Running the Gauntlet

I’ve just finished Ranulph Fiennes’s autobiography, “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.”

His ‘why can’t I?’ approach to life is uplifting and truly inspirational. He too had his heroes, and in life, I believe you need people (and their work) to look up to and emulate.

Inspiration comes in many ways. As far as tailoring and style go, for me it’s the likes of Sir Paul Smith, Chittleborough & Morgan, Ralph Lauren, Mark Powell, Ermenegildo Zegna, Cifonelli and Attolini who drive me on to do better and achieve more.

When sitting down with a customer for the first time, often is the case they haven’t got a clue what they want. Then it’s all about listening, probing, connecting, getting on a level and building trust and rapport.

Understanding what will work for any given customer is not something that can be taught. Good taste is born in your DNA and there’s no substitute for experience.

Naturally, I have my own sense of style and know what I love, but the many hours I’ve spent, pouring over other tailors work (past and present), is a treasure trove to be plundered with relish.

Style icons are often another source of inspiration for my customers, and that was certainly the case when making a tuxedo for my friend (and Bond geek) Mr Paul Dunphy.

What man doesn’t grin inside, when Mr Connery light’s up his cigarette in Dr No and utters those immortal words, “The name’s bond. James Bond.”

DRNOBONUS1

In my opinion, the one button shawl lapel cannot be beaten and here is what we came up with.

Paul Dunphy Tuxedo

One of the details that we included were “Gauntlet Cuffs” and these are highlighted in the picture below.

Gauntlet Cuff

A first for Michelsberg Tailoring, I feel they are worthy of some debate. Whilst I’m a fan, detractors liken them to a circumcised sleeve.

The “Gauntlet’s” history goes back to medieval days as a metal plated glove used to protect a Knights sword hand.

Thrown down to signify a duel, it’s got a whiff of “Game of Thrones” about it, perhaps striking a cord with today’s immoral, wine-drinking, wench-biffing, wannabee from The House of Lannister.

The first time I came across them was in the work of Soho based tailor, Mark Powell. As far as his threads are concerned, I’m a big fan. Tailor to The Krays, The Stones and other men of disrepute, his clothes are flamboyant, edgy and not afraid to turn heads.

Whether a gauntlet cuff will work or not, in my opinion, depends on the fabric and the style of the rest of the suit, and of course the wearer who needs confidence to pull it off.

Like a storm collar, I feel it works very well with Tweed, as can be seen in the picture below of a suit cut by Steven Hitchcock of Anderson & Sheppard.

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Also, a perfect foil to a classic tuxedo, or smoking jacket, it was very much a feature of Edwardian dress and smacks of days done by. This, I feel needs to be reflected when designing the rest of the garment.

As far as a lounge suit goes, I’d have wide, pointed peak lapels, a longer length coat, exaggerated skirt and one button to fasten.

There’d probably be a velvet / silk contrasting collar and pocket jets, high-waisted trousers with wider legs and a beautiful pair of shoes by Gaziano & Girling.

The image below is on the right lines and is what I am talking about earlier. Finding something that strikes a cord and twisting and tweaking it to make it your own.

Lounge_suit_Winter1911

Here’s a final shot of Gordon Gekko incorporating what just might be the signature cuff of a man who is mad, bad
and dangerous to know.

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Whist both Sir Ran and I might not agree with his notion that “Greed is Good,” you don’t get anywhere in life without hard graft, so there just might be a grain of truth in his maxim that “lunch is for wimps.”