Sunday, October 30, 2011

A very special shirt jacket

I already wrote about that very special shirt jacket project a friend of mine had going at a shirtmake we both share. This specific shirtmaker happens to have a very good reputation for all sorts of jackets (even the ones looking very similar to a suit coat) made in the manner of a shirt. Well, my friend wanted to know how close our shirtmaker could emulate a sports coat.
For this piece we created what looks like a casual coat but stripped it of anything which normally makes it  one internally. This meant no canvas, no padding, no lining with the exception of a tiny piece of cotton lining in the shoulders and sleeves. The result is pretty spot-on.

The shoulders are absolutely natural with a hint of shirring (or puffing, as Paolo calls it) at the top and upper back, a softly shaped waist and close fitting throughout. Almost every seam is machine-sewn and the whole piece is washable. We used a coarse cotton in a herringbone weave (in peanut green, no less) for the shell which extends into the inner front pieces for a bit more substance.
All three of us that were involved, are quite happy with the final product.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A shirt collar in construction

I visited my shirtmaker the other day for a fitting on some new pieces as well as guiding a friend's super extravagant bespoke shirt jacket project (more on that soon). While I was there, one of the cutters was busy preparing new collars and cuffs for about two dozen old (really, really old) shirts another client had brought in that morning for a touching-up.
While my shirtmaker does not produce anything even remotely similar to what the italians make (almost every seam is machine-sewn, the overall approach is very old-fashioned), the shirts which leave the workshop are, in my own, proudly partial opinion, nothing short of spectacular. There are absolutely no (you read that right: zero) predefined patterns for collars or cuffs as each client gets his pieces drawn up individually during the ordering process. There are some sample collars lying around randomly, of course. But these are not meant as guideline for the client but merely reflect what others have chosen in the past.

Other places might apply an awful lot more hand stitches to their shirts. But I have yet to find another shirtmaker with such a keen eye for perfectly even, straight seams and, what's more, such a good ironing service.
So, the next time you think about trying a new shirtmaker, make sure you have in the back of your mind the fact that hand stitching is not the only factor worth considering. In an era of poor service all over, do yourself a favor and choose the one with the best service.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Munich — Le boeuf

The last few weeks saw an unusual lot of travelling, packing and unpacking, wardrobe-planning and other relocation-related things. After all this, I am glad to be back in Munich. To celebrate this the most apt way possible, I decided to embrace the cold weather and make something utterly old-fashioned, yet superbly delicious: Boeuf bourguignon. The basic recipe is so easy it's actually insulting for anyone who aspires to be a complicated chef. The outcome, however, is greatly dependent on whether or not you do things the right way — at the right time. Supposedly, I did.
Boef bourguignon is made with nothing more than beef (preferably shoulder or, as in this case, calves), shallots, carrots and wine. Lots of wine. I used a full bottle for a dish serving two to three people. You can add mushrooms if you like. The most important parts are browning the beef properly at the beginning and letting the whole thing cook for at least two and a half hours. The result should be a mellow, glaze-y ragù in a sauce aromatically beyond means of description.
I drank a 2006 Domaine Dufouleur with it, which fit the mood of the dish perfectly. If the boeuf is done perfectly, you don't really need any side dishes other than a slice of very good bread (I recommend a pain boulot). If you really must, try roughly mashed potatoes or pappardelle. Not that pappardelle were made anywhere near France, but oh well.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mannina... per le donne

Calogero and Antonio Mannina and their beautiful fiorentine shop, stacked to he top with some of the nicer examples of shoes ready-to-wear I have seen in a while have been featured quite extensively here within the last few months — partly due to the fact that Paolo and I have been there every day while we were in Florence last summer. It is only now that I have come to realize that we have not shown you enough of one very important part of their store yet: The women's section.

Not that Paolo or yours truly needed any shoes in feminine shapes or sizes for ourselves. My girlfriend, however, does. And one of the things she asked me to bring home from Florence was an exhaustive list o shoemakers and shopping sources for the female shoe geek. As far as I understood, finding shoes for women is simple. Finding shoes that actually fit (and not only look good) is a totally different animal, though. And so I took a couple of pictures of what Antonio had in stock for women.

Don't expect anything too fancy — Mannina mainly makes a no-nonsense shoe. What they excel at, are the classics every woman should have in her shoe rotation, like a medium height sling back stiletto, flat pump or brogued flat-heeled laceup. The leathers and execution (done off-site by an italian company working for Mannina) are flawless and maybe better than what most of the great fashion hoses force onto their female buyers' feet. Definitely worth a second look, if you ask me.