Eric Musgrave

Since 1980, menswear & fashion retail commentator, opinionated thought-leader,
event host & all-round top bloke. Contact me to discuss working together.

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Jolly boating weather at Henley

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

    

My hearty thanks go to my friend Adrian Wright, leasing director of Gloucester Quays (www.gloucesterquays.co.uk) for his invitation to Henley Royal Regatta on Wednesday, June 27. I had never been to this episode in the English Summer Season before. There are certainly worst ways of spending a day than lounging by or on the River Thames. Adrian is seen pointing out a house that we’d all like to own. The boat chugging past our cruiser was also very desirable too. My wardrobe for the day involved my navy panama from Christy for Ede & Ravenscroft, a navy blazer by Brooks Brothers, shirt by Hilditch & Key, tie by Drake’s and pochette by Brioni.

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Excellence at Ede & Ravenscroft

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

     

My friends at Ede & Ravenscroft staged a lovely evening on Tuesday, June 26 at which they displayed some of the remarkable ceremonial robes the company produces. The heavily embroidered coat is worn by the Duke of Norfolk in his role as Earl Marshal of England. He’s the man whom organises State funerals and Coronations. One can only marvel at the handwork displayed here. My outfit for the night comprised a three-piece made-to-measure suit from Pal Zileri, shirt by Hilditch & Key, knitted tie from Kilgour and silk pocket handkerchief by Drake’s.

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The Duke of Windsor’s tartan suit

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

 

It’s a bit small for me, but I was very taken by this tartan evening suit, made for the Duke of Windsor in 1950 or 1951. As the eldest son of the British monarch (George V in his case) the Duke held the title of the Lord of the Isles and so was able to wear this MacDonald Lord of the Isles tartan. The suit jacket was made by Scholte of London, while the trousers, with zipped fly, were tailored by Harris of New York. The matching waistcoat was made by Hawes and Curtis. Who else but a menswear obsessive would involve three tailors on different sides of the Atlantic for an outfit?

In the 1998 auction of the Duke’s wardrobe at Sotheby’s in New York, this ensemble, plus a green corduroy waistcoat and a couple of white pique highland-style dress waistcoats, sold to an anonymous buyer for $4,887 (the equivalent today would be about $6,900 or £4,500). It came under the hammer again on June 26 in the latest auction organised in London by vintage fashion specialist Kerry Taylor, who coincidentally handled the 1998 sale when she worked at Sotheby’s. (http://www.kerrytaylorauctions.com/)

The estimate this time for the suit, which has a 38in chest and a 29in waist, was £8,000-£12,000 (about $12,400-$18,600), but the best offer was only £4,500, so it was withdrawn from the sale. What does that say about the allure of the Duke, who died in 1972 shortly before his 78th birthday?

Frustratingly, there seems to be no record of the mill that provided the MacDonald Lord of the Isles tartan. In the 1998 auction an aluminium box of about 75 swatches of the Duke’s suits, including evening suits and Highland dress, and 14 overcoat cloths, was unsold. Its whereabouts today are unknown to me. The cloth is widely available today from firms like D C Dalgleish of Selkirk (“The world’s last specialist mill weaving only authentic traditional quality tartans”) and Strathmore Woollen Company in Forfar (“One of Scotland’s most renowned suppliers of authentic tartan fabric and manufacturers of superior quality traditional Highland wear”).

The Duke of Windsor, previously Edward, Prince of Wales and, briefly, Edward VIII, was known as David to his family and friends. The title of Lord of the Isles is now held by Prince Charles as heir to the British monarch. I am not expecting him to be seen in a suit like his great-uncle David’s anytime soon.

 

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Farewell, Mr Weller

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

 

I am pleased to be working as a consultant with the Fashion Association of Britain (aka FAB, www.fashionassociationofbritain.co.uk), which represents the interests of independent fashion shops nationwide. One of my favourite stores near where I live in east Kent is County Clothes, the last independent menswear shop in Canterbury.

Owner Bryan Weller, after running the business for 36 years, has passed the reins to his colleague John Lambert, who has a mere 22 years’ experience at County Clothes. Bryan, who is 70, will be spending more time with his seven grandchildren. Fare thee well, Bryan.

 

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A quiet drink with friends…

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

  

Friday, 22 June, found me in a bar near Waterloo enjoying the company of a number of highly trained professionals who used to (and in the odd case, still do) work for Emap. Our gathering was to give a send-off to the lovely Nicola Wood Campbell (in the blue trousers in the centre of the main pic), who was heading home to live back in Edinburgh with her wee daughters Evie and Isla.

My outfit for the night was a three-piece suit from Moss Bespoke, shirt by Hilditch & Ket, and tie from Drake’s.

In the spotted top is my former colleague Claudia Elliott. Check out her excellent blog at http://primitivelondon.posterous.com

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My Pitti Uomo scrapbook

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

My twice-yearly trip to Florence for the Pitti Uomo trade fair is always inspiring, stimulating and fun. This was the 82nd edition of the show. It was one of the best I can remember.

  Stefano Ricci’s imperial style is brilliantly reflected in his megastore in the centre of Florence. My outfit comprises linen jacket by Gieves & Hawkes, cotton trousers by Polo Ralph Lauren, cotton shirt by B.D. Baggies, pocket handkerchief by Brioni and purple suede slip-ons by Oliver Sweeney.

  Thom Browne’s designs for Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece line are always eye-catching. I like these madras outfits and the linen checked jacket.

  

Hackett for S/S 2013 seems to have been inspired by The Great Gatsby. A good choice!

 

There are so many fascinating stands at the show.

   Great new brand, made in Scotland, the brainchild of Daniel Dunko, late of Mackintosh. Thomas Hancock was the business partner of Charles Macintosh, who developed the vulcanisation process. See www.hancock1843.com

  I wore a Simon Carter shirt, those pink Polo trousers again and Fred Perry sneakers for a trip to the Ben Sherman stand. As always, the installations at the Fortezza da Basso complex were remarkable. Bravo, Pitti Uomo!

    

  The most extraordinary episode of Pitti was the retrospective for the 30th anniversary of Stone Island. The whole event was just unbelievable – hundreds of garments fabulously displayed. Well done to Carlo Rivetti and his team. I wore my Gieves & Hawkes linen checked jacket, blue chambray shirt by Boggi, orange Irish linen trousers by Brooks Brothers, pocket square by Brioni, unbranded white leather belt and orange suede shoes from Oliver Sweeney.

    Salvatore Ferragamo staged an exhibition of Marilyn Monroe’s shoes. Exquisite shoes in an exquisite setting.

       Brunello Cucinelli was a most generous host at a dinner in the hills above Florence. What an evening.

     WP, the new Italian owners of British brand Baracuta, threw an impressive outdoor party to launch the new era.

 

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Talking about Sharp Suits in Florence

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

I was very pleased to give a talk on my book Sharp Suits at B&M Books and Fine Art, aka The Oldest and Best English Bookshop in Florence. My thanks go to owner John Werich for organising the event.

   

My clothes for the evening were a Brooks Brothers cotton jacket, Brioni linen pocket square, cotton shirt by B.D. Baggies, linen trousers by Gieves & Hawkes and suede slip-ons from Oliver Sweeney. I can strongly recommend a visit to B&M Books and Fine Art, Borgo Ognissanti 4r, 50123 Florence. www.bmbookshop.com

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Savile Row in bubbly mood

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Nyetimber’s splendid English sparkling wine and cocktails from The Savoy put the Savile Row community in fine form on Friday, June 15th when a reception was held in Burlington Arcade. The party was the bespoke tailors’ contribution to the London Collections: Men schedule and very jolly it was too.

As elegant as ever, Andrew Ramroop, owner of the Maurice Sedwell tailoring business. My jacket is by Kathryn Sargent in a Robert Noble “Gamekeeper” tweed, shirt by Hilditch & Key, tie by Boateng and pocket square by Drake’s.

The master of the drape cut, John Hitchcock of Anderson & Sheppard.

In fine form as usual, Guy Hills of Dashing Tweeds and Mark Henderson of Gieves & Hawkes and Savile Row Bespoke.

In sparkling mood, Richard Anderson and Mark Powell.

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Timothy Everest for Superdry launch

Friday, June 15th, 2012

   Timothy Everest, tailor to the discerning man-about-town, has been hired by Superdry to design a very appealing (if you are slim) collection of tailored garments, which can be viewed in the brand’s Regent Street flagship. The official launch was on Friday 15th June to tie in with the Savile Row activities during the London Collections: Men programme. I liked the 1930s-style poster, which was redolent of those formerly used for Austin Reed, the previous occupant of Superdry’s building. I wore my jacket and trousers by Kathryn Sargent, bespoke tailor at 6 Sackville Street, and a neighbour of Superdry.

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Dressing up at Ede & Ravenscroft

Friday, June 15th, 2012

     This baronet’s robe was worn for about six hours during the coronation of  HM Queen Elizabeth on 2nd June 1953. It was made by London’s oldest tailor and robemaker Ede & Ravenscroft and since the coronation it has been stored in the company’s vaults. Ede & Ravenscroft, which was founded in 1689, has an extraordinary history of making ceremonial robes. It is also one of the best men’s outfitters in the country for those of us who are not aristocrats, members of the Order of the Garter, High Court judges, university chancellors and the like.

     This is a robe of a judge from the UK Supreme Court. From the silk damask fabric to the gold embroidery, it is a concoction of extraordinary skill and delicacy.

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