Like many of the most durable fabrics, flannel has utilitarian roots, originally worn by those who needed to weather the great outdoors. But like its workwear peers, it has been refined and adopted by other echelons of society throughout the years, thanks to its versatility and sharp finish. Some of its most notable proponents were Gianni Agnelli, who favoured flannel suits in everything from soft grey melange to charcoal check, as well as the martini-loving Tom Rath in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.
In tribute to this most elegant cloth, The Rake has teamed up with famed Italian mill Vitale Barberis Canonico on a selection of classic pieces crafted from the fabric. Named the Flâneur Collection, the range unites some of the most renowned names in menswear, including Grenfell, Orazio Luciano, Lock & Co. Hatters and Frank Clegg, with each creating an exclusive piece using different patterned cloths.
The starting point for the collection was VBC’s Original Flannel, which is made in Italy using a dense, matte weave. At a weight of 340g, the material is heavy enough to lend itself well to slightly more robust pieces – outerwear, leisurely suits and accessories – yet isn’t cumbersome to wear.
Using a windowpane check, which was first made popular by King Edward VII, Grenfell has contributed a coat to the collection – dubbed the Cavendish – which is clean in design, with a raglan sleeve, collar and concealed front placket. “The cloth’s drape, weight and fluidity lend perfectly to the cut of the garment,” says Mo Azam, Grenfell’s Managing Director. “This, combined with the smoothness and warmth of touch, reinforces its luxurious appearance.”