CIFONELLI AT THEIR PEAK

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Double Breast with contrasting striped sleeve lining.

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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.

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

 

 

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E. GALARDI E FIGLIO FIRENZE: MASTERWORK

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How does one define a Florentine jacket? Some may say the one distinction is the front darting, or lack there of. On several jackets that I have seen from Florence the front darts are shifted more to the side seams, similar to Anderson & Sheppard. The Florentine sartoria Liverano & Liverano incorporates this styling.

Not all jackets from Florence lack darts, or have shifted darts. So what distinguishes a Florentine suit from one from Milan or Rome? First it’s the canvassing. A thinner, lighter canvas makes for a more fluid, more reactive lapel.

The shoulders are slightly different as well. Slightly rounded, delicate padding, and a subtle puckered roping to the sleeve head. Some of the less formal jackets can almost have a Neapolitan like shoulder, but certainly have their own DNA.


The lapels are distinct with a perfect fish mouth notch. The pick stitching on the lapel edges, barchetta beast pocket and pocket edges is closer with many more picks per centimeter than many of the sartoria contemporaries. This is understated elegance, a gentleman’s suit, no extraneous detailing, just what is needed executed to perfection.

The fabric is a lovely mid-weight worsted cashmere in a herringbone weave.

Considering the 1974 execution of this suit, Galardi E Figlio did not succumb to what became a decade of sartorial abomination. Style and elegance being timeless is not a cliché, it’s a reality.

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Yet another hand made suit, as mentioned previously “hand made” is such a loose term. The truly great hand mades are indeed that, completely, except for the straight stitched. And yes. No merrowing allowed.

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Perfect fish mouth notch.

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Barchetta.

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Pure silk lining panels set in by hand.

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Three button sleeve cuff, generally standard fare, two functioning, one faux.

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H.R.H. patinated Henry Maxwell cap-toes.

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The ever romantic, as well as pragmatic button-fly front. Every step of the fly is executed by hand.

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Grosgrain hand tacked waistband with raised ribbing.

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Cotton tape anchors the interior hem.

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Inside leg seam allowance overcast by hand.

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ANDERSON & SHEPPARD: GRAY FLANNEL, THE QUINTESSENTIAL SUIT

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Every man needs at least one suit, yes just one, although based on todays standards even that is debatable. So yes, the one suit would be the requisite solid dark navy, or charcoal, for the wedding invite or the inevitable funeral. But even then, the two piece suit sometimes doesn’t show up, and that’s not lack of style, thats just bad manners.

Once a gentleman realizes the necessity for owning at least one suit for life’s obligations, the consideration for real need thereafter would be the gray flannel suit. Everyman should own at least one gray flannel suit before they exit. Everyman. It should be on one’s bucket list.

It truly is the quintessential suit. Gray flannel has a mystique, an elegance that has been canonized in cinema, immortalized by a legendary mens fragrance, and worn quite famously by a Fiat chairman, and perhaps best donned by a prodigious dancer named Frederick. But the gray flannel suit is larger than any depiction, venerations or boring commentary like this.

The gray flannel suit in the proper shade, preferably lighter, is something thats looks great on anyone, regardless of age, complexion, even degree of fitness. There’s something casual and relaxed about gray flannel, but, it dresses up very proper and elegantly, only to be left home on the most formal of occasions.

The minimum weight should be 14oz. Flannel needs to be breath, so the tailoring needs to be soft, a sensual mild drape. Shoulder padding, or too heavy a canvas defeats the purpose of flannel. The flannel itself as well as one’s body will the do the work without over constructing.

This particular Anderson & Sheppard suit is a lovely example. A single breasted two button with side vents. The two button is more pure and classic, more balanced for flannel. All the Anderson & Sheppard trademarks accompany this suit. Zero padding at the shoulder, a very soft canvas, darts very closer to the side seams. These tailoring elements pay tribute and truly celebrate the beauty of gray flannel.

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Clean front chest, darts shifted towards the side seams.

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Soft shoulder with no padding, no roping. Purely natural, shoulder line and movement give definition.

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A majestic boutonniere.

 

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The living breathing garment.

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Hand sewn shoulder seam.

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Hand sewn collar, wool gauze flannel faced and hand padded under the collar.

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Sleeve cuffs with four functioning buttonholes, faced with contrasting wool gauze flannel..

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Suit trousers with single rear welted pocket and mother of pearl button.

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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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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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SARTORIA G. GORINI MILANO: MASTERWORK

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If I had to put an entry along with an image defining the Milanese jacket in the Oxford dictionary this example by Giuseppe Gorini would be a perfect candidate. It personifies the true, authentic Milanese aesthetic in both style and workmanship. This particular example was executed in the early 1960’s and did not succumb to the “60’s” look. It is elegant, refined and simply timeless.

The true Milanese jacket has minimal padding at shoulder, very natural unobtrusive, and accompanies a delicate roped sleeve head finishing at the shoulder edge, with no sagging or drop. The collar is shorter than the Neapolitan or Roman counterparts, and has slope. Three button, question as to 3 rolling to 2 ½ or 2, or higher in the case of this example is open to debate. But Gorini makes it natural with a slightly higher V giving it formality. The armholes are slightly lower, with a slightly fuller chest.

The gorge is always higher, generally has jetted bessom pockets with hand picked semi circles on the edges and side vented. The authentic Milanese jacket is understated, it is not convoluted and does not have any crossover style cues like some Milano/Napoli hybrids. The hand work is not decorative or loud.

The chest pocket is barchetta or boat shaped. Requisite three sleeve cuffs, functioning of course, and always vegetable corozo buttons.

This G. Gorini suit is a navy shadow stripe in a frecso wool. I love the contrasting corozo buttons in a pale olive.

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Boutonniere extraordinaire.

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The middle button. Tight, fresh and still perfect.

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The paradigm barchetta boat shaped pocket.

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Surgeon cuff: Three for Milan.

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Jetted pocket with semi circle picks.

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Draped on a chair, the jacket still breathes life.

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SARTORIA SILVANO CAPILUPPI SUZZARA: MASTERWORK

 

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Summer has arrived and this jacket would be a perfect choice for an evening out with one’s stunning date. A jacket circa 1980 that could only be described as very elegant, chic and glamorous as the late 70’s to early 80’s were.

This jacket is the work of Silvano Capiluppi from the small town of Suzzara in the Lombardy region.

A superb example of a less known sartoria. The jacket is completely hand made. All vital seams are hand sewn. A single button, peak lapel with jetted pockets and no vents. With the slightly narrower peak lapels there is a charm to their shaping. The slight curvature ascending upward, gently curving inward before climbing to the peak. I think of the 1930’s Rubinacci cream double breast that has a similar treatment to the peak.

The shoulder has padding, but is not structured, and the roped shoulder is soft, eased in by hand, there is movement. The armhole is high and there is slight contour to the waist.

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Elegant curved peak

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Hand sewn collar.

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Substantial barchetta breast pocket.

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Discreet unassuming label.

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Charming slightly off single hand sewn button hole in silk.

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Two larger mother of pearl buttons on the sleeve cuff with hand twisted sham holes. Pick stitching is not just aesthetic, the picks run the whole length of the sleeve to close the seam, and run to the corner edge of the cuff.

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One piece jacquard silk lining set in by hand.

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Flat felt shoulder seam closed by hand. Sleeve set in by hand.

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Jetted pockets with semi circular picked edges and twisted bar tacks.

 

 

 

 

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SARTORIA SISSI PISA : MASTERWORK

IMG_0398In the first of a series of vintage bespoke Italian garments, I am pleased to show examples of true sartorial masterworks from different regions of Italy. Tailors that no longer exist and who’s namesake retired when they did, but rival any of the more well known names. Enigmatic tailors, who together prove that no other country had such a more prodigious output of gentleman’s tailoring in the 20th century than Italy.

What is fascinating about bespoke Italian tailoring in the 20th century is how provincial it was. A tailor was like a baker, you didn’t need to go far to get measured. Getting a suit made was not relegated to the wealthy, it was just what men did. A gentleman needed clothing and hence had it made, it’s as simple as that. The labels inside the jackets were secondary, and many times there were no labels. Was it humility? The notion of no label is quite romantic, and even mythical.

The sublime tuxedo tails comes from equally sublime city of Pisa. It is not dated but looks to be from the 1940’s, and does indeed have a label, and I’m quite grateful for this, for without it I would have pegged for perhaps being Neapolitan, but I’ll get to that later. The tailor is Sissi. A completely hand made coat. Soft, gentle shoulders that have that perhaps have the DNA of its Florentine neighbor. Virtually no padding at the shoulder and a very subtle roping to the sleeve head. The shoulder seam is closed by hand. The slope is very subtle. A higher armhole, and a tapered sleeve add to the elegance and refinement of this coat.

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More in line with the Neapolitan boutonniere than the Milanese counterpart

 

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Full silk lining with a lovely label.

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Superfine needle on interior panel linings and equally fine buttonhole on flap pocket.

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Turned back under collar, faced in felt, as many picks per centimeter as I have yet to see.

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Interior vent panel.

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Under lapels are a sea picks.

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Subtle pleating on the skirt waist that no machine can achieve on the curve.

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A subtle, very delicate puff on the waist exemplifies the meaning of balanced, totally hand made garment.

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Sleeve cuff with meticulous hand sewn buttonholes and beveled dish two hole vegetable corozo buttons.

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Silk grosgrain lapels and a not quite barcehtta pocket that nonetheless shapes the chest beautifully.

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Intricate needle work on the vent.

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