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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Colour Purple - Capping Off My Year Of Roman Purple With A Suit From Leng Bespoke

When I watch films such as Kingsman I find myself chuckling at the thought that a place like Savile Row truly exists. You see I have never been to Savile Row. I might have gone past it whilst I was living in London but I have never actively been along that strip and gone in for a fitting. So when I see leather arm chairs and fireplaces along with timber panelled walls I find myself amused because my experience of tailors is a polar opposite. 

In Sydney, Australia there are so few tailoring outfits that look like said Savile Row tailoring houses. One is Rochefort that resides inside the St. James Trust building but my experience there was that it was merely a greeting  and fitting room and all the suits were made off site. There is also Zinc and Sons on Oxford Street but the store is stuffy and I never feel comfortable in that space and not just because the owners seemed cold and stand-offish.

My experience of working Sydney tailoring workrooms is that they are often the most spartan places filled with men who are getting on with the job with absolutely no bells and whistles around. A boiler and steam iron. A sewing machine on a desk with a chair in front of it. A bench laden with work, needles and threads. Some old torsos with a couple of recent commissions on them. Cloth lying around in bolts or else half opened in a plastic bag having just arrived in by the courier. There will be a few photos printed from an old bubble jet printer of work done for the famous, the rich or the powerful. And finally, a small stand with all the current wool bunches being offered. And, that's it. It's not more complicated than that.

No roaring fire. No secret timber panelled walls. No esoteric language or else a protocol by which people greet one another. And, really, I don't know if I could ever stomach more than that. But, I do promise my readers that one day I shall go and ham it up on Savile Row, finances permitting.

The suit that Leng is working on now is my last piece of Roman-esque purple that I am creating. A suit inspired by Edward Sexton whom I mentioned in yesterday's post not without reason.

You see, I am chasing a roped shoulder. The roped shoulder goes by many different names - in Italian it is called 'rollino' ; but it is usually comprised of less material and a less accentuated roll. By contrast Sexton styled suits really accentuate the 'sleeve head roll' , which the Savile Row tailors refer to as 'roping'. My desire to have a roped shoulder is that it really created a defining point at which the shoulder finishes and the sleeve begins which then accentuates the curvature of the sleeve head and forces the tailor to then consider the framing of the top of the chest which needs to follow the line of the chest well in order to accentuate the silhouette. 

Because I am overweight and owing to the fact that I wish to try and use the jacket away from the suit if possible, the jacket is a two button and not a double breasted suit which strays from the influence of Edward Sexton. If Leng does a great job he will somehow manage to sculpt the suit to keep the proportions of a Sexton-esque db but allowing the coat to drape off the top button of a two button rather than having the beautiful but impractical sweep of a double breasted.

The Bateman Ogden wool is quite heavy, as was my experience with Leng's first suit that he did for us last year. In my own words I referred to it as the ' mein Panzer' because it was built so well that it would last one hundred years and withstand all sorts of seasons and wear but it was unfortunately too heavy and hot from late spring onwards until early autumn according to Sydney weather.

On this new purple suit we therefore decided to make it work all year round by removing making it half-lined and to reduce in part some of the canvas weight that would be used in the front of the jacket. The cloth being the same weight (off the top of my head it's 320 grams) as the previous Bateman Ogden wool used, this hopefully will be enough to make the suit both more breathable and giving great flexibility for Sydney's often sweltering heat from November through to late March.

It is only at the first fitting so there is no telling how this suit might eventually shape up except to say it is the final culmination of both an appreciation of the colour purple and an homage to Edward Sexton. See more of Leng's work here

The three key chances I am looking for on this commission is to see how Leng can sculpt the sleeve head in a more Savile Row style manner and trying to keep the proportions and shapes interacting in a manner which pays homage to tailor  Edward Sexton.

Gennaro Scuro working on another jacket in the studio at Leng Bespoke

Leng Ngo inspecting the lapel proportions for this next commission by Le Noeud Papillon
The first fitting for a Roman purple suit with the wool coming from Bateman Ogden. This suit will be finished with an accentuated roped shoulder paying homage to the Savile Row style of cutters such as Edward Sexton with the proportion of the lapel also reflecting that similar style. 

Another 3 piece suit Leng is working on from another customer which is really something special. 

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