8 Dec 2013

The man behind the suit

Part of the attraction to vintage clothing is the history behind the suit. For me the most important is the quality of the cloth and the craftmanship in the making. But quite interesting is also the history of the suit; the tailor; the contemporaneous people and events; and the man behind the suit - he who commisioned the suit. I only have one suit where I have identified the man behind the suit. A lovely 1951 suit made by tailor Malmstrom of Sackville Street in London.
I am a foreigner and not quite into the tradition of tailor/customer confidentiality, but it seems like a faux pas to disclose details about customer and suitings. Nevertheless lately we have seen tailors like Henry Poole, Savile Row, using historic connections to Sir Winston Churchill for advertising purposes.
My suit of which I will not give further details was commisioned by Architect and Interior Designer Michael J. C. Inchbald (1920-2013) in 1951. His portrait is at The National Portrait Gallery in London by the way - and why I decided to visit the Gallery in the first place.

M.J.C.Inchbald 1965, photo by Rex Coleman, National Portrait Gallery

It adds to the charm of the suit that I have identified the man behind the suit, but still the most important is the excellent fit (you should think the suit was made for me) and the gorgeous details in the handicraft. I bought the suit last year prior to Inchbald's death, so I guess he was the one deciding to recycle the suit. 

Inchbald at home. His house, Stanley House, in Chelsea was also his design laboratory and showroom.(Photo from The Times) . He spent much of his childhood in this house which belonged to his great-uncle, Sir Courtenay Ilbert (1841-1924), Viceroy of India and Clerk of the House of Commons)

Inchbald behind his desk at his home in Chelsea (Photo from Telegraph.uk.co)



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