John Ruskin was born in London and raised in South London, the only child of a wine importer who co-founded the company that became Allied Domecq. He was educated at home and went on to study at King's College London and Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford, he enrolled as a "gentleman-commoner", a class of students who were not expected to pursue a full course of study. His own studies were erratic, and he was often absent. However, he impressed the scholars of Christ Church after he won the Newdigate prize for poetry, his earliest interest. In consequence and despite a protracted period of serious illness, Oxford awarded him an honorary fourth-class degree.
His first work, serialised in London's Architecture Magazine in 1836-37, under the pen nameThe Poetry of Architecture. This was a study of cottages, villas, and other dwellings which centred around a Wordsworthian argument that buildings should be sympathetic to local environments, and should use local materials. Soon afterwards, in 1839, he published, in Transactions of the Meteorological Society (pages 56–59), his "Remarks on the present state of meteorological science".
He went on to publish the first volume of one of his major works, Modern Painters, in 1843, under the anonymous identity "An Oxford Graduate". This work argued that modern landscape painters — and in particular J. M. W. Turner— were superior to the so-called "Old Masters" of the post-Renaissance period. Such a claim was controversial, especially as Turner's semi-abstract late works were being denounced by some critics as meaningless daubs. The degree to which Ruskin reversed an anti-Turnerian tide may have been overemphasised in the past, as Turner was a renowned and major figure in the early Victorian art world and a prominent member of the Royal Academy. Ruskin's criticisms of Old Masters like Gaspard Dughet (Gaspar Poussin), Claude Lorrain, and Salvator Rosa, was much more controversial, given the immense respect they held at the time. The attack on the old masters centred on what Ruskin perceived as their lack of attention to natural truth. Rather than 'going to nature', as Turner did, the old masters, 'composed' or invented their landscapes in their studios. For Ruskin, modern painters like Turner and James Duffield Harding (Ruskin's art tutor) showed a much more profound understanding of nature, observing the 'truths' of water, air, clouds, stones, and vegetation.
Ruskin considered some Renaissance masters, notably Titian and Dürer, to have shown similar devotion to nature, but he attacked even Michelangelo as a corrupting influence on art. The second half of Modern Painters I consists of detailed observations by Ruskin of exactly how clouds move, how seas appear at different times of day, or how trees grow, followed by examples of error or truth from various artists.
Ruskin had already met and befriended Turner, and eventually became one of the executors of his will. Many long believed that, as an executor, Ruskin took it upon himself in 1858 to destroy a large number of Turner's sketches because of their 'pornographic' subject matter but more recent discoveries cast doubt on this idea (see below).
Ruskin followed Modern Painters I with a second volume, developing his ideas about symbolism in art. He then turned to architecture, writing The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of Venice, both of which argued that architecture cannot be separated from morality, and that the "Decorated Gothic" style was the highest form of architecture yet achieved.
By this time, Ruskin was writing in his own name and had become the most famous cultural theorist of his day.
In 1848, he married Effie Gray, for whom he wrote the early fantasy novel The King of the Golden River. Their marriage was notoriously unhappy, eventually being annulled in 1854 on grounds of his "incurable impotency," a charge Ruskin later disputed, even going so far as to offer to prove his virility at the court's request. In court, the Ruskin family counter-attacked Effie as being mentally unbalanced. Effie later married the artist John Everett Millais, who had been Ruskin's protegé, in July 1855.
Ruskin came into contact with Millais following the controversy over Millais's painting Christ in the House of His Parents, which was considered blasphemous at the time. Millais, with his colleagues William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, had established the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. The Pre-Raphaelites were influenced by Ruskin's theories. As a result, the critic wrote letters to The Times defending their work, later meeting them. Initially, he favoured Millais, who travelled to Scotland with Ruskin and Effie to paint Ruskin's portrait. Effie's increasing attachment to Millais, among other reasons, created a crisis, leading Effie to leave Ruskin, which caused a public scandal. Millais abandoned the Pre-Raphaelite style after his marriage, and Ruskin often savagely attacked his later works. Ruskin continued to support Hunt and Rossetti. He also provided independent funds to encourage the art of Rossetti's wife Elizabeth Siddal. Other artists influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites also received both written and financial support from him, including John Brett, Burne-Jones. and John William Inchbold. In 1858 he also opened the School of Art in Sidney Street, Cambridge, laying the foundation for what is now Anglia Ruskin University.
During this period Ruskin wrote regular reviews of the annual exhibitions at the Royal AcademyAcademy Notes. His reviews were so influential and so judgmental that he alienated many artists, leading to much comment. For example, Punch published a comic poem about a victim of the critic, which contained the lines, "I paints and paints, hears no complaints...then savage Ruskin sticks his tusk in and nobody will buy."
Ruskin also sought to encourage new architecture based on his theories. He was friendly with Sir Henry Acland, who supported his attempts to get the new Oxford University Museum of Natural History built as a model of modern Gothic. Ruskin also inspired other architects to adapt the Gothic style for modern culture. These buildings created what has been called a distinctive "Ruskinian Gothic" style.
Following a crisis of religious belief, and under the influence of his great friend Thomas Carlyle, Ruskin abandoned art criticism at the end of the 1850s, moving towards commentary on politics. In Unto This Last, he expounded theories about social justice, which influenced the development of the British Labour party and Christian socialism. On his father's death, Ruskin declared it was not possible to be a rich socialist, and gave away most of his inheritance. He founded the charity known as the Guild of St George in the 1870s, and endowed it with large sums of money and a remarkable art collection. He gave money to enable Octavia Hill to begin her practical campaign of housing reform. He attempted to reach a wide readership with his pamphlets Fors Clavigera, aimed at the "working men of England". He taught at the Working Men's College, London, and was the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, from 1869 to 1879. His lectures were so popular that they had to be given twice - once for the students, and again for the public. Ruskin College, Oxford is named after him.
While at Oxford, Ruskin became friendly with Lewis Carroll, another don, who photographed him. After Carroll parted with Alice Liddell, she and her sisters pursued a similar relationship with Ruskin, according to his autobiography, Praeterita.
During this period Ruskin became enamoured of Rose la Touche, an intensely religious girl, whom he met through his patronage of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, a talented watercolourist. He was introduced to Rose in 1858, when she was only ten years old, proposed to her eight years later, and was finally rejected in 1872. She died soon afterward. These events plunged Ruskin into despair and led to bouts of mental illness. He suffered from a number of breakdowns and delirious visions.
In 1878, he published a scathing review of paintings by James McNeill Whistler exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery. He found particular fault with Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, and accused Whistler of "ask[ing] two hundred guineas for throwing a pot of paint in the public's face."  Whistler filed a libel suit against Ruskin. Whistler won the case, but the jury awarded him only one farthing for damages; it split court costs between Ruskin and Whistler. The episode tarnished Ruskin's reputation, and may have accelerated his mental decline.
The emergence of the Aesthetic movement and Impressionism alienated Ruskin from the art world, and his later writings were increasingly seen as irrelevant, especially as he seemed to be more interested in book illustrators such as Kate Greenaway than in modern art. He continued to support philanthropic movements such as the Home Arts and Industries Association
Much of his later life was spent at a house called Brantwood, on the shores of Coniston WaterLake District of England. His assistant W. G. Collingwood, the author, artist and antiquarian lived nearby and in 1901 established the Ruskin Museum in Coniston as a memorial to Ruskin. located in the
Ruskin's range was vast. He wrote over 250 works which started from art history, but expanded to cover topics ranging over science, geology, ornithology, literary criticism, the environmental effects of pollution, and mythology. After his death Ruskin's works were collected together in a massive "library edition", completed in 1912 by his friends Edward Cook and Alexander Wedderburn. Its index is famously elaborate, attempting to articulate the complex interconnectedness of his thought.
Ruskin based his early work in defense of Turner on a belief that art communicated an understanding of nature, and that authentic artists should reject inherited conventions, and study and appreciate effects of form and colour by direct observation. His most famous dictum was "go to nature in all singleness of heart, rejecting nothing and selecting nothing." He later believed that the Pre-Raphaelites formed "a new and noble school" of art that would provide a basis for a thoroughgoing reform of the art world. For Ruskin, art should communicate truth above all things. However, he believed this was not revealed by mere display of skill, but the expression of the artist's whole moral outlook. Ruskin rejected the work of Whistler because he considered it to epitomise a reductive mechanisation of art.
Ruskin's famous diatribe rejecting Classical tradition in The Stones of Venice—one of the nineteenth century's most influential books—embodies the inextricable mix of aesthetics and morality in his thought:
"Pagan in its origin, proud and unholy in its revival, paralysed in its old age... an architecture invented, as it seems, to make plagiarists of its architects, slaves of its workmen, and sybarites of its inhabitants; an architecture in which intellect is idle, invention impossible, but in which all luxury is gratified and all insolence fortified."
Rejection of mechanisation and standardisation also informed Ruskin's theories of architecture, and his emphasis on the importance of the Medieval Gothic style. He praised the Gothic style for what he saw as its reverence for nature and natural forms; the free, unfettered expression of artisans constructing and decorating buildings; and for the organic relationship he posited between worker and guild, worker and community, worker and natural environment, and between worker and God. Nineteenth century attempts to reproduce Gothic form (pointed arches, etc.) was not enough to make these buildings expressions of what Ruskin (however erroneously) saw as true Gothic feeling, faith, and organicism.
For Ruskin, the Gothic style embodied the same moral truths he sought in art. It expressed the 'meaning' of architecture—as a combination of the values of strength, solidity and aspiration—all written, as it were, in stone. For Ruskin, creating true Gothic architecture involved the whole community, and expressed the full range of human emotions, from the sublime effects of soaring spires to the comically ridiculous carved grotesques and gargoyles. Even its crude and "savage" aspects were proof of "the liberty of every workman who struck the stone; a freedom of thought, and rank in scale of being, such as no laws, no charters, no charities can secure." Classical architecture, in contrast, expressed a morally vacuous repressive standardisation. Ruskin associated Classical values with modern developments, in particular with demoralising consequences of the industrial revolution, resulting in buildings such as The Crystal Palace, which he despised as an oversized greenhouse. Although Ruskin wrote about architecture in many works over the course of his career, his much-anthologised essay "The Nature of Gothic" from the second volume of The Stones of Venice (1853) is widely considered to be one of his most important and evocative discussions of his central argument.
Ruskin's arguments encouraged a revival of Gothic styles, but Ruskin himself was often dissatisfied with the results. He objected that forms of mass-produced faux Gothic did not exemplify his principles, but showed disregard for the true meaning of the style. Even the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, a building designed with Ruskin's collaboration, met with his disapproval. The O'Shea brothers, freehand stone carvers chosen to revive the creative "freedom of thought" of Gothic craftsmen, disappointed him by their lack of reverence for the task.
Ruskin's distaste for oppressive standardisation led to later works attacking Laissez-fairecapitalism, which influenced many trade union leaders of the Victorian era. He also was an inspiration for the Arts and Crafts Movement, the founding of the National Trust, the National Art Collections Fund, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
Ruskin's views on art, wrote Kenneth Clark, "cannot be made to form a logical system, and perhaps owe to this fact a part of their value." Ruskin's accounts of art are descriptions of a superior type that conjure images vividly in the mind's eye. Certain principles, however, remain consistent throughout his work, which Clark summarised as:
- Art is not a matter of taste, but involves the whole man. Whether in making or perceiving a work of art, we bring to bear on it feeling, intellect, morals, knowledge, memory, and every other human capacity, all focused in a flash on a single point. Aesthetic man is a concept as false and dehumanizing as economic man.
- Even the most superior mind and the most powerful imagination must found itself on facts, which must be recognized for what they are. The imagination will often reshape them in a way which the prosaic mind cannot understand; but this recreation will be based on facts, not on formulas or illusions.
- These facts must be perceived by the senses, or felt; not learnt.
- The greatest artists and schools of art have believed it their duty to impart vital truths, not only about the facts of vision, but about religion and the conduct of life.
- Beauty of form is revealed in organisms which have developed perfectly according to their laws of growth, and so give, in his own words, 'the appearance of felicitous fulfillment of function.'
- This fulfillment of function depends on all parts of an organism cohering and cooperating. This was what he called the 'Law of Help,' one of Ruskin's fundamental beliefs, extending from nature and art to society.
- Good art is done with enjoyment. The artist must feel that, within certain reasonable limits, he is free, that he is wanted by society, and that the ideas he is asked to express are true and important.
- Great art is the expression of epochs where people are united by a common faith and a common purpose, accept their laws, believe in their leaders, and take a serious view of human destiny.
Ruskin's belief in preservation of ancient buildings had a significant influence on later thinking about the distinction between conservation and restoration of old buildings. Ruskin was a strong proponent of the former, while his contemporary, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, advocated for the latter. In The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Ruskin writes:
Neither by the public, nor by those who have the care of public monuments, is the true meaning of the word restoration understood. It means the most total destruction which a building can suffer: a destruction out of which no remnants can be gathered: a destruction accompanied with false description of the thing destroyed. Do not let us deceive ourselves in this important matter; it is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture.
This abhorrence for restoration is in marked contrast to Viollet-le-Duc, who wrote that restoration is a "means to reestablish [a building] to a finished state, which may in fact never have actually existed at any given time."
Ruskin had a deep respect for Gothic architecture and old buildings in general. To him, the building's age was the most important aspect of its preservation: "For, indeed, the greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, not in its gold. Its glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy, nay, even of approval or condemnation, which we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity.” Art
Though he never exhibited his paintings, Ruskin's own work was very distinctive. He created many careful studies of natural forms, adapting the style of Turner to detailed botanical, geological and architectural observation. He also painted a decorative floral border in the central room of Wallington Hall in Northumberland, home of his friend Pauline Trevelyan. The stained glass window in the Little Church of St Francis Funtley, Fareham, Hampshire is reputed to have been designed by him. Originally placed in the St. Peter's Church Duntisbourne Abbots near Cirencester, the window depicts the Ascension and the Nativity.
Ruskin's fantasy novelette The King of the Golden River (1841) prepared the ground for the major fantasy novels of his close friend George MacDonald, who in 1858 wrote what may be the first fantasy novel for adults, Phantastes. The manner in which Ruskin wrote The King of the Golden River—as a gift to the twelve year old Effie Gray—is remarkably parallel to Lewis Carroll's later work, Alice's Adventures Under Ground, which Carroll wrote for Alice Liddell and later revised and published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Ruskin also contributed to the scholarship on this newly emerging genre later in his life, defining the aims of fantasy literature in his lecture "Fairy Land" (in The Art of England, 1884).
Ruskin's influence extends far beyond the field of art history. The author Marcel Proust was a Ruskin enthusiast and helped translate his works into French. Mahatma Gandhi quoted Ruskin's Unto this last frequently, and even translated the work into Gujarati, calling it Sarvodaya. He spoke often of the influence Ruskin had on his philosophy. Ruskin's views also attracted Oscar Wilde's imagination in the late 19th century.
A number of Utopian socialist "Ruskin Colonies" attempted to put his political ideals into practice. These communities included Ruskin, Nebraska; Ruskin, Florida; Ruskin, British Columbia; and the Ruskin Commonwealth Association, a colony which existed in Dickson County, Tennessee from 1894 to 1899. Ruskin's ideas also influenced the development of the British Labour Party. In Britain, many streets, places and colleges are named after Ruskin.
Ruskin College, Oxford, founded as a working men's college is named after him. Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford and Cambridge also bears his name: the university traces its origins to the Cambridge School of Art, which Ruskin founded in 1858. John Ruskin College, South Croydon, is also named after him after originally being called John Ruskin Grammar School when it opened in 1945.
The Ruskin Literary and Debating Society was founded in February 1900 in Toronto, Ontario (Canada). This organisation, named in John Ruskin's honour, promotes the development of literary knowledge and public speaking skills in its member and continues to thirve in Toronto to this day.
One of my top favourite movies is Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, directed by Stanley Donen. The movie's many scenes of 1956 Paris are breathtaking. Its singing and dancing are magnificent. This charming story is based upon a bit of photographer Richard Avedon's life (he is played by the extraordinary Fred Astaire), and the fashions of my favourite designer, Hubert de Givenchy. The following clip features a fashion magazine editor (played by Kay Thompson) and the new model for Givenchy (Audrey Hepburn), singing "On How to Be Lovely", an amusing number by composers George and Ira Gershwin. "Funny Face" launched their musical hits "S'Wonderful", and "How Long Has This Been Going On?"
~~M-J de Mesterton, Copyright May 15th, 2009
P.G. Wodehouse's famous character, Bertie Wooster wore "plus fours" for golfing and other outdoor pursuits. From Wikipedia:
Plus fours are trousers that extend 4 inches (10 cm) below the knee (and thus four inches longer than traditional knickerbockers, hence the name). As they allow more freedom of movement than knickers, they have been traditionally associated with sporting attire from the 1860s and onward, and are particularly associated with golf.
An "extravagant, careless style that fit right in with the looser fashions and lifestyles of the 1920s",plus fours were introduced to America by Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII of the United Kingdom), during a diplomatic trip in 1924. They are often seen on golf courses, and frequently worn with argyle socks, silk ties, and dress shirts/sweaters. Some plus fours even came as complete suits.André 3000's Benjamin Bixby clothing line, which is based on the clothes worn by Ivy League athletes of the 1930s, features plus four trousers.
Veruschka at the height of her powers in 1964.
Veruschka was the world's first supermodel, a playmate of Hollywood stars and a pioneer in the art of body painting. Then she dropped out. George Gurley tracks her down in New York.
One night in April, stars were streaming into the Time Warner Centre in New York to celebrate Time magazine's "100 most influential people" issue.
Cordoned-off gawkers were shrieking at the arrivals and the paparazzi were howling. After Barbara Walters made her way down the red carpet, a tall, lithe woman appeared.
She was wearing a cap that seemed to have been made out of a faded T-shirt, black sunglasses, a hot-pink jacket, highly flammable-looking white trousers and colourful sneakers.
The paparazzi had no idea they were in the presence of the first supermodel, the fashion legend whom Vogue magazine once billed as "one of the wonders of the world".
Here was the one-time bombshell who appeared as herself in Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 movie Blow Up in what has been voted the sexiest scene in cinema history.
Going unrecognised didn't bother Veruschka, who's a bit of a recluse these days. "Fame, I mean, it's like a bubble, in a way," she says in her deep, husky voice. "It's like something glittery and it goes and it can be forgotten fast."
I have to admit that when I first met Veruschka (in a Manhattan cafe a few days before the party) I wasn't exactly blown away. I'd heard of beautiful women dressing down but this was overdoing it. She was wearing a frayed headband around a cloth head-wrap, a silvery chain-mail-like top, washed-out camouflage trousers and orange sneakers.
I wondered if before me was a tragic casualty of a bygone era - a homeless hippie chick. Though she looked handsome and well-preserved for 65, she also brought to mind a male transsexual. Her slender, unusually toned figure was impressive. But then she removed her sunglasses, revealing exotic, faraway blue eyes, flawless bone structure, perfect alignment of features and a cool, confident demeanour.
In her day Veruschka was one of the top earners in the business, but times are tough for her now. For the past 10 years she has been living in Brooklyn, in a house she shares with two close friends and eight cats. Every afternoon she rides her bike for half-an-hour so she can feed a colony of stray felines living in an area known as Dumbo (Down under the Manhattan bridge overpass).
She thinks New York is "a little bit in a depression now" so she's moving to Berlin where she can get a villa for what she's paying in rent here.
"I'm European and it's time again to be there," she says, adding that she might not stay long. "I have to see. My father was executed there" - more later - "so it's not a happy city to me.
"I am like a nomad. I've always lived everywhere and don't consider any place my home."
Veruschka's broken English and odd, elliptical turns of phrase can be confusing. While she can be highly articulate and deeply insightful, not everything she says always makes sense; sometimes you're left wondering if she's doing it on purpose to maintain an air of mystery.
"At the moment it's not so good for me," she says. "But things I'm working on will again bring money."
She mentions an upcoming documentary about her life, directed by Paul Morrissey, Andy Warhol's old collaborator, and exhibitions of her art. We flip through a book of photographs published in 1998 with Veruschka in a variety of costumes and personas. In most of the shots, she passes for 30.
Veruschka (nee Countess Vera von Lehndorff) grew up in East Prussia in a 100-room house on an enormous estate that had been in her family for centuries. Her father, Count Heinrich von Lehndorff, was a wealthy landowner and German army reserve officer who became a key member of the German resistance after witnessing Jewish children being beaten and killed. Hitler's headquarters at Wolf's Lair was a few kilometres from the von Lehndorff estate, and his diplomat Joachim von Ribbentrop, ignorant of Vera's father's sympathies, took over half of the Lehndorff castle and lived alongside the family; little Vera was filmed playing with von Ribbentrop for propaganda purposes.
After a plot to blow up Hitler, hatched by disillusioned German officers, including von Lehndorff, failed in July 1944, the authorities showed up to arrest Veruschka's father. He escaped, only to give himself up after seeing a machinegun pointed at his wife's head. On the way to Berlin in an armoured car, he escaped again to the forest for four days; again worried about the safety of his family, he turned himself in.
Veruschka's mother and her three sisters spent the next five months in camps. That September, Count Heinrich wrote a last letter to his family before he was hanged by piano wire from a meat hook.
By the end of the war her family was homeless. Vera, who attended 13 schools, tells me she spent a lot of time alone in the woods hiding among the trees and wishing to become one. "I was living a totally underwater life after the war. We were under shock about what had happened to us."
At 14 she was a gawky 185 centimetres. Children called her Stork and she thought she was ugly, and her body badly proportioned and "horrible". She escaped into art, studying in Hamburg, then Florence. By that time she was no ugly duckling. At 20, photographer Ugo Mulas discovered her on the street and soon she was modelling full-time.
Tall models were still unfashionable in Paris but there Vera met Eileen Ford, founder of the prestigious Ford model agency, who told her they liked them statuesque in America; she advised her to eat hard-boiled eggs to stay slim. In 1961 she moved to New York but nothing happened. She went to see Eileen Ford, but she didn't remember meeting her. So she returned to the Munich countryside and decided to create a mysterious persona to help her stand out. Vera became Veruschka. As if her family history wasn't memorable enough in itself, she created a fictional, mysterious past, telling people she was from Russia; from then on no one who met her forgot Veruschka. She found another modelling agency and returned to New York with her new identity.
In 1964, Diana Vreeland, the editor of American Vogue, pinned a photograph of the beguiling 23-year-old to a wall and declared, "Veruschka, you're going to hear from me". After a few shoots, Vreeland encouraged her to come up with her own ideas. Taking her up on the offer, Veruschka posed in Japan's snow country wearing a lynx coat and standing next to a sumo wrestler. In 1966 she did her first shoot wearing nothing but body paint, and it became a lifelong artistic pursuit. Most of the time she did her own make-up, hair and styling.
"The most successful ones were done like that, because I was in charge of it," she says. "With the photographer we created the whole thing on the spot. We cut up the clothes even, if it looked better."
She teamed with Salvador Dali and photographer Peter Beard, who took her to Kenya. There, in an attempt to "go native", she painted herself with black shoe polish to resemble surreal plants and animals; it took weeks to remove.
Veruschka made the cover of Vogue 11 times. Vreeland's only complaint was that she sometimes looked past the camera and looked a little sad. "Don't have that future look, be now and be happy," she'd say.
"And I couldn't agree with her on that," Veruschka says. "That was a little bit of a conflict. My success has been because I was my own boss.
I saw it like a stage where you perform."
In Blow Up her name was misspelt in the credits and she was only on screen for five minutes but that was all it took to make her internationally famous. What begins as a seemingly routine fashion shoot between Veruschka and a photographer (based on David Bailey and played by David Hemmings) culminates with the photographer straddling her, still snapping away and cheering her on.
Even though both actors remained clothed, Premiere magazine recently named it the sexiest scene in film history.
"I don't think that is so great, that scene," she tells me. "It became a big thing and honestly it's a mystery for me why. I never understood why I got so famous with that film."
There were passionate affairs but she liked them brief. She never married or had children. Male models and beautiful men did nothing for her. "I rather like people who have some kind of character, something strange. I very often like men who are much smaller than me."
Suitors included Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.
In 1974 Veruschka fell into a heavy depression and began drifting away from fashion. She saw a psychiatrist who helped her dig into her painful past, having her read aloud that final letter her father had written. She spent time in Germany with her mother, wrote in her diary and photographed herself daily, and did a lot of body painting.
Around that time there were rumours that her looks had been damaged after a car crash, which she denies. She says the 2 centimetre-long scar on her right jaw is the result of an accident in Greece when she slipped on a rock.
She bade farewell to the fashion world in 1975, after artistic disagreements with Vreeland's successor at Vogue, Grace Mirabella, who wanted her to change her image so average female readers could relate to her.
Although she'd made as much as $10,000 a day at the height of her modelling career, she had no savings.
In 1985 Veruschka infiltrated the New York art world, putting on a body-painting show in Tribeca. She worked with the photographer Holger Trulzsch, a former lover she first collaborated with in the early 1970s. They conceptualised Veruschka's time in fashion by painting outfits on her naked body and transforming her into wild animals and archetypes such as film stars, dandies, gangsters and dirty old men. (She tells me she's often mistaken for a man, that in France they often say, 'Oui, monsieur.')
In the past three decades Veruschka has returned to the fashion world occasionally, including a trip to Australia in 2000 as a guest model at the Melbourne Fashion Festival.
The Time party was beginning to fill up and Veruschka began getting more attention than she did upon arrival. After an hour Veruschka had had enough and headed to the lifts.
I asked her what she thought of the party. "It was a little less crazy than it was than the 1960s," she said.
"Everyone was more crazily dressed then, and more energy in the room, I think. Now it's calmed down; people are more bourgeois."
~~George Gurley, From THE TELEGRAPH
Mme. Jeanne Lanvin
The House of Lanvin has created many perfumes. A new scent, dedicated to Jeanne Lanvin ("zhan lawnvan" is the correct pronunciation), and bearing her name, is set to debut in July. What follows is a list of Parfums Lanvin, through 2005:
1925 My Sin
1927 Arpege (created by Madame Lanvin for her daughter, Marie-Blanche)
1928 Arpege Eau Delicieuse
1928 L'Aime Perdú
1928 Petales Froisses
1933 Monsieur Lanvin
1933 Eau de Lanvin
1971 Via Lanvin
1979 Lanvin l' Homme
1981 Lanvin for Men
1983 Clair de Jour
2002 Eclat d'Arpege
2005 Rumeur (updated version)
THE ART OF WEARING CLOTHES
by George Frazier
The history of this rare masculine art and of the men who practice it supremely well.
Many a vagrant vogue has prevailed and perished in the hundred-and-fifty-odd years since George Bryan (Beau) Brummell resigned from the tony Tenth Hussars upon being denied permission to wear a uniform of his own design, but the criterion by which men are adjudged either beautifully or badly dressed is still what it was in that dandified day when people cherished the belief that the Beau achieved the flawless fit of his gloves by having the fingers made by one man and the thumbs by another. Now, as then, an impeccably turned-out male is characterized by the same "certain exquisite propriety" of dress that Lord Byron admired so abundantly in Brummell. "If John Bull turns to look after you," the Beau once observed, "you are not well-dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable."
This was Brummell's bequest—his irreproachably tasteful simplicity. What's more, it is the one constant in the fickleness of fashion, nor has any mode, no matter how maniac, ever proved it spinach—neither the cult of pipe-stemmed perfection that caused any true Edwardian dandy to shudder at the thought of having, as Max Beerbohm put it, "the incomparable set of his trousers spoilt by the perching of any dear little child upon his knee"; nor the autograph-slickered, bell-bottomed callowness of the "cake-eaters" and "sheiks" who found their laureate in John Held, Jr.; nor the casual coolness of all the beer jackets of Princeton springtimes; nor the abortive and itinerant "Italian style"; nor, for that matter, even the natural-shouldered, pleatless-trousered look that is known as "Ivy League," but that by any name at all would still be the Brooks Brothers No. 1 sack suit.
Prior to Brummell, men had dressed to almost freakish excess. Thus, according to Hayden's Dictionary of Dates, Sir Walter Raleigh wore:
". . . a white-satin-pinked vest close-sleeved to the wrist, and over the body a doublet finely flowered, and embroidered with pearls, and in the feather of his hat a large ruby and pearl drop at the bottom of the sprig in place of a button. His breeches, with his stockings and ribbon garters, fringed at the end, all white; and buff shoes, which, on great court days, were so gorgeously covered with precious stones as to have exceeded the value of 6,600 pounds; and he had a suit of armor of solid silver, with sword and hilt blazing with diamonds, rubies and pearls."
Nor was Lord Buckingham, James I's favorite, any shrinking violet either, for, as Hayden has it, he "had his diamonds tacked so loosely on [his robe] that when he chose to shake a few off on the ground, he obtained all the fame he desired from the pickers-up." And then, too, there was Prince von Kaunitz, who achieved the desired shad of his wig by strolling back and forth while four lackeys sprayed it with different tints of scented powder. Indeed, in those pre-Brummell years, men were such peacocks thatThe Times of London used to describe their clothes in as minute and fascinated detail as it did women's.
With the Beau's arrival in London, however, restraint in male attire became the order of the day and, for that matter, of every debonair day thereafter. It is, in fact, almost impossible to exaggerate Brummell's influence, for as Virginia Woolf has said, "Without a single noble, important, or valuable action to his credit, he cuts a figure; he stands for a symbol; his ghost walks among us still." Indeed, because of him alone simplicity became the hallmark of the well-dressed man, whether he be a Victorian Prime Minister named Lord Melbourne, an American general named A. J. Drexel Biddle, a former Secretary of State named Dean Acheson, or a song-and-dance man out of Omaha named Fred Astaire.
But Brummell, far from being a prophet without honor, was a legend even in his own lifetime—a circumstance, incidentally, that he helped propagate by circulating rumors to the effect that, among other primping practices, he mixed champagne in his boot polish, employed three different coiffeurs to do his hair (one for the temples, another for the crown, and a third for the front), and had once jilted a rich and beautiful noblewoman because he couldn't abide the way she ate cabbage. Nevertheless, his fussiness was genuine and it was a matter of record that he refused to take off his hat to ladies for fear that he might not be able to get it back on his head at the precisely rakish angle. Furthermore, his concern for himself was so rapt that he was able to identify his troop only because one of its members had "a very large blue nose." Yet for all his affectations, he was possessed of a sense of beauty that bordered on genius. So flawless was the fit of Brummell's coat that, according to Byron, "It seemed as if the body thought."
Indeed, next to the Beau himself, Byron must have been Brummell's most ardent admirer—a circumstance, by the way, that must seem a little incredible, for, as famous as he was, as handsome, as talented, as nobly-born, and as much a lion among the ladies, Byron, who achieved his own wind-blown "Byronic" look by putting his hair up in curlers at bedtime, spent sleepless nights tossing over his inability to tie a neckcloth with any of Brummell's surpassing skill.
As it happened, the Beau, who took three hours to dress and used to change his clothes three times a day, made such a ritual of tying his neckcloth that the Prince of Wales, who, it was said, "would rather be amiable and familiar with his tailor than agreeable and friendly with the most illustrious members of the aristocracy," considered it a privilege to be permitted to observe the ceremony. The trick was to wrinkle the twelve-inch-wide white muslin which was wound horizontally around the neck, into the five-or-so inches between the chin and shoulder blades. This "creasing down," as it was known, was accomplished by Brummell's reclining in his chair as if he were being shaved and, when the cloth was finally wound around his neck, sinking his head, ever so slowly, until the muslin wrinkled to perfection, for, as Virginia Woolf has said, "If one wrinkle was too deep or too shallow, the cloth was thrown into a basket and the attempt renewed." Once, when a visitor inquired what Brummell's valet was carrying as he descended from his master's dressing room, he was informed, "These are our failures, sir." This was what has since come to be known as "studied carelessness"—"the perfect art," as Kathleen Campbell has said, "which conceals art, that satisfying spontaneity which can be achieved only by taking intense thought." Nowadays, it is to be observed in such seeming trifles as the way that a well-dressed man wears a handkerchief in his breast pocket. Unlike the wrong way—a squarish effect which, though the handkerchief is merely thrust into the pocket, gives a highly contrived look—it consists of fluffing the handkerchief so painstakingly that it seems merely to have been thrust into the pocket. But even studied carelessness cannot make a man well-dressed if he lacks, in Max Beerbohm's words, "physical distinction, a sense of beauty, and either cash or credit." Moreover, if age cannot wither, neither, for that matter, can custom-tailoring stale the man who has those attributes.
It is scarcely a coincidence that not only are most "best-dressed" men more than forty years of age, but also that they rarely, if ever, wear ready-made clothes. For in addition to good looks and clothes sense, they have by and large, enough money to afford the invaluable collaboration of superb tailors like Bernard Weatherill and H. Harris in New York and E. Tautz in London; of such American shirtmakers as Dudley G. Eldridge, Brooks Brothers, and Sulka's, and Turnbull & Asser of London; of bootmakers like Lobb of St. James's Street in London (which is, incidentally, one of the most beautiful shops in the world) and the Boston Bootmakers of Boston; of tiemakers like Dudley G. Eldridge, Sulka's, and Brooks Brothers in this country and Turnbull & Asser abroad; and, equally important, of barbers as skilled as, say, the celebrated Vincent Battaglia of the Plaza Hotel. "Best-dressed" men are, almost without exception, committed to nothing but the best (though not necessarily the most expensive), and even their shoes must be polished (and, frequently, boned) to perfection—just as was the case in Regency London when the death of one Lieutenant-Colonel Kelly of the First Foot Guards sent all the dandies racing to hire his valet, who was rumored to have a secret formula that had imparted the incomparable sheen to his late master's footwear. When, incidentally, the valet let it be known that he expected a salary of two hundred pounds a year, Brummell told him, "If you will make it guineas, I shall be happy to attend uponyou." As things were to turn out, there was a certain ominousness about this anecdote, for it reveals Brummell at the critical moment when he was beginning to lose one of the three ingredients that combine to make a man well-dressed—in this case, his credit with his tailor, Schweitzer & Davidson of Cork Street, Piccadilly. When, a bit later on, he began to lose his trim figure as well, he was no longer the glass of fashion mirroring the most elegant of all eras.
Obviously, the credentials required for recognition as an authentically well-dressed man are not very readily come by. Thus in the case of a certain attractive young New York advertising executive who wears suits, shirts, and ties of impeccable taste, the disqualification lies in his weakness for bizarre footwear, particularly during the summer, when he frequently appears in what Murray Kempton has described as "those obscene ventilated shoes."
Yet for all the range of varied views expressed about men's clothes—reactions extending all the way from Thoreau's admonition to "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes," and Hawthorne's austere conviction that "Those who make their dress a principal part of themselves will in general become of no more value than their dress," to Max Beerbohm's airy belief that no man can cut a dashing figure unless he is sufficiently clothes-conscious not to be distracted by a job or family—there is at least a measure of accord about the fact that, though clothes do not necessarily make the man, they do, if becoming, make him confident and content. "A man," said Dickens' Mark Tapley, "may be in good spirits and good temper when he's well-dressed. There ain't much credit in that." Brummell, for instance, had, like most flawlessly turned-out men, an air of such unassailable authority that he provided a shining example for Scott Fitzgerald's later claim that "Gentlemen's clothes are a symbol of the 'power that man must hold and that passes from race to race.' " It may well have been a desire for this sense of security that derives from being well-dressed that prompted young American officers in the First World War to put on new white gloves before going into battle. Actually, the gloves need not have been new—merely spotlessly clean—for in men's clothes (far more so than in women's) age lends a certain reassuring patina. "Trust not," warned Carlyle, "the heart of that man for whom old clothes are not venerable," an attitude that was subsequently endorsed by Rupert Brooke, who sang of "the good smell of old clothes."
Part of the appeal of old clothes lies, of course, in the fact that one becomes almost dependent upon them. They are, as it were, known quantities, and, rather than discard them, one goes to great lengths to keep them serviceable, having, for instance, a favorite jacket relined or the frayed collars and cuffs of a well-cut shirt turned. One of the most attractive items in Joseph Bryan III's wardrobe, for example, is a dinner coat that, except for having been relined and having had its buttons tightened, is precisely as it was when his father had it made in 1912. There is, after all, a certain amount of experimentation, of trial-and-error involved in wearing new things, a peril, by the way, that Dickens noted in Great Expectations, where he says, "Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on since clothes came in falls a trifle short of the wearer's expectations." Furthermore, it is a fact that old clothes—provided, of course, that they are of the highest quality—have become molded to one's body, which is why no first-rate tailor considers his job completed until he has altered certain minor shortcomings that become apparent only after a customer has worn a suit a half-dozen-or-so times. Once a suit has received its maker's approval, however, it requires infinitely less care than do inferior garments. Hetherington Turnbull, the head of F. L. Dunne's (a bespoke tailor of such prestige that when John P. Marquand did a reverent article about it for Vogue, he asked that his recompense be a Dunne suit) has not had his dinner coat pressed once in the more-than-thirty years since it was made.
As it happens, however, the best-dressed American men—at least for the most part—not only cherish venerable clothes, but cherish venerable milieux as well. Like their apparel, they, too, are full of tradition, being, rather more often than not, products of such sanctified New England private schools as St. Mark's, Groton, and St. Paul's, and of ivied universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton; living, not in such youthful and characterless cities as Los Angeles, but in either what Roger Angell has termed "The Effete East"—which is to say the hallowed ground of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and the posher precincts of Long Island—or in such proper outposts as Richmond and San Francisco; and belonging to such select clubs as the Racquet & Tennis and the Brook in Manhattan, the Southampton on Long Island, the Somerset in Boston, the Philadelphia in Philadelphia, and, as nonresident members, Buck's and White's in London. They walk, so to speak, in beauty, and at dusk, when not playing backgammon at such sanctuaries, they turn up at beatified bars like the ones in the St. Regis in New York and the Ritz-Carlton in Boston. Furthermore, they not only respect, but quite often indeed are exceedingly fond of the men who sell them clothes—which, after all, is the way they were brought up, down through the years since Christmas vacations when Brooks Brothers was where, in a manner of speaking, they hung their childhood, and with such correct consequences that, in their navy-blue overcoats from Rowes of London, they were proper and personable little gentlemen indeed. And afterwards, on the mornings of their weddings, it would have been absolutely unthinkable not to have had a Brooks Brothers representative on hand to tie their and their ushers' ascots. For this, everything considered, is the authentically well-dressed American man's way of life, even unto J. P. Morgan's having customarily greeted one Brooks employee with a deferential, "Good morning, Mr. Webb," and having had Mr. Webb reply, "Good morning, Jack." Always there is noblesse oblige.
Almost without exception, the best-dressed men have, very simply and very vernacularly, colossal class. And being, in most cases, to the manor born, they feel no urgency, as do less secure men, to be either obvious or extravagant. Thus although there was nothing in the least amiss about the fact that the late Herbert Bayard Swope (whose claims to chicness were deflated one night when Damon Runyon pointed out to Leonard Lyons the unpardonable offense of Swope's creased sleeves) happened to favor expensive monogrammed hosiery, it is, nevertheless, not without a certain significance that, for both daytime and formal evening occasions, A. J. Drexel Biddle wears black-ribbed "fine lisle vat-dyed" socks (which have nylon reinforced toes and heels) that cost him only a dollar a pair at Jacob Reed's in Philadelphia.
Although it would be altogether too arbitrary to single out Biddle, the sixty-three-year-old Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, as the best-dressed man in the United States, it would, at the same time, be something of a task to find a male more elegant than he, not only in this country, but anywhere else in the world. Other well-dressed men are the first to acknowledge this, none, however, any more tangibly than Ahmet Ertegun, a son of the late Turkish Ambassador to the United States. Some years ago, when Ertegun somehow came into possession of a suit that had been made for Biddle by E. Tautz of London in 1923, he promptly put it into a protective cellophane covering and hung it in a closet. It has remained there ever since, emerging only when he wears it on some opulent occasion or when he permits clothes-conscious male visitors the privilege of admiring its splendid cut, caressing its incomparable stitching.
On the elegant face of things, one would probably imagine that "Tony" Biddle has closet upon closet of clothes. Actually, this Main Line Philadelphian, whose father was the epic figure about whom the playThe Happiest Millionaire was written and whom himself was one of the most extraordinary participants in the Second World War, has so sparse a wardrobe that Lord Byron, for one, and Lieutenant General Rafael Trujillo, Jr., for another, would feel that it amounted to not having a stitch to their names.
On June 20, 1812, for example, Byron, according to Leslie A. Marchand, his most incisive biographer:
". . . bought '12 Fine white Quilting Waistcoats'; on July 1 'A spfine Olive Court dress Coat lined Completely thro wh White Silk, 20 Elegantly Cut & Highly polished Steele buttons, A very rich Embroidered Court dress Waistcoat, and A pair rich black Silk Breeches.' In August and September he added dozens of other items, bringing the total bill on September 18 to £243.10s."
As for Trujillo, his taste in clothes is apparently as undiscriminating as it is in certain other matters. He once commissioned a New York tailor to make him—sight unseen!—fourteen suits at $285 each, four sports jackets at $196 apiece, ten sports shirts at from $20 to $30 each, twenty-five $33 dress shirts, fifty $7.50 neckties, and four pairs of slacks at $88 a pair.
Even in its entirety, Biddle's wardrobe seems, by contrast, almost monastic. It includes seven so-called business suits—two double- and one single-breasted navy-blue serge; one double- and one single-breasted dark-blue pin-stripe flannel; one single-breasted charcoal-grey flannel. (They were made by either H. Harris of New York, who charges $225 and up for a two-piece suit, or E. Tautz of London who charges, as to do most topnotch British tailors, almost a quarter less. All have skeleton alpaca linings and the sleeves have three buttons and open buttonholes. The single-breasteds have three-button, notched-lapel jackets.) For formal daytime wear, Biddle has a charcoal-grey cheviot cutaway, a single-breasted white waistcoat, and black trousers with broad white stripes. (With these, he wears a black silk ascot and a wide wing collar.) For semiformal daytime occasions, he has a charcoal-grey single-breasted cheviot sack coat and trousers, in either black or Cambridge grey, with broad white stripes. Besides a ready-made Aquascutum raincoat, Biddle owns three outer coats—a double-breasted blue chinchilla ($175 from Tautz), a single-breasted light drab covert cloth ($225, H. Harris), and a double-breasted polo coat with white bone buttons ($325, Harris). He has, in addition to a tweed cap, four hats, all of them purchased at Lock's in London too many years ago for him to recall exactly what they cost. One is a high-silk, one an opera hat, and the other two homburgs—one black and one green. For formal evening wear, Biddle has tails ($175, Tautz), a double-breasted dinner coat with satin shawl lapels ($150, Tautz), and, for warm weather, two single-breasted, shawl-collared white gabardine dinner coats ($98 each, Tautz). His evening shirts, with which he wears a conventionally-shaped bow tie, have pleats, roll collars, and are made for him by Dudley G. Eldridge of New York at $28 each.
Biddle's sports clothes include three tweed jackets ($160 each, Harris), three pairs of charcoal-grey flannel slacks, and a half-dozen button-down shirts made by Eldridge out of silk that he, Biddle, bought in Spain. His shoes, of which he has three pairs of black for daytime wear and one patent leather and one calfskin for evening wear, were made by Paulsen & Stone of London, who also made for him, for sports wear, a pair of black moccasins, a pair of black loafers, and two pairs of white canvas shoes with brown leather toes and rubber soles (which he wears with either prewar white flannels or an ancient double-breasted light-grey sharkskin suit). Biddle's neck-band shirts, which are either starched dickey bosoms (elongated so that the bosoms extend below the middle button of his jacket) or semi-starched pleated bosoms, have white cuffs and bodies of either grey or light blue. They cost $26 each and are made by Eldridge, who also makes his stiff white collars ($3 each) and his ties ($7.50 each), which run to solid black silks and discreet shepherd checks and are shaped so as to make a knot small enough to fit neatly into a hard collar. His underwear is ready-made and comes from Jacob Reed's.
As for his military wardrobe, it seems downright skimpy when compared with what, according to Leslie A. Marchand, Lord Byron had on hand during his service in Greece:
"Two Braided Plaid Jackets, 4 pair of Trowsers, Red Cloth Jacket braided with Black, Red Cloth Jacket trimmed with Gold Lace, Four Full Dress Uniform Coats trimmed with Gold Lace, Two Pair Blue Trowsers trimmed with Gold Lace . . . 2 Helmets with Gilt Ornaments (Homeric helmets, gilt with an overtowering plume, under which . . . were his coat of arms and the motto 'Crede Byron'), Six Pair of Gold Lace Epaulets, One Pair of Silver Lace Epaulets, 5 Gold Lace Sword Knots, and various guns and equipment, including ten swords and a sword stick."
Biddle somehow manages to squeeze by on a total of five uniforms.
Like all men with innate clothes sense, Biddle eschews such abominations as ankle-length socks, matching tie-and-handkerchief sets, huge cuff links, conspicuous tie clasps, and, most hideous of all, cellophane hat covers. Indeed, well-dressed men, almost without exception, are interested in something novel in clothing, only when it is both as attractive and functional as, say the duffer coat, which proved its value to the Royal Navy in the Second World War.
Naturally, Biddle's coat sleeves are not only uncreased, but also of such length as to permit a fraction-of-an-inch of his shirt cuff to show—as, similarly, the neck of his jacket is cut so that the back of his shirt collar is exposed. As for the width of his trousers and coat lapels, it is determined, not by the extreme narrowness that is something of a rage these days, but by, respectively, the length of his foot and the breadth of his shoulders. He selects, in short, clothes that become him. For anyone who is not as "clean favored and imperially slim . . . and admirably schooled in every grace" as Biddle is, the Biddle style of dress would be preposterous. Few things are more precarious than the indiscriminate aping of another man's wardrobe.
If, for example, the Cary Grant of To Catch a Thief was culpable of anything, it was less his onetime activities as a "cat burglar" than the fact that his clothes in that movie aroused such demonstrative admiration among women that any number of men were inspired to try to copy the actor's wardrobe. For the most part, the results were disastrous. It should be noted, by the way, that women should never be permitted to counsel men about clothes. "No woman," says author Finis Farr, "really knows anything about men's clothes. How could she? After all, she's conditioned to obsolescence, to the principle that things go out of fashion. Well-dressed men know that nothing worth-while is ever outmoded, that a superb tailor's work is ageless."
It is, of course, a manifestation of A. J. Drexel Biddle's clothes sense that he patronizes such superb tailors as E. Tautz in London and H. Harris in New York. Conceivably, he might, with equally impressive results, go to any one of several others, among them Kilgour, French & Stanbury, Strachan & Hunt, E. C. Squires, Davis & Anderson, and Sandon in London and, in New York, F. L. Dunne, Bernard Weatherill, Pat Sylvestri, Lord of New York, Brooks Brothers, and Rosenthal-Maretz. If, as is most unlikely, he happened to be residing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he could avail himself of the services of T and T, which, though not stylistically creative, can, like its Hong Kong counterparts, produce hand-stitched, authentically custom-tailored suits for as little as $75 each. Although the British, by and large, are more skilled and less expensive than the Americans, not even the very best of them is superior to Weatherill and Harris, which, if not necessarily without peer, are certainly unsurpassed in this country. It is almost impossible, however, to generalize about American tailors, for, unlike their London counterparts, few of them are cast in the same mold. On the one hand, for example, are the Weatherill's and Harris', which, though quite able to turn out any style of suit, are assertively uninfluenced by fads, and, on the other, the likes of Lord of New York, whose clientele, for the most part, is disposed toward the Ivy League cut. But of all American tailors, no two, notwithstanding their conspicuous dissimilarities, are more representative than Weatherill, which is hallowed, and Lord, which is youthful and, despite no genuine feeling for tradition, immensely worth-while because of the meticulous workmanship of its Peter D'Annunzio.
Bernard Weatherill, which has been thriving in New York City for more than thirty-five years, is owned by Charles Weatherill (whose brother Bernard has a shop in London), is terribly British, and, as such, posh, polite, and paneled. Yet for all its innate respect for the old, Weatherill has a lively enough interest in the new to enable it to satisfy even the most progressive-minded members of the well-heeled younger generation. It is also very horsy, indeed, being unquestionably the foremost American maker of sidesaddle habits and riding breeches (which it measures to within one-sixteenth of an inch in New York and, because of prohibitive labor costs in this country, then has executed in London). Such, in fact, is its artistry at this sort of thing that it is the only American tailoring establishment to have made a "Regulation Club evening and driving kit" for a member of the London Coaching Club.
Weatherill charges $260 and up for a three-piece suit, takes some three weeks to turn it out, and feels that a perfect fit is achieved only with one's third suit. In the tradition of British bespoke tailoring, it favors four buttons with buttonholes on the sleeves of business suits and a single one on sports jackets (though it does think it rather jolly to add a second one—on the side of the sleeve next to the body—that permits the wearer to button the sleeves tightly around the wrists in foul weather). Where Weatherill (along with other topnotch American firms) has a distinct advantage over the British is in its ability to make a superb tropical-weight suit. Moreover, unlike London establishments, it does not feel that if a tailor is satisfied with a garment, the customer should be too. One day at Weatherill in London, for example, a cutter suddenly grabbed his shears and began slashing a suit because of his umbrage at the fact that the customer who was trying it on had not expressed his satisfaction promptly enough. Weatherill in New York does, however, like to keep a fatherly eye on its garments and, for four dollars, it will hand-press (which takes an hour or more) any suit, no matter how ancient, that came from its work benches.
Unlike Weatherill, Lord of New York is brash, explorative, and highly disorganized. Chronologically, Lord of New York is a branch of a genealogy that goes all the way back to 1835 and Brooks Brothers' natural-shoulder—or, as it is precisely known, No. 1—sack suit. Around the turn of the century, Arthur Rosenberg, then the foremost tailor in New Haven, began to exploit this style among Yale undergraduates, and, not long afterwards, J. Press, also of New Haven, fell into line. Eventually, two Rosenberg employees, Sam Rosenthal and Moe Maretz, went out on their own as Rosenthal-Maretz; then Bill Fenn and Jack Feinstein left David T. Langrock to form Fenn-Feinstein (now associated with Frank Brothers). Somewhat later on, Mort Sill and (a year later) Jonas Arnold quit Press and opened a shop in Harvard Square, Cambridge, which they called Chipp. Then, with his partner's departure to form Sill (New York and Harvard Square), Jonas Arnold entered into an agreement whereby two former Press employees—Sid Winston and the late Lou Prager—were permitted to use Chipp as the name of the shop they were about to open in New York. Arnold, who closed his Cambridge store several years ago, is still a partner in the New York Chipp's. In 1952, Lord of New York was begat by Chipp—or, more accurately, by three of its former employees, Ken Frank, Mike Fers, and Peter D'Annunzio. Lord charges $195 and up for a two-piece hand-stitched suit lined with tie silk. Unlike Chipp, it neither charges extra for open buttonholes on jacket sleeves nor does it line coat collars with foulard. Unlike J. Press, it resists such gimmicks as lining the breast pocket of a jacket with foulard that can be turned inside-out to serve as a handkerchief.
In recent years the renaissance of interest in men's clothes and the increased number of tasteful men's shops have, rather ironically, provided the creative dresser with progressively fewer opportunities to express himself. By the same token, though, the American male, who for decades had been something of a sartorial fright, suddenly began to look presentable—so conspicuously so, in fact, that recently Osbert Lancaster, the cartoonist for the London Daily Express, returned from a visit to the United States and promptly abandoned drawing the garish-looking man who for years had represented his conception of the American male. In its stead was a subdued, almost Brooks-Brotherish figure. "The old self-confident, easily-bamboozled, back-slapping person is a figure of the past," said Lancaster.
It could hardly have been otherwise, for nowadays even the smallest town has a men's shop that carries the same suits and haberdashery that are on sale at, say Madison Avenue and Forty-fifth Street in New York. New Bedford, Massachusetts, for example, has Marty Sullivan's, a store so attuned to the fickleness of fashion that it has its buyers and designers spend part of their Manhattan visitations in such bars-and-grills as P. J. Clarke's, which attracts an extremely creatively-dressed Ivy League clientele. Furthermore, shops like Sullivan's—Eddie Jacobs' in Baltimore; Dick Carroll's in Los Angeles; and, in New York, Casual-aire, Paul Stuart's, Phil's, to name a few—are far from expensive. What's more, at their best—Atkinson's in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, and the Andover Shops in Cambridge and Andover, Massachusetts, which derive much of their appeal from the superb workmanship of Frank Spade, the head tailor, and the creativeness of co-owner, Charles Davidson—they are superlatively tasteful. Even in 1960, however, not all ready-made suits are low-priced. Oxxford, for example, turns out a suit that costs $235 and up, is impeccably tailored, and has a following among affluent men who are either too impatient to hold still for custom fittings or dislike investing in a garment without knowing how it will look when finished. From the point of view of style, the best ready-made American suit is turned out by Norman Hilton, a young, enterprising, and discerning Princeton alumnus who, among other things, makes blazers and sports coats for Brooks Brothers. (Contrary to prevalent opinion, Brooks Brothers does not manufacture all its wares, but has certain items made to its specifications and on its own models. Only the label "Brooks Brothers Makers" means a Brooks-manufactured garment.)
Although Brooks Brothers (which also goes in for custom clothes) can no longer be regarded as the unique pace-setter it was prior to the recent renaissance of interest in men's clothes, it still carries come matchless items, notably its neckwear and shirts, particularly its white buttondown in Pima broadcloth, which costs $8.50 and, among ready-made shirts, is in a class by itself.
By and large, however, elegance resides in the individual. No Bernard Weatherill, no Brooks Brothers, No E. Tautz, no Dudley Eldridge can do more than minister to its tastes. It is never easily come by and, once achieved, it must be vigilantly preserved—by boning one's shoes and putting trees in them at night, by using molded hangers, and by all such other good care as is constantly stressed in the imaginative and informative Wallachs ads that appear three times a week in The New York Times andHerald Tribune and, while of a somewhat different tone, compare, for candor, readability, informativeness, and wit with the extraordinary ads for Zareh of Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts, one of the few authentically tasteful men's shops in the United States. And elegance must also be guarded pridefully. When a radio interviewer accused the late Michael Arlen of not being able to write so well as Evelyn Waugh, Arlen said, "Ah, yes, that's quite true, but I dress better than Evelyn."
Elegance, however, need not be visible. Moss Hart, for example, is partial to monogrammed solid-gold collar stays. Freddie Cripps, the celebrated London dandy, is equally unconcerned with making an impression on anybody but himself, his chief indulgence being a refusal to have his underwear made anywhere but in Vienna, to which he commutes regularly for fittings. But elegance need not be expensive either. In the case of the late William Rhinelander Stewart, for example, elegance was nothing more costly than not venturing out in the evening without first having his rumpled paper money ironed flat by his valet!
"I don't consider myself 'the well-dressed man.' I don't make any effort in that direction. I do take a little pains occasionally with my clothes but just to feel comfortable. I also like to wear things that others don't. I rather enjoy fooling around with a new note here and there to see how it comes off.
"I don't think a man's clothes should be conspicuous. If they are noticed, it should be because of their conservativeness. It depends, of course, on the individual as to how the whole thing comes off.
"I like colors. Red silk handkerchiefs and colored shirts and socks too.
"I like double-breasted suits and they'll come back, by gosh. All those little tailor shops that have signs in their windows, 'Have your outmoded double-breasted suit made into a single,' may have to change their tune. But they can never say, 'Have your single made into a double.' Aha! It won't work!"
"P.S. I forgot to mention that I often take a brand-new suit or hat and throw it up against the wall a few times to get that stiff, square newness out of it."
"One is prepared for most daytime and some evening occasions, if he has a navy-blue serge, and a charcoal-grey—and possibly a light-grey—flannel suit. Their number and weights depend upon one's means, requirements, and the climate in which one lives—just as the choice between a single- or double-breasted jacket should be guided by one's judgment as to which would prove the more appropriate to his build.
"Then, too, to meet his basic requirements, one should have a dinner jacket. A navy-blue overcoat will satisfy both his daytime and evening requirements.
"As to cut: I personally prefer a jacket to fit precisely around the neck and the shoulders, and under the arms. For accommodation of these requirements permits the jacket to be perceptibly but not exaggeratedly cut in at the waist, as well as to be draped on the back, and to end in a slight flair—and withal, to render the appearance of hanging loosely from the shoulders.
"Then, of course, if one's activities require it, a full evening dress suit would be indicated. Aside from the coat's necessarily fitting snugly at the waist, care should be taken to see that the bottom of the white waistcoat is covered by the front of the coat.
"I very much admire the beneficial nation-wide influence of the ready-made clothing industry upon the maintenance of good taste in masculine attire—and the industry's capability of making clothes available at reasonable prices. The reason most of my clothes are custom-made is because, due to my measurements, I encounter considerable difficulty in the matter of sizes. If I find a ready-made jacket that fits me around the shoulders, there would be enough room in the trousers and in the rest of the jacket to accommodate several others besides myself. On the other hand, if I find a pair of trousers with a proper-fitting waistline, the shoulders of the jacket would be so snug as to preclude satisfactory alteration."
—A. J. Drexel Biddle
SOME OF THE BEST-DRESSED MEN IN THE UNITED STATES, 1960
DEAN ACHESON—Educated at Groton and Yale and a member of the Chevy Chase and Metropolitan clubs in Washington, D. C., and the Century in New York, this sixty-seven-year-old former Secretary of State resides in Washington, where he has his suits made by Farnsworth-Reed, Ltd. ($225).
FRED ASTAIRE—This sixty-one-year-old song-and-dance man, who is a member of the posh Brooks and Racquet & Tennis clubs in New York, favors English-type jackets, suede shoes, often uses silk handkerchiefs as belts. He has had many suits made by Anderson and Sheppard of London, but, at the moment, he is using John Galuppo of Schmidt and Galuppo, Inc., of Beverly Hills. His shoes are by Peal of London; his shirts by Beale and Inman and Hawes and Curtis (both of London), Brooks Brothers and Wendley in New York, and Machin and J. T. Beach of Los Angeles.
BUSH BARNUM—The forty-eight-year-old advertising and public-information director of the Glass Container Manufacturers' Institute graduated from Colgate in 1933, resdies in Gramercy Park in one of Manhattan's most desirable apartments, and has been a Bernard Weatherill ($260 and up per three-piece suit) customer for more than a decade.
A. J. DREXEL BIDDLE—A graduate of St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and a member of the Philadelphia and the Racquet clubs in Philadelphia, the Brooks, Racquet & Tennis, Knickerbocker, Union and River clubs in New York, and the Travellers in Paris, Biddle (whose wardrobe is itemized earlier) has for many years devoted himself to public service.
BILL BLASS—This thirty-eight-year-old designer for Maurice Rentner lives in Manhattan, has his suits made at Lord of New York.
J. ANTHONY BOALT—At thirty-two, Boalt, of the class of '50, at Yale, is the youngest and one of the most handsome men on the list. A businessman in New York, he resides in Greenwich, Connecticut. His tailor: J. Press.
DAVID TENNANT BRYAN—The fifty-four-year-old Bryan is publisher of the Richmond, Virginia, News Leader and Times-Dispatch and a former head of the Association of American Newspaper Publishers. His tailors: Bernard Weatherill and others.
JOSEPH BRYAN III—A graduate of sanctified Episcopal High near Richmond, Virginia, where he was born, and of Princeton. Bryan, a cousin of D. Tennant Bryan, is a member of the Racquet & Tennis Club in New York. A writer whose assignments take him around the world, he has frequent opportunities to visit Kilgour, Franch & Stanbury and Strachan & Hunt in London and Bernard Weatherill in New York.
HUGH A. COLE—The thirty-five-year-old Cole (one of the eight men in their thirties on the list) is a prominent sportsman, an excellent golfer and a fine horseman, as is fitting the son of Ashley T. Cole, the Chairman of the New York State Racing Commission, should be. He graduated from the Hun School of Princeton, New Jersey, attended Columbia University, is the father of four daghters. He belongs to the Short Hills Club and the Essex County Country Club, both in that county of New Jersey, where he resides. His furnishings are by Sulka; his ties by Tripler and by Charvet; his hats by Cavanagh; and his suits are by Brooks Brothers and by Noman Hilton.
MILES DAVIS—The thirty-four-year-old genius of "progressive jazz" trumpet is an individualist who favors skin-tight trousers, Italian-cut jackets. His seersucker coats, which have side vents, are custom made. His tailor: Emsley (New York), which charges $185 a suit.
RICHARDSON DILWORTH—The sixty-two-year-old mayor of Philadelphia graduated from St. Mark's and Yale. A member of The Racquet club in Philadelphia, he patronizes among others, Meyers, Inc. ($255 a suit and up) in that city.
RICHARD DORSO—The fifty-year-old vice-president in charge of TV programming for Ziv-United Artists is an excellent tennis player and belongs to The Seventh Regiment Tennis and The Town Tennis clubs in New York City, and the Los Angeles Tennis Club. His suits are ready-made from Norman Hilton, and he has them especially fitted by Bob Difalco, the head fitter at Chipp.
M. DORLAND DOYLE—A graduate of Andover, sixty-year-old Doyle lives in New York City, where he is in advertising. A member of the Links and the Deepdale Golf Club, of which he is a president, he has his suits made by H. Harris ($225).
ANGIER BIDDLE DUKE—A graduate of St. Paul's (like his uncle, A. J. Drexel Biddle) and a member of the Racquet & Tennis and Brooks clubs in New York, the Travellers in Paris, and the Jockey in Buenos Aires, the forty-four-year-old former ambassador to El Salvador and Vice-Chairman of the Board of the International Rescue Committee patronizes, as does his uncle, E. Tautz—as well as various tailors in Spain.
AHMET M. ERTEGUN—A jazz authority and president of prospering Atlantic Records, Ertegun was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1923 and was educated abroad and at St. John's College in Annapolis. Dedicated to chic living, he has a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. He buys ready-made suits at J. Press (around $100 each and has them recut for around $50) by Martin Kalaydjian, the legendary valet of the Algonquin Hotel in New York.
DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, JR.—Fifty-year-old Fairbanks, who once contributed to discriminating (and lamented) Vanity Fair, lives in London, but still retains his American citizenship. He is a member of the Century and Lambs clubs in New York, Buck's and White's in London, the Travellers in Paris, and the Metropolitan and the Army & Navy in Washington, D. C. His tailor: Stovel & Mason (48 guineas or $141.12 a suit) in London.
FINIS FARR—A gifted writer, Farr, who lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, graduated from Princeton in 1926, is a member of the Racquet & Tennis in New York, a customer of Weatherill and of Brooks Brothers ($265 a suit).
ALEXANDER COCHRANE FORBES—At fifty, Forbes, who is extremely handsome, looks little older than he did as a Harvard undergraduate (1928-1932). A graduate of Groton, he was a member of the Porcellian Club, probably the choosiest men's club in the United States. A resident of Needham, Massachusetts, and a member of the Country Club, Forbes is a trustee for various interests. His tailors: Brooks Brothers and others.
CLARK GABLE—Since his switch to Brooks Brothers custom department shortly after the Second World War, the fifty-nine-year-old actor has become a model of subdued chic.
GEOFFREY M. GATES—Gates, Harvard '27, lives on Long Island (Oyster Bay), where he is in the antiques business. His tailor: H. Harris.
CARY GRANT—Although Grant, who is fifty-six, favors such abominations as large tie knots and claims to have originated the square-style breast-pocket handerchief, he is so extraordinarily attractive that he looks good in practically anything. He insists upon tight armholes in his suit jackets, finds the most comfortable (and functional) of all underwear to be women's nylon panties. Something of a maverick as to tailors, he now goes to Quintino (around $225 a suit) in Beverly Hills, California, and, whenever possible, certain of the preposterously low-priced geniuses in Hong Kong.
WALTER M. HALLE—The fifty-five-year-old head of The Halle Brothers Department Store in Cleveland graduated from Princeton, is a member of the Kirtland Country Club, the Chagrin Valley Hunt, the Cleveland Skating, and the Cleveland Athletic clubs, and, in New York, of the Princeton Club. His suits, which are ready-made by Oxxford, cost around $250 each.
ROY HAYNES—The thiry-five-year-old jazz percussionist belongs on any best-dressed list if only because of his taste in selecting clothes that flatter his short stature (five feet, three and a half inches). His suits are custom made (around $125 each) by the Andover Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
ALFRED HERRMANN—This thirty-nine-year-old artist, who does the drawings for, among other things, Tripler's men's fashion ads, is an outstanding authority on male apparel. His tailor: Chipp (around $205 a suit).
MILTON HOLDEN—The sixty-six-year-old resident of New York and Palm Beach is a member of the Brook, Racquet & Tennis, and Turf & Field clubs. His tailor: Davies & Son, London.
WILLIAM E. HUTTON—Fifty-three-year-old Hutton, who lives in Old Westbury, Long Island, graduated from Hill School and Harvard, is a member of the Racquet & Tennis, Links, Meadowbrook, and Piping Rock clubs. A senior partner in the brokerage firm of W. E. Hutton & Company, he patronizes Wetzel ($285 a suit).
The late JOHN B. KELLY was one of the few self-made men on the list. Like his daughter, Princess Grace of Monaco, he was always impeccably dressed. His tailor: Witlin & Gallagher ($265 for a two-piece suit, $10 more for a three-piece) of Philadelphia.
SOLON KELLY III—Young (thirty-nine) and exceedingly attractive, Kelly, who is a partner in a wine and spirits importing firm in New York, belongs to the Union, Brook, Racquet & Tennis, and Southampton clubs. His tailor: Kilgour, French & Stanbury in London.
CHESTER J. LaROCHE—A graduate of Exeter and Yale, where he was prominent in football, this sixty-eight-year-old head of a thriving advertising agency in New York belongs to the Racquet & Tennis Club and presides over the Football Hall of Fame. LaRoche, who turns up at Yale football games in a venerable polo coat and Tyrolean hat, has his suits made by Arthur Rosenberg ($195-210 for a two-piece and $220-235 for a three-piece suit) and Wetzel in New York and Kilgour, French & Stanbury in London.
JOHN McCLAIN—A graduate of Kenyon College, McClain, who is drama critic of the New York Journal-American, belongs to the Brooks and the Racquet & Tennis clubs. His suits are made by Stovel & Mason, London, by Penalver in Madrid ($65 a suit).
JOHN McLEAN—The forty-four-year-old son of celebrated Washington hostess Evalyn Walsh McLean is a member of the Racquet & Tennis Club in New York and the Seminole in Palm Beach. McLean, who is generally referred to as "Jock," is a creative dresser who helped originate red socks for wear with a dinner suit. He goes to Bernard Weatherill.
ALBERT S. MURPHY—A graduate of Boston Latin School and Harvard, forty-eight-year-old Dr. Murphy is a senior surgeon at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Boston and on the staffs of Mr. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge and the New England Baptist in Boston. He is a member of the American Board of Surgery and the College of Surgeons. His clubs: Charles River Country and Harvard of Boston. His suits are made by the Andover Shop; his accessories come from either Zareh in Boston or Ara in Wellesley.
HENRY T. MORTIMER—A graduate of St. Mark's School and Harvard, class of 1939, Mortimer is a Wall Street broker, holds membership in the Brooks and the Racquet & Tennis clubs. An extremely fussy dresser (who has his own-designed coat lapel), he insists upon such details as dull-finish bone buttons, skeleton alpaca linings. Tailor: Lord of New York.
IVA PATCÉVITCH—The elegant, silver-haired, fifty-nine-year-old Russian-born head of the Condé Nast Publications has his suits made by Weatherill.
THOMAS PHIPPS—The only Etonian on the list, forty-five-year-old Phipps is one of the few writers in the Racquet & Tennis Club. His tailor: Sandon in London (around $155 a suit, plus import duty).
WALTER PIDGEON—The sixty-two-year-old actor who played A. J. Drexel Biddle's father in The Happiest Millionaire goes to Dunhill in New York and Domenick Alvaro ($200-$225 a suit) in Beverly Hills, California.
THOMAS MARKOE ROBERTSON—A graduate of Hotchkiss and Yale (class of 1910) and a brother-in-law of A. J. Drexel Biddle, Robertson, an architect, is a member of the exclusive Southampton Club. His tailor: E. Tautz.
JOHN SEABROOK—Forty-three-year-old Seabrook, a member of the frozen-foods family, is a Princeton graduate and a member of The London Coaching Club and the Racquet & Tennis Club in New York, lives on a 1,500-acre farm in New Jersey. His tailor: Bernard Weatherill.
J. BLAN VAN URK—This fifty-eight-year-old graduate of Princeton, where, among other things, he was heavyweight boxing champion as well as something of a dandy in his bowler and covert-cloth topcoat, is the author of the definitive and handsome Story of American Foxhunting. Van Urk belongs to the Royal Dutch Hunt (the Netherlands) and the Grolier clubs and is a Chevalier of the Confréric de la Chaîne des Rôtiseurs. His suits are made by both H. Harris and H. Huntsman & Sons in London.
THOMAS REED VREELAND—A graduate of The Hill and Yale, sixty-one-year-old Vreeland belongs to the Racquet & Tennis, Cloud, and Southampton clubs in this country, Buck's in London, and the Travellers in Paris. His tailors: E. C. Squires (around $122 for a two-piece, $133 for a three-piece suit) in London and, in New York, Pat Sylvestri, who, notwithstanding his Johnny-come-lateliness, is one of the genuinely gifted members of his profession.
Copyright ©M-J de Mesterton 2006-2017