As a costume designer my job is to help create authentic characters alongside the director & actor. After reading the script for Dispatches From Elsewhere, I spent a long time imagining how Andre Benjamin would look as Fredwynn and finding the pieces that would help Andre bring Fredwynn to life. After all my pacing and planning, Andre wore these outfits effortlessly.
One of the joys of custom clothing, they used to say, is that is supposed to last forever. Any English teacher would immediately ask, who are “they”? The reassuring voice of others that lured us down this path, the sybarite chorus of lazy fashion journalists and bored copywriters, repeating every few articles or press releases the same tropes about a kind of clothing that had become both incredibly rare and, generally, deterrently expensive a few decades ago.
How do you get over a hangover? You shower, and you put on a suit. And while, no – this is not a universal prescription, it is my very own tried-and-tested formula; advice I proudly relay to haggard, red-eyed pals in London.
It never ceases to amuse me. The portion of what we call classic men’s clothing that cannot claim a military origin (as do trenchcoats, khakis, raglan sleeves, cardigans, duffel coats, desert boots, wristwatches, and on and on and on) must pretend to a pedigree both butch and aristocratic: sport, generally involving horses.
It takes a lot of work to make a map, and precious little to copy it. And since map makers, unlike novelists or painters, are all trying to tell the same story, it’s almost impossible to prove whether a competitor has stolen your work or achieved the same results on their own.
Like Poole’s neighbor and contemporary Gieves & Hawkes, Poole has followed up a studiously dry, detailed tome from several decades ago with a heavier, flashier collection of pictures and monographs on famous customers, including their recorded lifetime spend at Henry Poole (with helpful conversion into current-day values) and signature garment.
Just as there are different sorts of satisfaction in the present—for instance, happiness from lack of want, fulfillment from exertion towards a higher purpose—there are different sorts of idealization of the past. Lincoln’s yearning is not for a beatific past but the opposite – a past of tumult, but also one of opportunity and perhaps more importantly, meaning and glory.