Sunday, July 22, 2007

Camps de Luca

Thanks to LL member Jackson in this thread, here's a short TF1 video clip of the French tailoring house of Camps de Luca featuring head cutter (chef coupeur) Mario Valente and tailors Marc de Luca and Charles de Luca. You will see an example of the cran Necker notch style in the middle of the clip when Charles de Luca pulls out a jacket made for French singer Claude Francois.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A visit to Barcelona: Bel y Cia and Xanco

Bel y Cia


Bel y Cia is a men's haberdashery situated on the Paseo de Gracia in central Barcelona. There is also a separate women's store, which is to the left of the picture above. The front half of the men's Bel y Cia store features a generous selection of Edward Green shoes. By my count, there were 32 models on the wall, 16 on the center table - several appeared to be unique designs for Bel y Cia. Derbies and oxfords predominated – suede in various shades of brown were well-represented. I only saw one casual loafer.


According to Sebastian, the excellent salesman who assisted me, the RTW jackets are made by Italian workshops in Milan and Rome. The jackets in the store do have some shoulder padding and look Roman or Milanese in terms of cut (though the white linen jacket in the window display above appears to have a fairly soft shoulder).


At the back of the store is the made to measure room with examples of their unique Teba jacket. The jacket is named after the nobleman who inherited the original hunting jacket worn by King Alfonso XIII. An older gentleman on the staff walked into the backroom, pulled out a book on the Spanish royalty and asked if I knew the story. The original had wider lapels which closed together to provide warmth during hunting. Teba wore the original jacket out and brought it to Bel y Cia in 1946 to reproduce it. Apparently, it was a very effective story since I placed an order for a MTM Teba jacket in a dark grey wool-cashmere with a hint of green.

The MTM room contains bolts of in-stock cloth that can be ordered and delivered relatively quickly. They also carry swatch books from Loro Piana.


Sebastian gave me two swatch books for any future orders of the Teba jacket. I came in for a second visit to make sure my measurements were precise. Incidentally, if you are planning to visit in the summer, Fridays are the busiest day of the week according to Sebastian. This is because their clientele tends to leave the city on the weekend and drop by the store before they leave.


The left swatches are wool-cashmere, the fabrics on the right are summerweight linen.

Xanco Shirtmakers


I discovered this MTM and RTW shirtmaker while strolling down La Rambla, the famed pedestrian boulevard running down Barcelona.


In my limited Spanish borrowed from a half-knowledge of Italian, I asked about "su misura" shirts and the woman who assisted me replied that it was possible. MTM shirts take about two weeks and are made locally in Barcelona, she said. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask about the price, so I have little to report there.


But if you are planning to spend a couple of weeks in Spain, it might be worthwhile to try Xanco. Their display shirts look very comfortable and appropriate for warmer climates.

Note: Spelling correction made from Tiba jacket to Teba jacket.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Savile Row - Summer 2007

Fallan & Harvey / Meyer & Mortimer

Norton & Sons / Henry Poole


Davies & Sons - Morning coat

The cult of the handmade/handsewn

It is quite interesting the extreme sacrifices and rituals made in the name of this cult. Some sacrifices are made to uphold the handsewn creed, others to dissect it.

This StyleForum thread shows the graphic results of cutting open a Kiton MTM jacket and exposing the apparent chasm between sales mythology and the painful facticity of one filleted jacket.

Interested in joining the cult? Here's a bonus tool for interested initiates. Please do read this AskAndy thread on spotting a handsewn collar and canvas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Two umbrellamakers: James Smith & Sons and Mario Talarico

Last month I was in NYC and London, which afforded me the opportunity to compare the English and Italian approaches to the handmade umbrella.

Let's do Italy first. Mario Talarico umbrellas appear to have very limited retail distribution outside of Italy. As this StyleForum thread on Talarico umbrellas describes, they can certainly be bought in the original workroom/store in Naples. However, I have discovered a US source for these refined umbrellas. By refined I mean the construction of the shaft, the character of the wood and finish, and selection of canopy fabrics (woven silk). As far as I know the only US source is Worth & Worth (aka Bellucci & Palacios) on 57th St in NYC.

According to Nedo Bellucci at Worth & Worth, the umbrellas have a lifetime warranty and feature a double steel frame. Further, he said that Talarico is one of only two or three handmade umbrellamakers left in the world. The other, he said, is in London, which I believe refers to Smith & Sons. When I visited, Worth & Worth had about ten compact or folding umbrellas in various patterned silks ($180) and five or so full-length umbrellas including a whangee ($315). At the moment, these appear to be cheaper in the US than in Italy.

After my NYC trip, I went to London and stayed in Soho. My hotel was within walking distance of Smith & Sons (see this London Lounge thread). The weather cooperated very nicely for an umbrella purchase - it was grey and rainy most of my time there. I visited James Smith on a Sunday and the store happened to be open because Ian, one of the craftsman working down in the basement, had opened the doors for a work break.

The store (link to photos) is organized such that the racks of umbrellas and walking sticks go up in price/quality as you walk along the right half of the store after entering. The third photo in the link above shows the priciest racks of umbrellas. Ian showed me a gorgeous looking, one piece walking stick umbrella in Irish blackthorn that he had made (185 GBP). Blackthorn is a dense wood with very little give. This particular model had a marvelously rich and dark burnish on the knob. The only problem was that it was a bit long (26 inch length) for me, which meant the tip would be a bit short of the recommended four inches. So in the end I went with a hazel root knob version, which is a little bit lighter and less dense wood but the right length for me (see below).


I think the differences between the two umbrellamakers could be described in antinomies like rustic v. refined or simple (black) v. richer canopy colors. To me, the one-piece English brolly, as executed by Smith & Sons, conveys solidity and simplicity. The Talarico umbrella is an exercise in refinement, adding color and perhaps a touch of sleekness to the frame.

Incidentally, I opted to bring my Smith umbrella with me and chance the vicissitudes of checking in the umbrella. The alternative was shipping the item, which would have added 50 GBP for California destinations. One of the fellows in the store carefully boxed and packed the brolly in a long reinforced box. Upon arrival, I picked up the box undamaged at the baggage carousel (to my natural relief!).

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?

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.