Any shop that’s had a nameplate on London’s Savile Row or its neighboring tailoring streets (Old Burlington Street, Conduit Street, Clifford Street and the like) for more than a few decades has acquired a variety of different identities.
The world does not need another clothing book, let alone one purporting to collect “icons,” as does this one. Fortunately, this book, the second by Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson, is as refreshing and original as his first, the entertainingly vivid memoir Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed.
I had seen it in an expensive English luxury boutique at Heathrow and it had stayed with me until finally I bought a version: a polished oxhorn tapering in glossy smoothness to a point, with a corkscrew attached. Impracticality is almost synonymous with luxury, however.
A few days ago I had a realization: We may destroy that which we love most, but often our object is more than happy to return the favor. The charming and elegant crook Roger Duchesne plays in Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob le flambeur is a stylish case in point. Bob is a well-dressed rogue who wends his way through the moral penumbra of a classic film noir – effortlessly but inexorably towards destructions of his own making.
Those of us who, to paraphrase one of my favorite bands, sold our souls for #steez are familiar with a certain number of iconic portraits that helped make style icons past and present: that still from North by Northwest of Cary Grant in blue-grey suit fleeing a crop duster; the Duke of Windsor in glen check suit and Homburg kicking a soccer ball (an image so penetrating its silhouette became the logo for Albert Goldberg’s Albert Arts line); Winston Churchill nursing a Tommy gun in a pinstriped flannel suit; and, for a few of us, Horst’s photo of midcentury Vogue editor Baron Nicolas de Gunzberg in a draped suit out of which elegant cuffs held together by stirrup-shaped cufflinks insouciantly protrude.
An essential worldwide truth: People will do what they think they need to do to survive. Witness the sale of today’s Alternative Style Icon and his brother to the principals of the Theosophical Society, a group of Westerners come to India to search for some kind of mystical meaning, a meaning Krishnamurti’s father was only too glad to provide to these philosophical tourists.
Change of season is the perfect excuse for those of us interested in such things to vary our methods of self-indulgence. Fall is when iGents crow with relief at being able to break out their patterned tweed jackets, intricately knit sweaters, and flannel trousers. And winter, whether in Rockridge or Reykjavik, provides the excuse to open this year’s crop of cashmere socks.