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.
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.
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.
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.