06 July 2011
David Chu Bespoke
It is not lost on me -- not for a second -- that while preparing for the exterior shots of David Chu's mid-19th century townhouse--I moved two bags of garbage out front to 'clean up' the view. This house does that. You feel you must contribute something to its elegance.
I lured Alice Olive into shooting this post by showing her photos (seen here) I had taken of the staircase. We were told by our host, Fabrizio Volterra, Managing Director of David Chu Bespoke, that while the house had a major restoration the staircase looks much like it did in 1850.
Starting at $125, the pocket square, or 'pochette' speaks to the heart of what David Chu Bespoke is all about. Fastidious attention in the smallest of creative details and sartorial history to back it up. Mr Volterra explains the inspiration of this hand framed tartan trim comes from the 18th Century French maker, Simonnot Godard (seen here). Other trim? Think: Madras, rep stripes, BB#1, batik, surcingle, Souleiado...Just about anything except Vineyard Vines.
I'm not sure a rumpled old fat man like myself can pull off a custom tie with an embroidered ships wheel hand sewn on a horizontal bias tie, but I think it screams youth and fun. If I were 33 again...I'd own this tie. Perfect for a Summer night on Eataly's new roof top bar. Trust me, $160 is a small price to pay for a tie that could do a lot of talking for you. Unlined 12 folds are $250 and Seven Folds are $175.
Stepping into custom shirting is a selfish rite of passage for any man. Picking your own fabric, collar and cuffs and coughing up the minimum of three or six or whatever...while your wife juggles the bills and the kids...Hey! Forget her. You. Deserve. It.
Chu Bespoke requires a minimum order of one. Here's a hand made Neapolitan voile so thin and airy it needs a lining to hide your chest hair. If you're like me and don't have any chest hair you can knock $50 off the $500. Hand sewn everything including the shirt maker's name and date of establishment on a side gusset. The 'Pettegola' keeps the voile tucked in. Italian for 'gossiping women' the pettegola affords any man a unique one upmanship when it comes to strolling around the Union League's locker room in your shirt and boxers. Charvet doesn't stand a chance.
The sleeves are hand shirred to the shoulders creating little pleats, a lot of comfort and even more history. The Spanish brought this shoulder pleating to Italy in the 18th Century via Spain's military shirt. In short, it's not a shirt as much as a piece of hand made art.
Where will you ever find an 18th Century Italian painting for $500? That does double duty? That has a lining and a pettegola? These are the things to tell your wife after she finds the bill and calls you a selfish bastard.
I'm not sure why this does not look like a waiter's uniform. Maybe it's the richness of the material. Cashmere and linen. Maybe it's the cut. A double breasted drape that would easily fit into Savile Row. There's formality here but also a relaxed aesthetic that's grown up, well off, and ready for a candle lit dinner on a restaurant terrace in Gubbio on a hot July night. MTM - $2,250. Bespoke-$3,350.
The shoes Chu Bespoke offers are Italian and hand welted and colored. MTM is $2,300 and Bespoke are $3,400. Allow 13-15 weeks. Are you adding this up?
It's hard to take all this in on one visit.
And nothing your average, more-money-than-God New Yorker, might need hasn't been thought of.
And the space -- the wrapper all of this is covered in never lets up for a second.
It's not old money and I wouldn't call it new money.
Maybe it's just money well spent.
The Bespoke suit for $4,500 is an incredible value.
House style is English drape which the Italians stole from the British and have been selling back to them going on sixty years.
Sewn by hand.
Fabrizio Volterra, shown above, is your guide. He has amazing insight, not just in the making and the style, but in the history as well. His eye will become your eye as he rolls out more and more creations of his own.
A simple white polo shirt, from the image of Gianni Agnelli above, becomes other worldly when Fabrizio knocks it off ... by hand. $350
A bespoke umbrella. You choose the dimensions, wood and design. $300 That's another pocket square hand sewn in tartan trim and the only case where I can see a man matching it to his tie. $100
Alice likes cats. I like terraces.
All photos by Alice Olive for The Trad (click on image to enlarge)
David Chu Bespoke, 25 East 22nd Street, NYC, NY 10010 (646) 723 8712