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One of the world’s leading polo kit and clothing brands, La Martina, which opened its flagship London Store in Jermyn Street last year, has now moved into the world of tailoring. Working alongside London-based tailor Timothy Everest MBE, it has launched the St James’s Collection, drawing inspiration from images of Sir Winston Churchill as a young man. This collection is stripped back to feature unstructured and half-lined jackets in soft linens and cottons and Everest has hand selected the lightweight fabrics, which are traditional, but with a little twist, in an array of lovely, summery colours in a variety of supple cloths, such as linen and cotton jackets.

Like the previous autumn/winter collaboration, there are three key looks in the spring/summer collection, each inspired by a different area of Churchill’s life.  “The Imperial” look is styled around the “Imperial Mac”, a staple piece in the collection inspired by Churchill’s time in the Imperial Yeomanry. This classic Mac stands alongside tailoring pieces including the “Oldham Jacket”, offering a nod to Churchill’s early political life as MP for Oldham in 1900. “The Marlborough” look has been built around young Churchill’s family’s ties to one of England’s most important families – The Dukes of Marlborough.  This look epitomises the style of his early years, with a modern twist on a Safari Jacket to bring the aesthetic up-to-date for 2016.  “The Woodstock” looks back to the sartorial elegance and sophistication of traditional sportsmen of the 1890s. The look, named after Churchill’s birthplace in Oxfordshire and the village closest to the Marlborough family’s stately home, Blenheim Palace, is focused on one of Churchill’s favourite pastimes – polo, appropriate for an already well established brand in the sport. The Woodstock Double Breasted Jacket in soft linen references the traditional polo attire that Churchill would have worn, but created for the modern man thanks to some subtle tailoring nuances.

One of the world’s leading polo kit

Fulton, umbrella makers to The Queen since 2008, is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2016 with a new range of “Diamond” umbrellas. The firm’s iconic “birdcage” design is regularly used by Her Majesty on walkabouts, with each umbrella made bespoke to match the monarch’s outfits. An umbrella is the perfect accompaniment to any outfit, especially when in the UK, and Fulton make an excellent range of gentlemen’s umbrellas too, ranging the handy telescopic variety to more traditional full-size version with an elegant, Malacca wood handle.  The vagaries of the weather are no problem though as Fulton use the wind tunnel at Imperial College to test several of its brollies, ensuring they can withstand wind speeds of up to 78mph!

Fulton, umbrella makers to The Queen since

Switzerland may not be the first place to consider when planning a summer break. All those mountains and snow makes one instantly think of winter, skiing and the odd glass of gluhwein! Think again as Switzerland is a place for all seasons.  That dramatic backdrop of the Alps is always breath-taking, but also creates some impressive hiking and climbing opportunities. In fact the summer months, thanks to the high altitude, are the perfect time to conquer these peaks.

The Western Alps alone features the mighty Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch and so consider setting up a base camp at Interlaken. I don’t mean pitching a tent crag side, but booking some five-star luxury at the likes of the Lindner Grand Hotel Gardner Beau Rivage – with its spectacular mountain views – or the Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel – perfectly blending old-world sophistication with a sleek modern charm.  Interlaken is one of the oldest tourist resorts in Switzerland so knows how to provide that holiday to remember and thanks to the wonderful mountain railway you can get pretty high up those mountains without ever breaking a sweat. Maybe save that for the hotel gym?   

Or head to the lesser-well known, but equally impressive Andermatt; your HQ for tackling the Eastern Alps. The setting for James Bond’s dramatic escapades in Goldfinger, this alpine region may feel remote, but is definitely not cut off. Only two hours by car from Milan, or four from Munich, plus it’s a stop on the Glacier-Express railway which runs from Zermatt to St Moritz. The Swiss government has been heavily investing into this gem for the past two years, encouraging visitors to expand their horizons. The sumptuous Chedi Andermatt can provide a bespoke, luxurious service in a most glamorous destination. Even better, purchase your own slice of paradise with the Chedi Residences – and have a personal share of five-star luxury.

Switzerland has it covered for the city break too. Need some retail therapy in Zurich’s Bahnhoffstrasse, then take your pick from a plethora of luxury, numerous starred hotels. Check into the Baur au Lac or the Dolder Grand to sample over 100 years of continuous service from each establishment. Like a  good Swiss timepiece, these hotel grand dames run smoothly, efficiently and elegantly, but also offer up-to-minute dining and spa treatments for the most discerning of guests.

Not surprisingly for a town referred to as “The Place” by Time magazine in the 1960s, Gstaad remains one of the go-to destinations for the cognoscenti. Surprisingly for a town that boasts the largest ski area in the Alps, and for a country famous for its land-locked status, Gstaad is also home to a major beach volleyball competition! In fact the city’s summer schedule is teeming with sports, including tennis and polo, and not a ski in site! Not surprisingly with such a chic clientele heading this way, luxury hotels abound. Check in at the Gstaad Palace, the only family run and managed luxury hotel in Switzerland. Here guests are considered part of the family, but are actually treated like royalty with some rarely
found,  good old-fashioned service.

Alternatively head south, to the very southern tip of Switzerland, where its borders criss-cross with France, and arrive in Geneva. Known as “the smallest of big cities”, Geneva also has a mountainous backdrop – this time it is Mont Blanc that provides the drama. Hotels here are equally impressive and historic. Check into the lakeside location of the revered Le Beau Rivage, home to many a Savile Row trunk show.
It offers bags of elegance and opulence, the perfect accompaniment to a day spent watch shopping or maybe political peacekeeping. After all this city is home to European headquarters of the United Nations.

In fact this little country, which is really only just a little bit bigger than Dallas, Texas, can offer everything at any time of the year – there is even an all-season skiing and snowboarding centre at the Matterhorn’s Theodul Glacier. And thanks to the country’s many French, German and Italian influences a visit to Switzerland is just a mini European tour – with better chocolate!

Switzerland may not be the first place

By Robin Dutt

In a world suffused with fashion, “best-dressed” lists and the electric vulgarity of celebrity (whether A or Z), it is often the case that real style is forgotten – if recognised at all.  So can style truly be created?  Of course the answer – from Savile Row to Jermyn Street – is a resounding yes.

George Bryan Brummell – known to all as Beau – set an almost impossible standard for simple elegance in Regency England – a man who cheerfully eschewed the sugary flummery of satins and silks and patterns for streamlined minimalism. A style that is always difficult to do well. A dandy in his own time, Brummell trumped the fops, macaroni, pretty gentlemen and lions – overdressed, over preened, overdone.  Few designers today can truly understand the purity of this stance, but some like Ann Demeulemeester, Rei Kawakubo and Carlo Brandelli certainly do.  Tailors, however, are automatically hard-wired into his beliefs since they are the basis of fine cut in the first place.  Cut, colour, cloth – the sartorial man’s 3 Rs – are the pillars of this time-honoured temple.  Brummell’s was an elegance which immediately attracted the Prince Regent, and for a while these two made a fashionable couple at race meetings and banquets.

By so doing, Brummell was catapulted onto the social scene and beyond to the extent that when having a fitting for a suit, tailors would stuff the pockets with money in the hope of being introduced to the future king. There is also a story that when a tailor was asked by a customer   which cloth to choose the immediate answer was Brummell’s choice, not the Prince Regent’s.

Born in 1778, 18 years into the reign of George III, Brummell used his charm, wit and waspish tongue to great effect, believing wholeheartedly in himself. The confidence in the way he dressed – sharp and even aloof – finds an echo in many of his purported statements, bon mots and repartee. When asked by an ardent lady who was eager to meet him to come to her chambers and take tea, the reply was a delicious put-down. “Madam, you take medicine, you take a walk, you take a liberty, but you drink tea.” On another occasion, accounting for his lack of a female companion, he said: “What could I do… when I saw Lady May eat cabbage?”  This coming from the man who once confessed to have only eaten a single pea. High, meaty Regency standards indeed. Looking at the menus of the celebrated Careme, for example, vegetables only ever have walk-on parts.

Brummell was iconic on the Regency scene, hugely instrumental and influential without being of birth, but possessing, for a short time at least, a legacy from his father, some £25,000 or so which today would amount to a spending power of some £1.5 million.   

There are few surviving images of Brummell today and most are well known. Despite not being classically good looking and having once had his nose broken by a horse’s kick, they all show a definite haughtiness, an air of extreme grace and that famous, intricate cravat – some 12 inches wide. The only image which is close to caricature is one of the last, depicting him as a threadbare pauper, hunched back, tattered, old-fashioned clothes and bearing a walking cane whose top was a carved head of his one-time friend, Prince George.

Claiming that one needed at least five hours to get dressed and not getting up too early in the morning (for it to be thoroughly aired), Brummell had many quirks. Gentleman would queue outside his house in Mayfair’s Chesterfield Street to watch him getting ready for a day’s pleasure at his club, the gaming tables or commissioning another snuff box. Today there is the blue plaque to remind us.

Brummell had his boots blacked till they shone like light itself and even demanded the soles to be ebonized. According to sartorial legend, he finished off the polishing process with the tops lavished with the mousse of the finest champagne – something I witnessed Olga Berluti of the shoe supremo, Berluti, perform as almost a sacred act – in tiny circular motions. Brummell changed his shirt three times a day and once had the confidence to say to a gentleman who asked his opinion about a newly commissioned coat: “D’ye call that thing a coat?”

Perhaps, apart from the sparseness of the cut of his clothes and the practical duo chrome simplicity – one garment informing  other – Brummell is credited with having invented the narrow ankle trouser. This was  much like a vintage ski pant with straps under the foot to keep them taut.

He ignored jewellery, but invested in “plenty of country washing”, certainly not of his time as people in general regarded bathing as dangerous. Many women slept with cats to deter the mice which nested in their wigs which they did not remove at night nor have washed. Brummell’s obsessive cleanliness even extended to removing with tweezers every last facial hair daily to give the smoothest, marble-white complexion possible.

Of course favour and fortune could not last, especially combined with an addiction for gambling and an over confidence where even Prince George was concerned. There are two stories that seem to signal Brummell’s downfall. Once, when dining with the Prince, he said tartly, “ring the bell, George.”  Then whilst out with a companion, he met Prince George strolling with a friend.  “Who’s your fat friend?” was enough to destroy Brummell.

Brummell fled to France, avoiding both his creditors and debtors’ prison. Meanwhile his possessions were ignominiously sold at auction accompanied by an advertisement – once belonging to “a man of fashion, now gone to the continent”.   

He ended his days in an asylum, tended by kind nuns, raving and doubly incontinent. A humiliating ending for the man that defined the path of modern and contemporary masculine dress.  His importance though is too great to let him be forgotten. He remains the gold standard when it comes to male attire. 

By Robin Dutt In a world suffused with

By Robin Dutt

Practical as well as ticking every aesthetic box, the waistcoat is simply indispensable. Decreed by Charles II as an essential element of correct dress, the waistcoat is as plain as it is elaborate, sublime as unfortunately as it can be comic. A waistcoat can be so right and so very wrong.

Buttoning is key. Never, ever choose a single breasted example with two, four or six buttons.  Seven is the golden rule (double breasted waistcoats do not bow to this rule).  Always, always, the last button is left undone on a contemporary example. The Regency bucks and their associates usually sported a different cut, often cut straight to meet the trouser waist.  This non-buttoning of the last, of course, was apparently due to the corpulence of one of our monarchs – I won’t be specific to spare certain blushes – and it actually looks better for it anyway; even on the trimmest torso.

Designer Scott Crolla – who had a boutique selling exquisite waistcoats and frockcoats close to the Row – collected 18th century examples, some of which were framed as works of art which with their elegant embroidery, shining silks and cut steel buttons were the perfect backdrop to his own designs, proving that certain link with 200 years ago. Tailor Tom Gilbey did much the same in his salon located between Regent Street and Savile Row. He once made me a silver example,  one side of which was a profile of a face based on a drawing by polymath Jean Cocteau. The back was 1920s silver filigree lace. A delightful confection –
if to some eyes a trifle risqué.

Ah, but there’s the rub. The waistcoat is one of those garments which speaks volumes about you, like a well-chosen tie or cravat. It’s not just the cut, but the colour, patterning and weight of the cloth that count. A judicious choice of buttons makes all the difference.  I often remove contemporary ones and replace them with 18th or 19th century examples that
I had found in slim Morocco leather
boxes from a charming dealer in Covent Garden Market.

The waistcoat is certainly a sort of male corset easily let in and out at the back and when worn as tightly as is elegantly permissible, ideal with a coat that invites eyes to look at the magic it creates beneath. Add narrower than usual trousers (12/14 inches) to the mix and even the ankles inform the whole.  I have discovered, much to my bank’s chagrin, that waistcoats are somewhat addictive. Somewhat? Who am I kidding?  They infiltrate your life in such a way that you cannot believe how many you can amass in a very short time.  A waistcoat is definately not just for weddings. 

By Robin Dutt Practical as well as ticking