Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Postscript to Knize

A week after I had posted my "definitive" (ahem) introduction to Knize below, I came across this excellent Welt am Sonntag article on former imperial luxury goods purveyors including Knize. Some fascinating tidbits from the article and elsewhere:

Knize trivia
  • Knize is pronounced "Knische" (apparently arising from the pronunciation of the family name Kníže in Czech).
  • Thomas Bernhard, the controversial Austrian novelist, apparently made the house of Knize a recurring mise en scène in his books.
  • Billy Wilder, the Hollywood emigre director, was a devoted, lifelong customer of Knize. On his last visit to the store before his death he didn't want to leave, trying on this and that, all to get a final whiff of the place.
    Billy Wilder & Jack Lemmon, 1959

    Billy Wilder
    I found two photos of Wilder wearing what appears to be the same houndstooth wool sportcoat circa the late 1950s - the soft loose fit and the slight hint of front drape seem to point to Knize.
  • Knize tailored some of the costumes in the 1960 film A Breath of Scandal starring Sophia Loren and Maurice Chevalier.
The aesthetics of Knize
Unlike perhaps any other tailoring house in the other world, Knize brings together a striking architectural design, a renowned bespoke tailoring tradition and a long history of couture accomplishments (e.g. Knize fragrances). Any visitor will sense this immediately upon the entering the store. "The entryway is a bit of a narrow squeeze for walk-in customers but nobly furnished with cherry wood and polished mirrored glass.
Knize entryway Knize entryway
The showroom is on the first floor and is an "atmospheric alpine trek between representative openness and elegant privacy" as described by the architectural critic Friedrich Achleitner. [Das Entree für die Laufkundschaft ist ein schmaler Schlurf, wie die Wiener sagen, wenngleich edel ausgestattet mit Kirschholz und geschliffenem Spiegelglas. Der Schauraum liegt im ersten Stock und ist eine "atmosphärische Gratwanderung zwischen repräsentativer Öffentlichkeit und nobler Privatheit", wie Architekturkritiker Friedrich Achleitner schrieb.]

A customer's testimonial
"When I put on a Knize suit, I grow a second skin," says Georg Waldstein, the 60-year old publisher of the Austrian business magazine Profit. "That goes so far as forgetting what I'm wearing during the day. The trousers sit just so, the jacket doesn't make any unsightly creases. I've been a bespoke customer of Knize for 20 years. Before I wore ready-to-wear but now I simply can't imagine doing that." ["Wenn mich Knize einkleidet, bekomme ich eine zweite Haut", sagt Georg Waldstein, 60, Herausgeber des österreichischen Wirtschaftsmagazins "Gewinn". "Das geht so weit, dass ich tagsüber vergesse, was ich anhabe. Die Hose sitzt, das Jackett schlägt keine hässlichen Falten. Seit 20 Jahren bin ich Maßkunde beim Knize, vorher trug ich Konfektionsware. Das kann ich mir heute nicht mehr vorstellen."]

The "return" of Knize to Prague
I also came across the website of Adam Steiner, a men's haberdashery in Prague. The founders or backers of this store appear to have some connection with the founding of the Prague branch of Knize back in 1935. This is outlined with some nice historical pictures on his website. Unfortunately, that is all I'm able to decipher since my knowledge of Czech is somewhat limited (apart from bits of survival Czech I picked up such as "pivo", "ne vim", "rozumim").

2 comments:

women leather blazers said...

nice post love reading it

brunetchi said...

i always knew of Knize , related to Marlene Dietrich, tht had her smokings and suits made by Knize