Working with a workroom I use regularly, a highly regarded workroom that does most of the suits for theatre, television and film in Australia, a workroom that goes by mostly unnoticed and unrecognised, we set about making a wide notched lapel suit which would test the boundaries of the cutter. More than a few times he walked off in dismay. "How is the lapel going to stay put if we cut it that wide?" he asked. He added sarcastically ,"you might as well fasten it down with a button so it won't flop". But after decisions and revisions we arrived at a point where both he and I were comfortable it could be done.
Robert Redford's 1974 Ralph Lauren wide notched lapel is really at the cusp of what is considered functional dressing. It is even wider than Tom Ford's generous lapels. When you put a jacket on like this all you know and feel is lapel. It reminds me of the days when cars used to have wing tips at the rear. Although stunning and beautiful in appearance, you always had to wonder 'but what function do they play?'. The truth is that a wide lapel, either peaked or notched, is a wonderfully aesthetically pleasing component to a flowing and elegant piece of clothing but it is highly impractical if you were to be conducting yourself seriously in business and it requires a great deal of confidence, either real or manufactured, to pull it off.
As I said when I embarked on this process, I was always going to add or subtract elements to create something inspired by Redford but not exactly the same thing. One of the main points of difference was that I used gold H & S buttons on the jacket and had the suit hung on one button a la Huntstman. I also decided to lose the waist coat so that I could work on some braces for this ensemble.
One of the other main points of difference was in the trousers. Here I borrowed a concept from Luca Rubinacci where I used a buckle to bring across the trouser tab right across the front of the pants to form an in-built belt. I have seen this technique on a number of Italian blog sites and I am so grateful that my Sydney based Italian tailoring friend acquiesced to my demands. Adding also a single pleat to the trousers meant that in effect we had a bit of "Old World meets New World but-really-is-Old-World-redefined" look.
The brilliance of the suit is only really understood by seeing it in the flesh. The great example was when I was having some minor alterations done at my local tailor, a gentleman walked in to get his tuxedo altered. As he walked into the shop he saw my suit lying on the table and he exclaimed "my God that's a lovely suit". You see, you can't understand the beauty of the apple blossom pink wool and the cut of it's proportions unless you see it with your own eye. And what does it look like on? I will let you know next week when hopefully I will have a photo of it on but I must warn you..... I am not a model!