GEOFFREY B. SMALL
exclusively for StyleZeist
(words and images about a jacket and a way of life)
To start off, I have picked a piece that is futile to explain to you in
words or images...but just one touch in person with your own real
hands and you will begin to understand what this piece is all about.
You see, the fabric in the picture is not just pure cashmere. It is
cashmere. From the special region in Mongolia where
the finest cashmere yarns on the entire planet originate from. There is
no other like it in the world. And in the hands of the oldest working
wool making family in the world still in operation today, it becomes an
almost unreal phenomenon. For over two and half centuries, the
people at Fratelli Piacenza (founded in 1733) have been making the
world's best cashmere cloths, and this one is incredible. Pure alashan
cashmere blazer-weight cloth, at almost 150 euros a meter wholesale,
an investment in fabric representing almost 400 euros alone for a
single jacket before a single cut or stitch is put into it.
And then, we made it even better...
...with seven hours of our own secret process of dyeing and fabric
finishing totally by hand, making it darker, softer and more irregular in
texture and form. To achieve this requires hard, physical demanding
work with heat, steel, water, fire, tongs, ladel, brush, sweat and yes,
stress. Consider that if you botch up a formula or operation, or use too
much heat or motion at the wrong moment, you can ruin a piece
worth up to several thousand euros in a second. No, this work is not for
beginners. And it is not easy. So, all you industrial copiers and so-
called artisan brands out there--be our guest. Go ahead and try to copy
these 'till the cows come home. For these are the kind of results that
can only be achieved if you earn them
. There are no shortcuts--no
special machine, no quick industrial process, no de-skilled-low-wage-
-throw-away laborers that can even come close to coming anywhere
near these results (you see you need to take care of your people well
enough so that they stay with you for many years, a long enough time
to develop the total mastery of the skills needed to do the job). No
fellows, keep your shortcuts for those who prefer to wear the
equivalent of sandpaper at twice the price, they'll be happy as 'pigs
in ........', and you'll make much more money that way.
But for these kind of results-
there is only one way to enter such a narrow gate...
Do the same work we do. Experience the same toil, pressure and pain
each time, and yes maybe, if you have the skill and technique, you
will get the same result. And this is why we do it. Because what you
get in the end, is fabric so soft, and with so much drape, it resembles a
liquid in solid form. Touch it, and it will take your breath away. Put it
on, and it will all but melt over the contours of your body, enveloping
you in a shroud of soft, warm, peaceful security and comfort that
redefines the concept of urban body armour in a whole new dimension.
A combination of nature, human energy, and skill, that represents a
history, a culture, and way of life that is all but disappeared. It is our
our culture, and our way of life- for a precious few makers, and
wearers, still intent, to defy the destructive forces of this industrial age
and the global corporate consumerism we live in, to the very end.
Live free or die.
Designed with a priority from the inside, our lining story begins
with Como, the city on the lake north of Milan that for the past six
centuries has been the capital of weaving and crafting the best silk and
fine filament fabrics in the entire world. Here, masters like the people
at Tessitura Mauri still create linings that blow your mind, each one a
painting in itself with colors so subtle and balanced like nature that you
can use them in a myriad of ways--like I chose to do with this one on
the sleeve linings of the GJ03N (above).
For the linings of the body, we created an assembly of exquisite
fabric pieces, also from Como, to create a really personal story that is
both beautiful and different than what is expected when one opens a
typical 'designer' jacket. Like old palazzi milanesi
, quiet, somber, and
reserved on the outside- but inside, one can display a warmth and
heartful personality unlike any other...an advanced and unexpected
combination that studies contrasts: Bemberg regimentia striped taffeta
and blacked out pure silk floral printed satin, mixes of hard and soft,
structural form and liquidity, straight linear lines and soft floral curves,
all harmoniously working together, pulled partly in synch with the
watercolor-like wash effects of the very subtle hand dyeing work.
Can you see them?
Even with the aid of a 5 megapixel macro lens shot, you still do
have to concentrate a little--but they're there, dozens of micro hand
pick stitches in pure silk Bozzolo Reale Milano
threads...around the collar
edges, in other subtle places and even more in the fourteen handsewn
buttonholes on both left and right fronts, each one taking about ten
minutes to create, a total of more than 2 and half hours of arduous,
slow, and totally expert work without a single machine involved.
Our fanatical approach to buttons is well-known among people
who know. In fact, many of our pieces can be recognized by the
unique quality of their button story and selection alone. And this piece
is no exception. A subtle, remarkable array of shapes, textures and
forms in handmade leather, horn and bone all created exclusively for
us in Parma, Italy by Botonificio Fontana, whom we believe to be one
of, if not the
, best buttonmakers in the world today. But many of
the buttons you see here are not at all as they arrived to us from
Parma, for we too also added much to their character, applying a
series of hand dyeing and finishing techniques to get them to their very
special final state, harmoniously blending and embellishing the form
and beauty of the jacket in a manner that is undeniably, and uniquely
ours, and of course, the jacket's prospective owner...