If you are a regular reader of these columns or follow our sartorial adventures on Instagram (@parisian_gentleman) or YouTube (“Sartorial Talks”), you’ve noticed that I’m rather loyal to my bespoke tailors.
Indeed, I believe that when you feel at ease and sartorially satisfied with a tailor (be it bespoke or MTM, depending on your budget and level of sartorial passion) it’s natural to remain loyal to the chosen tailor as much as you can.
I do believe this same devotion can be present (even if to a milder degree) with sartorial brands and ready-to-wear stores.
Behold though : I am not suggesting you restrain yourself to only one tailor for life and bestow him with the responsibility of your entire wardrobe. It is a legitimate inclination to “taste”, along your sartorial path, different styles and cuts, different types of shoulders (more or less padded), and various sorts of constructions (more or less structured).
In the world of bespoke tailoring (in which we have commented upon, studied, and observed since almost a decade now), even if all tailors swear with hands on their hearts that they can craft any sort of style, each tailor develops (whether consciously or not), a “house style” which is often distinctive. So of course it is not sacrilegious to try, from time to time, a different cut from a different school of tailoring.
In my case, I’ve been loyal to Lorenzo and Massimo Cifonelli since 2007 and more than half of my bespoke wardrobe hails from 31 Rue Marbeuf in Paris. Nevertheless, between 2014 and 2017 I had the chance to experiment with great Italian tailoring from Milan and Naples, while writing my book “The Italian Gentleman”. I confess I came close to overdosing on Neapolitan “Spalla Camicia” shoulders, patch pockets and “Barchetta” breast pockets. But since a year now, I’ve returned home both literally and sartorially-speaking.
In fact, I also returned to my first love : a more structured, precise, clean, less casual and more charismatic way of tailoring. It’s not that I disliked the easy-to-wear Neapolitan tailoring–as it carries an undeniable charm as well as a cool vision of life. But in the end, this style didn’t fit (if I may say) my personality and lifestyle as much as the Parisian or North Italian style : I love clean lines, almost geometric, in order to feel at my best in my garments. I am drawn to the tailoring of Maestros like Fransceco Smalto (when he was alive and still at the head of the atelier), Joseph Camps, Mario de Luca, Claude Rousseau, Henri Urban, Augusto Caraceni or Arturo Cifonelli.
In this aforementioned league of extraordinary tailors, I believe you will find today, not more than 10 names between England, Italy and France; and, among these 10 names, the most Francophile (and Francophone) of all the Italian Maestros : Gaetano Aloisio.
I have previously expressed my admiration for the work of Gaetano, but today, in order to answer a few requests from readers, I would like to delve into more detail of the first suit Maestro Aloisio cut and tailored for me : a 6 on 2 double-breasted marvel, cut in the superlative Super160s fabric by the DRAGO mill in Biella.
THE FABRIC : SUPER 160s BY DRAGO
It’s not a secret anymore that I’m a fan of DRAGO cloth. This mill, which is wildly underrated, is one of the last in the region of Biella to craft world-class fabrics from A to Z (from the spinning to the finished cloth) and this is a discovery to which I may attribute to Gaetano Aloisio.
Among the 11 bunches DRAGO produces for bespoke tailors (from Super 120s to pure cachemire), my favorite is indisputably the Super160s bunch of which I chose the first fabric featured in the bunch (see above) : a magnificent blue with a very faded and discreet stripe.
What I particularly like in this bunch is that, unlike many competitors in this range of luxurious high numbers, the Super160s by DRAGO provides a very “nervous” hand, obtained by incredible finishing techniques of which I’ve never witnessed anywhere else—pushing the bar very high in terms of tactile pleasure and beauty of drape. In one word, this high number fabric is almost wrinkle-free while being extremely light and agreeable to wear.
I’m generally suspicious of how these kind of high number fabrics may behave over time. I’ve noticed that some of my super number’s suits (Super160s, 180s and even 210s) are fragile and have the (negative) tendency to hold the shape of a knee or elbow when worn too long. Here, I can testify that the drape of this Super160s is, by far, the most impressive I’ve witnessed so far, even after wearing the suit more than 20 times (admittedly at times…forgive the sacrilege, two days in a row!).
The next time you visit your tailor, do me a favour and ask him to take the Super160s bunch by DRAGO into his hands and feel the difference, and I believe he or she will immediately detect the attributes which I am attempting to relay to you.
THE SCIENCE OF PROPORTIONS
From the time he was a young boy, Gaetano dreamt of becoming an architect, and found himself obsessed by geometric designs (I tell his story on page 86 of my “Italian Gentleman” book). But at the age of 18, the distinct culture and glamour of bespoke tailoring lured him into attending a tailoring institute in Milan.
Yet his early love of architecture could explain why Aloisio became part of a rare league of tailors who possess an innate sense of how to manipulate proportions, according to the morphology of the body, in order to yield an elegant silhouette.
For those among you who have read my first book, The Parisian Gentleman, I explain at the end of the chapter dedicated to Francesco Smalto (R.I.P.) that Mr Smalto had a rare gift to cut suits that were always flattering to the silhouette. In fact, back in those years, if you were to try on a Smalto jacket, even if the jacket wasn’t your size, something almost magical would happen; you would feel that you looked better than ever ! For this (mysterious) reason, the sartorial cognoscenti took the habit to say that a Smalto suit could always look good, even if you found yourself on a sliding scale of five kilos heavier or five kilos lighter.
I witnessed the same sensation with my Aloisio double-breasted suit, when I asked a few gentlemen (among them some very famous tailors) to try on my jacket to “feel” the quality and the drape of the DRAGO fabric. Even if the jacket was not cut for their morphology (by far for some of them), the same small miracle would inevitably occur—with something breathtaking happening in terms of recognizing an elegance factor. I clearly remember the expression on the face of a (very) famous tailor in a great Capital City in Europe : he couldn’t believe how handsome he looked even if the sleeves barely reached past the middle of his arms!
The above phenomenon is one of the greatest mysteries of the tailoring art. What makes, and will always make, the difference between a good tailor and a great tailor is his ability to create an immediate and inexplicable aesthetic effect on the one wearing his jacket—inexplicable because the effect has less to do with the precision of the cut or quality of the tailoring, as much as it has to do with the intuitive sense of the tailor. Compare this ” inexplicable thing” to a genius soccer player who has the ball, or to a great pianist who touches the keyboard of a Steinway and Sons, or to a great jazz drummer becoming one with his snare drum to create a natural groove, or to a virtuoso painter intuitively brushing the canvas. Such phenomena can’t be explain (thank God) and such gifts may not be acquired…and no machine will ever be able to replace the human hand in disciplines such as bespoke tailoring and bespoke shoemaking.
THE LAPELS, THE LAPEL CROSSING POINT, AND THE BUTTON STANCE
I’m known for my immoderate taste for oversized lapels. And I admit that maybe I have at times, gone a little too far, especially with some Italian double-breasted suits.
But once again, I have made a return to more reasonable proportions. And for this particular suit, I left Gaetano Aloisio in charge of deciding the right size of lapels for my morphology. In my opinion, he designed wonderful lapels of 10cm in width (3’9″ inches).
I adore these lapels : slightly curved, with a peak angled upward (1930s style) and a very closed gorge positioned not too high (like in the 2010s) and not too low (like in the 1940s/1950s). In brief, a wonderful work of mastering the proportions of this suit.
The crossing point (the place where the fabric overlaps) is also perfectly mastered : not too high and not too low. Just perfect for my body type. The button stance of the first functioning button (the only one I use) is positioned 6 centimetres above my navel.
The crossing point (high or low) is a key factor to consider when commissioning a double-breasted suit (or when buying one off the peg). One rule of thumb to know: a double breasted jacket that is too “closed” (eg : which crossing point is too high) will generate an extra amount of fabric on the torso and will instantly make you look “thicker” than you really are.
My torso is quite developed from 10 years of weight training in a past life. I recently had a very bad experience with a magnificent double-breasted suit crafted by an Italian tailor who positioned the crossing point too high, making me look 10 kilos heavier than my true weight. I will probably never wear this suit which is so beautifully made…indeed a pity.
Thus, to avoid such “accidents”, if you are able and have the means, it is wise to chose a world-class Maestro like Gaetano Aloisio.
THE EXTREME QUALITY OF THE CANVASSES
Another “detail” which is crucial in tailoring and an area where Gaetano Aloisio is placing the bar particularly high : the quality of the canvas used in the “guts” of the jacket.
We’ve been among the first (with comrade Julien Scavini in France to which we must pay a tribute for his invaluable input to the French sartorial renaissance) to insist on the vital importance of quality canvassing in terms of comfort, drape and longevity.
As I’ve said before, I feel so good in this suit that I wear it frequently, and can testify of the extreme quality of the canvas used by Aloisio. Thus, the more I wear this suit, the more I feel good in it and the more it seems to fit me perfectly thanks to the natural adaptation of the canvas to my body. Truly, the more I wear the suit, the better it seems to fit–a key outcome which defines Maestro Alosio’s work.
FINISHING AND THE DETAILS
Of course, at this level of craftsmanship, all the tailoring details are not only featured, by executed with the highest level of expertise, including a Milanese buttonhole on one lapel, extreme quality of the lining, irreproachable quality of the stitching, “buttery” vents (with a pleat at the crossing point between the visible and the invisible part of the vent). Other details include the famous “secret pocket” positioned in the lower part of the jacket, also found inside once-famous Smalto bespoke suits or in Camps de Luca bespoke jackets.
Gaetano Aloisio could be the first tailor in the world to build a bridge between the Parisian tailoring (clean lines, high armscye, quality of stitching, exceptional finishing) and Roman tailoring (lightness and absolute comfort).
For all of these reasons, I can say with confidence that in my opinion, Gaetano Aloisio is among the top five best tailors on the planet.
This is what we call “World Class”.
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For our American readers, please note that Maestro Aloisio is now visiting New York frequently to dress an ever-growing American clientele. His next visit is planned for next Thursday and Friday (November 29th and 30th). He will receive his customers at the Mark Hotel, Madison 77th Street.
To request an appointment, or for any question, please send an e-mail to email@example.com
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Sartoria Gaetano Aloisio
Via di Porta Pinciana, 1, 00187 Roma RM, Italie
Tél : +39 06 808 1621
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram : @gaetanoaloisioofficial
All photos © Andy Julia for Parisian Gentleman (at Hotel Ritz Paris).