Sometimes, a fabric can sell a whole outfit. Whether it's a simple dress in an enchanting blue-green or a necktie with a labyrinthine print, designers know that the right fabric makes all the difference. They scour the globe for the perfect shades and patterns and weights, and we found one of their secret weapons: Fabric Frontline, a small, family-owned business in Zürich which curates and designs some of the best -- and most expensive -- luxury fabrics in the universe, specializing in silk and cashmere.
You have to be in-the-know to find it. The little shop's window, near the culturally diverse (and sex shop ridden) Langstrasse, seemingly leads nowhere; you have to go through a small courtyard to get to the showroom. Inside, you'll find a dazzling assortment of colors and prints which will take your breath away -- and which you'll see the following season from designers like Vivienne Westwood (who I'm told is a particular friend of the shop), Nina Ricci and Helmut Lang, just to name a few. In fact, according to our hostess, the fabric Isabel Toledo used to make Michelle Obama's inauguration ensemble came from here. Naturally, the fabrics travel to the most exclusive trade shows around the world, which is where the elite designers tend to shop. The public aren't typically allowed into such events, but they are allowed to shop at Fabric Frontline.
Fabric Frontline gets their silk yarn from China and has it woven in northern Italy with all-natural dyes. A clerk was kind enough to show us how printed silks are screened, involving layers of stencils and meticulous craftsmanship -- and a lot of patience. Sometimes designers buy the fabrics right off the roll, while others will approach them with drawings like these:
On June 8 – 12 Loro Piana, the Italian luxury clothing company known for the world's finest cashmere, will stage its annual Superyacht Regatta in the billionaire's haunt of Sardinia featuring some of the world's fastest sailing yachts. Hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, sponsors include Perini Navi, builder of the famed Maltese Falcon, in partnership with Rolex and Audi. Last year's winner, Royal Huisman's 105-ft. Gliss, will defend her title against several sailing superyachts looking to pluck the prize from her grasp during five intense days of competition. Among the contenders will be Southern Ocean Marine's 105-ft. Liara; Wally's 100-ft. Y3K.; the Ed Dubois-designed, Fitzroy built 148-ft. Salperton IV; Perini Navi's 125-ft. P2; and more yachts measuring 80 feet and up. Apres-sailing there will be an owner's dinner at the yacht club and a beach party at the opulent Hotel Romazzino, part of the Luxury Collection.
Gallery: Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta
Isaia, one of the world's last remaining Neapolitan sartorial brands, known for its beautiful tailored clothing, is launching a luxe new line of sneakers that bridge the gap between dress and sport. The sartorial sneakers take the classic wingtip brogue dress shoe and give it a dose of sporty sprezzatura. They will be available in a variety of fabrics combining luxurious leathers, suede, wools, and even water-resistant cashmere, in rich hues of navy, camel, chocolate brown and shades of grey, with a patterned wool option available as well. The sneakers can also be custom ordered with specific suiting fabrics from the firm's made-to-measure tailoring program. All parts of the shoes are handmade, with the leather and fabric materials matched and dyed with all natural bee's wax. The new line will be available this fall at select stores including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue with a suggested retail price of $425.
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I really wish I could see who's all hands were raised.
Regardless, cashmere toilet paper is real. A supermarket in the UK is selling the super luxurious 'loo rolls' as part of their premium bathroom tissue collection geared towards their most discerning customers. It's unclear exactly how much cashmere is used in the making of every square but we do know that no actual fibers are included -- instead oils extracted from cashmere goat hair is used to coat the t.p. and make it softer. A pack of 4 rolls will cost you £2.29 (compared to £1.19 for the non-cashmere stuff).
First human bed warmers and now cashmere toilet paper, what's going on over there in the UK?
Gallery: Strangest Bathroom Items
Filed under: Apparel
Sometimes there exists the mistaken notion that do-it-yourselfers are not interested in luxury products. Made by hand, no longer only implies a cost cutting measure and no where is this more evident than in the products available to home knitters. What better way to give yourself a gift than to use the finest fibers available on the market.
The fine fiber yarns available both through specialty shops and the Internet offer a range of products for those who don't care if the raw materials cost more than the average finished sweater one might find in a high-end retail store.
We've previously written about String, a knitting store with branches in New York and Greenwich, which now offers customers its exclusive Cashinetta yarn. This chunky 100% cashmere yarn is available in 7 colors and each 160 yard ball of yarn sells for $180 a piece.
Other entries in the luxury yarn market include products from, Windy Valley Muskox, a family farm located in Alaska. The company is devoted to providing knitters with unusual high quality yarns from exotic animals. There is pure Qiviut, which is from the fine undercoat of the Muskox and sells for $90 per 218 yard ball. According to the manufacturer this rare fiber is considered warmer than wool and finer than cashmere. This unusual fiber is also hypoallergenic and will not shrink. They also offer Vicuna another rare fiber from the almost extinct ancestor of the modern day alpaca. The Vicuna lives only in the upper regions of the Andes Mountains and the methods of obtaining the fiber under strict regulation by the Peruvian government to protect the remaining animals.. Vicuna yarn, only available in its natural cinnamon color, is offered for $300 per 214 yard ball of yarn.
Tanglewood Fiber Creations offers hand-spun and hand dyed cashmere through local knitting stores and on-line retailers. One aspect of their unique natural cashmere is that the great natural variety is seen in individual skeins and is priced accordingly. The hand dyed cashmere is offered knittingcentral.com for prices ranging from $144 to $180 for various sized balls of yarn. They also offer hand spun yarn that has been laced with vintage beads, again by hand, for the knitter who likes the combination of the natural textured cashmere and a little sparkle. Knitting Central sells 50 yard balls for $189 on-line or at their store in Westport, Connecticut.
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Manuela Moollan's ahilya scarves take their name from an 18th century Indian queen, Ahilya Bai Holkar, who was graced with the title of goddess and called "The Philosopher Queen" for her benevolent rule and municipal gifts. Moollan's scarves, however, are products of Kasmir -- which is to say, they're cashmere.
But not just any scarves and not just any cashmere. To paraphrase the deliciously delivered education Vesper gave to Bond: "There are scarves, and there are scarves. ahilya is the latter." The throats and underbellies of Kashmiri goats are combed for threads that are twelve to fourteen micrometers thick, the standard of the most exemplary woven wools and cashmere. It would take seven of those fibers to equal the thickness of a human hair. The fibers are then hand spun, hand woven, and hand dyed. There are no mechanical processes in their creation -- you know, kind of like the way the finest things have been made since before the days of Sanskrit.
ahilya offers five collections, from the for-kids Tumble line of blankets and smaller scarves (kids love goats, you know), to the diamond weave Touch, to the diaphanous Ethereal. For the ornate, look no further than Lace, which pairs a Chantilly or Calais trim to the woven body of the scarf. And for the ultimate, there's the obviously-named Ultimate collection if you think leafed gold or silver thread will help keep you warmer, or at least better looking. When you're ready to wear a scarf, you can find ahilya online starting at about €215 ($318 U.S.).
One of our favorite menswear collections for fall is from preternaturally stylish Nautica founder David Chu's LINCS line, which he relaunched earlier this year as a full sportswear collection. The name is of course derived from golf, but Chu has expanded its horizons considerably this season. He aptly describes it as "a modern expression of style inspired by a life in and out of the country club - of travel, of sport, of classic chic." The theme of the fall collection is a modern take on the "gentleman explorer," characterized by classic rugged yet elegant styling in a color palette of loden, navy, and charcoal, with fabrics like waxed cotton, cashmere, wool and flannel.
"LINCS is grounded in authentic, classic style, but updated with details and textures men can relate to," Chu notes. "Many of our shirts for example have a contrast color / pattern detail that's subtle. You'll find a surprising detail or color at the cuff, on a collar, or the inside liner. Part of the LINCS concept is the fusion of sporty, easy authentic looks together with performance fabrics and the technical. In outerwear, you'll see a classic piece like a blazer, but designed with quilted nylon and stuffed with down for a look that's rugged and elegant." Also worth noting are the very reasonable price points. Outerwear is between $199 - $399, sweaters are about $119 - $129, shirts are $89 - $99, pants are $79 - $89, available at select Nordstrom, Dillard's and specialty stores.
Key looks include a military style parka in waxed cotton with a sheared rabbit collar (above), a blazer-style coat made of quilted waxed cloth, a loden cashmere cardigan with a leather buckle at the collar, a tan safari-style parka with a removable navy liner, and a quilted navy nylon rip-stop down-filled blazer with suede detailing under the collar. "When I named it LINCS, people automatically thought it was a golf line, but it's not," Chu notes. "LINCS is about sport, about design, and more importantly, this person's lifestyle and an extension of it, which includes easy pieces that can be tailored and elegant, but mixed in with more casual elements for a dressy, but sporty look."
Gallery: LINCS by David Chu Fall '09
Chu also has his eponymous David Chu Bespoke line, featured in The Classicist's "Best of Men's Style" roundup, a custom-clothing atelier located on the penthouse floor of his "Townhouse" HQ in New York that embodies the deisgner's "ultimate statement on style, sophistication, and the well-lived life," blending the best of Savile Row and Neapolitan tailoring. In addition to Bespoke, Chu is also working on a new project with famed golfer Jack Nicklaus to develop the Nicklaus brands worldwide under a unified creative direction and make it more of a lifestyle brand with a distinct point of view. More on that later.
Filed under: Apparel
One thing you won't need to pick up yet but will want to keep your eyes out for: Gloves. There were gloves in soft, buttery leather in pastel colors as well as cashmere with ruffles -- very girlie indeed. We also loved the shamelessly frilly ruffle scarf, and the fingerless gloves in a wide array of colors.
The big winner for us was this dress, though (at right). Sequins and cashmere? Sign us up! There were also sequin and bead-embellished cardigans, and even some floral cashmere pieces. Check out the gallery to see our favorites, bookmark your faves for your holiday wish list, and watch whiteandwarren.com for these styles to appear in a couple of months!
Gallery: White + Warren Holiday 2009 Preview
For your reading and viewing pleasure we present the first in a series looking back at highlights from the first year of The Classicist, the weekly column devoted to timeless style, enduring elegance, and true, built-to-last luxury as opposed to mere extravagance. For our first installment we present the best of Men's Style, from Savile Row to Italy and New York and back again, with suits, jackets, cashmere, shoes, accessories and everything in between. These are not the sort of things that ever really go out of fashion, so if you haven't already added to your wardrobe with some of these staples it's not too late.
Gallery: Best of the Best: Men's Style 2009
1. Anderson & Sheppard of Savile Row
Savile Row stalwart Anderson & Sheppard, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, is steeped in tradition, to say the least. Yet while other old-fashioned bastions of upper-class masculine British taste have been sold off or hideously modernized, A&S has managed to adapt and survive. The firm not only outfitted the great Fred Astaire - perhaps the best dressed man the modern world has ever known - but also Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, authors Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham, Gary Cooper, Noel Coward, Sir Laurence Olivier, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Duke Ellington.
2. David Chu Bespoke
In New York City, David Chu, founder of the Nautica brand, operates an ultra-chic Bespoke shop at his gorgeous Townhouse in Gramercy Park. "The bespoke experience is about understated elegance," Chu told The Classicist. David Chu Bespoke "blends the best of Savile Row and Neapolitan tailoring, marrying craftsmanship with modernity." Garments are hand-cut and stitched by a master tailor based in Naples. A gentleman can order anything he requires to be custom made, from suits, overcoats, tuxedos, and sport jackets to trousers, shoes, scarves, and 12-fold ties.
Gallery: David Chu Bespoke
3. Dunhill's Timeless Classics
In times of economic uncertainty luxury consumers looks to timeless classics they know will hold their value and last for years as opposed to flash-in-the-pan trends and glitzy impulse buys. We think that London-based men's clothier and luxury goods firm Dunhill, which dates back to the 1890s, is well situated to weather the storm in similar style thanks to their espousal of these same values. That's a very good thing as the company recently opened two new flagship stores, in New York City and London. The 7,000-sq.-ft. NYC store (above), on the corner of Madison and 55th, replaces the old shop at 711 Fifth Avenue.
Gallery: Dunhill Store & More
4. Duncan Quinn - The Coolest
Quinn , who makes some of the world's coolest suits, isn't exactly a tailor, though "designer" doesn't really capture it either. So how would he put it? "I simply have a strong view and an aesthetic to go with that view," he told The Classicist, "which encompasses the cars, wine, sailboats, cocktails and croquet." Sounds good to us. The dashing London-born former lawyer makes Savile Row-style clothes "constructed to celebrate days of glory and nights of excess." He opened his first shop in New York in 2003, and along the way he's attracted quite a following of well-dressed fellows, "gentleman rogues" who ascribe to the Quinn aesthetic.
Gallery: Duncan Quinn Designs
5. Loro Piana Luxe
Italian luxury label Loro Piana makes the most comfortable, classic, stylish and subtly luxurious clothes we've ever had the pleasure of putting on. World-famous for their cashmere, the 200-year-old company, which began as a textile merchant, has also branched out into other areas (including accessories and women's clothing) in more recent years with equal success. Loro Piana's motto has it that true luxury is "knowing, not showing," i.e. dressing for yourself, not to impress others. It's "an inner satisfaction that comes from an aesthetic, intellectual, tactile pleasure, stemming from tradition, research and genuine quality." What could be better than that?
Gallery: Loro Piana Luxe
Continued after the jump.
Filed under: Apparel
Italian luxury clothing brand Isaia, makers of the $2,000 crocodile skin sneakers we wrote about last year, has launched an exclusive new limited edition collection with high-end men's boutique Jeffrey. Designed by fashion icon Jeffrey Kalinsky, the collection combines his contemporary flair with the hand-tailoring, workmanship and luxurious fabrics Isaia is famed for. Kalinsky's modern-fit "J-body" suiting design is available in Isaia's exclusive grey and navy Aquaspider water-and-wrinkle resistant wool, and a tan 90% cashmere, 10% wool glen plaid. The made-to-measure garments feature hand-sewn buttonholes, pockets, floating chest piece and linings. There are also solid blue and white Sea Island cotton shirts as well as silk ties in a custom width.
Riva Yachts, the iconic Italian motorboat maker that epitomizes Dolce Vita style, has just launched a chic new Home Couture Collection of furnishings and design accents for outfitting a luxury yacht or owner's villa. Pure and precious materials such as cashmere, silk, saddle leather, linen, silver and brass are the main elements of the luxe new line, available by special order only. The collection includes a pure cashmere blanket with stitching designed to look like the wake of a classic Riva motorboat; a leather beach bag with an inner lining in linen printed with archival Riva images from the golden era of the Italian Riviera, when Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot owned Rivas; and woven cashmere cushions with mother of pearl buttons and metal Riva logos (above).
Gallery: Riva Home Couture
Holland & Sherry, the world famous fabric weaver and cloth merchant founded in Scotland in 1836, is offering an extremely limited edition range of bespoke suits cut from the world's most luxurious and expensive cloth. The firm, which has premises on Savile Row, has woven the world's first 100 per cent worsted spun Vicuna fabric, the most expensive in the world at over $4,000 per yard. The material (above) comes from the wool of the elusive wild Vicuna, a relative of the llama that lives high in the Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia.
The Vicuna can only be shorn every three years and yields an extremely small amount of fine wool. It took Holland & Sherry five years to gather enough of the exclusive yarn, and another year and a half to develop the unique cloth, which is much finer than cashmere. There is only enough of the precious fabric to make 18 suits, each of which will cost about $50,000. Customers will have only three colors to choose from – black, midnight and natural. The King of Morocco is among the first to place an order for one of the gorgeous garments.
Filed under: Apparel