bonfire of the vanities

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by esquire., Apr 10, 2005.

  1. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    Just finished reading the book, and I was wondering if there's any signifigance that Sherman McCoy wears huntsman bespoke suit and New & Lingwood shoes. Wolfe spends a lot of time writing about clothes, and I was wondering if there was any meaning that he has Sherman wear these specific brands other than the fact that Sherman is loaded. If Sherman wore a Anderson and Shepard suit or Green shoes, would that have a different meaning?

    Although, I must say, I was rather disappointed with this book.
     
  2. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    If Sherm were dressed by Vincent Nicolosi, Wolfe's own tailor, it might not have the same effect.  Wolfe waxed enthusiastic about Nicolosi in a far-reaching interview on C-SPAN recently.  Coincidentally, I was walking behind a gentleman along Madison Avenue and spotted hand-stitching along the center seam of his jacket and I surmised his tailor was either Nicolosi, who is one of the few tailors doing this, or it might have been Mr. N himself---When we both entered his building at 510 Madison, it turned out to be Nicolosi.  Sorry for the digression.  If you were disappointed by the book, I hope you did not suffer the misfortune of sitting through the movie.
    Grayson
     
  3. newyorker

    newyorker Senior member

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    Great question. I can't imagine Sherman McCoy wearing Borrelli shirts. But I liked the book. Very much.
     
  4. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    I think even at the time Huntsman was one of the most expensive on the row, and iconically Savile Row. Perhaps its shape and structure resembled the cuirass of the Master of the Universe. New & Lingwood made shoes or separate-collar shirts for Wolfe, I believe. At the time I believe the Cleverley folk (Glasgow and Carnera?) were still there. At that time Green did not offer bespoke. Perhaps Wolfe felt that Lobb was overdone but that a recherchÃ[​IMG] brand of British bespoke footwear would exemplify McCoy's plutocratic and indulgent tastes and 1980s hubris. The book was published in 1987 and drew on articles Wolfe had written during the mid-1980s for various magazines. It is telling to recall that in the early and perhaps to the mid-1980s the pound was quite low against the dollar and thus splashing out on bespokery was an easy prerogative for the Master of the Universe.

    Great book. Why were you disappointed?
     
  5. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    At the time, Huntsman was at the pinnacle - not only of their own success, but to wear them at the time meant you were at the pinnacle of yours. Vincent and I weren't even blips on the radar map in the early 1980's. However ...
    shoes, perhaps. Not the other thing since '76 or '77.

    Difficult to comprehend that you didn't like the book. One of his best, IMHO.
     
  6. newyorker

    newyorker Senior member

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    Yes, while I haven't read all of his books, I have read A Man In Full and vastly preferred Bonfire of the Vanities.
     
  7. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Huntsman was not only known to be expensive, and lavish with service, but had/has a much more aggressive cut than A&S. Â A nod to the notion of the "power suit." Compare the Huntsman silhouette http://www.h-huntsman.com/ to the quieter A&S shoulder line as seen on Prince Charles: http://www.nytimes.com/2005....html?hp
     
  8. Mike C.

    Mike C. Senior member

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    Also, Huntsman is know to be guady (at least as far as Saville Row gets), whereas A&S is very understated. For a showy guy throwing around lots of money, Huntsman is the obvious choice.
     
  9. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    The strange thing is that I liked Man in Full much more than Bonfire of Vanities. Maybe my expectations were too high.

    Part of my problem with BOV is that it just seems outdated when I read it today. You read the passages about the white fear of crime, and its hard to comprehend with my image of an increasingly gentrified NYC. Its like reading Morris' biography of Reagan, especially when it talked about Reagan's stewardship during the 80s . It just seems so inconsequential with the passage of time.

    I don't think Wolfe does a good job of capturing the different characters or their enviornments, especially when he leaves Park Avenue. It all seemed shallow, and full of caricatures. Rev. Bacon is supposed to be Al Sharpton, right?

    I found Sherman McCoy to be weak and uninteresting, not somebody I would want to read about. His hubris of lust just doesn't make him a dynamic character enough for me. Am I supposed to symphathize with him, or cheer his downfall?
     
  10. newyorker

    newyorker Senior member

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    You -- not really you, but generally speaking -- are supposed to feel a bit jealous of his success, identify with his quest for all the material things that is good in life, and then toward the end perhaps see some humanness in him. Perhaps Alex Kabbaz could ask Tom Wolfe and invite him to this forum. [​IMG]
     
  11. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    i can just imagine him sitting in on our little forum, researching his next novel. god, how boring would that book be. [​IMG]
     
  12. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Esquire - see Albert Finney's movie "Wolfen". Look at the South Bronx surroundings. The movie takes place in the decade immediately following the period when the only way South Bronx landlords could keep from going bankrupt was to commit arson. Entire neighborhoods were burned to the ground. Every burned-out shell became a haven for homeless squatters. At the time, a Caucasian was safer walking across West 125th Street in a white shirt with the "N" word on his back than driving through the South Bronx in a car - especially a shiny, expensive car. This was the setting for Tom's research - and when it comes to research, there is no better than Tom Wolfe.

    At that time, we owned a RTW/MTM factory in New Haven. I had the unlucky lot of driving down US-95 and off the Willis Avenue exit into the South Bronx every other night ... and to pick up some of my employees there every other morning for the drive to CT. Though you'll get the idea from "Wolfen" if you have any interest, you really had to live it to understand it.
     
  13. dusty

    dusty Senior member

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    Sherman is weak and uninteresting, even though he thinks of himself as a "Master of the Universe." I know I hated him at first, but the further he fell, the more I could see of his humanity. I think that's what Wolfe wanted; it makes one wonder, would I be as arrogant as Sherman if I had his success?
     
  14. tgfny

    tgfny Senior member

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    Wolfe spent some time on the Salomon Brothers trading floor researching his book. I recognized several people in the book. As a former bond trader from South Georgia, I think Bonfire and Man in Full were his best works [​IMG]
     
  15. newyorker

    newyorker Senior member

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    We always say to ourselves, even if we rose all the way to the top, we would maintain our values, and stay the same. But this is a difficult truth. Money and power change people. Circumstances change people. What Tom Wolfe did exceedingly well was to show how men like Sherman McCoy fall from grace, trying to hold on to whatever dignity he had left. We are a product of our circumstances and our environment more than we are willing to admit. Take a pair of identical twins, raise one at Fifth Ave and the 70s, raise the other 40 streets north, and you could hardly tell they are twins.
     

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