29 September 2010

Charlie Davidson and The Andover Shop




"Who wants to look like a fucking Polo window." Charlie Davidson




The heavy mother


The customer didn't return to Poole









Charlies new silk sport coat



"I'm not wearing it til next year...it needs some time to hang..." C.D.



The details



Shirting does not get any better




Charlie's B-24 and Bud Collin's goods




Davidson Law



2nd floor work room








More shirts


My steal - WWII style khakis



Friday Belt material


It fits




About a month ago I was talking to Alan Flusser about this idea I have. He asked me if I'd been to the Andover Shop in Boston. I told him no. He asked why not. I told him I was scared shitless of Charlie Davidson.

A long story short-- I met Charlie yesterday morning in his shop on 22 Holyoke Street in Cambridge. He asked that I spare him from talking about clothes. So we talked about jazz, the army (he served on a B-24 in WWII) and women. He told me Paul Desmond baby sat Chet Baker and that there was a story about Desmond and a woman who broke his heart.

We talked a lot about Anita O'Day. Charlie had known O'Day since he was 16. I ask about Billie Holliday not being able to stand O'Day. "Shit," Charlie says, "they all hated each other." We talk about Brubeck and Jamal. Charlie tells me Miles Davis would sit in the corner downstairs and critique Charlie measuring up a customer. "Those sleeves are too long, Charlie."

And out of nowhere Charlie points to an English hunting jacket hanging behind me. "Bring that over." I lift it off the rack and it's a heavy mother. Charlie shows me the Poole Savile Row tag in the pocket with the date, 1914 and tells me, "The customer had it made before leaving for WWI. He never came back."

This is not just another haberdasher. There's history here but there's a world of advice, wisdom and counsel. I tell Charlie the English have a phrase for what he and I are. "Clothes mad. We just love clothes. All kinds of clothes." Charlie nods and says it's a good phrase. He repeats it, 'Clothes mad..." like he was trying it on. He looks at me and we both laugh.

I asked Charlie if I could take his picture. He said, "Just for you. I'd prefer if you didn't..." I interrupt, "No, I understand. They'll be just for me." And so they are. And so was the day.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless...

-DB

Anonymous said...

Great pictures. Great stuff.

I've promised myself I'll go in there before I graduate - only a year left. Press's window doesn't hold a candle to theirs. Can't talk about jazz or the army (kids these days!), but I can try women. Or clothes.

-D

P.S. Andover Shop in 'Cambridge.' Definitely not as good as it was, but there are a few things left...

TRVS said...

Wish I had tagged along...

C.Sharp said...

Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that visit. I am not sure why I like writers, haberdashers and barkeepers with reputations of having problematic
personalities but I do. Thanks for doing this post.
Paul Winston mentioned there is this folk belief that people do not die when they have clothes at the tailor. I guess our Poole customer was not so lucky. That jacket and story seem like a good metaphor for the war and the death of the Edwardian age. It reminds me a little of the life of Alfred Henry Chaytor author of the 1910 work "Letters To A Salmon Fishers Son" A proponent of the county life he was gassed and was never able to return to his pre war life style.

Cocktail Zero said...

Hi Tintin -
I live near Boston. Try Troquet (overlooking the Common) for dinner if you get a chance. The wine list is great and great value. I'm out of town right now, but would have loved to meet up for a drink.
-Cocktail00

Alex said...

Once again, beautiful pics and writing Tin Tin.

Al the Unfazed in Portland

smr4 said...

Charlie Davidson is a rare breed of man. Makes me proud to be a well-dressed American.

John said...

I loved this -- one of your best. I've been to this store a number of times but never bought anything (other than a sweater I got for x-mas a few years ago). Tough to justify buying from them on a poor student's budget, too bad I don't live in Boston as a non-student now.

Patsy said...

Does anyone go to The Andover Shop in Andover? I wonder if they are clothes mad too,

My Dad sent all his Army uniforms to the dry cleaners, when he got out of the service but couldn't afford to bail them out. I think they're still there and he's still alive, so there could be something to that myth.

those tricks said...

wonderful pics.
wonderful post.

Main Line Sportsman said...

To Hell with the clothes or Jazz talk...I want to hear about his experience on a B-24 in WWII. Now that is the type of stuff you cannot hear often...and soon there will be no one left who can recount firsthand.

Alice Olive said...

Love the typewriter!

thelastlaugh said...

Was over there last Saturday.... how amazing are the two tone winter caps? did you get to visit Press around the corner? These stores are 2 of the reasons I love living in Cambridge.

Anonymous said...

"Who wants to look like a fucking Polo window." Charlie Davidson

Brilliant! This place is the real thing. Ralph Lauren can try his damnest to copy all of this, but that's as far as he gets -- copies.

Charlie G. said...

Did you see the loden Austrian trench coat hanging near the trouser shelves? What a gorgeous piece of outerwear.

NCJack said...

I'm planning to be in Boston end of October, and I'd love to go to the Andover Shop, but you and some other bloggers have got me right scared of Charlie Davidson

ADG said...

Perfecto

Oyster Guy said...

No words for you Tintin; just a slow smile, a gentle nod and maybe, just maybe, a small tear in the corner of one eye.

Sam said...

Great post. Getting to be the best in the blogworld.

Ben said...

A+. Words and pics. I know I said I'd refrain from commenting, but this one demanded it.

Ross said...

My girlfriend decided to get me a gorgeous Andover Shop bow tie for my birthday... and then proceeded to have Charlie teach her how to tie it...

She had no idea why everyone there thought she was crazy. When she told me the story later, I could only laugh.

Anonymous said...

The Andover Shop is in Andover.

Bill Lightner said...

I, too, fell in love with Charlie when I introduced those "gorgeous" Austrian loden coats to him. I enjoyed his company so much that he had to throw me out of the store some hours after I'd arrived. Like those coats, he's the "real deal."

Nathan King said...

Certainly not just "another haberdasher." My family has been shopping here since the store opened and it is the best in the business (better than JPress or Polo or Brooks Brothers). Don't be afraid of Charlie though, he is the nicest guy around. Went out to lunch with him and my father last winter and I could not help but marvel at how awesome (in the true sense of the word) he is.
Great Article

David said...

Back in the 80s as a cub account guy at Boston's best ad agency, I was introduced to Charlie by an old friend of his who also worked at the agency. Even though I was wet behind the ears, Charlie gave me the time of day and told many tales from his archives during fittings for suits and sports coats. He told of when Miles was in, where he sat and what he said. And when the GAP had a new ad campaign with a vintage pic of Chet Baker wearing khakis, Charlie said "hell those were Andover Shop khakis!" And on a lunch trip across the river to pick up something great, Charlie said "hey can you give me a lift back to town? I'm meeting an old pal flying in from Paris at the Ritz for lunch." On the ride to Arlington Street, Charlie said "Bobby Short better not be late."

Michael Azarian said...

I came across this by accident googling for the A-shop Cambridge phone number and realized that I hadn't seen or talked to Charlie in one long time. I was weaned on the Andover branch until I moved to Cambridge and can verify that he's the real thing!
Now where can I get a pair of those khakis?

jcdofmaine said...

Charlie ~ not enough words to express the joys in Knowing Charlie Davidson. Yes ~ such an amazing amaizing Man ~ so very lucky to have met as a young sales woman.... which turned into a lifetime friendship. Beyond the Charming Haberdashery Jazz Man, The most Generous, Kind Man and friend I have ever known. And... Talking about Women ~ He knows and loves his women, and better then anyone ~ knows how to make them each one feel so very special! Best Habedashery for Men with the Biggest Heart for Women! Blessed to experience the Andover Shop ~ and most blessed to know the man within ~ Cheers to Charlie Davidson and all you have given and continues to share. xos from one of your greatest fans!

Dandy Portraits said...

Clothes Mad - that is exactly what you fellas are! Well, the madness drives you to have some wonderful adventures, and, thankfully, write about it. Bravo!