Reading List || Vanity Fair: Anderson & Sheppard: A Style Is Born

25/10/2011 § Leave a comment

The new Anderson & Sheppard shop, on Old Burlington Street, London.

The November issue of Vanity Fair has a lovely article on an upcoming book — Anderson & Sheppard: A Style Is Bornthat lovingly details the founding and evolution of arguably the finest British bespoke tailor: Anderson & Sheppard.  As the preferred tailor to royalty, both of the regular old monarch and Hollywood varieties, the firm has long dressed some of the most discerning and fashionable men.  Reading the excerpt immediately moved the book to the top of my wishlist, as I am a complete sucker for old silver screen legends, fine tailoring and a good story.  I can just barely hear the quiet hustle and bustle of the shop as I wander through the pictures of gorgeous suits in various stages of completion…

Via Vanity Fair:

The bespoke tailor Anderson & Sheppard enters its second century as the standard-bearer of Savile Row craftsmanship. Anderson & Sheppard has two simple rules. First, a suit shouldn’t wear the man—the man should wear the suit. Second, the moment a man is overdressed, he is badly dressed. Visitors to the establishment retain vivid memories—the fabric books in the paneled reception room, the selection of buttons on the walls, the leather-bound ledgers in which clients (Chaplin, Astaire, Cooper, Fairbanks, Dietrich, Coward, Murrow, Harriman) have signed their names and had their measurements recorded.

Adapted from Anderson & Sheppard: A Style Is Born, via Vanity Fair:

…it was style, not volume, that defined Anderson & Sheppard in the 1930s. No decade since has set as high a bar for men’s fashion, nor has there been another time in which popular taste was so closely aligned with good taste. As the men’s-wear expert Alan Flusser notes in his book Dressing the Man,“that elusive but convenient character, ‘the average man,’ was exposed to more visual ‘aids’ in the form of smartly attired public figures than he could shake a stick at.” In other words, the style arbiters had actual style. And among the leading arbiters were Anderson & Sheppard men: stars like Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper.

Different as they were—the former skinny and urbane, the latter athletic and laconically all-American—Astaire and Cooper shared a knack for wearing dressy clothes with ease. Smashing as he looked in his top hat and tails opposite Ginger Rogers, Astaire looked even better offscreen: accessorizing his favored A&S checked jackets with cashmere scarves knotted ascot-style; hitching up his perfectly draped trousers (often with a necktie rather than a belt) so that they’d break just so over his shoes. Cooper was less improvisatory but no less thoughtful—he had his suits made with the lapels sitting low on his chest, an arrangement that languidly complemented his six-foot-three-inch frame rather than aggressively calling attention to it. Mr. Halsey confirms the veracity of a particularly enchanting piece of A&S lore: that Astaire, in testing out a new suit at the final fitting, would ask for the antique carpet on the fitting-room floor to be rolled up so he could try a few steps on the hardwood.

Read the article here.  Be sure to view the slideshow as well.

Cary Grant in Anderson & Sheppard, with Rosalind Russell in 1942.
Two of my favorite people in the entire world, btw.

All images via Vanity Fair.

Small addendum! Also worth a moment’s perusal:
Financial Times:  Lunch with the FT: Mickey Drexler [J.Crew CEO]

Financial Times: China’s women show taste for fast cars and whisky

New York Times: The Monograms Meet: O Sits Down With RL
Oprah Winfrey: “How do you keep reinventing?”

“You copy,” Ralph Lauren said. “Forty-five years of copying, that’s why I’m here.”

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