Have you ever wondered what is the male equivalent of lingerie? Forgive the ever-so-slightly flippant question, but I think it is worth considering. What I’m really asking you, after all, is which clothes do you think make a man the most attractive he can be? Is it a beautiful flannel suit with broad lapels and pagoda shoulders? Perhaps it’s a pair of stunning superfine cotton boxer shorts, or perhaps it’s a pair of cheekily embroidered velvet slippers. Of course, it could be any of these things, but it’s not. In fact, in a quest to determine what precisely is the sexiest piece of menswear on the planet, The Rake’s team knew exactly where to begin: Eton.
No, we’ve not taken leave of our sartorial senses. We began at Eton because it’s home to New & Lingwood, a British outfitter that has always valued exceptional quality and lavish design. Since its founding in 1865, it’s been unafraid to stand out from the crowd — in the best possible way. In the 1880s, for example, the firm’s founding matriarch, Elizabeth New, used to sit in the windows of her shop on an elevated white chair-cum-throne, to allow the fair citizens of Eton to pay homage to her, ‘à la Queen Victoria’. Clearly, it’s not a company for shrinking violets. Readers may also be aware that New & Lingwood has a long-time specialism in beautiful made-in-England dressing gowns. The Product and Marketing Director, Simon Maloney, says: “We’ve carried dressing gowns since our founding, but I began to really experiment with our gown collection around seven years ago. Today, they’re the perfect vehicle for a gentleman to push the boundaries of design and opulence within the comfort of his own home.”
In other words, they’re the feel-good thing in which to relax, host an informal dinner party, or, indeed, woo one’s inamorata. Today, New & Lingwood’s dressing gowns range from deep-pile velvets trimmed with quilted satin to English-woven silk jacquards and pure cashmere meltons, each more sumptuous as the last. Now, for the first time, New & Lingwood have created an exclusive dressing gown in vicuña, the most precious of natural fibres, in collaboration with The Rake and the Italian textile mill Piacenza. Piacenza enters our story because it specialises in weaving precious cloths. Indeed, the Piacenza family (now in its 14th generation of ownership) has worked with New & Lingwood for many years. N&L’s handsome baby camelhair polo coats and alpaca penuche coats are frequently cut in Piacenza’s finest materials — fabrics that appeal to N&L’s plush design sensibilities.