What makes for an impeccable suit? Well, it's a combination of craftsmanship, raw materials, labour and skill. And, admittedly, a certain dollop of ego.
Katie Trotter: From bespoke to wildly pricey, suit yourselves, guys
Fashion moments in menswear are rare; not because they are not beautifully executed or matter any less than in womenswear, but because they simply don't attract the same amount of razzle dazzle. You see, historically, men's style hasn't moved much in terms of the standard rules of dress either in form, colour or cut in the way that womenswear has.
You may have heard the old term, "clothes maketh the man," and to a certain point they may, in that the wearer of a well-made suit is more than likely to use it as a business accessory than a point of expression - a way to express a certain level of success.
But what makes for an impeccable suit? Well, it's a combination of craftsmanship, raw materials, labour and skill. And, admittedly, a certain dollop of ego. For those lucky enough to laugh in the face of a budget, don't go near the rack, as there are a lot of high-priced duds out there. There is only one way to go for the suit of a lifetime - bespoke. Think appointment only. This needs to be a special experience and one you will remember. You need to love this thing. Forever. And you will need to tell some fairly remarkable stories of its origin. This suit will need to impress everyone for a long time - including yourself.
Most refined gentlemen will already know that Italians tend to make the best suits. It's deeply ingrained in the culture - think slim but not suave, eye catching not eye popping. Remember, a machine shouldn't touch a bespoke suit, not even be near it. If you see a machine within 10 metres that isn't a till or a phone, walk straight back out the door, for you are in the wrong place.
For the crème de la crème, head to William Fioravanti (an Italian, obviously) based in Manhattan on West 57th Street. Anything here will be made by a fine line of Neapolitan tailors and will set you back upwards of US$20,000 (Dh76,460). In Milan, make sure to take a look at Caraceni (notable clients included Humphery Bogart, Gary Cooper and Yves Saint Laurent). In London's Savile Row, the best is said to come from H Huntsman (customers include members of the Royal family), Anderson & Sheppard or Dege & Skinner (which makes visits as far as Japan to meet regular clients.)
Of course, there are always those who want more (the lucky few inheritors of old money and aristocracy). For those, there is the more outrageous. Look to Italian luxury clothier Brioni (which, up until recently, had been dressing James Bond for years), which did a specialist luxury line made from the ultra luxurious Vanquish 11 fabric. The finished product contains a mix of Qiviuk (that comes from the rare musk ox found in the Arctic) and vicuna (made from the coat of an alpaca-like animal, which can only be sheared every three years.) There were only 100 pieces made. The cost? Dh158,000 a pop.
Is any of it worth it? Well, of course, everything is relative. Yes, it's worth it for the ultimate in quality, style and craftsmanship. It is like investing in a timepiece or notable work of art. No, it's probably not worth it if you have to mortgage the house. So, for those lucky few, go ahead and book an appointment at one of the above, for there is no other way when it comes to the ultimate in bespoke, modern luxury. I'm sorry, have your assistant tell her assistant to book an appointment.
And for everyone else? Well there is always tomorrow; who knows when prosperity will strike. Regardless, a true gentleman should, more than anything else, harbour a certain level of conscientious sartorial responsibility.