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, September 30, 2013

John Lock & Co.: The Houndstooth Driving Cap

With temperatures in the tri-state area hovering in the low 80s this week, Fall is approaching at a wary pace. The leaves are starting to turn colors and flutter to the ground, and so now is a good time to take stock of some of the items that I'd like to add to my Fall rotation.

The first item on my list is this driving cap from John Lock & Co. 
The model is the Eagle, and it features a large houndstooth pattern in a veritable rainbow of colors  - blue, green, yellow, tan, red, brown, etc.

I have a few tweed jackets that will nice clash nicely with the cap, as well as a few brown and tan jackets that will provide a solid based for the vibrant color palette on display here.

Here's to hoping for a few more seasonally appropriate brisk days in the weeks ahead!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Blurb Bookstore - 25% off from Sept. 25th - Sept. 30th

For those interested in ordering a print copy of The Best Dressed Man In The Room, Blurb is offering 25% on all print books through the end of September - so now's a good time to order your copy if you haven't already. Of course, many thanks to those of you who ordered yesterday!

Get 25% off ANY print book. 6 days only. Use code AUTUMN25 at checkout.

Say goodbye to summer and hello to a great book. Yours. Six days only: September 25 – 30. Use code AUTUMN25 at checkout.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Best Dressed Man In The Room - Available Now at Blurb.com!

Well, it's taken a few years but I'm proud to announce that The Best Dressed Man In The Room is now available for sale to the public!

Preview The Best Dressed Man In The Room here:

Available for sale at Blurb.com in electronic and print formats, attached below are links to the various editions:

Standard Hardcover Edition with black linen hardcover, dust-jacket and standard paper:

Deluxe Edition with image-wrap cover and premium lustre hard-stock paper:

eBook for iBooks (iPhone and iPad) edition:

For additional information on The Best Dressed Man In The Room go to:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Interview with An Uptown Dandy at Keikari.com

Ville Ravio of Keikari.com, one of Europe's premier sites on classic men's style, asked me to do an interview, ahead of the September 24, 2013 release date of The Best Dressed Man In The Room. Ville is a great guy and we share an interest in all things related to classic men's style. Here, then, is a link to my interview with him on  a variety of subjects: The Best Dressed Man In The Room, An Uptown Dandy, East Harlem dandies, shoes made in Northampton, style inspirations, etc.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

An Interview with Gianni Cerutti of Passaggio Cravatte

I recently made the acquaintance of Gianni Cerutti, one of the people behind Passaggio Cravatte. I don't think its hyperbole to say that the company produces some of the most beautiful ties in the world, made from vintage silks using techniques that have been passed down for over 100 years. An entirely bespoke operation, Gianni took some time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions for An Uptown Dandy.

Gianni Cerutti of Passaggio Cravatte, 
indulging one of his other passions: bespoke tailoring.

Gianni, you have an interesting background for someone regarded as an artisan that crafts some of the world's most exquisite neckwear. Please tell the readers of An Uptown Dandy how you came to found Passaggio Cravatte.

Passaggio Cravatte was born 4 years ago, as a result of my passion for ties. It also came about from my dissatisfaction with the offerings available on the market at that time. The neckties were the same in from one store to the next - the same designs and the same colors. So I started to do some research on ancient silks and the process by which the prints were done by hand. And it was like a dream - I had been shown the way! The patterns were dandified, elegant, and unusual than what was currently being offered on the market. That's where it all started.

Since then, Passaggio Cravatte has become known throughout the world as a company comprised of artisans who retain knowledge of some of the "old ways" that ties were made at the turn of the last century. As someone with no formal training in tie-making, how did you come to learn and master these techniques?

We do everything ourselves just as it was done 100 years ago. Today, we keep these ancient traditions alive because of the passion and respect that I have for the old ways. We employ three seamstresses with decades of experience between them. They have made ties for some of the oldest fashion houses in Naples. And their mothers were bespoke tie-makers. So they know exactly how the ties were made 100 years ago. It is a joy to watch them work, and in fact they have been teaching me the art of cutting, centering the drawings, and ironing, which I'm interested in because of my desire for precision and perfection.

We literally strive to produce the most perfect tie available anywhere. And so we believe that ,while we are producing a truly exquisite product for the discerning gentleman, we should always aim for perfection. This is why we specialize in the true, ancient 7-fold style. This is an unique model which dates back to the early 1900s - it is unlined, made without the use of any machinery, and is hemmed entirely by hand. And we are the only tie-makers in Italy that can make this vintage 7-fold tie using a single piece of silk. Today, all ties are made with 3 pieces of silk.

At the same time, Passaggio Cravatte has almost become synonymous with the use of a wide variety of wonderful vintage prints and grenadines. Looking at your own blog, Monsieur Bespoke (link here), its clear that you have a passion for the textures and patterns of different fabrics. Have you always had an interest in that regard? Is it difficult to source the vintage fabrics that you use?

Its very difficult to find vintage silks printed by hand even 50-60 years ago. But our research in this area is extensive. We are always looking in both Italy and England. But there is a high standard for a vintage silk to be used by Passaggio Cravatte. It must have the ability to excite. I look for lively silks with intricate details. Obvious or trivial designs do not interest me particularly. This is because I want my clients to wear something that will distinguish him from the masses, and have him looking his very best at every event.

For the most part, Passaggio Cravatte is known as a bespoke tie-maker, but are there also ready-to-wear offerings available to interested customers?

Today, we are the only tie-maker in Italy that is purely a bespoke operation. We do not make any ready-to-wear products. Everything is custom made.

When the bespoke customer comes to Passaggio Cravatte, what tie configurations are available to choose from?

The customer chooses the fabric, texture, pattern, type of interior for the tie, size, monogram (if so desired), use family crests (if so desired), the type or number of folds, as well as the color of the rear beam.

What are some of the things that you would normally advise the bespoke customer on when looking at tie configuration and the wide variety of fabrics to choose from?

The customer, who I treat almost like a pampered son, say you use the faded in choosing its silks. The choice is usually made on an emotional level. It is something that you just feel when you see the silk for the first time. It it doesn't hit you in a certain way, then I would be inclined to say that I don't like it for that customer. This all occurs in a matter of seconds.

But the model and structure choice is all dependent upon the fabric chosen. If the fabric is of limited availability, that will determine which model and interior design is possible. At the same time, certain fabrics lend themselves to certain folds and configurations.

What are the primary differences between the 1900's-style 7-fold that you've become known for, and what one might refer to as the "modern" 7-fold configuration?

Today, everyone refers to what is really a "4-fold" tie as a "7-fold" tie. The 4-ply was created sometime after 1950. The original 7-fold that we specialize in, which not many people are familiar with, dates back to the early 1900s. To put it simply, the authentic 7-fold is not for everyone - its really for aficionados and lovers of the necktie, because that configuration is much more open in the back, without the internal structure that most men are familiar with.

The authentic 7-fold is entirely unlined and hemmed by hand. This is done by necessity, because if the 7-fold was lined it would simply be too heavy, and create too much stress to the neck. So the vintage 7-fold is actually lighter than a "normal" 3-fold tie. Instead, the 4-ply tie is made with less silk than the vintage 7-fold, which takes less time to make, and can then be lined. This is a nice alternative, but I do not really like it when compared to the other options available.

What would you say are the more popular configurations amongst your clients? The standard 3-fold configuration? Or something a bit more extravagant? What would you say are the more popular fabrics at the moment? Is the tendency at the moment more towards the vintage silks?

Our customers love our vintage 7-folds. When a customer chooses another model, it is entirely my fault - that is because there might not be enough vintage fabric to make the 7-fold, or it does not work for the 7-fold configuration.

Generally, we have fabrics that are popular and not so popular. We are not really into the "seasonal collections" game, but our collections do offer a wide variety of fabrics and patterns to choose from because the vintage silks are all endangered. Because of that variety, we can always find some interesting vintage silks to show to our customers.

There is definitely a trend toward vintage silks, and to wearing different things with unique details. Many gentlemen seem to be tired of owning the same accessories as their colleagues.

Do you see Passaggio Cravatte making a push to expand the company's focus into other men's accessories in the foreseeable future? Or with the focus remain primarily on tie-making?

Passaggio Cravatte also makes bow ties, cummerbunds, and ascots. But I have a great passion for bespoke ties. Of course, we also make pocket squares made from vintage hand-printed silks. These fabrics are very old and very beautiful.

Please tell our readers how to place an order for one of your works of art. Can interested parties view your fabric samples online? Are ties available via your website or other Internet sites?

Ordering our bespoke ties by mail is very simple. Interested parties can send an email to info@passaggiocravatte.com. We will then send image files for all of our available fabrics. You can then choose the ones that you like. Then we discuss the model, configuration, interior, measurements, and all other bespoke customizations.

Are there any brick and mortar shops in the United States that currently stock Passaggio Cravatte ties? Do you have any trunk shows scheduled for the United States?

There are shops that sell our ties in the US. Sooner or later, we will also be doing a trunk show, but I can't say exactly when. It would have to be perfect, otherwise I would not want to do it. But one day we will.

Finally, if there was one common misconception about Passaggio Cravatte that you could correct here, what would it be?

I really don't think there is one. We just continue to strive to get better and better. The key is to continue to listen to our clients. The strength of Passaggio Cravatte lies in the experiences and passions of our customers for our product. It is only by doing this that we will continue to move forward into the future.

Well said. Many thanks, Gianni!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Best Dressed Man In The Room - Coming Soon!

Long-time readers of An Uptown Dandy will remember a few of my earlier posts which focused on some of the forgotten style icons of the twentieth century. While the sartorial proclivities of Hollywood's leading men of the 1920s-1940s have been preserved via film, publicity stills, news reel footage, and personal photographs, there is not much of a historical record remaining to memorialize the efforts of the stylish dandies who filled the tabloids of the day with tales of their stylish attire and illicit activities.

While there are a variety of primary and secondary sources that one can sift, the focus tends to be on various gangland intrigues. I had never come across any work that focused entirely on the sartorial aspirations of the racketeers of the Roaring Twenties and Depression-Era Thirties actually. Initially, I began trying to create a collection of some of my favorites images. I then began reaching out to private collectors as well as newspaper and photo archives. I then wrote several essays or profiles on some of the more stylish characters from the underworld of the 1920s and 1930s.

Out of all that came The Best Dressed Man In The Room: A Photographic History of the Sartorially-Inclined Goniffs, Gamblers, and Gangsters of the Interwar Years, 1920-1945 (the title is taken from a statement made by New York City Police Commissioner Lewis Valentine when Murder Inc. gunman Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss arrived at Police Headquarters for questioning in yet another unsolved murder).

A few years ago, Ralph Lauren paid for a small collection of Australian mugshots, featuring some well-dressed criminals from Sydney - the images were used to decorate flagships shops in the US and UK, and were used as inspiration for his 2011 RRL look-books. But Mr. Lauren needn't have looked quite so far and wide for impeccably attired - he really didn't even need to look much farther than his old Bronx neighborhood.

And that was another part of the appeal of this project - it tapped into the history of New York City on a personal level for me. Many of the young men in these photos roamed the same East Harlem and Bronx streets that I grew up in.

Another aim of the book is to contradict this incorrect notion of "gangster" style. What comes through in these images is that the racketeers of the early part of the twentieth century enjoying dressing in a variety of styles of the day. Fedoras and chesterfields abound, to be sure, and there are a few pairs of spats to be seen as well, but those were staples of any well-dressed man's wardrobe in that era.

Several images are quite rare, and all stand out for the timelessness of the ensembles featured. There is a photo of one Giuseppe Doto, standing for a 1937 police identification photo and displaying all of the arrogance and swagger that led him to adopt the nickname Joe Adonis. While Adonis sports the fedora and high-waisted trousers which were popular during that era, he also shows off some elements of men's fashion that are still tell-tale signs of a well-dressed man today: the wide lapels of his single-breasted three-piece suit, the last button on his vest left undone, and the requisite sliver of shirt cuff protruding from underneath his suit jacket sleeves. The photo is grainy, but the pockets of the suit jacket are clearly patch pockets with a bellows, or pleated, feature - which is actually very similar in design to a travel blazer that Simon Crompton commissioned a few years ago from Gieves and Hawkes (you can see close-up photos of the handsome pockets on Mr. Crompton's jacket here).

After working on this project for the last two years, I'm happy to announce that the book will be available for sale to the public via Blurb.com. Tentatively scheduled for release on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, The Best Dressed Man In The Room will be available in a hardcover in dark grey linen with a dustjacket, a deluxe edition with a wrap-around hardcover and matted-finish premier hard-stock paper, as well as an ebook edition.

More details on launch parties and book signings to follow throughout the fall. For now, please check back here at An Uptown Dandy for more updates, or at The Best Dressed Man In The Room's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BestDressedMan. I hope that you'll "like" the page, "share" it with your facebook community, and help to spread the word!

Dan Flores
(An Uptown Dandy)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chelsea Market (and Manhattan) Welcomes A Shine & Co.!


Many of you, particularly on the West Coast, already know about the great people over at A Shine & Co. I was fortunate enough to meet Kevin and KeaLani at the MRket trade show back in January and I came away pretty awed (I wrote about the experience here). As I recall, there were also a few Northampton shoemakers - Alfred Sargent, Edward Green - on site who came away impressed with their work as well.

So it's exciting to hear that A Shine & Co. is up and running at the Chelsea Market here in Manhattan! I haven't been over yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

You can find A Shine & Co. in the Chelsea Market in the main corridor between Ninth Street Espresso and Decatur and Sons Barber Shop. 75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets), New York, NY 10011.