the best male actor. He didn't win, but I got the suit.
But he looked snazzy going to the awards show.
So that's kind of the obvious thing here. You, years later, found this photograph of him wearing it in French "Vogue" magazine. So he obviously liked this suit, and one of the most interesting things about this suit-- beyond the fact that it was Dexter Gordon's-- for me is, who designed it for him and the fact that he had a custom suit designed. And the reason he had a custom suit designed, apart from wanting something fancy, is because... (laughs): ...he's quite tall.
My goodness, yeah.
I think it's difficult to find pants to fit someone who's 6'5". Yeah. And his nickname actually was Long Tall Dex, because he was known for his great height, which added to his larger-than-life persona. But even beyond that, Arthur McGee, the designer of the suit, is a really important figure that's not known as much as he should be because he was the first African-American fashion designer on Seventh Avenue in New York. So he essentially broke the color barrier of American fashion design, and did pave the way for a lot of other people who came up after him. He's also very well-known among a lot of African-American entertainers. He designed for Stevie Wonder, Cicely Tyson, Dexter Gordon. I think that's a really important factor here. What did you pay for it back when you bought it?
I paid $1,000 for it.
Okay. Today, if it were to come up for auction, I would expect it should sell for at least $5,000. We actually had the great fortune in Anaheim a few years ago to meet his daughter. She came to the Roadshow and she brought some beautiful signed photographs.
He had Billie Holiday and a few other people he was friends with—Sarah Vaughan. She couldn't have been lovelier, she was such a wonderful spirit and personality.
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