Goodbye old friend. One of my ancient, beloved vintage suits is no longer. Its jacket’s thick carved horn buttons will end up being treasured by someone who buys orphaned suit coats, because the last time I put this suit on, I discovered what seemed like a baseball-sized hole in the crotch of the trousers.
Today price is another marketing tool. We’re still told to think otherwise, thanks to regular posts and articles that helpfully compare the differences between, say, a $500 and a $2,000 leather jacket. Those articles make price out to be the proxy for quality, with all the differences between the two presumed to indicate lower quality in the cheaper version and higher in the dearer. Price does not mean quality, as those comparisons suggest. And $500 is a huge amount of money for a piece of clothing to almost all of us.
I’m terrible at recognizing celebrities. Friends who moved to LA quickly learned to pick out any of the A-, B-, C-, D- or Jason Patric-list who become, I am told, part of the furniture of its bars and restaurants. For my part, I didn’t realize who the bum in a Paris wine shop who looked like Johnny Depp actually was until International Man of Mystery Michael Alden asked me if I’d noticed it was Depp himself.
For some reason, recent years have seen a surge of discussion of how people could be so gullible they believed the obvious distortions of so-called reality TV shows and their stars. If my memory serves me correctly, I, too, was that credulous several decades ago. I was so disappointed to discover that Kitchen Stadium was not a real place in Japan, and that Takeshi Kaga was not an eccentric millionaire obsessed with discovering the most refined experiences for his jaded palate, at least those which could be prepared within an hour by a stable of specialized iron men of cooking. I suspect he was not even a real chairman of any organization.
His appearance, for the last forty years of his life, was alien, mannered, armored by various styles of outfit that were less uniforms than the carapace of some unique extraterrestrial being. It was this persona, behind gently waving fans, knuckle-length gloves, heavy-looking Chrome Hearts jewelry, that made him such a memorable media figure. An unforgettable bowsprit, rather than figurehead, for the many different fashion houses he designed for – at times creating collections simultaneously for Chanel, Fendi, Chloé and his own Lagerfeld label, among others.
A reaction to the response of a friend. That friend, the prolific #menswear blogger Dirnelli, frequently models his secondhand bespoke suits. What he calls “respoke” is suits made by a custom tailor for someone else, altered to fit a new wearer.
Today There Are No Gentlemen, wrote fashion historian and fabulist Nik Cohn in 1971. Upper-class British Member of Parliament Jeremy Thorpe was soon to prove him right. And now, thanks to Stephen Frears’ excellent television adaptation of John Preston’s book about the infamous Thorpe Affair, we have a much-needed reminder of that lesson. Or at least those of us with access to Amazon Prime and to a sense of insight do.