The Emperor’s New Clothes

Even as a child, I loved getting new clothes.

The joy of wearing my first Nike t-shirt and trainers on a geography field trip to Skipton, is still tucked away in the little grey cells.

As is busting shapes on the dance-floor at ‘Mr Craig’s’ nightclub in Bradford, resplendent in blue blazer, chinos, and brown suede shoes.

Memories of the happiest moments of my life are intrinsically linked to the clothes I was wearing on my back.

Having just turned forty one, I sit back misty-eyed and remember getting smashed at a college ball in London, feeling very much the dandy in a white tuxedo and black silk cummerbund from Austin Reed.

Whilst my capacity to bounce back from alcohol abuse has since diminished, the rush I get from slipping new clobber on my back has not.

When it comes to fine threads, the law of diminishing returns does not apply.

Under the poor excuse of needing new imagery for my website, I’ve just taken delivery of three new additions to the Michelsberg Wardrobe.

The first is this purple velvet jacket.

You should have seen my face as I popped it on for the first time at the coat-makers. One of the grey haired machinists had observed my reaction and turned to her colleague and said “ah, bless.”

It strikes at the very heart of what Michelsberg Tailoring is all about. Glamour. Self indulgence. Sophisticated revelry.

It’s a nod to the King of peak lapels that is Tom Ford, whom I consider to be one of the best dressed men on the planet.

A jacket like this was born for good times ahead. Champagne, silk dresses, white Alba truffle. A black tie ball. Day break on the streets of Rome. Laughter.

Slipping on a new bespoke coat for the first time is one of life’s great pleasures.

A customer recently asked me, “what’s the favourite part of your job?” and without hesitation I replied, “delivering the finished garment”

Having a suit made is an experience. It’s a true journey and requires a leap of faith based on a figment of the imagination.

An idea born over a cup of tea, or glass of whiskey, evolves across several fittings into what is known in the trade as ‘a finisher.’

This is the moment of truth. Like a matador brandishing his cape, the garment is wielded onto the customer’s back with a flourish.

My heart thumps, snakes swirl in the stomach, eyes dart across the surface of the cloth, hunting for tailoring gremlins.

And then, the customer grins.

It’s a bit like the moment in Frankenstein when the professor cry’s out to the heavens, “She’s Alive! Alive!!

We’ve nailed it. I’ll often feel a tingle down my spine, as waves of adrenalin carry mixed emotions of elation and relief.

My customer is thrilled and that’s what it’s all about. A shared moment of delight. Back of the net!

But it’s the initial meeting that lays the foundations for a successful outcome.

Every customer that comes through my door has their own ideas and sense of style. It’s very much a learning process for us both as we sit down and let the creative juices flow in search of a shared vision.

Over the last eight years, I’ve made getting on for two thousand garments, and it’s been new ideas from my customers that have kept things fresh and shaped my own personal style.

The inspiration for a new set of threads comes from many places. Attending a menswear show like Pitti Uomo, watching an old black and white movie like ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, a stroll down Savile Row.

It was the image below of the cutter Jo Morgan in the book “Bespoke. The Men’s Style of Savile Row,” that got my second treat to myself up and running.

Check out the lapel. Stunning. It’s got attitude, a real sense of swagger but still manages to maintain an air of respectability and suaveness about it.

Here’s what I came up with.

I’ve kept the bowed peak lapels (also currently embraced by Vivienne Westwood – another designer I greatly admire) but added a velvet top-collar and gone for slanted pockets.

The cloth’s from Dugdale Brothers of Huddersfield and it’s getting worn for this first time tomorrow morning – a great way to start off the week :-)

And last but not least is this little fella.

I’ve been scrawling it down (badly) on paper since a wee lad.

The cloth is a wonderful chalk-stripe flannel from Biella and there’s a military vibe about it. It’s been applauded and derided in equal measure.

But I love it and that’s all that’s important.

These clothes have been built for fun. My hope is that one day, I will be able look back through rheumy and even mistier eyes and know I’ve done them justice.

Let the good times roll.