Gianfranco Ferre, the Italian “Architect of Fashion,” has died. Captain Ahab must have finally caught up with him.
Izzy had never seen anyone wear an unbuttoned wing-collar shirt before, but at Cannes French film star Alain Delon nearly pulls it off—but certainly not the unkempt haircut or blinged-up lapel pin.
In his Book of the Courtier, Renaissance man Baldassare Castiglione coined the much-needed, and delightful, word “sprezzatura”:
It is an art which does not seem to be an art. One must avoid affectation and practice in all things a certain sprezzatura, disdain or carelessness, so as to conceal art, and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it … obvious effort is the antithesis of grace.
It is, in sum, the art of making the difficult look easy. Needless to say, it applies to one’s life just as much as one’s appearance. But when applied to the latter, it counsels avoiding perfection, even if that means creating intentional flaws—though they must never be seen as such.
Examine the Milanese gentleman above. With his negligently unbuttoned shirt, floppy pocket square, rumpled linen jacket with its sleeves folded back—this, my friends, is sprezzatura on a bicycle.
Jack Valenti, the big macher who for 38 years headed the Motion Picture Association of America, was Napoleonic (or, more positively, Churchillian) in stature, but, like many diminutive but ultimately powerful men, he skillfully used his attire to make the most of what nature gave him. Sartorialists everywhere will miss him.
The continuing success of Sanjaya Malakar, the American Idol contestant with a second-string voice, is supposedly a great mystery. But Izzy suspects it’s merely due to the gimmick of his bizarre hairstyle, an imitation of the horsehair crest on a hoplite helmet (on sale here for a meagre $349.95).
Fulfilling a dream of the tasteful everywhere, graphic designer Raphael Brickman has given the contestant a sorely needed haircut.
OK, Izzy admits that’s actually fellow (and ordinarily bald) contestant Phil Stacey. But if Stacey can be given a virtual toupee, there’s hope that someone will do a digital Delilah on Samson—er, Sanjaya.
Inspired by a post on the well-dressed economist, a reader queried Izzy as to whether he knew anything about the attire of the dapper TV business commentator Larry Kudlow. Ever happy to oblige, Izzy has it on good authority that Mr. Kudlow wears bespoke suits by Savile-Row trained Leonard Logsdail (whom Izzy has had the pleasure of meeting) and ties by Turnbull & Asser, Vineyard Vines, and Venazi. His contrast-collar shirts, ever beloved by financiers and capitalists, are also by T&A.
A macho boutique might sound like a contradiction in terms, but one new shop in New York is trying to do just that. Part haberdasher, part barbershop, Freemans Sporting Club aims to be all things masculine. Whether they’re able to achieve that, Izzy doesn’t yet know, but he is definitely excited by the fact that they are offering suits tailored by the illustrious Martin Greenfield out of deadstock. According to this article about one of the store’s owners:
Durability of material and shape underpins his decision to use vintage deadstock, most of which dates to the ’40s and ’50s. Unlike Super 180s and other popular high-twist wools, FSC’s vintage stock is often only 70 or 90 twist, and, therefore, much stronger. Greenfield’s son, Jay, explains that “most suits today are designed to be made by machine and glued together,” and the fabric is therefore very light. “Because we make it by hand,” he says, “we can use fabric with more body and shape.”
FSC’s emphasis on durability translates into a crisp, structured suit body that will soften with age, but will always maintain its form. The suits are built around Swiss cotton and black horsehair canvas with black gossamer linings that reveal the basting and other remnants of construction.
Izzy hopes to stop by the shop for a look and feel on his next trip to Gotham.