Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bellucci & Palacios: A Neapolitan surprise in NYC

From Hats to Suits

On a recent visit to New York City, I went up to 57th St to visit the hatshop of Worth & Worth. My intent was to find a nice straw hat – a natural, unbleached Panama - which I did, thanks to the solicitous help of proprietor Orlando Palacios. Orlando did a fine job selecting and fitting the hat shape and brim to my face. But another surprise awaited me. When I walked into the store, I naturally noticed the racks of hats on the right but I also saw a long table with shirting fabrics and cloth books. I found that a bit odd since I thought Worth & Worth was strictly a hat shop. Nonetheless, Orlando and I started to chat and we got onto the subject of Naples, a city he loves to visit.

This naturally segued into Neapolitan clothing and tailoring and voila – he walked me to the back and introduced his partner Nedo Bellucci. They are introducing their take on soft-shouldered Neapolitan tailoring to the Big Apple. It is a bit ironic that their shop is just two floors away from the quintessential tailor of the square-shouldered power suit - William Fioravanti.

Nedo moved to NYC almost three years ago to start their business. He himself is not a cutter but serves as the fitter and US liaison for Bellucci & Palacios bespoke. He lives and works in NYC for part of the year. It will be interesting to see how this works. I suspect it may not be the best arrangement for the hard-to-fit due to additional communication layer between Nedo and the cutters back home.

But the choices for Neapolitan in the US are limited. Apart from visiting tailor Sabino and occasional visits to NYC by Rubinacci, the only Neapolitan option with a semi-permanent US presence appears to be Bellucci & Palacios. Some would argue that, like the terroir of viticulture, authentic Neapolitan tailoring can only be found in Naples (see this marvelous journey by uppercase in the London Lounge). If so, then the exceptions should be all the more interesting I think.


MTM or Bespoke?

This
AskAndy thread on Neapolitan tailors in NYC suggests that Bellucci & Palacios are MTM. As far as I can tell, the process appears to be bespoke in that each customer has his own pattern. I also saw several skeleton bastes in my two visits and was told that two or three fittings is the norm. On further inquiry, Nedo said customer patterns are stored digitally on a computer and printed out when needed, which saves on paper and storage space. This might also suggest the process is MTM but I certainly hope not! On a different note, he also talked about the lack of young apprentices (maybe one in ten trainees completes the requisite training).

On my first visit,
I was shown a skeleton baste with the sleeves attached and I noted the characteristic waterfall sleevehead and high gorge. Nedo said they are able to do no padding but recommend a very light wad of padding. For suits, they usually add a puff or roping (rollino). He also said that the armhole will be even higher than the Savile Row blazer I was wearing, which I will be interested in seeing. Other recommendations he made (some flashier than others): 3-2 button, flat front trousers, slightly wider cuffs, contrast stitching on buttonholes, first sleeve button in a lighter shade than the other buttons.

The fabric selection for suitings and jacketings includes: Zegna, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Loro Piana, Ariston Napoli 130s/150s/180s. I ordered a two piece suit in Ariston Napoli Preziosi Super 130s glen check (270g). Pricing starts at $2,500 for suits.

They also make Neapolitan style shirts. Nedo showed a model with a slightly abbreviated shoulder line terminating just short of the shoulder. He seemed to suggest this gives better articulation of the arm - sort of like a very scaled down raglan sleeve.