SAVILE ROW? NO, CHEO!

IMG_0008

Years ago there was a window on East 60th Street, 30 E 60th Street to be exact. In that window, there was always a covert wool chesterfield coat draped on a dress form. In the summer months it would be a seersucker jacket on the same form. These were distinct garments that did not resemble anything that other retail windows in the neighborhood had to offer. That same chesterfield just standing prominently in the window year after year. There was a mystique and beauty to it. Anyone with any interest in clothing would want to look beyond the coat on the form, for beyond the chesterfield, was an elegantly dressed Asian gentleman, toiling around a table with scissors, chalk, and a ruler.

The Asian gentleman cutting on that table was Korean born master tailor Mr. Chewoo Park. And, yes, Mr. Cheo trained on Savile Row with, among others, Anderson & Sheppard.

Some of the rather fine garments that Cheo has turned out through the years could be dead ringers for Anderson & Sheppard. Everything from the soft canvasing and drape, delicate needle work, shifted darts, non roped shoulders, and white sleeve lining with patterned three navy stripes all reflect a tailor who adheres to a Savile Row aesthetic.

Although that window no longer features the work of Cheo, he still cuts at 30 East 60th Street, but now he’s moved upstairs. In his prime, Mr. Cheo was part of a trinity of Savile Row transplants who decided to set up shop in New York City. Along with Bernard Weatherill and Leonard Logsdail, Mr. Cheo offered an authentic Savile Row suit.

Mr. Cheo is a proper bench tailor. A true cutter and pattern drafter. If his buttonholes were ever done off premises, they are consistently done by a Savile Row trained tailor. The buttonholes never vary and are done in a manner that is consistent and true to the Row. Cheo’s garments are elegant, very refined, and quite expensive. His patterns are precise. Out of all the New York tailors I’ve evaluated through the years, his work has never wavered and it is always pleasing to my eye.

Aside from the cut, drape, and finish, Cheo’s trim is authentic and proper British detailing. The under collar is in correct wool flannel gauze, a staple on the Row, as are the beveled genuine horn buttons and the crisp taffeta lining.

This jacket is a wonderful example of Cheo’s work. Mr. Cheo turns out jackets with more standard placed darts, as well as darts that are shifted to the side seams in the style of Anderson & Sheppard. Other cues to A&S is the shoulder, which is very soft and has no roping to the sleeve head. The other features that has elements of A&S is the notch and the higher roll on the three button. Generally, Anderson & Sheppard three buttons have a high roll, although they can do three roll to two and half. In comparison to a previous blog where I featured an A&S Navy chalk stripe suit that shows the high three button roll, Mr. Cheo’s three button is a superb model of how the three button should be done, and in the A&S vein. The lapel rolls just upon the top hole. It meets the hole in a gracious manner, it’s not flat or dead, very natural. When not done properly, the three buttons is forced, it becomes a dead garment. A pert buttonhole also enhances the aesthetic.

IMG_0012

IMG_0026IMG_0022

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BEAUTIFUL BOUTONNIERE

The boutonniere is the eye of the jacket, and it can reveal the soul of a garment. Take the label out of a jacket, and the boutonniere is the clue to it’s origins. When not used for the requisite flower on a wedding day or a pin for some proclaimed pride, the boutonniere in it’s naked form is there on the lapel to be seen, and hopefully to be admired.  99% of the world couldn’t care less about what someone is wearing, let alone a boutonniere. However it is quite reassuring for that 1%. When you look in the mirror, it’s so pleasing, it stands out, it accentuates, it has life. Clothing needs to fit in order to be elegant. However, the details take it to another level. A level that is waning. Touch your boutonniere at least once a day. Let it know that you care.

Boutonniere’s on bespoke garments are very distinct, and often quite unique. Some ready to wear garments also offer some sublime examples. Believe it or not, there are even some chop shop made to measure tailoring firms, that sub their work out to Chinese factories, that produce passable bouttonniere’s. Some of the boutonniere’s I have seen could pass for Milanese or Neapolitan, as well as the rest of the buttonholes on the garment. However in the end, nothing beats the real thing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

REX ORDINE SAVILII

img_0163

Self-indulgent as Prince of Wales and self-indulgent as would-be king just hanging out. Which leads to the question: Is a man who is so consumed by his clothing shallow? A gentleman does not speak of his clothing, or discuss who his tailor is. It is a private, very personal endeavor. But when you are born to be King Edward VIII, The Duke of Windsor, deciding to make dress one of your life’s vocations, you will only magnify what you wear for the rest of your life.

img_0164

Separating the man from the Duke may not be easy to do. Edward’s decision to bail his birthright obligation did not necessarily give him the free reign to become the most stylish gentleman of the 20th century. He already had free reign, and had he taken the throne would have essentially dressed the same way, since his proclivities to dress were inherent at an early age. But idle living lends itself to wonderful opportunities to self-indulgence, and in self-indulging the Duke began a wonderful collaboration with a true tailoring genius in Frederick Scholte. This was a true collaboration for it appears that Edward would not take dictating to, and would not surrender to a given house style. He was not only elegant, but was truly modern in his approach of dress. What the guard at the time raised their eyebrows to, or considered to be rakish is a style truly laid the foundation of what gentleman wear today. One might disagree, but Edward was not a dandy, nor a peacock. He was a stylish dresser, he dressed for himself and it was natural, pure and simple, not costume. Plaids, windowpanes, checks, stripes, spectators, bright colors – they all worked, and it was all him. No stylist, no fashion guru, all him just knowing what worked.

img_0168

This chap could have run a the label of labels especially with his wife as CEO.

Getting back to the true genius in this sartorial collaboration we must address Mr. Frederick Scholte.  Everything is brilliantly thought out: from shoulder pitch, to sleeve head to collar lapel ratio, and to button stance. The Scholte sloper and pattern was the paradigm for what Anderson & Sheppard was to become. His shoulder is still the standard.

The lovely 1997 Sotheby’s catalogue for the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor is a must-have for anyone with a passion for true Savile Row tailoring. It’s more interesting than coffee table books, which are glossy and offer the same cliche B.S. This catalogue gives a story and a timeline to the legendary style king himself.

img_1605

Frederick Scholte was an incomparable master tailor and the focus was the coat. This houndstooth check suit was executed in 1932. Cut slightly on the shorter side. The Duke always favored the four on two double breast, welted bessom pockets and side vents along with non-vented on occasion. This jacket is a lovely example of the Scholte shoulder and cut. Natural shoulder line with modest collar height. Soft shoulder with essentially no padding and no rope. There is a natural subtle lift on the sleeve head, proper and not contrived. Where’s the Duke’s input? Perhaps everywhere, from the four on two closure to button placement to the curvature or belly of the peak lapel to the roll of the closure on the top button. But make no mistake this is signature Scholte and like an authentic Neapolitan jacket, the same could be said of Scholte: it can not be replicated. The trousers were executed by Foster & Son.

Twelve years later the Duke would have a suit made by Metzel in New York. A navy and gray stripe in wool/linen. This jacket is also a four on two double breast. Slightly lower roll on the lapel giving a slightly longer effect on the outer edge. Very elegant, gently padded shoulders. But it would never be mistaken for Scholte to the expert eye. This is  not a question of being executed in 1944, it has more to do with the fact that it’s done by a New york custom tailor. As ghastly as much of the popular styling in the 1940’s took grip on the look of ready to wear as well as custom suits, many gentleman would not succumb to the decade. Padded shoulders and wide blades, lower armholes, no balance, and very unflattering. Not with the Metzel suit. It is handsome, very nice shoulders, and nicely balanced. But like the saying goes: “HE’S NO HEIFETZ.” Well if it fits then I must say “HE’S NO SCHOLTE.” And quite frankly no one was.

Kind Edward VIII channelled Mr. Frederick Scholte to be coronated  KING OF THE SAVILE ROW: REX ORDINE SAVILII.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

H. HUNTSMAN: JASON ROBARDS “GET SOME”

img_1584

Legendary actor Jason Robards’ portrayal of Ben Bradlee in, “ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN” was without question brilliant. His performance won him an Oscar at a time when they actually meant something. There’s a scene in which Bob Woodward tells Bradlee, “we haven’t had any luck yet” in which he replies, “GET SOME.”

In my hands I hold the most prodigious H. Huntsman & Sons house tweed sport coat, bespoken by Mr. Robards himself. I can’t help but think he would tell Woodward and Bernstein to get some. Get over to a tailor and, “GET SOME.” Get some style, get some beautiful clothes and don’t succumb to the ghastly 70’s. Get some H. Huntsman and don’t look back.

Mr. Robards was a gentleman actor, who in some ways bridged the gap of golden age actors that went to the market for groceries probably wearing a Caraceni or Kilgour, just because…. to actors today who couldn’t care less. Perhaps they’re better off. The world of bespoke can be all consuming. I suspect for Mr. Robards, putting a Huntsman jacket on was like putting on a Hanes t-shirt. No big deal, natural, easy.

But who told Jason Robards to go to Huntsman? Mr. Robards would never be mistaken for being overly stylish, or the proverbial “STYLE ICON,” a term that I could do without. Nor was he a dandy like those golden age actors who were “forced” to go to Savile Row. In Mr. Robards later years he was obviously sporting off the peg clothing, nothing distinct. So there was a point in time when Robards made the decision to go to Savile Row’s benchmark Huntsman. Perhaps his buddy and fellow actor Christopher Plummer, who resides in a neighboring Connecticut town where Robards once lived, inspired him. For Mr. Plummer, an Anglophile, is the only living actor I know of, who lives the bespoke life in it’s natural form. Bringing this up in 2016 is pointless. If you happen to stumble upon this jibber, who cares, what’s the point. Well there is no point, except for the fact that I am holding this glorious jacket, and it evokes the spirit of Savile Row. This garment personifies H. Huntsman & Sons, how great it can be, and the cast of characters that have gone through the doors, and yet the garments live on. Just look at this 47 year old jacket.

One look at this jacket is a reminder of why Huntsman was Huntsman. The sport coat  is a signature house tweed. It stands fresh and alive today, just as it did the day Mr. Robards took delivery in 1969. Full of life and in perfect condition, this jacket is ready to be worn 100 more years, and it will never be dated. Timeless clothing, timeless style, timeless Robards.

This Huntsman signature house tweed is a bulletproof Scottish cheviot. The general House style for the Huntsman house tweeds would be the single button. However, they’ve done two as well as three button models. Generally the Huntsman jacket is cut slightly longer, giving proper skirting and balance. In 2016, the quintessential house tweed does not succumb the abominable lengths that are “IN,” and soon to fade away. The shoulder pitch for Huntsman changed trough the years. In this example, there is minimal padding, with not much slope, and nonexistent roping on the sleeve head. Huntsman has always been the master of the cheviot tweed. Regardless of the decade, the examples are always balanced and well executed to what can be a tricky fabric to tailor. There is essentially no drape so the cut has to be precise and balanced. A roped shoulder in cheviot is aesthetically difficult. Huntsman’s restraint is why one makes the trip.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE MOST PERFECT SHOULDER OF ALL-TIME

img_1481

Is this the most perfect shoulder of all-time? Well of course it’s open to debate. But  I’ve seen them all, in their glory. Shoulders with roll, no roll, Spalla Camicia, Spalla Insellata, the pagoda, and on and on. They all have their place, and at times, can all be elegant. But for me, the search for perfection requires something beyond. The shoulder should never scream out, should never be contrived, and never be costume.

This divine shoulder speaks volumes of what a shoulder should be. Not just aesthetically, but for comfort and to be part of one’s anatomy. This is one of the greatest jackets ever, and the shoulder is what makes it. All the honors go to Maestro A. Follino of Padua. Here the bodice and the sleeve are two equal values. One part does not overlap the other. They meet at the seam, which in essence is not unique, but here the sleeve head kisses the bodice. There is no padding, the natural shoulder of the wearer creates the subtle lift. If one runs their finger on the interior of the shoulder cap they will see how supple and alive the sleeve head actually is. If you add a little pressure and pull the sleeve from the bodice, then you will see the divine hand stitches join them together.

Next, there’s the collar which is essentially the key to the shoulder. It holds to the neck, and creates a slope that follows the natural line of the shoulder. Standard fare collars are skimpy, too short, and create a gap from the shirt collar, which is very unpleasing. Surprisingly, I’ve seen some of these on bespoke suits.

Simply put this jacket has a proper collar.

The cut of the jacket is equally well thought out, and done in a luxurious dense silk herringbone weave. There is no vertical front dart. The seam under the arm slants with a slight curve towards the front quarter ending just below the opening of the patch pocket. Not only is this visually pleasing, but this seam also gives contour without a nipped look. This feature is very natural and respectful to the wearer.

This is indeed a properly made jacket in every respect. Properly made in the sense there is nothing extraneous. Every detail has a purpose, and every detail is executed by hand. There are only three straight stitches finished by machine. That’s it. Everything else is as it should be. Finished by the hands of a beautiful human being, one person, working on one jacket, for one person. A sartorial marriage made in heaven.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HENRY POOLE: HACKING JEWEL

IMG_1331

Having something made on Savile Row is always special. The obvious reason is it’s unique to the bespeaking, it is his, and no one else’s in the world.

And to this notion, one takes the bespoke world to another level to meet their daily needs. The one off’s, which are truly special, are examples of bench tailoring that most customers will not consider until they have built a wardrobe of gentleman’s staples.

This is a lovely example of a one off from Savile Row patriarch Henry Poole.  A hacking style jacket in a plush Scottish cashmere. This gentleman realized most of his shooting would  not be in the brush, so there would be no need for cheviot, he would choose cashmere. This would be more suitable when retiring into a well worn leather club chair by the fire with one’s favorite single malt contemplating the day.

The detailing and execution is sublime on this jacket.  The lapels really moves on this jacket as they should. Too thick a canvas would defeat the purpose of what the jacket is meant to do which is precisely that move.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CIFONELLI AT THEIR PEAK

IMG_1308

When it comes to bespoke, Cifonelli has the cool factor. Some of their jackets are very forward, sometimes almost rakish, but combined with the impeccable sewing, it’s what does make them cool. The Parisian flavor defines Cifonelli, and even with their Roman roots and some Anglo elements, Cifonelli is Cifonelli. Pure bench tailoring with a rich heritage and a modern quality.

But Cifonelli in its most sober form is truly romantic, quite elegant and without question very sexy. This single breasted peak lapel jacket shows Cifonelli at their best. The Milanese pearled boutonniere and delicate buttonholes would be a dead ringer for Caraceni, but make no mistake this is true Cifonelli, one the last true romantics.

A beautifully sloped shoulder that is slightly forward with a roping that is defined and evident even when lying flat on a table. The rope overlaps the seam, slightly encroaching the jacket. The light gray super 180’s exemplifies Cifonelli’s intentions. Light weight, delicate needle work, very easy on the eyes and the body. A lighter weight canvas gives these exquisite lapels life, and movement that subtly engage the wearers slight movements.

This Double breasted Cifonelli, is very elegant and as dressy as it gets. It has a bit more, shall I say kick, than the single breast I present, not to say that some SB peaks are not more forward.  The fabric contributes to this. A hard mid-weight worsted with brilliant subtle sheen, black with a gray dot nailhead. The slightly weightier, slightly stiffer fabric accentuates the cut. This jacket is all about the cut, so with minimal drape the tailoring must be precise, there is no margin for error. This is old world for today.

IMG_1352

Symmetric button placement (not crazy about the graduated angled placement on the six on one’s) makes this balanced and very pleasing the eye.
Slightly narrower lapels with just the right amount of curve makes this jacket, elegant, sexy, without being costume.

IMG_1377

IMG_1376

Lining in rounded panels set in by hand has become a Cifonelli trademark that even some misguided ready to wear makers have adopted as their own.

IMG_1381

Double Breast with contrasting striped sleeve lining.

IMG_1371

The breast pocket is not really in the barchetta manner, but in lays nicely, not fighting ones anatomy and always ready for a pocket square.

IMG_1373

Surgeon cuffs. Two, or three functioning, the balance hand sewn faux, or all the way up. You choose.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment