Uncle Walter

This month I had the pleasure of sharing my ten-year business journey with up-and coming start-up businesses, at a Leeds Enterprise Network event, held at the Yorkshire Post offices in Leeds.

Whilst determination, enthusiasm, self-belief and luck have played a large part in keeping me on the right track (I’m hardly a big success yet!), there are  several individuals who must be credited for their guidance and support.

One was a chap called Graham Rigby. It was Graham (of the Baird Menswear Group) who trained me to measure people up, checked over all my initial orders and even (on his own time) visited my customers with me so I could watch him do the fittings. Sadly now dead, he was a cheerful, cheeky, fag smoking grafter, who loved the trade and on more than one occasion got me out of a tight spot!

Another, and the central character of this post, is Walter Grimes, whose funeral I attended today.

Walter Grimes

Founder of Carl Stuart Ltd, he is in my eyes, a true tailoring legend.

Speak to any cloth merchant, or tailor, and most will have heard of, or, have a story to tell about Walter.

Initially working as a PE instructor in the RAF, he enrolled on a pattern drafting & tailoring course at night school in Leeds. To earn a few quid on the side, he started measuring-up his colleagues at Catterick, and then hot-footed it down to Leeds to get the suits made-up.

Aged 30 years old and with the birth of his first child Nigel, he was forced to move his burgeoning business from the spare room (now commandeered as a nursery by his wife, Lois) and decided it was time to do tailoring full time, and took over the premises of a retiring tailor in Wakefield.

By 1980 he’d built his own manufacturing facility, employing over sixty people, with two retail shops and supplying trade customers throughout the UK and beyond. They’ve made trousers for the tallest man in the world, suits for Elton John and Donald Trump.

To me, he possessed many traits of the stereotypical Yorkshireman. With a bullshit radar the size of a NASA space-station, he called a spade and spade. He told it, as it was, and once he’d made his mind up on something, that was it.

There was no doubt he could be blunt and was certainly a force to be reckoned with. God help the wife of a customer who pointed out a ‘problem’ during a fitting. They would be given centre stage, whilst he sat on the table, swinging his legs, and then would say “can the tailor talk now?..” before sending them scuttling back off to what he called, “the critics chair” in the corner.

A “schmoozer,” he was not. A little prickly on the outside, he did however, have a soft centre, and once he’d got the measure of you (and approved!) there was genuine warmth, and a dry and rather Pythonesque sense of humour. He’d often appear in the workroom wearing strange wigs, hats and oversized spectacles.

His right hand man, Patrick Gaughan, who worked for him for over thirty years, gave a wonderful tribute. Dignified, heart-felt and full of emotion, he spoke of Walter as an ‘old school’ boss. He’d prowl the factory, calling out, “whose talking?” and he was, in Patrick’s words a “workaholic,” never “switching off.”

He spoke of how he took genuine pride in his product, deeply cared for his workforce and his presence (and overseeing eye) was felt from the cutting table to the pressing room.

Despite considerable financial success, trophy cars and flash watches were not his style, although he did have a love of flying and bought a small plane with two friends.

He got a kick out of running a successful business, delivering a high quality suit, and the loyalty he showed to his staff (even in the depths of the recession in the early 1990’s) was unwavering. Many of the lads and lasses in the workroom have been with him for well over twenty years (some forty!) and that’s for a good reason.

There are very few tailors in this country who have come anywhere close to achieving what he has done. He was a man of integrity, a self-starter, bristling with energy, you knew where you stood with him and someone commercially you could depend on.

Privately, the softer side shone through even more. He gave generously to charity, refereed football matches for the prisoners at Wakefield Prison, was a wonderful grandfather to his grand-daughters, Hollie and Katie, and was adored by his daughter, Jane, who now runs the business.

As I said at the beginning, most people in the trade have a story about “Uncle Walter.”

Mine involves a vigorous discussion about the merits of coloured buttonholes. After spitting several feathers at me, he gave me a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and said: “James, you’re a grand lad, you’re doing it, but get organised. Very good.”

I will miss him. The world of tailoring has lost one of its stars and will be a darker place without him.

 

 

On the cod

Five days after Christmas and despite my blood / alcohol level, I’m feeling bloody marvellous.

There’s no doubt it’s my favourite part of the year. A time for indulgence, family and friends.

Here I am, just before Christmas Eve, sinking a few (12%!) ales in ‘Friends Of Ham’ with my oldest friend Pete, over from Amsterdam for the festive season.

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Apart from the fabulous selection of beers, quality fare and wonderful ambience, the thing that impresses me most is the service.

I love the way you are warmly greeted, escorted to your table, served with a smile by people who are clearly proud and knowledgeable about what’s on offer, and upon leaving, thanked for coming.

It puts a smile on my face and I love being a part of what is simply a very class act. In my book, service is everything.

In the photo above, I’m wearing a little pre-Christmas treat to myself, bought whilst down in London for a long lunch with college friends.

It’s a new trilby from Bates hatters on Jermyn Street in St James.

I used to buy my head candy from Lock & Co, but after receiving a very disappointing level of service (despite having bought half a dozen hats from them including three Borsalinos) I voted with my feet and looked elsewhere.

I’m so glad I did.

Here I am with Bates’s General Manager, Tom Williams, who was kindly giving my new hat a good steam.

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He also took the time to show me some of their finest grade Panama hats, and educated me on their provenance and rarity.

One such grade was so fine (with a beautiful even colour and unbelievably light in weight) there are only a handful of people in Ecuador who can weave it, and it takes eight months of a persons life to produce the blank.

This has then to be hand-blocked and finished and again, the number of craftsmen who are able to do this are few and far between.

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It was fascinating stuff, he was a genuine pleasure to deal with and the experience was truly memorable.

It staggers me how so many businesses seem to get away with poor service. Even more so if they are selling a luxury product.

Snooty shop assistants should be feathered and tarred and almost provide an argument for online shopping.

Personally, I find the whole online thing frustrating, vacuous and mildy depressing, although I suppose it’s convenient if you’re buying a basic service, or commodity.

Baked beans and car tax are all very well, but to me it is the people you deal with, and the surroundings where you make the purchase, that can be a source of the utmost pleasure and inspiration.

Only yesterday I sat in The Magpie Cafe in Whitby with my family and raised a cup of tea to toast the wonderful service we received.

They were warm, engaging, lovely with the kids, and that made my fish and chips with Yorkshire caviar (mushy peas) slip down all the better.

Providing a quality service, like those companies mentioned above, will always be at the top of the list at Michelsberg Tailoring.

As New Year’s Eve approaches, I wish you all a wonderful few more days ‘on the cod’ (tailoring talk for ‘on the lash’) and all the best for 2017.

Cheers!

 

 

Kaizen – the way forward.

As an A-level economics student, I remember watching a case study on a Japanese car manufacturer and their ‘Kaizen’ approach to working practices.

Translated, it means “change for the better,” and has become a term to describe a business philosophy of continuous improvement across all business functions and every member of staff.

Most memorable, was a thousand employees, dressed in immaculate orange overalls, singing the company anthem and doing stretching exercises before the working day began.

Whilst my tight hamstrings and sloppy vocal chords might grumble at such shenanigans, in principle, I think it’s a great idea.

Singing hymns during morning assembly at school was a great way to blow away the cobwebs before a days academic enrichment, and brought teachers and pupils together as a ‘team,’ before the days lessons began.

I’m not suggesting Team Michelsberg will be engaging in 7am pilates sessions, followed by a rousing chorus of “At The Name of Jesus,” but anything that promotes the bonding of team-mates and creates a positive, upbeat, healthy environment has to be a good thing.

To be honest, a long lunch and a pint after work are more along my line of thinking, but the bit I do really like, is continuous improvement.

I have never, nor will I subscribe to the, ‘if it’s not broke, don’t mend it,’ gang. I consider it absolutely vital to try new things and keep raising the bar.

Naturally, I am always looking at potential new suppliers, but loyalty to my existing partners is paramount, and whilst there will always be a new kid on the block, I think you can get more out of people with whom you have an existing relationship.

They say your best customers are your most demanding. I have been working with my Yorkshire based tailors for over eight years and they’d certainly agree with that! But, like L’Oreal products, I’m worth it!!

We’re a bit like a dysfunctional family, they have their ideas, I have mine, but last Friday morning in the workroom was a moment of “Kaizen” magic.

There are things about the cut and construction of their garments (half canvas) that I love, but the recent trend towards ‘softer’ tailoring has gone against them. Hence, the introduction of my new Italian style made-to-measure line.

Heavily padded shoulders, a stiff canvas in the chest, and a ‘fused’ front produce a more (keenly priced) durable garment with a more formal and robust feel, but more of my customers are now looking for something more relaxed.

So, they have worked with me to produce a full canvas product.

This basically means hand-sewing a layer of very soft canvas (pictured below) to the cloth to provide stability and shape to the garment; rather than using a glue-embedded membrane, called a fusible, which is applied to the cloth under heat and pressure.

Michelsberg Full Canvas

Bottom line, it takes much longer to make, the canvas is much more expensive than the fusible, but the feel and fit is second to none. It follows the line of the body like a second skin, gives a lovely roll to the lapel, and help maintain the shape of the garment after cleaning and pressing

Here is my colleague Mr Anderson in a forward fitting of the new prototype.

Charlie Anderson Full Canvas

We’re also been trialling new shoulder pads and sleeve head roles, and cut the top of sleeves with more fullness, to try and provide me with another thing I’ve been mewing about for ages – a roped shoulder.

Roped shoulder

Finally, they have developed a slimmer ‘block’ (the starting point for a customers bespoke pattern) providing a more contemporary fit that should also make it easier to deal with more complex figurations.

My excitement at the difference compared to the half-canvas product was palpable. I could feel the difference in a flash. We’re not there yet on the shoulder (I’d like a fuller, rounder finish) but we’re certainly on the right track.

So big respect to the boys and girls in the workroom for taking the time and effort to do something different.

Change is never easy, but if you don’t move forward, you get left behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Michelsberg of Winterfell

This month, it’s been party time at Michelsberg HQ to celebrate 10 years of bespoke tailoring.

Ten Year Birthday Party2

Over a hundred and fifty of my customers, suppliers, family and friends, gathered to enjoy the fabulously talented Vernon Sisters, who performed an eclectic mix of Hollywood swing, Gatsby glamour and 1940’s vintage cabaret.

On the grand piano, I had the silky smooth Stewart Garden tinkling the ivories; a nice touch which played to my sentimental side as he performed for me when I first moved into the Victoria Quarter, five years ago.

I’d hired the infamous mixologists, Dean and Connor, of The Maven Bar to keep the booze flowing, and what a job they did – polished, utterly professional and charming to boot.

It goes without saying I made a speech – show me a stage and I’m all over it like a rash. With my new hand-sewn double-breasted suit in Loro Piana cloth, Hermes tie, bespoke shirt and Foster & Sons’ loafers, I felt quite the man about town.

Throughout my life, I’ve always felt more confident when dressed to the nines, and whilst hardly a shrinking violet, when faced with so many people, I could feel my heart beating.

I must say, it was rather a wonderful moment to stand before so many of my loyal customers, who have been with me from the start, wearing their Michelsberg threads, swigging my booze, and then be presented with the birthday cake (in front of my daughters Avy and Elizabeth) by my gorgeous wife, Nikki.

Ten Year Birthday3

I gave a big shout out to my cloth suppliers and the boys and girls in the workroom, and finally congratulated my partner in crime, Mr Charlie Anderson, who started here in September 2014.

He’s come along way in two years. Not short of confidence himself, he’s beginning to build a real following in Manchester and this month has had an absolute belter. The self-declared “Rock” of the business, his status has now been upgraded to “Rainmaker.”

At the beginning, my goal for the business was to be the best in Leeds.

Now, on the hunt for my next apprentice, we will take our place on the Iron throne, and declare ourselves the John Snow of the tailoring trade. The Kings of the North.

(Images taken by Tony Jacobs)

Ten!

Michelsberg Tailoring is ten years old!

Born on a kitchen table in June 2006, it crawled to “Queen Square,” a business incubator, and started “whipping the cat” – tailoring talk for visiting customers at their homes and offices – and operating out of the Malmaison hotel in Leeds.

Lavished by its father (that’s me) with boundless love and attention, it shed its nappy for shorts and Clarks shoes, setting up its first proper home at the managed offices, ‘Calls Wharf,’ on Calls Lane.

After a year of paying grown-up bills, it took the plunge, and headed out into the big wide world, signing a lease at the Victoria Quarter.

We’ve been here for five years and here I am with the new Centre Manager, James Bailey, signing a new lease with our landlord, Hammerson.

James Bailey VQ

Since day one, I’ve delivered well over three thousand bespoke garments, and two years ago, took on my first full time employee, Charlie Anderson, who is now running the Manchester business out of Hotel Gotham.

It was a big step, and we are now really beginning to see some traction. As many of you know, building a business takes immense energy, desire, confidence and commitment. With Charlie’s efforts, I have no doubt he will assert himself at the top of the Michelsberg sales board in due course.

Whilst the aspiration is to become a shark in the sartorial sea, I still consider us a minnow.

The last ten years have been all about improving the quality of our garments, building a reputation for outstanding service, and defining the core values upon which we will move forward – loyalty, honesty, work ethic.

My dream is to train and build up a team of ambitious, self-starters, who are passionate about customer care and men’s tailoring, ultimately running their own tailoring businesses under the Michelsberg wing.

With Charlie now firing on all cylinders, my hunt for the next ‘apprentice’ has begun.

As a celebration of what has been a glorious decade in bespoke tailoring, I’m throwing a party for all my customers and suppliers.

The date is Thursday 15th September from 6.30pm, here in the Victoria Quarter, and whilst I always like to put on a good show, this one’s going to be special.

So, please, “Save The Date” in your diary.

If I don’t see you before for a fitting, or, further treats for your wardrobe, then here’s wishing you and family a fabulous Summer!

 

 

 

 

Tipsy Tailors

Since the start of the year, it’s been mental.

Wedding season is in full swing, Manchester is flying and we’ve just had a record month.

It’s all adrenalin fuelled, pink-cheeked positivity, but all work and no play, makes James a dull boy.

So, this month Mr Anderson and I headed down to London for the annual Bespoke Tailors Benevolent Association dinner, held at the Merchant Taylors Hall at Number 30 Threadneedle Street.

What a venue. Old school elegance at its finest with stunning chandeliers, Georgian windows and hand-carved oak-panelling. It’s my fourth time to this venerable institution and yet my heart still raced as I entered the fray, a veritable Whose Who of the Bespoke Tailoring and Textile trade in the UK and beyond.

Generously invited by the cloth company Scabal to join their table, we dined with members of the team from The Rake Magazine.

For those of you haven’t read this, it’s a must – with a focus on the good things in life and people of note, it’s witty, informative, a right riveting read and something every aspiring dandy needs on their coffee table.

After a fabulous meal, we headed out into the Courtyard Garden to commence the best part of the evening – simply having a good drink and a natter with fellow cutters, tailors, shoe-makers, hatters, shirt-makers and men of the cloth.

James & Charlie - Merchant Taylors Hall

Here we are before things started to get messy.

I feel that Bespoke Tailoring is a genuine calling in life, and as individuals gathered together, our bond was the decision to tread a similar path. Enthusiasm for our trade and the satisfaction of doing something highly personal, creative and service driven was apparent in all I spoke with.

Time flew and before I knew it we were in a cab, heading to the Duck and Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower.

Duck & Waffle

The chap with his back to you is responsible for extreme distress to my kidneys, liver and bank account. My paymaster, Mr Scrivenor, would have winced at the price of a bottle of Asahi beer – but that’s London for you.

At the risk of doing irreparable damage to my reputation, let’s just say it was ‘rather late’ when we got back to the hotel.

All too soon, the day after the night before, was upon us.

Whilst waiting in the lobby for my partner-in-crime to materialise, I spotted two chaps with their wives, resplendent in trilby’s and immaculately cut overcoats.

A sociable beast and still ‘buzzing’ from the night before, I introduced myself and commented on their attire. It turns out they were also at the dinner, representing the City tailors Couch & Hoskin, and their rather pink eyes, told a similar story to my own.

A truly fabulous firm, here’s a picture of one of their creations – a Silk Velvet Smoking Coat – made for the BTBA ‘ President Patrick Bunting of Dormeuil, who was at the top table that evening.

Couch and Hoskin

A cooked breakfast was called for and we found a belter of a place round the corner at St Katharine Docks. We sat outside, the sun shining down upon our alcohol drenched faces, and wallowed in a sausage and bacon recovery programme, admiring the glorious view before us.

London

London Town. The perfect place to let off steam in style.

 

 

 

 

Happy Holidays!

December has been an absolute belter.

As far as business goes, it’s usually a lean month, with people saving for Christmas, but the till has been ringing away like Santa’s sleigh bells.

It’s been a great end to what has been a terrific year and music to the ears of my accountant, and paymaster, the venerable Mr Scrivenor.

Some of this was down to the launch event of our made to measure collection and the influx of new victims to our Manchester operation.

It’s been a month where the gym has been replaced by sin, with team bonding sessions at Whitelocks, Friends of Ham and a memorable lunch at Sous les Nes.

The highlight was the Michelsberg Christmas party, my showroom and terrace rammed with customers and suppliers, glasses of mulled wine raised to the heart-warming tones of The Tingley Brass Band. Magic.

brass band

Our final hurrah was on Wednesday 23rd, with an exceptional lunch at Manchester House, with a bottle of Bordeaux that will bring tears to the eyes of the aforementioned Mr Scrivenor.

Since then it’s been a booze and food fest of criminal proportions.

Christmas Eve was spent in front of the log fire, with my oldest friend Pete, and his lovely lady, Ching-yin.

Here we are getting into the spirit of things, gangsta’ style. Respect to the Amsterdam massive!

pete

Yes, it’s fair to say your tailor is a happy chappie, even more so when Santa brought me a new O’Neill ‘Pyschofreak’ wetsuit. 😎

Fingers crossed Mother Nature will allow me to christen it over the next few days as I head over to the east coast with my family.

So here’s wishing you all a fabulous festive run up to New Year’s Eve and a cracking start to 2016!!

“Little By Little”

“It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life for me. And I’m feeling good.”

Michelsberg Tailoring Manchester is now open for business!

Led by my partner-in-crime, Charlie Anderson, he will be based at “Club Brass,” the exclusive private members club of the new five star “Hotel Gotham.”

We’ve produced a short video to introduce the service and you can check it out below:

For me, Manchester holds nothing but fond memories.

As a teenager, I’d arrive on a Saturday morning at Piccadilly Station with my friend Pete, dressed in purple jeans, Dr Martens and a military style 60’s jacket.

After dim sum in Chinatown, we’d  head off to Affleck’s Palace to stock up on vintage clothing.

It was here that I bought my first tuxedo, a 1950’s number in a heavy black barathea, with wide silk shawl lapels and military braiding down the side of the trousers.

T-Shirts proclaimed “On the Seventh Day, God created Manchester” and nightclubs swayed to the sounds of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets.

It was my “coming of age” time with nocturnal behaviour that was certainly “spirited” and “colourful.”

After A-levels, I blossomed into a hard-working and conscientious London-based student (hmmm), but would return to this Northern Powerhouse for legendary nights at the Hacienda and Paradise Factory.

Now, as a mature and responsible father and business owner (hmmm), I have put these days of excess behind me, and Manchester is back on my radar in a commercial, rather than ‘avin-it-large,’ capacity.

We’ve done our research and the potential is there. Mancunians have never been short of confidence and the streets are alive with optimism. Media City has taken off, re-development is everywhere and the restaurants are rammed on a school night.

That said, it isn’t going to be easy. We’ve got some good competition to deal with and establishing yourself in a new market takes graft and real commitment.

So now it’s down to Charlie. He’s ready to spread his tailoring wings and I have every faith in his ability to deliver not just a great suit, but an exceptional experience.

Good luck Mr. Anderson and Hello Manchester!

 

 

Shaping up nicely

Hands-up, it’s a fair cop, Guv’. The laziest tailor in Leeds has been at it again.

With more holidays under my belt than Judith Chalmers, I’ve added further to my tally of surfing sojourns and last week headed to my spiritual home in North Devon, Croyde Bay.

This is the view from my balcony.

Croyde Bay

As many of you know, surfing is one of my true loves in life.

It was right here (with my friend “The Gibbon”) that I first squeezed into a rubber wetsuit and after much flapping and flailing about, scrambled to my feet and was finally thrust forward by the fizzing, foamy briny.

At that moment, time stood still, every neuron buzzing it’s little head off. As I crashed beneath the raging white-water, pure unbridled joy filled every fibre of my being. From that day on, I was hooked.

I bought my first board in Byron Bay – a second-hand 9’3″ Mc Tavish, which I christened “Bruce.”

We’ve shared many wonderful waves together over the last thirteen years, but I’d decided the time had come to treat myself to a new stick.

Commissioning a new board is very similar to having a bespoke suit made.

The starting point is a foam “blank” which is then shaped by hand using a power planer. Shaping a surf board is an art, and like cutting a bespoke suit, can only be learnt by doing, and watching those better than you work their magic.

The relationship you have with your shaper is unique and highly personal. What is produced, is determined by your size, weight, ability and what you actually want to do with it.

Like a bespoke suit there are all-rounder’s (the equivalent of your navy wool worsted three piece), which are suited to all manner of surf conditions, and then there are those crafted for a special occasion.

A big wave ‘gun’ is the equivalent of an uber-fitted, razor sharp, mohair bobby-dazzler with mother of pearl buttons. Perfect for that special day but spends most of its life tucked away in the wardrobe.

Once the board has been shaped, it’s time for the pimping to begin.

Here I am with Ellis ‘Elvis’ Beeton of Gulfstream surfboards in Braunton, their resident artist, whose job it is to make the boards look beautiful, once Jools (the shaper) has done the business.

Ellis

When it comes to working with a can of spray paint and some masking tape, he’s a veritable Renoir.

Like most tailors, he has his own house style, but when it comes to choosing base colours, textures, tones, highlights, this is the part where a customer’s own ideas, personality and flair really influence the design process, creating something totally unique and special.

Whilst my customers pick the cloth, lining and buttons, I’ll often make suggestions on using different contrasting fabrics and stitching. It takes team-work to come up with something fabulous and when you get on the right level with a customer, the results can be spectacular.

I ended up with a beautiful 7’6″ ‘ Magic Carpet.’ Like my tuxedo and morning suit, I decided on a “less is more” philosophy and kept things very simple in terms of colour (white), with the cheeky addition of a lime green centre fin. In short, I LOVE IT!

After a sun-soaked week of (for the most part) pumping surf, I returned to Leeds with a spring in my step.

Last Sunday afternmoon, I introduced ‘her’ (the new board’s a “she” and still to be named) to my local break on the East coast, Saltburn. It was 4 to 5 foot, gentle onshore winds and sunny. A truly special moment and just what was needed to wash away the post-holiday blues.

Owning something that has been lovingly crafted by another man’s hands is one of life’s great pleasures. Whether that’s a painting, a bespoke suit, or, a surfboard, is a moot point.

It’s about celebrating the artisan’s creativity, passion, dedication and enthusiasm; and the fact they’ve invested the most valuable commodity on earth in creating something that connects with you on a physical and emotional level. Their time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear John,

As your tailor, I’m going to ask for a moment of self indulgence.

Whilst most of my blogs are chipper missives, based on the wonderful world of bespoke tailoring, this one is different. It’s a tribute to my father, John Ernest Michelsberg, who died at the age of 76 on Wednesday 11th March.

Now before you start cringing and scrambling for the ‘off’ switch, I’m going to keep things upbeat and as relevant as possible to the world of fine threads.

First, he was a textiles man, as was his father, Ernst, before him. They fled the family home in Berlin to escape the evil Mr Hitler, landed in London, moved to Bradford, and set-up Wool & Rayon Waste Limited on Leeds Road.

In his early days, my father’s dream was to be a concert pianist, but his father suffered from ill health from an early age, and he was shouldered with the responsibility of looking after his mother and running the family business.

At seventeen, he was driving round Europe in a VW beetle, selling textiles, and by his early twenties, was flying round the world opening up new markets in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Here he is, bearing what I think is a striking resemblance to Nicolas Cage, stepping off a flight from Madrid.

John Michelsberg

As you can see, he was a snappy dresser. Rocking a very sixties slim lapel and skinny tie, he had his suits tailored by the legendary Max Freeman of Leeds.

He also had clothes made in Italy. I can still remember a particularly dashing, double breasted cashmere overcoat, that I sequestered from his wardrobe, and wore at college with the obligatory ripped jeans and DM’s.

His father before him was always immaculately turned out. Check out his wonderful tie  and mother of peal stick-pin in the picture below – love it!

Ernst Michelsberg

He always wore bespoke suits and shirts (with detachable cuffs and collars) and was never without a Homburg.

My father too was no stranger to head candy and wore a Panama in the summer, and a Fedora, or, Akubra in the winter (sourced for him by my brother who lives in Oz).

I have also decided to maintain the hat-wearing tradition and my weapon of choice is the Borsalino.

So it seems, dandyism runs in the Michelsberg blood. My brother, over for the funeral, nearly upstaged me in a beautiful charcoal suit tailored by P Johnson in Melbourne and shoes from John Lobb.

We had heated debate about the pro’s and cons of ‘cuffs’ on the trousers, and the Four-in-Hand vs the Half-Windsor, but brothers will be brothers (even though the ‘first born’ is usually right!)

Whilst he adored the good things in life, nothing made my father happier than making those around him feel good.

I can still see him sitting at the grand piano in the lounge, a scotch and soda on the go, tinkling the ivories as friends and family laughed and wallowed in front of a roaring log fire.

Here he is in action.

 

He was, and always will be, my hero.

I would like to finish with a line from William Shakespeare:

“The purest treasure mortal times afford is a spotless reputation”

I believe my father leaves this world with just that – a spotless reputation – and for good measure, a twinkle in his eye, and a smile on the faces of those who loved him.