The State of Black Tie: Your Observations

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mafoofan, Nov 22, 2011.

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  1. crdb

    crdb Senior member

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    My apologies! I had in fact kept your post open in a separate tab precisely to avoid misinterpreting your words, and still, somehow, "translated" you on the way.

    My point still somehow stand even if I think we are coming from the same place. The last thing I want to think about when looking at a black tie-clad chap is "dramatic". Ideally, it would leave me with a quiet feeling of satisfaction and taste without knowing really why, without consciously "noticing" that the man is well dressed. I think white tie is dramatic, although it is virtually impossible these days to see it done well because of the expense required for the full bespoke set (a recent exception was Gil Shaham whose proportions at least - I was too far to see the details - were correct, in contrast with the conductor who had a good foot of white gap between the tails and the trousers).

    It isn't necessarily what I am after, certainly it looks better suited to large cold British halls most of the year (Britain has a very nice 2 week long summer). But I like the cohesiveness of the idea. Even without looking at the photo again, I know that every corner is rounded, that the straight lines have been curved a little (bellied lapels, for example), that the sleeve will integrate noiselessly into the shoulder, yet that the whole thing stands strong underneath and will not look like a hastily thrown on jumper.

    On the contrary I think there is an entire world to manipulate, precisely because of the constraints. I cannot remember what model said of Helmut Newton that he was her favourite photographer, because his tyrant approach forced her to give her best work; the idea that constraining an artist results in greater creativity certainly has legs. I see it repeated in every art form. The Japanese Noh theatre, ikebana, sukiya-zukuri to name three art forms all have their roots in great constraint and reach their peak accordingly.

    When wearing a lounge suit the question is about colours, proportions, matching. There are a great many big pieces to think about. When wearing black tie, these decisions have been taken for you. Then, it becomes about how to play with proportions, angles and subtle changes of light to present an integrated and pleasant idea. How large is your bow tie? How wide? How much work to smooth out the asymmetry in the hand tied knot? How about the collar? How does the space between the studs integrate with the other proportions? etc. ad infinitum.

    I like Heinrich Neuhaus' idea of a performance being about the composer, the instrument and the pianist. In a similar vein the black tie ensemble is about the ideas of its designer, the execution thereof (cloth, cut, etc.) and the person wearing it. Laurence Olivier in Sleuth wears a velvet burgundy DB smoking jacket with dark lapel facings, and yet the strong personality of his character and the context make it almost invisible. The idea is correct with many a rental, but the execution with fusing off a suit pattern leaves much to be desired. Great must be the person to make something of it then (and perhaps the piano analogy reaches its limits there, as the idea quality to instrument quality ratio takes greater importance than with fashion). Meanwhile I would guess a Kiton or d'Avenza dinner jacket will be a thing of beauty on the inside, great execution, but with two buttons the core idea is flawed. I guess what I am looking for is good ideas and execution at the same time, and it seems these can only be found in bespoke or vintage.
     


  2. Andy57

    Andy57 Senior member

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    Here are a couple of pictures this evening as we left for dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco.

    My dinner jacket is made up from a Holland & Sherry ivory barathea cloth, tailored by Hemrajani Brothers. The design of the jacket is quite deliberately modeled after Humphrey Bogart's dinner jacket from "Casablanca". Personally, wearing this jacket feels like the human equivalent of a mic drop!

    Other details: Trousers and shirt also by Hemrajani, tie by Le Noeud Papillon, square by Simonnot-Godard, Shoes by Peal for Brooks Brothers, cufflink & studs by Longmire.

    IMG_9757.jpg IMG_9758.jpg IMG_9759.jpg

    And my lovely wife in Camille Flawless and Jimmy Choo:
    IMG_9754.jpg
     


  3. crdb

    crdb Senior member

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    This. This is how it is done. Glorious.

    May I ask why you chose - compared to your model - to lengthen the look by having a narrower (mostly) and lower (slightly) buttoning stance leaving more of the shirt showing? I've always loved a lower buttoning stance but could never justify why - the modern fashion leaves me thinking someone is pulling the person by the collar and everything went up.

    [​IMG]
     


  4. HGriffin

    HGriffin Member

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    Not to derail the thread, but I'm thinking about buying a Brioni Quirinale tuxedo. I'm not familiar with that style/model and can't seem to find anything online. I was wondering if someone had come across it before
     


  5. ericgereghty

    ericgereghty Senior member

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    The state of black tie is alive and well in (portions of) the Bay Area. So good Andy. Fantastic stuff.
     


  6. Andy57

    Andy57 Senior member

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    Thank you!

    I think it just fell out of the design of the jacket. It's a 4x2, like Bogart's, but the basic cut and width of the button stance is the same as the double-breasted jackets that Hemrajani cuts for me. I think the 4x2 pattern automatically lowered the button stance. The shirt shows three studs, which is what I wanted. I also think that the button stance, regardless of whether it is lower than Bogart's or not, allows the lapels to have more, um, impact.
     


  7. Thin White Duke

    Thin White Duke Senior member

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    Top drawer Andy.
    Lord knows I have little enough events to wear black tie and yet I'm still contemplating an ecru dinner jacket one day. As much as I'm a black tie traditionalist like you, I wonder how possible it is to break up the harshness of black tie slightly when wearing an ecru jacket. Ecru is a warmer tone and looks ever so slightly at odds with the starkness of black and white. What about midnight blue strides, or a burgundy pocket square? Within cannon or a bridge too far?
     


  8. Andy57

    Andy57 Senior member

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    I think a burgundy or even a red pocket square would be fine, if that's the way you wanted to go. I don't know about midnight blue trousers. I've long thought about a midnight blue jacket, but I've not wanted to go full midnight-blue suit so I've held off, so far.

    I don't see the harshness of black tie that you do, nor do I feel like the pairing of an ivory jacket with black trousers (or a white shirt, for that matter) produces a tension. That you do see that is perfectly fine, though, and I would encourage you to push the boundaries a little bit and see if you like the results. If I do ever get a midnight blue jacket and trousers, I might try it, too. On that point, the London Lounge has a midnight blue mohair blend as one of its current subscription offerings. I might sign up for 4 meters or so to give myself an option at some point in the future.
     


  9. Newcomer

    Newcomer Senior member

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    Just received swatches from Chris - Schofield & Smith Knightbridge II, in midnight blue and in black. Currently leaning (strongly) towards the midnight blue, but still vacillating a touch.
     


  10. Thin White Duke

    Thin White Duke Senior member

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    Interesting stuff.
    I think my eyes have trouble differentiating between midnight blue and black so as much as I admire the theory of a midnight blue dinner suit, if I got the full suit I don't think I'd be able to see much if any difference between that and my current black one. A shade or two lighter looks good to me but I'm not into royal blue as a dinner suit colour.
     


  11. Newcomer

    Newcomer Senior member

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  12. R.O. Thornhill

    R.O. Thornhill Senior member

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    FullSizeRender.jpg IMG_0057.JPG

    Two examples of the great work that Steed do with dinner wear. The right balance between dramatic and classical, in my opinion. Extremely comfortable to wear as well

    R-O-T
     


  13. Andy57

    Andy57 Senior member

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  14. R.O. Thornhill

    R.O. Thornhill Senior member

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    Thank you! I think it makes the jacket. Edwin and co did it beautifully

    Love the lapel on your ivory dinner jacket. Manages to be deep and swooping without the common issue of it looking like the shirtfront will fall out of it
     


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