03 January 2012

The Art of T&A...

New digs in old Asprey digs...

Where buttons come from

Silk shirting from the archives

More silk shirting - via Instagram

WWII shirt from Jermyn Street

"Torches" from WWII

Brolly handles

Dressing room

Pocket frogging

and sleeves

Another world...

another Friday belt?

Silk dressing gown makes use of 12 screens



Limited edition shirts...

utilizing vintage T&A designed fabric

My "Magda" editor jacket

Traditional T&A stripes

Kingdom of Evening Wear

Smoking jacket

More sleeves

The Morning Coat

Custom shirts...

and even socks (by Corgi)

Photo by Cecil Beaton

The library

More Brolly handles


Turnbull & Asser recently moved a couple store fronts east from their old location to the long vacant Asprey Shop on 57th Street near Park Avenue. It's like walking into some very grand hotel... a hotel I could never afford unless I was on business. It's like meeting a beautiful woman in a bar, and I can't figure out why she's so interested in me, until I discover her business. In short, it's a place I don't belong.

But NYC is full of people who belong. Missing here is the, "We're not worthy" Midwestern attitude I came to love in Chicago... along with Old Style beer and the Chicago Cubs. T&A probably threw out the welcome mat after I wiped my feet upon entering but I never saw anyone do it. They're that discreet and even that friendly.

You enter the store through a small library. An archives of beautiful vintage shirts sit behind glass as if they're in a museum. And they are. T & A has taken great care of their history unlike many retailers I can name. But then we Americans love to throw old stuff away.

There's a hip new section of black, Gore Textual, Loro Piana (why are the Italians here?) that I found out of place. But I was reminded of how little I know when a celebrity, tall and good looking, made a significant purchase of a black, Gore Textual, cashmere lined something or other. Certainly he belonged.

Lighting grows with a beautiful sun like intensity while climbing the stairs from the ground floor library. Small boutiques are sartorially bordered by T&A kingdoms of evening wear, dressing gowns, shirts, ties, jackets and suits. Classics abound. A hacking pocket navy blazer might be considered a bit off the reservation but their solid charcoal suit has to be the best suit a man can buy.

But it is the dressing gowns I especially lust after...If I were a magazine editor -- the male version of Magda from Ab Fab -- I'd get a bevy of beautiful women and shoot them wearing nothing but T&A dressing gowns and smoking jackets. Of course, it's the celebrities who belong here. I'm just visiting.


TRVS said...

I want that royal blue & orange paisley dressing gown. Please?

Makaga said...

Is there a term for the affliction of a clothes horse who is fixated primarily on formalwear? Because if there is, I need to know it so I can tell my bank account what's been the source of all its woes.

That red smoking jacket is amazing!

SUM said...

Hate to write this but T&A in the UK can also stand for "Tits and Arse". Oh well.

tintin said...

TRVS- Don't ask me. I'm not sure they'll let me back in without paying admission.

Makaga- Some dress to live. You live to dress.

Alice Olive said...

Your photo shoot idea sounds very ab fab. Lots of long legs...

tintin said...

Alice- I'm gonna start PR-ing, darling.

Anonymous said...

I once went into a Ferragammo _outlet_ and felt out of place...

I figure it's like going to the MFA: full of pretty things you can't afford but no one said you couldn't look, right?

GSV JR said...

So they called them "torches" back then, huh? Hmm.

tintin said...

GCV- Pretty sure they still do.

Dallas said...

faulkner - that "torch" should be called the homewrecker, based on it's girth.

those smoking jackets make me think of judge captain hook smails.

happy new year to you and your readers.

Anonymous said...

Great piece! Muffy's entry from a few weeks ago (here) only whet my appetite. It is wonderful to see more.

oxford cloth button down said...

The paisley that you referred to as from another world would make a great tie. Very cool pictures. Thanks.

Mr. Scrumtious said...

it's cold outside buttercup, you wanna snuggle?

M.Lane said...

Wow! As soon as the lounge singing career takes off or my novel hits, I am oiling in there to load up on SMOKING JACKETS!


Oyster Guy said...

I am with you on the dressing gowns, I mean my gawd! It's tempting to debase your proposed photo shoot with the highest of high end 6 foot plus Ukrainian strippers. The trouble with the dressing gowns is that it is just the first step. To make it work, one would need the right bedroom furnishings and plumbing fixtures. Maybe even a plastic surgeon.

Not sure what to make of your 'not belonging' rhetorical device. I always believed the English admired the American ballsy indifference to class distinctions in matters of commerce and social custom. T&A are retailers after all, and like the hot chick in the bar, your money is as good as anyone else s. I need to believe that the folks that put this stuff together should value your genuine and informed admiration more than a celebrity's callow entitlement, even if your business doesn't pay one hours electric bill.

It blows my mind to recall it, but I made my first T&A purchases at the age of 17. They had opened a small outpost in Toronto in the early 80's. It didn't last. I still recall the manager of the Hazelton Lanes shop was a silver haired fellow named Charles Elmsley like it was yesterday. He was the spirit and image of the comedian Peter Cook. So much so that I am not sure it wasn't in fact Peter Cook. I had requested his assistance as it was not obvious how to find my size in the midst of the array of shirts.

Perhaps in an attempt at intimidation, he began by gravely inquiring if I was a classicist or an iconoclast. It didn't work. I knew exactly what he meant. I selected from his hand their nicest white poplin shirt with french cuffs and a blue and white Bengal stripe with the three button cuff. My dad would steal that one out of my closet every chance he got. An attractive woman on staff ( I think she thought me charming on account of my youth) rushed over to relieve Mr. Elmsley and proceeded to assist in my selection of ties. I bought two, one of which I selected mainly because she liked it. I still have them. There was another woman on staff, an English version of Candice Bergen bathed in buttermilk, who was notable. She always wore slacks so as to demonstrate the art of tying bow ties around her thigh after propping one leg up on a foot stool, further angled properly by a high heeled shoe. Alas, I hadn't earned bow ties yet.

Ringing up my purchases, I will never forget the expression of inner conflict that crossed Mr.Elmsley's face. I was business but obviously not their target market He couldn't fault my taste but there I was, a pretentious punk ass kid dropping the equivalent his week's pay. I had fun. You should too.

Jeremiah said...

Homewrecker! That's hilarious. I must admit, I felt a little, um, inadequate when I saw that pic. Nice robes. Very nice.

initials CG said...

Oyster Guy - That was great! "dropping the equivalent of his week's pay" it still feels good!

David V said...

Thanks for the photos. Being an unworthy Chicagoan I'm intimidated by Ralph's place and would feel too humble to even look at T&A's (SUM, we have a similar term here)windows.

Makaga, I think the term you're looking for has my name in it.

Amatourist said...

first time i was in London i stumbled into T&A on Jermyn St. knew I didn't belong from word go. knew it well from the "please leave" look on their faces. but i was on government per diem and flush from a two-week stint in Central Asia where you couldn't give away money. so i gathered my pennies (pence?) and bought a bow tie. i was 23, and it was the second bow tie i owned. faint yellow-polka dot on navy. been wearing it ten years and remember the story every time it goes around the neck.

ps: glad to know that that retirement nonsense was just a ruse. 'course, i'd read the post and figured as much, but started to have doubts after the 432nd "baby please don't go."