Showing posts with label tailoring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tailoring. Show all posts

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Mode Parade Patron Saint: Jason King

Author's note: This was originally written in 2012 for the Mode Parade Tumblr; since deactivated

   When it comes to personal style, few today are able to do it as well as the fictional

   Mode Parade Patron Saint Jason King blurred the aesthetic lines between himself and his actor, Peter Wyngarde, to the point that one of the few ways they could be told apart is that King preferred women

   Wyngarde is quite a charismatic fellow, by all accounts, so it is quite sad that the press, the public and his profession would not let his career-damaging homosexual indiscretion slide - precisely the sort of inflexible moralising that can make the world a less engaging place to live in. It’s the calibre of charisma that made him a star and sex symbol, and here makes him the picture of enviableness, inhaling from a Sobranie whilst wearing one of his many Peacock-era matching shirt/tie ensembles, practically baiting the Good Taste Brigade as so he does

   Very much of the moment, in so many ways. But moments are all we ever get, and some last far, far too briefly

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Butler of Style Forum and Winston Chesterfield at an I am Dandy drinks reception hosted by tailor Steven Hitchcock, September 2013

Monday, 5 September 2011


   Some may recognise the drapey Neo-Edwardian on the far left from last year's post on Bunny Roger. The forward thinking Continental and the wide shouldered metro boulevardier  bring up the middle, whilst the far right demonstrates the sturdy aesthetic values of the people

   Myself, I am more of a mix-and-matcher, but if there's anything that can be taken from this, it is the variety of ideas for accessorising or the counter argument for minimalism that this little guide presents

   But for the love of God, please let's keep the dog out of this - the Frenchman might be capable of retaining a certain poise even as he thinks about how to clean the fur from his fibres, though that should only serve to remind mere mortals how far beyond them he operates

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Not Only For Southern Boys

   I want a white suit

  Yes, that's correct. I want to look like a plantation owner. Actually, I want to own a plantation. That's exactly why I want a white suit. My superiority complex must be indulged in the face of racial sensitivity, the stares of children and dry cleaning bills

   Speaking of children, for a great many of us growing up in Britain of the 1980s and early 1990s, this venerable institution below was our initiation into the intractable allure that a white suit holds. I write of course, of The Man From Del Monte, a tastemaker so prepotent that he could even subjugate Doctor Who 's definitive leading man into performing his narration:

   Of course, I'm quite willing to settle for off white or that light shade of beige that old people favour for upholstery

   Now, I've thought about styling one in a variety of forms. I've even considered ensembles in a Tony Montana or Miami Vice-like vein; utterly germane when matching the large quantities of Bolivian Marching Powder that line one's drawing room. And therein lies a decent line of approach - pastel shirting is an easy gateway to the fun of sporting white suiting - The King of Pop, for one, wrung an enduring image out of royal blue silk and barely-noticeable pinstripes. I do, however, recommend practically any colour other than darker purple - it's a touch too hard on the eyes, really:

Frankly, Mr. Jagger, this is not one of my favourites. But then, Mr. Watts has been consistently putting you to shame since the 1970s hit their middle period

   Nevertheless, Jagger has hit on another interesting aspect - bold shirts and white suits do not necessarily require neckwear; the tropical mode the look connotes makes for a particularly dégagé air; nothing speaks of summer's bright delights like a shirt that brings to mind the concentrated colouring of a particularly punchy cocktail. It's the dressing incarnation of optimism

   If one is particularly insensible or talented, a print shirt, worn in the Tynan fashion, is a step in a similar direction, and these are widely available, from H&M and Topman to Holliday & Brown, Gucci and Prada. The neckwear possibilities for these are a little looser than their pastel cousins - where the latter works best with plain or subtly patterned neckties and bow ties in both contrasting and similar shades, the former allows one to fool around with clashing prints or adventurous textures like raised ribbing and dupioni (both types may also support a neckscarf, where bravery permits). Worn at a function, it's an aesthetic that suggests one has brought all of the fun pills to the party. In the best potential interpretation of that hypothesis, of course

   So, how about a fellow who dons them habitually? Someone who did not earn the word "iconic" by making himself unavoidable via Jersey Shore, perhaps. A fellow who has been renowned for almost 40 years, who has designed garments of exquisite grace and idiosyncrasy, who challenges the Beastie Boys' Mike D for the sobriquet, "Man of Leather"

   Behold, The Last Emperor himself, Valentino Garavani:

   In contrast to rock'n'roll theatricality and dandyish offhandedness, Signor Garavani hews to the side of propriety and age-appropriate formality through simple, sedate accessorising to go with his uniquely Continental manner of quiet authority. Soporific to write about this may be, but for some, the mere act of donning a white suit is a statement in itself. Indeed, this approach makes the suit particularly safe for the city, whereas the playful version has a wider, wilder adaptability. Do not ever let it be said that I cannot cater for more conservative approaches

   Seemingly every neo-haberdashery, designer shop and department store proffer white suits each spring and summer, be it Banana Republic, Hackett, Zara or Ralph Lauren. The choice is very much the preserve of the buyer; my tastes are fairly easygoing and also dependent on fabrics,with one or two caveats - some enticing takes by Tom Ford in his Gucci days aside, I would preferably wear a double breasted version if it were silk. And in the discussion of linen vs. cotton, I'm with cotton - with less of a propensity to wrinkle heavily, it tends to suit three buttons and three pieces more neatly

   Did I mention that they go very well with Panama hats? In this case, I do recommend any hatband colour for one's straw, as long as it is not black

   Here are my three favourite white/light suit examples:

Barry Sainsbury, former director of the iconic Mr. Fish design boutique, in a summer ensemble complete with Fish's signature same fabric shirt and tie

James Salter, novelist and writer, posing for Jill Krementz. Imagine, if you will, that his shirt is either a leafy green, a rich tan or a pale orange and it still would tastefully complement his paradoxically stern yet relaxed demeanour

Speaking of the 1990s, being a Britisher, my first introduction to the American basketball legend Walt 'Clyde' Frazier came from a line in 1992's Beastie Boys song, 'Pass The Mic.' Here, he models a combination that, due to the red shirt and the high contrast, is potentially overpowering on much lighter complexions. The off white colouring is certainly a wiser choice over the purer shade; it prevents Mr. Frazier from resembling a European flag, for one thing

Those who would not chance a pair of correspondent shoes can still rely on stalwart footwear accoutrements in brown, black, tan and blue (thought those two may be best in suede) and oxblood. We cannot all be Clydes

   If a summer stand-out is required, backless chaps and string vests aside, I can think of few better aesthetic responses to the brilliance that this season brings. As long as one doesn't rub up against any surfaces

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Inside Maurice Sedwell

Mr. Ramroop has the floor:

Also of interest is the edifying and interesting blog (English Cut for the non-fogey?) authored by Sedwell's head cutter and former assistant to Edward Sexton, Davide Taub, whose appreciable versatility and idiosyncratic detailing nevertheless deserves as wide an audience as possible. This sort of adventurousness seems to be on par with the European operations with venerated names like Camps de Luca and Cifonelli

Monday, 27 June 2011


   In honour of a vintage silk suit that I did not get around to buying earlier this year, here is a post about the French fashion house Francesco Smalto

via Made By Hand, taken from a particularly worthwhile article from a focused, intelligent tailoring dissection column

   Francesco Smalto is one of those operations that jumped at the seemingly ineluctable call of wide scale commerce in the late 20th century. This is not to say that it wholly lent its brand to the same sorts of aesthetic and quality degradations that engendered a great many unkind memories of legacies that should be ironclad, such as those of Pierre Cardin and Ted Lapidus, and subsequently required the sort of Lazarus-like re-emergences of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Dior Homme (both made interesting again by Hedi Slimane - there's a thesis in that, I suspect), to say nothing of Lanvin, but the business certainly progressed rather far from its origins as a purveyor of rather excellent bespoke under the auspices of the Calabria-born Smalto himself. Nowadays, Monsieur Francesco, who wove his own way after having blossomed as a cutter at Camps, one of the great French houses, is retired, although it is said that he occasionally furnishes the odd wealthy client with new suits; from what I've read, the prices could be rather Bijan-like, although the house presently presents high-end made-to-measure as full bespoke. Purists, check your blood pressure

   Many exposed to Smalto's advertising campaigns over the years probably cannot remove the following phrase from their minds: "Francesco Smalto, you make me weak!" This tagline is more amusing when one considers that he sent suits to the late Gabonese president Omar Bongo by way of an escort service, terming the women "corporate gifts," for which a Paris court in 1995 convicted him for pandering and fined him 600,000 francs, although the slogan actually accompanied one of his colognes. Incidentally, the court estimated that Bongo's regular orders of Smalto suits roughly equated to 3 million francs yearly. I understand that his Middle Eastern clients were kept similarly satisfied; whilst many dressers may like a little sex with their tailoring, I am not certain whether to commend Smalto for his enterprise and consideration or condemn him for being a touch overfamiliar. One probably doesn't get this at Cad & the Dandy - and they are the ex-City boys

   Other achievements include designing the garments of astronauts, creating the world's lightest-weight dinner suit in black China crepe and amassing a global client base sated by an attention to detail, luxurious fabrics and an impeccable fit; all good reasons to minimise the case of the whores when it comes to crafting his epitaph. There's ready-to-wear too (my father once owned a couple of shirts in fine lightweight fabrics), but of course, the bespoke is where Smalto shone

The idiosyncratic Smalto lapel; like the Cran Necker/Parisienne, it is the sort of halfway house between a notch and a peak that is not so easily categorised. I'm certain that I saw them on Mubarak. Another detail that I spied on the 1980s suit I considered was a same fabric belt for the trousers that, unlike those of Chester Barrie or Spencer Hart, was thoughtfully backed in leather

   Smalto is an ideal tailor, really - strong talent and the willingness to lead a colourful, indelicate life make him what he is: one of the most gifted and industrious of his kind. And lest we forget, it is still considered rude in some places to refuse corporate gifts. And escorts

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Royal Show

George Tupou V, King of Tonga. Ever think that spats could be appealing again? This is your movement's new frontman! 

See the photographs from his coronation; classical statesman style in action

Princes Charles and William, accompanied by their wives, present for last night's festivities in black tie. And whilst Charles is always the leader, particularly in this milieu, such a potentially enduring image of a famous father and son pairing is all that really matters here

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Homme Couture

   Some talents deserve better words than one can give them. So sometimes, it's best to go with the reminiscence

   At the risk of producing the sort of lazy entry that is decried by exemplars like ADG and Gaye, I cannot find any better words to proffer on today's subject, the late menswear designer and shopkeeper Roland Meledandri, than those written by his daughter Nina on the Film Noir Buff forum in 2006 (and elsewhere):

My father started in men's clothing at a store called Casual Aire (I believe it was spelled with an "e") where he met my uncle; Joseph Levine.  Together they started Men's Town and Country (which was in the 50's, I think on 3rd Ave; the shot of Marilyn Monroe over the subway grate with her skirt blowing up was in front of the store).  My father left there to start R. Meledandri Inc. at 74 East 56th St. (early '60's); a full service men's retail establishment with a custom tailoring department.  Most of his merchandise was made in Italy and my father (and mother) used to go to the factories where he would have input into the designs made specifically for him.  I would risk saying that in reaction to the prevailing "Brooks Brothers" sensibility he was responsible for bringing elegance and flair back into American men's fashion; he widened lapels, raised the armholes, nipped the waist and flared the skirt.  He brought both the influence of Italian tailoring and the British hacking jacket into his designs.  Cuffs, collars and ties also went wide, and he introduced a range of colors and textures that were previously unavailable to the American male.

Of course anyone with an artistic eye and a flair for clothes would be attracted to the "Meledandri" look and his clientele included fashion photographers, advertising directors, etc; the people who dictate what the world sees when it comes to style.  He was also an extremely charismatic person, when I was photographing his friends and clients, so many of them referred to him as "one of my closest friends".  As I said earlier, his store became a kind of salon, a hang out and one his name synonymous with elegance and success (as when the phrase "the men in their Meledandri suits" was used to describe a certain sector of hip NY in the book "Edie")

Over the years he also developed a wholesale division and had departments at both Barney's and Bloomingdales as well as other fine department stores across the country.  But he was primarily known for the exquisite design and quality of his custom tailoring department.  When he died from a massive and sudden heart attack in 1980 at 51 (quite unexpected as he was extremely fit, a runner and watching his heart) he was in the process of closing "R. Meledandri Inc." and had finally run the first sale in the history of the store.  He was a man of impeccable taste, an artist who expressed his vision through clothes.

   Meledandri was a marvel; a designer with an exacting eye for quality who is still remembered in certain circles for offering some of New York's finest tailoring. He was one of the last 20th Century Stylistics; a sobriquet that sounds hollow rather than sonorous in typical Barimanastic fashion, I suppose, until one tries to think very hard about how many subsequent menswear figures successfully hewed and crafted a diverse, piercing aesthetic vision to direct the way things might evolve or expand (Hedi Slimane, whose feeling for romantic, energetic rebellion, sense of baroque theatre and sensibility for emaciated, speed-fuelled, spoiled rent boys, is thus far the only sensible suggestion for this century's most interesting game-changer)

   Of course, menswear proceeds from the details and Meledandri was no different to his other interesting contemporaries, nor even the couturier talents to whom he may be seen, in some ways, as a counterpart (recall that the defining moments of latter-day womenswear creativity sprang from the oft calmly-dressed likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga). His deft switches between his intricate confluence of great fit, expressive fabric patterns and painstaking details to a still expressive, yet more tempered mode that insinuated rather than announced itself made him friendly to those who wanted to play Quiet Assassin rather than Otherworldly Rock Star. Fitting, then, that when Roy Scheider portrayed Dustin Hoffman's Quietly Assassinated sibling in 1976's classic Marathon Man, it was Meledandri - once again sticking the knife in the grey flannel suited man he nevertheless appreciated - who ensured his corpse was good looking:

 That red sculpture in the background is named Double Ascension, by artist Herbert Bayer, and you'll find it at the Arco Plaza (now known as City National Plaza) at 555 S. Flower Street, in downtown L.A. That's in the plaza between the two towers, off the west side of Flower Street (between 5th & 6th streets) 

   Meledandri's name was brought up in my recent meeting with Edward Sexton as I intend to frame part of the resultant piece around the idea of a vanguard at the Peacock Revolution's heart. For if there was an American flavour to the clothing confections that period saw in, Sexton agreed that much of that came from Meledandri's own peculiar creativity. No matter the visceral reaction the fabric surely engenders, I'd be impressed if a cogent argument against the cutting and styling could seriously be mustered; in my dreams, the nicest single breasted suits present a lot like this:

Like the coat further below, this 3 piece is still in the possession of Nina. They were created for The Coty's, the men's fashion awards, in the 1970s

   Sexton is becoming known for a personal credo of "romancing" the suiting one wears - be not afraid to think out the details, balance the elements and display a palpable pride in wearing clothes of distinction and tailored grace. In other words, be one's true personal stylist, for it will always be appreciated, particularly by the wearer. Dressing to enjoy life is a free action; the stealth wealthy and the reactionary class get to bitch about it because they just don't know how to smile. Meledandri makes me smile; there's the requisite foolhardiness (up, middle finger!) in donning his most extreme stuff, but if one's in such pieces, one surely knows they're in a certain company; not only the communal kind that Nina describes below, but also the kind who lived in the same world as everyone else, though not wholly interested in seeing it in the same way:

salon: the store was often thought of that way, it was definitely a gathering place, especially on Saturday afternoons and it tended to attract people connected with the movie & advertising industries (which overlapped quite a bit anyway since many art directors and photographers of that time eventually went into film).  many of the people who hung out at the store would convene later at Elaine's.  at some point i will try to post the list i was working from for my book but since that was pre-digital, it will take some time.  off the top of my head, some of the people i photographed were (in no particular order): Dan Melnick, Billy Dee Williams, Mayor John Lindsay, Richard Benjamin, Richard Meier, George Lois, Noel Behn, Carmen Capalbo, George Segal, Joel Schumacher, David Susskind, Art Kane, Steve Horn, David Z. Goodman.

my memories: well, i certainly don't have an adult perspective, the time i spent in the store was mostly during high school but i did spend a lot of time there.  it was a very comfortable place for me which is a bit surprising since i was an extremely shy kid and it was such a social environment.  i think what attracted me to it was that my father was so in his element there, he really had an incredible sense of style and here he was surrounded by people who not only appreciated his clothes but relied on his eye.  in some ways his interaction with his clients was like a performance, not that it was contrived or in any way disingenuous  but in the sense that it drew you in, watching him oversee a fitting and then accessorize the suit seemed like magic to me

designer/tailor: it is true that my father was a designer not a tailor nor did he have any training in that craft. but he intuitively understood clothing and what made a successful garment.  he could look at a pattern and know what was wrong with it and he was a total perfectionist when it came to the finished product, something that i think was particularly important to his clientele.  his expression manifested itself not only in the style and fit of his clothes (the proportions) but also in his choice and combinations of colors and textures.

photos: when i get to packing that box, i will try photographing the prints, again none of this is digitalized and unfortunately nobody was wearing his clothes for the photos i took (i didn't start the project until a few years after he died).  also i will try to shoot some of the press clippings that i have
 A sampling of Meledandri's pocket squares
it is actually easier for me to answer questions or comment on things raised here, since my recollections are going to run the gambit of (somewhat) objective to highly subjective.

one (possibly) little known fact: my father loved shoes and could not refrain from buying them for the store even though he always lost money on them.  he would often say of a shoe that it was "so ugly it was beautiful".(Author's note: I have seen some of his shoes. And if ever I want to recreate my primary school uniform, i will definitely scour the earth for a pair)
   So here's to Roland Meledandri. And here's to ugly beauty; the kind one should not only admire, but also the kind one works to appreciate and  should eventually, actively revel in. Because as every good and bad aesthete knows, it's definitely the fun kind


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Shine One On

Elegant slubbing, courtesy of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

   For one shining moment last year, I owned a light grey slubbed Shantung silk suit for spring and summer; as is customary in my collection, it was double breasted, Roman made, from the 1980s (the period most associated in my mind with the Suits With Runs Look) and formerly owned by my father. And then "formerly" became "presently," so I wait for either old age or senility to make it mine once again. "This kind of suit, my son," he intoned, "is not yet for you." I don't think this was said because he perceives a lack of gravitas in my make-up; I think he just remembered that it still fits him. And unlike him, my arms are long enough for my fingertips to graze my knees, so there is that...

   I believe that each summer suiting choice, particularly Dupioni and Shantung silk, mohair and cotton, is a beautiful and unique snowflake; a catholicon to all that may feel particularly rote and lifeless about warm wools. Silks have a galvanising aspect when tailored, imputing colours with texture and hypnotic iridescence at their most beautiful (Shantung being the more flamboyant, slubbier and occasionally rougher take compared to Dupioni); mohair distinguishes itself with its sheen, crispness, lightness of wearing and valuable versatility (particularly the ones that look slightly pearlescent in various lights - see also this excellent article by good pal Winston C);  cotton and its endearingly wrinkly aspects create the most relaxed tailoring of all. I, like others, also recognise the considerable charm of linen, the most rumpled of all, and its warm weather boons to even the heavy sweaters amongst us all. But I am ultimately a texture addict, not to mention one who often, like Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, dresses like "an explosion in a rainbow factory;" this is a tendency that silk clothing enables very, very easily and is the exact reason I plan to acquire a new (or new-old) one of my own when fortune and funds permit. Mohair is my second choice and I have recently viewed a number of vintage Savile Row examples that might still be mine if anything can be done about the sleeves (I'd also enjoy seeing some from China). It is to marvel at the unique fabric designs that the 1960s and 1970s produced for summerwear

Two examples that may possibly be silk-blends (or just shiny), courtesy of Robert De Niro's character Sam "Ace" Rothstein in the undeniably excellent Casino. Note the iconic Ultra Goliath eyeframes

   When I commented on Roger Moore's Cyril Castle-created Dupioni suit at The Suits of James Bond today, I initially considered that I wanted a very light grey version for myself (steel blue, light or rust brown, burgundy, forest green and off white also loom large), since that sort of icy look is quite the head-turner on very bright days. I have never thought such a colour to really suit me, despite owning a patch pocketed version in ramie from good old Junya Watanabe that I love, but in a slightly shinier form, my mind's eye makes it look rather becoming. It can also handle many accessory colourings and with my skin tone, a Mr. Fish-inspired presentation of a matching white or bone-coloured shirt and necktie feels more than possible. A silk trifecta formed from the three main ensemble components also seems ridiculously appealing

Moore's first 007 Dupioni number, dark grey and double breasted, as seen in Live and Let Die, via The Suits of James Bond

   Of course, it is worth recalling that lightweight silks are vulnerable to stains, crotch rot and the accidental snags caused by the fingers and rings of an amorous partner, so those who are also tempted may wish to blend. Wool, linen, cashmere and cotton mixes, as well as heavier silks have much to offer; they can sacrifice some of the breathability, but done well, style always remains

 The Modern Jazz Quartet in mohair suits for The Cocktail Age

   London is bright again. Let's shine one on for the summer

Prince Charles in Dupioni silk suiting

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sartorial Arts

All works sourced from the artist's website

   I recently had an opportunity to browse the artworks of Oscar Whicheloe at the Medici Gallery - one of the myriad fine show spaces on London's Cork Street - and although the show concluded yesterday (let alone that I should have visited it earlier), I thought some of my semi-regular readers might entertain yet another sartorial artist in their hearts

   Of course, Whicheloe hews to a different blueprint than my favoured illustrators (Leyendecker, Fellows, Sheridan, that Grafton guy... can't think of any others); presently working at Wimbledon Art Studios, he is a graduate fine artist of Surrey Institute of Art & Design (class of 2003) who has set his brushstrokes on producing still life and portraiture, as well as prints, etchings and monotypes. Rendering tailoring is only one of the facets this gifted creator presents to the world and like my dear friend Ian Bruce, he can find the inner artistic boldness in even the most conservative suiting

   Nevertheless, for those who are as enticed by Savile Row window displays (now de rigueur since Nutter's began putting on a show in 1969) as the next man, Whicheloe's reverent, skillful and evocative series of half finished suits framed on that famed street are ineluctably delightful. As my own forays in painting and drawing taught me long ago, nothing vexes quite so much as the near infinitesimally small detail - the strings on a harp bow; the fuzzy turf-like texture of a towel; thread hanging from a needle or, perhaps, a bespoke suit. It is, therefore, a feat that he can so accurately capture the stitching so necessary to this sort of work in progress; additionally, by focusing on the incomplete suit, he brings a certain dynamism to it by making it a centrepiece - it congratulates the skill involved and enjoys it for the tantalising hint of a finished article that it is. Even an unfinished work done well holds a certain amount of value. The guessing game for the windows will no doubt keep one or two of you Paraders diverted; I have so far spotted  Richard James, Huntsman, Kilgour, E. Tautz and my countryman Ozwald Boateng. One may also note the presence of Paul Smith's socks and furnishings from other Piccadilly locations; the Royal Arcade and Albermarle Street shops, respectively; Smith's signature use of his tumescent palette and print libraries is just the sort of challenge that's at home in Whicheloe's catalogue of nuances


   It is this combination of a bold, up-close aesthetic packed with unerring detail that gives the artist's work a certain piquancy; his nous for composition, shape and colour also deftly leavens his output. For those of you available later in the year, Oscar Whicheloe will return in a solo show at St. George's Hospital, London
My present focus is on the still life scenes that are captured in a tailor’s window – a very precisely controlled environment, entirely constrained by the way the tailor has decided to position and display his creations.
These displays capture both the wider society they aim to reflect and attract, as well as the hidden inner-world of the tailor. “Finished suits are presented with tacking threads still visible, echoing the glamour and attraction of bespoke luxury clothing and the society that consumes it, as well as the physicality of the fabric and the hidden work involved in its manufacture.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Not For Mortals

   Tommy Nutter, seen here firing one of his cannonballs into the wilderness of the conservative doldrums, had a knack for bending my theory that fine tailoring can surmount almost any flamboyant flight of go-to-hell fancy when it comes to suiting. This definitely constitutes one of those moments

   Nevertheless, the structuring is rather exquisite - between the brilliant shape of the aircraft-grade lapels and the built-up form of the shoulders, he is a plaid-clad hero for the late 20th century. This should be little surprise - for all of the focus on Nutter's eccentricity, the product masterminded by Edward Sexton, Joseph Morgan, Roy Chittleborough and him, along with those who worked with him in the ensuing "Tommy Nutter" days, was pure Savile Row at its heart; the tailoring tradition of generations anchoring the theatrical preening of what might have otherwise been showy and difficult to wear clothing (to say nothing of the quality of their more conventional creations). Despite acknowledging the abrasiveness and humour of this look - and I've no idea what the original colours are - in all other aspects, down to Nutter's hair even, it is far from unsophisticated. The pattern combination alone lays Tom Ford's latter day ideas utterly bare

   The sobriety of thought and craft that went into this gleefully insensible ensemble makes an interesting counterpoint to the visual histrionics of Luca Rubinacci, Lapo Elkann and the Pitti crowd, who often strike me as throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sprezzes

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Just Fit

   I am far from a fan of the three button jacket - the 3-roll-2 aside - and yet this normally unflattering, pedestrian aesthetic comes alive when invigorated by the best possible fit:

   After observing such cutting in practice, it's more than clear to me that the idyllic three button imputes a no-nonsense sturdy broadness to the chest. In tandem with well tailored shoulders and a lengthy body, the coat practically confers instant dignity on even the swarthiest urban playboy

   This ensemble also shows a trenchant use of a pale pink tie and pocket square with a white shirt, playing their soft contrast against their wearer's complexion and also making for a gentle visual when juxtaposed with the starkly coloured and styled suit. A stronger pink tie might have been, at best, brash; at worst, wide boy-harsh. And not every look should be a geezer-approval winner

   The photograph dates from 1970 and is part of Sator's stash. I believe it's Germanic in origin

Friday, 17 December 2010

An Important Message From Gay Talese

   Tailors, as Mr. Talese outlines, are an endangered species. Especially if they are good.  Today, I suspect that the only good tailor is an endangered one, mind you. The conniptions fits that I see greeting a number of the suits displayed for online assessment might bear this notion out. Extra iGent vituperation points are awarded if it's revealed that the suit was worked on by an assistant cutter, with further bonuses offered if an apprentice was touching the shears during the process

   I digress; this screed, which I first saw last year, is resonant in its undimmed passion for "the needle and thread" and whether viewers share Talese's tastes or not, his instinct for customisation reveals how deep his passion really runs. His stuff is pricey; of that there is no doubt, but it's a consumptive fellow who only stops at price. Talese, I imagine, is an ideal bespoke customer because he likes to be as involved as possible, he takes risks - who else wears goat's ear lapels? - and he has the sort of discernment that ultimately makes his look his own

   Really, I'd wager that this would hold true if he was forced to buy nothing but mall brands for a year

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Inspiration Illustrated

   Thanks to the diligent dandiacal detections of Matt and Charles at Fine And Dandy, I recently learnt a little about a favoured illustrator of mine, John E. Sheridan, who produced a cornucopia of fashion plates for Hart Schaffner & Marx during the Gilded Age, as well as covers for the Saturday Evening Post and propaganda imagery for the United States' World War I campaign

   Although his male subjects were less openly dandified than those of his contemporary and my favoured sartorial sketcher, JC Leyendecker, they connoted the fine tailoring ideal that HS&M wished to impart upon the world with a rarefied aplomb. These fictional men were depicted as carrying themselves with a certain perfection, as well as an athletic gait; unsurprising given Sheridan's background in college sports advertisements. And pleasingly, some of the 1920s designs look covetous today, as evidenced in places like Junya Watanabe Man's Spring/Summer 2010 Paris presentation

   A little sporty elegance goes a long way

Friday, 13 August 2010

Cutting Class

   I'd planned to secure an interview for Mode Parade with world class tailor Edward Sexton before exiting London, but alas, this did not materialise in time. His cutting talents remain pleasingly sans pareil in your author's eyes, as well as in those of the people that respect and patronise his creations

   Below, Finch's Quarterly Review style editor Tom Stubbs demonstrates the second stage fitting and the finished article of a bespoke Edward Sexton commission that is not flagrant enough to have him removed from Annabel's but immediate enough to elicit commentary and, I should hope, approbation. Personally, I think he should be pictured with it in a private study with gilded and gilt festooned 19th century French furniture, hand blown Cartier crystal desk adornments and a bikini-clad model on each armrest:

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Large Cut

   Larger fellows can still be swathed in top flight tailoring, for if it does not do its job of flattering the shape and adorning the form with style, then why else indulge in it?

   These men look particularly swank:

American actor Jackie Gleason presents in an impeccably imposing fashion

Burl Ives as Big Daddy in the 1958 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Tony-nominated stage play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

James Earl Jones as Big Daddy in the recent London run of the mainly-African American Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, on the precipe of being upstaged by co-star Sanaa Lathan and her tracts of land

A "corpulent cut" from Jusa, Regensburg, June 1963; care of Sator at The Cutter and Tailor

Supplied by Todd Hudson at The Cutter and Tailor; tenor Beniamino Gigli was once a tailor's apprentice at the age of 10

The winner of the coveted Dandy prize at a Tailor & Cutter exhibition, created by C.L. Ostling of Albemarle Street, London. The cloth is a navy blue white chalk stripe. Again supplied by Sator