In which AMR dons the skimpy veil of “journalism” to self-analyze his own
obsession interest in authentic—or authentic-ish—American attire and the recent revival thereof:
Until recently, men like Leung would’ve skipped the Woolrich for a skinny Dior suit. But in recent years a number of tastemakers, many foreign, have dedicated themselves to reviving iconic American clothing for a hip new audience. Some have collaborated with classic U.S. brands on revitalized products (see: Suzuki and Woolrich). Some have stocked hunting garb in their big-city boutiques. And some have actually begun to reproduce emblematic gear—Wayfarers, Penfield vests—to exacting standards of authenticity. The result—on ample display in places like Brooklyn, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., where certain streets now resemble catwalks crowded with bookish lumberjacks—is a subset of prosperous peacocks paying a premium for garments originally meant for mining or fishing, then wearing them to tapas bars and contemporary art installations.
Affected? Absolutely. Still, how we dress says a lot about who we want to be, and that ache for authenticity—or, at least, the aura of authenticity—is revealing. For the foreigners who instigated the fad, sturdy American gear has long evoked a distant, idealized culture. As a child, Suzuki would watch “The Graduate” and obsess over Dustin Hoffman’s parka and Jack Purcells. “Americana represented a new, almost utopian viewpoint for me,” he says. With the recent decline in our security, industry and standing, that nostalgia for a prelapsarian America (and the durable domestic goods that defined it) seems to have settled over the stylish set here at home. “Ironically, it’s largely because of overseas interest that Americans can now wear real American stuff,” says Michael Williams, a fashion publicist who covers Americana on his blog, A Continuous Lean. “They’re recognizing that heritage and quality are precious in our disposable Wal-Mart world.” It’s as if globalization has come full circle, creating both an appetite for cultural anchoring and a fashion to feed it.
Read the rest here.
Barack Obama had a drinks party at the White House on Wednesday night. He invited congressional leaders of both parties for cocktails at 7:30. In his relentless push for his stimulus plan, he’s apparently not going to let them out of his sight…
This is a notable departure from Obama’s predecessor, whose relationship with Congress was notoriously chilly and whose relationship with the bottle ended at age 40. But it connects him to a rich presidential tradition that goes back to the Founders, who drank heavily after signing the Constitution…
FDR won the presidency on a platform of ending Prohibition. Every evening, including during the war, Roosevelt mixed drinks in the Oval Office from behind his desk, before him a tray equipped with whatever he needed for the martinis or old fashioneds he was mixing. “He mixed the ingredients,” recalled author Robert Sherwood, “with the deliberation of an alchemist but with what appeared to be a certain lack of precision since he carried on a steady conversation while doing it.”…
LBJ carried on the presidential carrying on, though in his own inimitable style. Joseph Califano tells the story of drinking while riding around Lyndon Johnson’s ranch. “As we drove around we were followed by a car and a station wagon with Secret Service agents. The president drank Cutty Sark scotch and soda out of a large white plastic foam cup. Periodically, Johnson would slow down and hold his left arm outside the car, shaking the cup and ice. A Secret Service agent would run up to the car, take the cup and go back to the station wagon. There another agent would refill it with ice, scotch, and soda as the first agent trotted behind the wagon. Then the first agent would run the refilled cup up to LBJ’s outstretched and waiting hand, as the president’s car moved slowly along.”
The girls are imported. Obs.
Hollister Hovey reports:
Norton & Sons’ Patrick Grant has revived the old sporting and military tailor that dressed the Duke of Windsor, Churchill and America’s pre-war elite with a new line of highly traditional, high-quality ready-to-wear menswear - all sourced from tiny traditional artisans around the U.K. Knitwear from Shetland, Hawick and southern Wales; a belt maker who usually only takes orders from the British military and then goes back to his day job; a South End leather goods company that turns out about six pieces a year for Asprey. The collection isn’t too tweedy - more a hybrid of the kind of clothes men like the Duke of Windsor or Anthony Drexel Biddle would wear. They’ll offer six suits (heavy flannels, pinstripes and twist worsted), sport coats, pleated pants, knitwear, leather goods, belts…
Background from Wikipedia:
“Edward Tautz founded E. Tautz in 1867 at 249 Oxford Street between Audley Street and Marble Arch in London’s prosperous West End. Tautz had been head cutter at the venerable sporting Tailors Hammond & Co before leaving to establish his own firm. At Hammond he had been tailor to England’s finest sporting gentlemen, including Edward VII, as Prince of Wales and he took many of his noble clients with him to E. Tautz.
Edward Tautz was an innovator in both cloth and cut, continuously releasing new products in new and innovative materials including waterproof tweeds and rainproof coverts. He fought hard to protect his business from counterfeiters, even going to the extent of using the courts. In 1886 he proved, in court, his invention of the original Knickerbocker Breeches, that were to prove so popular and were the forerunner to today’s plus 2’s.
On February 16 1895, a young Winston Churchill placed his first order at Tautz, an order which included 1 pr blue medium Tautz Overall’s, 1 pr dress pants with gold lace and one pr Venetian dress overalls with gold lace. Churchill was to be a regular client for the next twenty years. He was a great fan of the firm and indeed as a schoolboy at Harrow once wrote to his mother imploring her to send him amongst other things ‘Breeches from Tautz’.
The firm made its name as a sporting and military tailor but in the 20th century expanded its civilian tailoring business and famously developed the Tautz Lapel, a double breasted lapel with a subtle rounded tip and lower almost horizontal gorge. This distinctive cut was taken up by the stars of Hollywood in a big way and the likes of David Niven and Cary Grant both ‘Sported the Tautz’.”