SARTORIA F. SCEPPA ROMA: MASTERWORK

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Hoping it’s a great 2015 for all, and this HAND MADE tux was a great way to crack the New Year.

To call this just a tuxedo would be a travesty, because it would put other tuxedos on equal footing.

A Domenico Caraceni trained master who raised the bar with this majestic piece circa 1968.

This stylish tuxedo is the work of F. Sceppa, who was a brilliant Roman tailor. Yet another under the radar tailor who, although not canonized in the pantheon of legendary Italian tailors, is worthy to be spoken of in the same breath as his famous counterparts.

A properly tailored jacket, which means completely handmade, that is so elegant and equally modern. This garment can’t be dated.

What makes this particular jacket so special is the way it moves when the body moves. Firstly, the chest padding is very soft, so there is fluidity without being rumpled or shapeless. It has a very high armhole, and the shoulder has virtually no padding. There is a subtle roping to the sleeve head, almost like a faint waterfall, which makes one attempt to think of any reason for any other type of shoulder to exist. This description does not do justice to the expression of movement. It’s as if the sleeve is jointed, essentially its own anatomy coinciding with the wearer’s every move not fighting it. Put your hand in the bessom pocket to reach for those opera tickets, and the roping slightly lifts and conforms with slight rotation. To me, this is what makes a jacket so elegant and so beautiful.

The thought and craft that resulted in this jacket cannot be taken for granted. This is a very difficult jacket to replicate; I’ve seen thousands of jackets and so few tailors can express a natural quality to the wearer.

So this brings me to the notion of what a handmade suit is. Someone can say handmade, bench made or hand tailored. Of course even the crudest suit requires the human hand to be manipulated through the most basic procedures to actually execute a finished garment with standard as well as automated machines. But handmade is used loosely even with high end ready to wear, made to measure, custom or even bespoke. From machine padding to even machine buttonholes, yes, I’ve seen machine buttonholes even on Savile Row suits. I won’t disclose the names.

What is a handmade suit? Well this Sceppa tuxedo is indeed handmade.

A completely hand sewn canvas, hand sewn collar, and hand sewn shoulder seams. Sleeves set in by hand. Bessom pockets with semicircular picked edges picked by hand as well as the lapel edges. Generally on tuxedo/smoking jackets the collar is usually pick stitched, as well as the edges of the front quarters (while the contrasting lapels are not). The standard fare with silk satin as well as grosgrain lapels would be best left unpicked, especially satin. With this Sceppa, the silk grosgrain lapels are hand-picked, and all the better for it. There’s pick stitching and then there’s pick stitching. What makes the pick stitching on these lapels so divine is that Sceppa is using them for function, and the picks are so close to the edge, really close, so it is not only to keep the grosgrain from rolling, but in the end it’s so aesthetically pleasing and so refined.

Handmade is not just relegated to the jacket which is of course the more vital of the two pieces; but again if we’re considering a “HANDMADE” suit, then the pants better be completely handmade. And yes, again, the Sceppa tuxedo pants are up to the task. The skirted waistband in a most exquisite superfine cotton is set in by hand. Everything meticulously planned in an almost Miesian order. The extended skirting is picked down by hand, not floating or bar tacked. It is completely anchored ¾ of the interior circumference around the hips and rear, and those picks cannot be seen on the exterior. This is obvious work of a sheer genius. The one button on the trousers is hand sewn. Of course these particular elements in themselves are not unique to all great sartorias, but Sceppa goes further. The silk striping on the side seams is picked and affixed on the legs by hand. If one looks on the interior of the leg, you can’t even see the picks. The interior selvedge seams are not merrowed, they are overcast by hand. The hem is turned up and picked by hand and miraculously one cannot see the slightest picks of the hem. This is truly the work of a tailoring God. A very dainty and thin zipper is set in by hand. The pick tick stitching on the fly is very faint, not rakish or gaudy. It is just there for the specific reason, which is to hold down the interior facing on the fly and also serves? as? a natural drape. The clincher is the rear rise. From the crotch all the way to the center back the waistband is sewn by hand. That’s always a machine stitch, but not for Sceppa. This is not really incredible, but for the fact that it makes perfect sense. The thread is a slightly thicker gauge silk thread as opposed to a cotton thread. The length of the back rise is long and stitching by hand is quite time consuming. Aside from the fact that the seam would never split, it seems quite natural that with a hand sewn seam one will have natural give that will contour and shape as it is worn. Becoming one with the wearer and giving a different level of comfort.

All this leads to surmise that a handmade suit has very few machine straight stitches. On the jacket I’ll give you the center back, side seams and seams to close the sleeves. On the trousers just the side seams.

Aside from this the needle in the fingers reigns supreme.

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Silk grosgrain peak lapels with the proper peak height. Contoured waist with slight flared skirt.

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Barchetta breast pocket.

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Silk pearled boutonniere.

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Galaxy of picks under the lapels.

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Single buttonhole.

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Bessom pocket with semi circles on edges picked by hand.

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Even the labels have an elegant, dignified quality.

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Fully lined in silk with picking on the neck.

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Sleeve cuffs with hand sewn buttonholes. I love the vegetable corozzo buttons as opposed to silk.


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IMG_0793Single pleated trouser.

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Hand sewn stripe.

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Hem with no visible picks.

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Coin pocket with hand embroidered bar tacks and pick stitching going the full perimeter.

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Interior skirting.

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Interior fly flap.


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Hand Overcasting.

Hand Overcasting.

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Hand sewn back rise seam.

Hand sewn back rise seam.

 

Almost invisible pick stitching on the fly.

Almost invisible pick stitching on the fly.

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