Bespoke should be fun. If it’s not an enjoyable experience, you should ask for your money back. The tailor’s role here is vital — he or she should make you feel comfortable and engage with you as a partner in a project rather than a customer. Instilling trust and bringing a degree of showmanship to the process goes a long way.
It is also incumbent on the client to be as helpful as possible in conveying thoughts, feelings and desires, so that what is required of the garment can be made manifest. “I don’t really know what I want” isn’t a particularly helpful approach when every tailor has tens of thousands of fabric choices. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what you want, or you might end up like I did at a spa in Los Angeles. I was asked whether I preferred a male or female therapist for a massage, and worried I might sound like a creep if I said I had no preference. So, of course, I turned up and this surfer with bear mitts that had been hardened presumably by saltwater and hours of board waxing ushered me into a room and I endured what felt like a punishment dished out by someone having a bad day. I deserved it as much as I detested it. Never again.
In my latest bespoke adventure, there were no such teething problems, as I had in mind the fabric I wanted to use as well as the tailor, who is both familiar with me and a design genius (which I felt this fabric required).
The fabric was the new Pantone from Vitale Barberis Canonico, a teal blue flannel called Moroccan Blue. While it is a bold and exotic choice, it is nevertheless breathtaking. The handle is very smooth — some flannels can feel like a lovely item of knitwear, soft but hairy and unstructured. In natural light it tones down, and indoors it draws the eye with great impact.
With that in mind, I sought the unrivalled creative guidance of Lorenzo Cifonelli. What his eponymous brand has been focusing on recently is the way our tailoring needs outside of business broaden the playing field. He and his cousin Massimo have been experimenting with silhouettes, button stances, pocket designs, fabrics and embellishments that in some cases seem avant-garde. So there was no one better to take such a frisky colour and put it to good use.
Read the full feature in Issue 81 of The Rake - on newsstands now.
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