THE “GRANDE MESURE” BESPOKE TAILORING
Having bespoke tailors is self-evident for Berluti, the only house that dresses its clients entirely “sur-mesure” from head to toe. Here’s what happens behind the scenes in the tailoring studio.
The tailoring's know-how
True bespoke, also known as ‘Grande Mesure,’ is an artisanal skill synonymous with perfection: the master tailor creates a unique piece for each client in accordance with his desires, morphology, and personality. Handmade and perfectly fitted, a bespoke piece is conceived entirely with and for the client.
This is exactly why Berluti has teamed up with the Maison Arnys, a celebrated Left Bank tailor, to provide clients with the same exacting savoir-faire, experience, and creative daring. All of Berluti’s Grande Mesure suits are made by master tailors trained by the Maison Arnys, which originally stood on the Rue de Sèvres in Paris. Today, the Berluti “Grande Mesure” is available around the world. Once every six weeks or so, our master tailors travel to Berluti boutiques in the Middle-East, Asia, London, or New York, where they offer bespoke services to a global roster of clients.
The tailoring journey
The experience begins with a first appointment in one of Berluti’s private salons. Here, the client meets and discusses his project with his own master tailor, who will oversee every step of the process. The tailor’s questions to his client are themselves precisely tailored: He needs to learn who the client is, how he lives, what kind of suit he wants — and for what occasions, and in which seasons. A businessman who spends his time on an airplane certainly won’t have the same needs or desires as, for example, a creative type who’s looking for a wardrobe with originality.
The tailor then takes measurements. There are more than twenty measuring points, ranging from the width of the shoulders to the length of the legs. The tailor is trained to see everything: He is there to correct asymmetry, straighten a shoulder, and lengthen a silhouette. He’ll also advise the client about which cut of suit he might prefer. One, two, or three buttons, hand sewn or patch pockets, pointed or notched lapels, button style, lining colour, number of pockets, inside or out.… At every step, the master tailor guides the client with informed suggestions.
It’s time to choose the suit’s fabric. The choice seems infinite, with more than 3,000 options of materials woven by the great fabric houses of Italy, England, Ireland, or France. The client may have a specific request — for a special event, for example. In any case, the master tailor will work with him to find exactly the right fabric.
Like a great wine or a sports car, bespoke tailoring has its own special vocabulary. When it comes to fabrics, the discussion will turn, variously, to cashmere, tweed and “Prince of Wales” check. Fabric density is also important. Wool, for example, is categorized by metric values: 150 S, 160 S, etc… The higher the number, the finer the material and the softer the hand. The choice also depends on a client’s lifestyle. The house of Berluti knows well how to marry elegance and innovation, and might, for example, suggest the “Traveller”, a magnificent no-wrinkle fabric, or among others, or a “water-repellent”, which is specially treated for water resistance to avoid damage due to rainfall.
After the first meeting, the master tailor begins creating the suit. The trousers are entirely made by a specialised trouser-maker. The master tailor creates the jacket, constantly keeping his client’s morphology in mind, compensating, for example, for uneven shoulders or a rounded back. He first sketches the design on paper, with marks for darts, cut-outs, and specific details; in the next step, he marks the client’s measurements on a “toile”, or canvas. He then cuts the fabric, sewing it to the muslin, taking care to allow extra material for adjustments both at the fitting and over time.
Three weeks after his first meeting with the master tailor, the client will try on the toile of his jacket (at that point without collar or sleeves). During this fitting the tailor can check the jacket’s balance lines, meaning how the piece aligns with the body. At this point, the client may also try on the trousers, which will have already been cut in the final fabric.
The second fitting takes place a few weeks later. By then the master tailor will have assembled the entire jacket by hand, stitching its collar, sleeves, and such other details as the inside and outside pockets and lining. Some seams are still basted, or temporarily hemmed, so that they can be adjusted right down to the millimetre. All the necessary elements, from collar and shoulders to pockets, lining and interfacing are assembled. This is when dozens of details are tended to that will be sewn by hand, from Milanese lapel buttonholes and working buttonholes to hand-mounted linings with topstitched edges. Topstitching, such as the saddle stitch, is the signature of a tailor’s work.
Each client has his requirements — and sometimes they are very specific — about gussets, martingales, lapel size and pockets with or without flaps. At the last fitting, the master tailor proceeds to make the final adjustments. He measures to the millimetre for bending, or he may adjust the length and width of a sleeve depending on how a watch is worn, for example, or alter pocket placement and size for a client who carries more than one smartphone. This is because creative audacity also lies in unique details — a surprising suit lining, a daring choice of button, a slightly off-centre elbow pad … Nothing is left to chance.
Once these final corrections are made, about three months after the first appointment, the client may take home his ideal suit, one created entirely according to his personality, shape, and wishes. In all, his tailor will have devoted about 70 hours of work to its creation. A unique suit often prefigures a unique relationship, because the same tailor will serve his client for subsequent orders, correcting his table of measurements as needed. Over time, he will come to know perfectly his client’s build and preferences.
Of course, the savoir faire of Berluti’s ateliers makes it possible for clients to choose other pieces to have made-to-measure: there are thousands of fabric choices for shirts, from classic to the wildly creative; neckties, overcoats, raincoats… not to mention more disruptive pieces from the world of Grande Mesure, such as jeans or leather jackets.
With elegance and daring, the house of Berluti plays the game of subtle accords to perfection.
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