There are times when the essence of craft is elevated beyond the mentor. In the world of bench tailoring, the house, as legendary as it may be, is only as good as the trained tailors they take on. Those tailors perpetuate the name and everything it represents. This means that there is consistency when one decides to go to Anderson & Sheppard, A. Caraceni, or any other renowned tailor. When one sees a jacket from theses makers, it’s generally easily identified. But through examination over the years, some jackets will stand out even though they have the same label. Those variations are a function of the human element. Even though they are all master tailors under the auspices of such revered houses, some tailors just stand out. Generally, all the garments turned out by these wonderful tailors are lovely and there is a familiarity albeit the boutonniere, the cap of the shoulder, the interior skirting of the waistband, giving you the assurance that your body is surrounded by the name you’ve paid dearly to enwrap you.
However sometimes, there is an element to a garment that you can’t put your finger on. Yes, it’s Caraceni, but a little different, it can’t be pinpointed.
A case study in refined, very elegant Roman tailoring can be proudly represented by Signor Ulderico Basili. Ulderico Basili? Who’s that? Ulderico Basili was a Roman master tailor who apprenticed with the Roman chapter of Caraceni. Like many great tailors, he eventually set out on his own, creating proper jackets that did not veer from what is classical or elegant. Like many others, Basili distinguished himself with details and quality of finish. Most never became famous and pass into obscurity, but leave behind garments to marvel and respect, for anyone who cares.
In this suit Ulderico Basili becomes almost more Caraceni than Caraceni. What the hell does that even mean? If Tommy and Giulio Caraceni personify the Roman jacket, then the story stops there. However, the contributors to Roman tailoring go beyond one label or person. With this example of Roman tailoring, Basili stays within the Roman vernacular, but brought his own take. This is brought about through exquisite hand work. A boutonniere which is so beautiful, not necessarily unique in itself, but more beautiful than most. Tight tear drop, raised, delicate, yet bulletproof. The rest of the jacket again indicates classical Roman tailoring at its best.
What defines the Roman jacket? This is more difficult in today’s world of tailoring. There are so many wonderful new tailors today, in addition to the old vanguard. That being said, there seems to be some convolution as to the provenance of a jacket. With soft tailoring the rigour, the sartorial dialect becomes hazy. This also goes for gorge height and collar to lapel ratios. In the contemporary world of tailoring, many don’t care. They want to look good and up to date. There is a certain banality with some of what is being turned out today. Perhaps following trend, but like a Caraceni variant, it’s hard to put a finger on it.
So what is the Roman jacket? I think Ulderico Basili embraces la giacca Romana as it was meant to be. The juxtaposition of the Roman vs. Milanese was always distinct. The shoulder pitch is slightly different. The Roman being less sloped. The shoulder does have slightly more padding on the Roman shoulder, but it’s purposeful and in tune with the silhouette, not meant to build the wearer up.
The sleeve head has very subtle roping, and is not rounded like the Milanese counterpart. Generally the gorge height or notch would be slightly higher on the Milanese jacket. This in turn creates more of an open fish mouth on the notch of the Roman examples.
A true Roman jacket. I’m sure Mr. Basili would be pleased to know someone’s admiring his most sublime work.
Barchetta breast pocket.
Four button holes in the sleeve cuffs.
Lapels are meant to shroud the body. What’s the point of skinny lapels?