Sunday, October 28, 2007

Two style icons: Fred Astaire & Rita Hayworth

Of course, the more well-known pairing is Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers but things were never lovelier, richer or more sublime than Astaire and Hayworth. They were an impossibly superb dance couple. And Astaire's dancing clothes were phenomenal in an unobtrusive way. One is reminded of the dictum that form follows function. On Astaire, everything made of cloth followed and flowed together. And then there is Hayworth who, needless to say, was non pareil wearing pretty much anything.

Enjoy the videos below. Among many things done well, Astaire wears a high wing collar shirt that is well proportioned to his face and frame. He does this in both black and white tie. But perhaps more importantly you can see Astaire and Hayworth enjoying each other's company in an interplay of movement that is both immensely carefree and carefully attuned to each other. A remarkable on-screen couple indeed.

Montage from You Were Never Lovelier and You'll Never Get Rich
[Original video no longer available]

Trailer for You Were Never Lovelier

You'll Never Get Rich rehearsal scene

Additional links
- Film synopsis of You'll Never Get Rich
- Film synopsis of You Were Never Lovelier

Updated 01/16/14

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dressing for a night at the opera

AskAndy member Sator wrote up this wonderful thread on dressing for the opera for both men and women. Although very few dress up in black or white tie nowadays, at least you have a picture of the ideal incarnation after reading his description. I also found the photos and drawings of women's evening dresses to be quite stunning.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quality clothing: The times they are a-changin'?

Anecdotally at least, there has been a number of positive developments in the past year or so in favor of quality menswear. We've seen better distribution of existing products, as well as new lines of products. This is almost certainly driven by greater demand, which in turn has generated additional media coverage and exposure.

Some news and events to ponder:
  • Edward Green's recently launched Top Drawer made-to-order shoes are reported to be backlogged for months
  • High end retailers are now stocking and offering quality shoes. Witness Paul Stuart's new MTO and bespoke program and Bergdorf Goodman's revamped shoe department now offering John Lobb. Within the past month, high-end retailer Gary's in Orange County began to stock Edward Green and Bontoni.
  • In the US, at least three new high-end men's magazines have been launched in the past year: Classic Style, The Men's Book (LA-based) and Men's Vogue.
This interest in good clothing is perhaps not very novel, especially in Asia. In my visit to Southeast Asia recently, I picked up the anniversary issue of a Singaporean men's lifestyle publication called August Man. Although not focused on bespoke tailoring, this and other recently launched magazines are expanding their coverage of quality clothing. All in all, a good sign.

Additional links
- Styleforum thread on Gary's
- Styleforum thread on Japanese shoe magazines (Men's Ex and Last)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bespoke experiences on

I was struck (and amused) by the enthusiasm of the first clip, and also by the fact that bespoke in Southeast Asia is available at very low price points. Hence, it's within reach for everyman in that part of the world. This makes the learning curve and experimentation of bespoke much more palatable for beginners. The contrast with the two Poole clips below is instructive. The Savile Row customer is clearly a different animal in many respects but there is a curious continuum (and continuity) between bespoke customers and the tailors themselves even across continents and price points.

The second clip shows the fitting process and what turns out to be a decently fitting suit (though undoubtedly fused given the quoted price).

David Fashions (Hong Kong)
[Original video no longer available]

St. Michael's (Bangkok)

Henry Poole on

TotallyLondon's tour of Poole

Classic Style's interview with Simon Cundey, Director, Henry Poole

American trad: West Coast & East Coast

The retailers of "American trad" are usually associated with the East Coast, specifically New England. These are shops like J. Press and the Andover Shop and, in the South, shops like Ben Silver and Eljos.

Member NukeMeSlowly recently visited what is probably the leading West Coast retailer of trad - Cable Car Clothiers in San Francisco. He took extensive photos in this StyleForum thread and AskAndy thread. The closest trad competitor in California probably would be Carroll & Co. in Beverly Hills.

I've found some excellent, unusual items from trad retailer O'Connell's, which is based in Buffalo, NY. Be sure to check their Customer Pictures section, where the store picks out selected items from their sizeable inventory for display. They have some amazing new old stock Invertere storm coats (one vicuna lined, another alpaca-lined), which are unfortunately not in my size. Invertere Coatwrights (est. 1904) is a venerable English make that is apparently no longer in business. Creator of the "buffer coat", the company seems to have closed down and then attempted to relaunch (link to website placeholder and contact info).