A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft





Monday, July 28, 2014

The Curious Case of the Vintage Tie Cloth - Passaggio Cravatte




Admittedly, I have not been on StyleForum in some time, so I was unaware of the ruckus that has been going on concerning Gianni Cerrutti and his bespoke ties made under the Passaggio Cravatte label. For those of you who might not remember, I did an interview with Gianni a while back about the company. He was also kind enough to send a few ties to review (you can find a link to the interview here and the product review here.

The recent criticism seems to center around the claims by Gianni to certain customers that certain silks that were being provided were "vintage" fabrics, apparently meaning that they were at least 20 years old. Many customers relied on those statements when making a purchase, and were primarily interested in particular offerings because of the provenance of certain silks. As a result, these customers were willing to pay the stated price for what they believed were bespoke ties from vintage fabrics.

Without getting too much into the specifics (you can get a summary of the basic claims herehere, and here), I can understand why someone would be annoyed if they were given the impression that the silks were older than they actually are, or if the patterns were done using more recent ink-jet techniques. For me, personally, when I was choosing the silks for the samples, I was less concerned with "vintage" versus "modern" silks  I was actually more interested in the patterns themselves (i.e. which ones caught my eye), as well as seeing in person what Gianni described as the original 7-fold style of tie-making. So the vintage aspect was not that important to me then, although if I recall correctly, both fabrics that I received were described as "vintage." I don't recall asking for clarification as to what that meant specifically.



As I pointed out at the time, the ties were complementary so my aim was to review the ordering process as well as the finished product. Personally, I still think the ties that I received represent wonderful craftsmanship with interesting fabrics.That being said, if someone is purchasing what they have been told is a tie made from "vintage" fabric, it should in fact be made from vintage fabric, regardless of whether that was a minor or major selling point to the customer. When I last checked the relevant threads at the various forums, it seemed that many people were still waiting for Gianni's response  - hopefully, he will respond to these claims and clarify the provenance of the fabrics in question to everyone's satisfaction. I will try to reach out to him in the next few days for clarification on these issues, as well.

Apart from these issues, I thought it might also be helpful to report on how the ties have held up after a few wears. I have probably worn each tie approximately 5-10 times since I received them, and my issues are probably in line with the problems that Simon Crompton described last year (see here). Specifically, the navy grenadine fabric is quite delicate and probably too thin due to the absence of a lining. As a result, the fabric tends to twist after repeated knotting. Of course, I was the one who requested the unlined seven fold structure for that particular fabric, but hopefully these types of issues would be brought to the customer's attention during the formative stages of the tie-making process.

There were other minor issues which, at this price, should be mentioned. The keeper was probably positioned too high on both ties - it didn't interfere with the tie knot, as was Simon's experience, but it was too high to actually keep the thinner end of the tie in place. Also of note was that the tie was essentially open along the back seam. This was helpful in viewing the folds and the inner composition of the tie, but the cloth tended to spread as the tie was knotted. I actually had my mother (a seamstress for the Joffrey Ballet once upon a time) pin the back, which solved that problem easily enough.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A bit of Savile Row right off Madison Avenue - Logsdail Tailoring


The Logsdail men - Len Sr. and Leonard - 
with their copy of The Best Dressed Man In The Room

This post is a long time coming, but better late than never! A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the Logsdail men - Len Jr. and Sr. They both enjoyed The Best Dressed Man In The Room, so if you happen to drop by their offices anytime soon, you should feel free to peruse their copy for ideas :-) Anyway, the Logsdail work rooms aren't very far from my office, so I dropped by one day at Len Jr.'s invitation.

The book shelf/liquor cabinet at Leonard Logsdail Tailoring.

Not much needs to be said here about Logsdail bespoke offerings that hasn't been said elsewhere by more knowledgeable people than myself. The Logsdail shoulder is a thing of beauty and quite distinct in its shape and structure. If you're unfamiliar with the Logsdail cut, you can view it in all of its cinematic glory in films such as American Gangster, Wall Street 2, and The Wolf of Wall Street, among others.

Plush leather club chairs and  wall full of fabric options -
what more can you ask for?

While the bespoke items are probably out of my price range, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are other options available. There is a semi-bespoke Logsdail line that offers several bespoke touches, but perhaps of more interest to gentlemen on a stricter budget will be the offerings that, until recently, were available under the Carnaby Custom line, but which now also fall under the Leonard Logsdail label. These days, there are so many different names to describe different levels of tailoring options, but I would probably describe these suits as more in line with other made-to-measure program that begin at just over $1000. And there are literally dozens of fabric books to choose from - of course, while certain fabrics will add to the cost, you'll be sure to find something to suit your fancy.

More fabrics and tailoring samples.

Both Logsdails certainly know their business, so spending a few minutes with them was quite interesting. They were both quite generous with their time, and were happy to show me a few pieces that were in the process of being completed, and share a few anecdotes about their experiences in the tailoring business. I hope to be able to commission a suit from them in the near future, most likely in the semi-bespoke range, but if that experience turns out to be anything like the short time that I spent in their work space, it will be a truly enlightening and educational experience.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Praise of The Single-breasted Peaked Lapel Suit


An Uptown Dandy, left, 
in his single-breasted peaked lapel three-piece suit.

Its always interesting to check in at Put This On to see what Jesse, Derek and the crew over there are talking about. Their eBay finds are always a veritable treasure trove, and they always offer insightful and practical advice on what to wear and how to wear it. One of Derek's recent posts focused on the single-breasted peaked lapel suit of Jeff from Louisville (aka The Thrifty Gent). And there are the usual helpful suggestions to ensure that you'll wear it well. And the point about the button stance is a very good one (you can find Derek's post here). 

Jeff, the Thrifty Gent, in his single-breasted peaked lapel suit.

Jeff''s suit actually looks quite similar to my favorite suit, which is also from Ralph Lauren's Purple Label. Of course, if you're going to experiment with the peaked lapel single-breasted, there is something to be said for the classically elegant appearance of the single-breasted peaked lapel suit with a vest. In my opinion, the vest helps to offset the more pronounced lines of the peaked lapel, particularly on the RLPL model with its wider contours.

George Raft, center, in Night After Night, 
in single-breasted peaked lapel three-piece suit.

One final consideration: the single-breasted three-piece suit with peaked lapels was something of a staple during the golden age of men's style. George Raft was one of many adherents to the style, and he wore it to great effect in many films, including the classic Night After Night in 1932. Raft's custom-made version of the three-piece classic provides an example of what Derek refers to as the truncated lapels, because it does feature a button placement that is considerably higher than the actual waistline. But this might have also taken into account the high-backed trousers of the era, which essentially raised the appearance of the waistline to the eye of the casual observer. The combination of vest and high-waisted trouser prevents the unsightly gap of exposed shirt and belt that is prominent today because of the popularity of low-rise trousers and shorter jackets. In any event, Raft's higher arm-hole placement and structured shoulder complete what is an absolutely stunning silhouette. Unfortunately for Raft's, Night After Night featured Mae West's scene-stealing film debut, but thankfully the single-breasted peaked lapel suit is apparently still going strong.