Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.
‘I’ve got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall.’
He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.
‘They’re such beautiful shirts,’ she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. ‘It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.’
“I am quite aware that I shall annoy some people by my insistence on correctness based on tradition in the choice of certain articles of clothing; that I shall be called a snob and out of date. My reply again is that the suit is the dress of a gentleman. If you are one, you will instinctively, almost unconsciously, uphold its standards. If you are not, you might like to be helped. Don’t forget, I was not born a gentleman. But I was born with sharp eyes that noticed what a real gentleman wore and a curious mind which enquired into the origins of his style. What I learned I am trying to pass on.
“There is no such thing as a good fit that is uncomfortable. The good fit, which, as I have said, must be allied to cutting, must never have any appearance of strain anywhere, and it should look as relaxed as you feel.
“The year was 1959, when Vegas was just a few hotels surrounded by sand and sagebrush — and controlled by the Mob. But it truly was a teenager’s fantasies come true: hot chicks, champagne on ice, gold-plated pink Cadillacs, sharkskin suits.
“Here’s a man in evening clothes,
How he got here, I don’t know.
“I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.
“I have given foo the name of a reliable textile testing agency.
“He dresses like a dapper don, but even in jeans
He’s a God-sent original, the man of my dreams.
“Late on Friday afternoon we were picked up by a driver and driven up to the Barbera mill in a secluded valley at the foot of the Italian Alps. Here we meet with Mr Barbera who introduced us to their operation and outlined his family history within the textiles industry. The mill here opened in 1949 where Mr Barbera joined his father and brother in 1968 and took control over fabric design and production. It wasn’t until 1963-64 when Ugo Mulas (of Uomo Vogue) took a photo of Mr Barbera’s fabric and it was pictured on the cover of Fashion Magazine when interest grew in their new generation of textiles. American fashion icon and founder of Louis of Boston, Murray Pearlstein saw these photos and contacted Luciano, interested in purchasing the Luciano Barbera collection. At this point in time Luciano was only producing and designing fabrics with the Carlo Barbera mill. With the encouragement and advice of Mr. Pearlstein, in 1971 he started producing the Luciano Barbera collection, with a specific philosophy: ‘Clothing for people who believe in individuality and intelligence.’
“Capote I truly loathed. The way you might loathe an animal. A filthy animal that has found its way into the house.
But let me relate an experience. At Yale, ten years ago, there gadded about a distinguished professor of philosophy with a mania for equalitarianism. Notwithstanding, he was himself a man of personal taste, of imposing countenance and erect bearing, and one day he decided it would be reasonable to expect members of his college (undergraduate Yale is quartered in ten colleges) to come to dinner at the college dining hall dressed in coat and tie. Accordingly, he laid down the edict.
Hours later, a student had summoned fellow members of the college student council in extraordinary session to devise appropriate means of resisting the act of tyranny. In due course the president of the council appeared before the guileless master and announced that it was the consensus of the student council that the ordinance he had passed was undemocratic. The master did not reply (such a reply would not have occurred to him, even as a lascivious possibility) ‘Tell the student council to go—eat democratically some place else.’ No, our professor of Philosophy simply rescinded his order, aghast at the revelation that, albeit subconsciously, he had entertained an Undemocratic Thought.
“Cock your hat — angles are attitudes.
“I don’t want anybody in here without coats and ties.
“They come for you in the morning in a limousine; they take you to the studio; they stick a pretty girl in your arms… They call that a profession? Come on!
“I found I was repeating myself. It is the beginning of the end when you discover you have style.