In Bespoken Riviera Club

Hand Me Downs

People always remark at how similar I am to my father when they look at old pictures of him when he was around my age.  My dad was a skilled tailor who could draft a perfect pair of trousers directly onto a cut of worsted in minutes using only measurements and an old wooden numberless hip curve.  From what I can tell he was always a bit of a stylish guy and dressed in what many would now call the 'Rude boy' style.  I think people look at the photos and see facial resemblances but, what I feel comes through in the photos are a kind of introspection through style that I believe we share.  There's a certain confidence or ease as to how you wear your clothes that relates to understanding fit, process, how and with what kind of materials your clothes are made with.  It makes me wonder about when people balk at dressing like their fathers or grandfathers.  Well I feel it stands to reason that of course you'll balk if you don't make the look your own; otherwise you're going to look exactly like pops and gramps.  However, you have to take the time to absorb the feeling of a look by understanding the era, the fit and how it was worn.  Afterwards, you bring it into the 'current' in relation to your own body type and how fit, silhouette and fabric has progressed.  You'll have the mental framework to keep the legacy but update the style.

There were two newer labels during the Fall 2011 New York shows that I loved and felt were great updates of periods and pieces in history that shaped menswear.  Riviera Club staged a presentation at the Bowery Hotel straight out of a quasi-Medieval country winery.  Models sat at wooden benches and tables covered with all sorts of delicious looking grapes and winery lore while an acoustic string band strummed and beat the pulse of a simpler world into the event.  This kind of set up was nice to closely observe the key detailing and styling that was put into the presentation.  The collection ran the gamut of familiar yet fresh menswear fabrics like washed thermals, reverse jacquard knits, sturdy tweeds and brushed wools.  The 'take another sip of wine' styling and approach to layering was of particular note with some of my favorite trends being the textural sweat socks, which emerged from covetable 'Generic Man' shoes, that rode high over cuffed slim pants.  The pairing of plaids by print rather than color looked smart and modern and particularly not how dad might've worn it.


The second label that I found quite appealing was Bespoken.  Their Fall 2011 presentation was clothing with a mood for capturing the essence of that transatlantic voyage.  That's how it said grandpa.  However, the slightly shorter and leaner jackets, the modern finished touches to cozy knitwear and the solicitous burnished toe lace-ups were very 'now'.  Again the styling for this collection as well as a lot of Fall 2011 menswear is what will give men ideas to set their 'dappernesses' apart.  The little detailing from the lapel pins to the braces are the kind of accents that give men an individual personalized voice.  The updated high lace-up boot worn again with thick plush sweat socks and suits looked plausible along with an overall cleanliness to the suitings that made the collection a good one to wardrobe-build from.

You know I occasionally look back and wonder what my dad was thinking or doing that day in those old photos.  What were the thought processes behind his choices?  Did it come from the innovation of having very little or the convenience of knowing how to make anything well?  Whatever may be, I'm glad all those photos were the capturing of legacies handed down, father to son, designer to client.

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