24 October 2013

Fortune Magazine & 1954's Clothing Market

Men owned a lot of clothes back then... but women owned more. Not Surprising. What is surprising is what men owned. Details this weekend.

23 October 2013

Natural Selection Hard at Work

Frankly, I can't help thinking that deer would be me.  For my deer friend and happy hunter, the Main Line Sportsman.

22 October 2013


There was an interesting piece in the NY Times Sunday about Selfies. Back in college, the NYT could do no wrong. In my 30s, I began to have trouble...mostly with restaurant reviews. Today, I'm pretty sure most reporters have come from a nine month stint on the Today Show. Anyway, I think the Time's piece on Selfies missed a lot.

And while this yearbook photo from my senior year in college isn't a Selfie, it's largely about Selfies. Sure, it's vain and when I look at it, I see the lips that vanished in my 40s. I also see a shit eating grin together with a confidence that knew, for a fact, that it wouldn't be long before I was working on the Today Show.

I also see the suede jacket I bought at the Ft Bragg PX in 1980. I would ask a Georgetown bartender for a large plastic garbage bag, cut out a hole for my head and wear it while running to my car in a late night rain storm. It worked.

The Campbell tartan Gant shirt with too long sleeves (my sleeves were always too long) and a navy blue knit tie probably came from a haberdasher on St. George Street. Either the crazy lady who missed her lips with her lipstick or the tailor in the Marine Reserves I shot the shit with while we both smoked and drank coffee -- He sewed and I told lies about the 82nd.

What you can't see, but I do remember, are the jeans and topsiders off camera. All in all, it was a pretty hip rig. I'm very proud of it. Who knows what folks will remember 20 years later from their Selfies. I like to think, if for nothing else, it'll conjure up a memory of bits and pieces forgotten...even themselves.

01 October 2013

The Art of a Tie: Passagio Cravatte

I've always wanted the best.  Problem is, there's so damned little of it.  Gianni Cerrutti and I started a conversation back in early August.

My name is Gianni, Italian, and I am the founder of Passaggio Cravatte. This  I will write because I have a very important dream. And you can make it come true.

His English isn't the best and my Italian doesn't exist but like buying cheese in Paris -- some pointing to this or that, a key word  like Epoisses, and you're good to go.  I was offered a tie and asked to pick a few from a library of vintage silk, cotton and cashmere.  From a handful of my choices, Gianni would pick one but it would be a surprise until it showed on my door step.

We are unique in Europe and not only to have only true vintage fabrics. In fact, our fabrics have all aged between 40 and 60 years of life on his shoulders. They are still hand-printed and they are all limited edition. This is because after 2 ties the fabric ends.Beyond that evoke British regimental archives of 1930.

I can't imagine a better life than being a custom tie maker in Italy.  Hands down, it soars above George Costanza's choice of architect. Roaming around Lake Commo for bits and pieces here and there. A softly lit workroom with sunlight peering in through 200 year old glass windows over looking a cobble stone street. The quiet cutting of silk and the silence of seven folds and noiseless sewing...As the little boy admiring a library book of Gaugain's Tahiti says in "Goodbye Columbus, "Ain't that the fucking life."

We are the only ones making the old 7 folds in a single piece of silk. This is when all ties to the world are the union of 3 pieces of fabric. This is the Rolls of all ties to the world. Our 7 folds old is not to be confused with the modern one. In fact, ours is the original model that was born in the early 1900s. We do it like then. All without any internal and hemmed by hand. In addition we are always the only ones making the ties - always very exclusive - in just 2 pieces of fabric.

I wish I sold  good feelings but I sell insurance.  No sadness without joy - No joy without sadness.  Selling insurance is lot like selling tires  --  It's more a solution to a problem and people want to pay as little as they have to.  It's hard to show off your insurance company -- Unless you have Chubb -- But I digress...

Our tailors are in Naples and only work for us still in their homes. As more than a century ago. Us we finish, and we stretch the check because they must not have defects. The ironing is very important for us, in fact I do it directly. Even the label are strict with ourselves. Then, having many foreign customers we are also able to provide tailor-made vintage ties without disturbing the customer from their office or from home.

Gianna's tie arrives and it's this powerful combination of green, blue, and an orange red that matches a freshly painted guest bedroom.  The tie is a self tipped feather. So much so, that when I make the first loop, I almost expect it to fly away.  Instead of fat heavy silk stuffed with a lining -- this is a silk air mail envelope. Everywhere are hands: Rolled edges, tipping, the keeper...all of it a kind of imperfect perfection.  

Gianni sends another tie along as a surprise.  A simple four fold rep but in cashmere that has softened with time.  I've had a few cashmere ties but nothing this...It's so utterly soft that I decide I must line a closet in cedar just to protect it from the moths.

I'm probably going overboard but I almost always do when I find something that I know is in rare supply. These ties are little pieces of art and as art goes -- They're fairly reasonable at 80 to 120 Euros. Ever since my first non clip-on tie that was issued in the Army, I must have purchased well over 500.  I mean that.  And it's embarrassing to admit, but it has been 36 years.  Frankly, unless you're really clothes mad, you might be a little let down by Gianni's ties.

They are of an aesthetic that you must really appreciate.  You could buy a bunch of J. Crew ties for just one of Gianni's seven folds but everyday I listen to opera I don't understand,  I look at paintings I know nothing about, I drink wine and have no idea what it is -- But I'm  moved by it all and that makes me want to know more. When you get there...you'll know it.

Hello Dear,

Now I can tip the balance.

I think your tie is ready Mondays.

To what address shall I send?

Let me know and thank you for everything,

I can not wait to send it.


Gianni Cerutti
Passagio Cravatte