Lorenzo Cifonelli for The Rake Autumn-Winter 21: The Iconic Collection
Tailored style is back — and so is Lorenzo Cifonelli for The Rake. The French master introduces us to his most personal collection, a beautiful exhibition of his well-honed style and taste, all in Loro Piana fabrics.
Before unveiling Lorenzo Cifonelli’s new, exclusive collection for The Rake, there is an issue I need to address, and that is that we were late on the deliveries for our first collaboration with Lorenzo. In some instances, inexcusably late. As the founder of this magazine, I want to apologise sincerely to anyone who was affected. I hope that when you received your clothes, you loved them as much as Lorenzo and I do, and feel they are an incredibly strong value proposition for garments so elegant and well made, and made with Loro Piana fabrics. The buying window for this pre-order collection is in its final hours. Garments will be delivered 7-8 weeks after window closes. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The reason the clothes were late was simple: we were overwhelmed by the success of the collection, and our suppliers — in particular, our jacket maker — struggled to get the orders made in time at the quality we insisted on. For example, ours is the only jacket at its price point to feature a handmade Milanese buttonhole in the lapel. This is a time-consuming process to execute perfectly. Our jacket maker, with whom Lorenzo worked extensively to perfect the signature Cifonelli fit, is a small producer that was not used to orders of that magnitude. But it was absolutely our mistake and our fault, and again I want to apologise. We have taken measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again. For example, this time around we’ve taken stock positions in what we believe will be the bestselling tailored garments. These will be offered for immediate delivery on a first come, first serve basis exclusively to clients who ordered from our first collection. This is our way of saying we are sorry and we want to do our very best to show you that your happiness is our priority. That having been said, the new Lorenzo Cifonelli collection is simply extraordinary. To understand how Lorenzo and I embarked on this journey together, to bring you our exclusive collection of his signature garments, we have to go back to last year. Lorenzo says, “You called me when I was on vacation in Capri and you explained the idea to me. You told me we are in a war for the hearts and minds of the next generation. They might like to wear streetwear or be very fashionable, but at some moment they will need to dress elegantly. And so we need to imprint upon them the culture of classic elegance and the world of Cifonelli.”
The buying window for this pre-order collection is in its final hours. Garments will be delivered 7-8 weeks after window closes. Please email email@example.com for more information.
What I have come to realise is that these cultures are not mutually exclusive. For example, if you look at the rap community, and individuals like Jay-Z, he might be dressed down one moment but, when it is time to wear a suit or a tuxedo, he is capable of real elegance. It’s the same thing with all the young actors in Hollywood, who might be relaxed at home or during their downtime. But collectively they express a real culture for dressing up in Los Angeles during awards ceremonies, inspired by the classic era or Golden Age of Hollywood. The point is that tailored style is back, and it is here to stay. As such, there has never been a more important moment to widen the appreciation of, and expand the audience for, the classic style expressed by tailoring icons like Lorenzo Cifonelli. To enable us to reach new audiences, one of the first decisions we made was to offer the clothes at a tremendous value. The hardest thing to achieve related to this was, of course, the jacket. Because the Cifonelli jacket has a very specific cut and a very special shoulder. Also, it is incredibly light. Lorenzo finally found a jacket maker in Naples, and after eight prototypes over the course of a year, he arrived at a point where he was happy with the outcome. “This partnership is a very personal project for me,” Cifonelli says. “First, because it is born out of our friendship that is now almost 15 years old. We were both young men when we met. And we have grown and evolved as people together. Second, because it is completely a reflection of my personal style and taste. The garments are exactly as I would wear them and how I would wear them. “The first collection I made, for spring-summer, was inspired by my vacation in Capri. It was about the colours and styles I would wear on a vacation chasing the sun along the Amalfi coast. “For the second collection, for autumn-winter, I know we had discussed curating what I consider to be the most iconic looks from my personal wardrobe. But I decided to change the story and approach it the following way: I imagined one of my best clients. A man of incomparable style and elegance. He was coming to Paris and staying in his favourite suite for a week. During that time he wanted to wear a new outfit every day, ranging from suits to tailored separates and sports-chic looks. He explained to me the different occasions he would attend and then he left it up to me. He gave me carte blanche to create each look, down to every accessory, which I would design myself. He would say to me, ‘I have complete confidence in you. You choose everything based on your personal style.’ That is my inspiration for this new collection of Lorenzo Cifonelli for The Rake.”
Look 1: Maxim’s Lorenzo says: “This is a look you would wear at the bar of the Plaza Athénée or at an elegant restaurant. If it was a suit made from the same fabric, I would feel it might be too businesslike. So I wanted to make each element, from the jacket to the double-breasted waistcoat to the trousers, from a different but complementary fabric. This is very much how I dress in my personal life. I love to combine trousers from one suit with a waistcoat and jacket from another, because I feel it brings a more fun and energetic dimension to tailoring. Also, any item here can be combined with the other garments in this collection very easily.” So we start with a jacket that we can describe only as seductive. It is made in black velvet and is cut as a single-breasted coat with wide peak lapels. The medium-grey waistcoat is based on Cifonelli’s personal double-breasted design, which has buttons spaced in a V shape and with a shawl lapel. “If you look at most double-breasted waistcoats, the buttons are spaced so they are parallel, but to me the V shape is more elegant, in that it follows the line of the lapel. As such, you feel a more dynamic sense of energy. The trousers are grey flannel and double pleated with what the English call a fob pocket, which is the flapped pocket in the front. I’ve combined this with a solid white shirt and a black necktie with a geometric pattern in grey. I design all the necktie patterns myself. I don’t purchase a pre-existing pattern but have created each tie for every look you see here. To me, this is the ultimate party outfit, something that expresses fun and joy.” When asked if he realises that he is singlehandedly responsible for the resurgence of the double-breasted waistcoat, which until he redesigned it felt dusty and anachronistic, Cifonelli laughs and says: “I designed this style of waistcoat 10 years ago — it is very low, with a large shawl lapel and a unique button stance. Now it has become very popular, I see it being used in other brands quite frequently. It’s like the Lorenzo Cifonelli 6x1 double-breasted coat I designed many years ago. It has in some ways become an iconic style for today. It’s funny, I had a friend who went into Suit Supply and he saw a 6x1 double-breasted suit inside. The salesman actually said, ‘This is a 6x1 Lorenzo Cifonelli-style suit’, which I thought was amusing. The point is that I have my own style. I don’t copy anyone [or] other tailors, and when people like what I do I’m very happy about this.” Look 2: Flore Of this majestic work of chromatic beauty in corduroy, Cifonelli says: “This is one of my favourite looks. This burgundy corduroy is an amazing fabric. I love how it is subdued enough in most lighting situations to be very elegant and subtle, but in daylight is a touch more vibrant. This jacket is very interesting in that it is constructed essentially like a shirt. There is zero structure to it. This is a shirt shoulder that doesn’t have padding, wadding or anything, and the sleeves are unlined, so when you wear it you feel like it’s an overshirt — because it is essentially an overshirt cut like a jacket. I’ve matched it with a beautiful rose-coloured shirt and this great scarf, so the effect is an outfit that is really easy to wear. It’s something for a walk through a flea market like Les Puces, or for a lovely brunch afterwards. I love that this look shows how versatile tailoring can be outside of the traditional business environment. Great tailoring can be worn anytime and anywhere.” Look 3: Tuileries There are three-piece suits and then there are the alchemic works of sculptural beauty that are Lorenzo Cifonelli masterpieces. He describes this look as follows: “I love this fabric because of how many subtle tones it has, which enhances its versatility. And I’ve styled it to express its versatility with a denim shirt and a necktie with this kind of geometric, vintage-style pattern. It’s funny, when I first styled this suit I combined it with a more traditional dress shirt, but then realised that it made the whole outfit feel too formal. I wanted this to feel like a three-piece suit you relax in, that when you get home you don’t immediately feel like taking it off but actually enjoy lounging about in. You have to make a suit your own, it should feel effortless to wear. You should drive and eat in your suit. This is why we’ve always made our construction so light. This jacket is made additionally sporty by having this kind of spalla camicia-type shoulder, which is incidentally a shoulder style that I sometimes use in my bespoke suits. The other point with this suit is that you can wear every piece as a separate, and I think it goes particularly well with denim. Also, there is my waistcoat, which is another one of my signature styles with these long points for the bottom, which I feel is very elegant.” Look 4: Iconic I Says Cifonelli: “One of my favourite style icons is Cary Grant. I liked how, later in life, when his hair turned grey, he would wear entire outfits that played with different tones of grey. To me, this was very elegant. Similarly, grey is one of my favourite colours, and I often wear clothes with contrasting tones of grey. This is one of my favourite looks because it really is one of my signature styles. You have a medium-grey pinstripe suit. Loro Piana is excellent at making these types of fabrics, with a strong stripe but one that never becomes too much or overwhelming. It has grey mother-of-pearl buttons. I’ve combined it with a shirt with white cuffs and collar and with a soft grey stripe and a necktie with a grey Prince of Wales check. To me, this is almost a mosaic of overlaying and intersecting tones of grey. This is one of my favourite outfits. It is something I wear so often, and I even combine it with white sneakers if I know I will be running around Paris.”
Look 5: Saint-Germain Cifonelli says: “When I saw this Loro Piana fabric, I knew I had to use it. It’s so beautiful. It’s a grey with a windowpane but then has all this added texture with these white dots. It’s really a masterwork of subtlety. It has a spalla camicia shoulder to make it more sporty. I’ve matched this with a black turtleneck that also has a subtle pattern. I’ve made a pair of trousers here with the same double pleat and fob pocket but in a light grey corduroy, which is quite an unusual choice but I think it works very well and creates a sense of sporty elegance that is really appealing.” Look 6: Montmartre “This is an important look because it demonstrates the casual elegance of modern tailoring,” Lorenzo says. “It starts, of course, with a jacket, but here made from jersey, which is a material with a natural stretch to it and is therefore incredibly comfortable. I chose grey as the colour and used three patch pockets, which makes the jacket more casual. It is the type of jacket that you pop the collar up if you want, if there is a chill — yet you look so elegant. What I love about the Loro Piana fabric is how stable it is despite having the ability to stretch, meaning you can wear it all day, and when the jacket rests it will return to its original form. At the same time you have the feeling of wearing a tracksuit, that’s how comfortable it is. I’ve combined it with a short scarf, a white jumper and these white trousers, which I think elevate the look with a great sense of sporty chic.” Look 7: Vendôme “This look is pure elegance, and is what people think of when they hear the name ‘Cifonelli’,” Lorenzo says. “It is my iconic suit with this wonderful, strong Cifonelli shoulder, a wide peak lapel with a high gorge, and high breast pocket. Normally these details would be something a traditional tailor would use primarily in a tuxedo, but for me I’ve always liked to place the gorge high. Not so high that the peak rises above the shoulder line, but just kissing it. This way, you create a very long line from the peak all the way to the buttoning point of the jacket. The result is this sense of very dynamic energy that resonates from the jacket. Your eyes find it very pleasing even though you may not consciously understand why. At the same time the button point needs to be perfectly positioned to achieve harmony between the top and bottom half of the jacket. A few millimetres off and the harmony is lost. “The fabric is a Loro Piana check that to me is the perfect size. With checks, if they are smaller they are not as powerful, but if they are too big they are better for a jacket rather than a suit. The base grey colour is wonderful. It makes the suit something you can wear for business but also in the evening to dinner, to an art gallery, to a concert, anything. I’ve paired it with a contrast collar shirt with a beautiful purple stripe and this deep purple necktie.“On the subject of the modularity of this collection, you could take the burgundy corduroy trousers and combine them with this jacket, shirt and tie. You could wear this suit with the black roll-neck from Look 5, Saint-Germain!”
Look 8: Iconic II To me, Paris is about men who wear colour with extraordinary elegance, as embodied by this graceful ensemble. “This is an amazing look,” Lorenzo says. “You know, at first I was a bit afraid about the light blue corduroy pants being too much, but in the end I think the result is really amazing. Here I have combined it with one of the most iconic Cifonelli garments from my wardrobe, which is the blue flannel double-breasted 6x1 blazer. This really is one of my signature jackets: it’s got the strong, beautiful Cifonelli shoulder with the cigarette sleevehead, it’s got the 6x1 style I created. The secret to this style is that the bottom button is placed a bit higher than it would normally be placed, and creates much greater balance between the top of the jacket and the bottom, but at the same time still has this plunging opening for the shirt front. I love the very wide peak lapels. Similarly, the gorge and breast pocket of the jacket are placed higher because that’s how I like it, as it creates a longer lapel line, which to me gives more energy to the jacket. I’ve used horn buttons because they again make the jacket much more versatile. “What I am really proud of, and what I find remarkable, is how close we are to my bespoke jacket in terms of style and feel with these garments. It was a very long and challenging process, but finally the supplier really got it right. The hardest part was to achieve the sense of balance you get from a bespoke jacket in terms of the sleeve, the shoulder and the armhole, but we made it in the end. “I just want to mention one thing. Do you know that in the lapel of your jacket you have a Milanese buttonhole? I cannot think of any other brand at this price, or even at three times the price, that uses a real handmade Milanese buttonhole. That is one of the reasons why I am so happy with these jackets. I think, together with my workshop in Italy, we make a beautiful result. The rest of the look comprises a pale blue shirt and a really lovely houndstooth tie. I also made this very long oversized blue scarf with this look, because in Paris in the fall you don’t really wear an overcoat, because you are always walking everywhere. So I made this scarf to wrap around your neck — this is how I dress in the fall. “Finally, I really like the picture that our photographer, Davinia, took with the red flowers and the doorman from the Plaza Athénée. It’s just such a Parisian image.” Look 9: Sorbonne This charming ensemble expresses Cifonelli’s love for his home city’s scholarly institutions. He says: “Paris has several wonderful universities, such as the Sorbonne. I wanted to create a look that was an homage to the academic world of Paris. When I saw this check from Loro Piana I knew I had found precisely the right look. It was amazing. Such a beautiful shade of warm brown tones that reminds me of fall in Paris, when students have all returned to school. I imagined my client wanting to visit his alma mater. He is dressed in a way that is perfectly in place on campus, but there are also subtle details that lift him above everyone in terms of style. You can find all that in the elegance of the blue and gold regimental tie, and the stunning wool and cashmere waistcoat in this cream colour with matching cream trousers and a lovely light blue striped shirt.” Look 10: Iconic III This Cifonelli three-piece suit is a work of such unremitting visual majesty that purchasing it is not a choice but a moral imperative. Lorenzo says: “When I saw this fabric from Loro Piana I was totally seduced by it. It is the Prince of Wales you think of when you close your eyes and imagine this pattern. It is so perfectly executed and I knew that I wanted to use this for my most formal look. It is flannel but lightweight, so that it is not so much a winter fabric but something more versatile. This suit is styled exactly as I would wear it. First, it is a single-breasted notch lapel jacket with a medium width lapel with a high gorge and, of course, the famous super-expressive Cifonelli shoulder. This is complemented by a double-breasted waistcoat with a large shawl collar, the signature V-shaped button stance, and of course the pleated trousers. I’ve chosen a shirt with a large-format windowpane check — in a soft grey, to keep it elegant — and a cashmere tie. This is such a beautiful suit that you could wear it anywhere. The fabric is a bit lighter in colour, so you would imagine it to be suited to daytime, but because you have the added panache of the double-breasted waistcoat, you could wear it in the evening and be the best-dressed man in any room you enter. At the same time, because of the lightness of the construction, you will be so comfortable.” The buying window for this pre-order collection is in its final hours. Garments will be delivered 7-8 weeks after window closes. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. With special thanks to Hôtel Plaza Athénée