A Winning Off-the-Rack Wardrobe
The Best Off-the-Rack Wardrobe
G. Bruce Boyer
From the Print Edition:
Linda Evangelista, Autumn 95
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Tie-making is a special art. Some, such as the famous French firm of Hermes, founded in 1837, print their own silk twill in an extremely ornate and complicated silk-screen process. The British firm of Charles Hill produces handmade jacquard-woven silk ties in a variety of weights, from 24 to 50 ounces, the traditional patterns of which are drawn from the archives of historic English silk mills.
The crown jewel of neckwear is the legendary seven-fold tie. The concept of the seven-fold is simplicity itself: A square yard of finest silk is folded in on itself seven times until the tie shape is formed; then it is hand-stitched and pressed. That is all there is to it. No lining is needed to maintain its shape or to tie a perfect knot.
The seven-fold's salad days were the early decades of this century, but as cheaper mechanized production replaced artisan tie makers, and as the price of quality silk rose after the Second World War, the seven-fold all but vanished. Today, there are only two companies that still make the seven-fold: Robert Talbott in the United States and Kiton in Italy.
"The truth is," says famed Biella designer Luciano Barbera, whose family has produced incredibly refined clothing for three generations, "that to make anything well it must be more than a business: It must be a passion." Exactly.
WHERE TO FIND QUALITY READY-MADE CLOTHING
645 Fifth Avenue New York, New York 10022
Founded in 1923 in Metzingen, Germany, Hugo Boss today produces three lines of menswear: a main-stream brand (BOSS), a trendier line (HUGO) and a more expensive group (Baldessarini/Hugo Boss). The Baldessarini line is handmade and uses exclusive fabrics, with a particularly large range of tweed-woven cashmeres in unusual colors. Suits from $1,150 to $1,500, sport jackets from $900 to $1,200 ($1,600 for Super* cashmeres), topcoats from $800 to $2,000.
730 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10019
"To make fine clothing, it's necessary to start with the best fabrics," Luciano Barbera says. And he should know; his father, Carlo, makes some of the world's most exquisite. The superfine merino woolens and cashmeres are all exclusive to the firm, which epitomizes the Milanese school of tailoring: English-style shaping but with that fine Italian hand, creating understated and unobtrusive elegance. Suits at $2,500, sport jackets at $1,900.
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