Friday - - Ask The Experts -

QI re­cently vis­ited a tai­lor in Italy on a friend’s ad­vice. The tai­lor said he could cut the fab­ric us­ing his eye. I didn’t quite un­der­stand what he meant but didn’t want to men­tion it to him. Could you throw some light on this?

AThis ter­mi­nol­ogy or ref­er­ence to “The Eye” in tai­lor­ing dates back to the 1900s in Sav­ile Row where a be­spoke tai­lor who was known to cut a gar­ment, whether a suit or a shirt, based on his ex­pe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence rather than fol­low­ing ba­sic rules or cal­cu­la­tions of cut­ting, was re­ferred to as a true master above all else.

It was an ex­pres­sion that was meant to showcase the ex­traor­di­nary ca­pa­bil­ity of the be­spoke tai­lor to be able to judge the body type of the per­son for whom the suit was to be cut, in a man­ner that saw him as an in­di­vid­ual and ac­knowl­edg­ing the fact that no two in­di­vid­u­als are the same, hence cut­ting the gar­ment with­out us­ing any stan­dard cal­cu­la­tions or rule of thumb, but sim­ply us­ing his own judg­ment.

This ex­pres­sion fur­ther came into promi­nence be­cause of Fed­er­ick Scholte, the master and head-cut­ter of Sav­ile Row’s highly ven­er­ated tai­lor­ing house, An­der­son & Shep­pard.

Fed­er­ick Scholte was the per­sonal tai­lor to King Edward the VIII from 1919–1959 and was re­spon­si­ble for in­vent­ing the Drape Cut method of suit mak­ing which made a per­son ap­pear slim with­out the slight­est com­pro­mise on com­fort.

The drape cut method com­prises cross­cut­ting, or the tai­lor­ing tech­nique of cut­ting the suit against the grain of the fab­ric in a di­ag­o­nal man­ner. The idea be­hind this cut is to al­low the fab­ric to drape over the wearer’s curves, thereby en­hanc­ing his physique while con­ceal­ing his flaws.

Favoured for its com­fort and ease of move­ment, it’s no won­der that the drape cut re­mains a highly cov­eted sil­hou­ette. This in­com­pa­ra­ble cut lends the jacket a fuller chest and a slightly flared hip with the midriff area taken in at a sin­gle cen­tral point for a fit­ted, slim out­line from the sides.

It also con­sists of a larger sleeve head that is eased into a smaller arm­hole by cre­at­ing mi­cro-pleats in the in­ner area by hand. This is why drape cut suits com­mand an im­mense ease of arm move­ment, giv­ing many gen­tle­men good rea­son to wear them for hours on end through­out the day.

Fed­er­ick Scholte claimed that he prac­ticed the Drape Cut solely by fol­low­ing the guid­ance of the Eye of Be­spoke and slowly over time The Drape Cut be­came syn­ony­mous with a suit cut us­ing the Eye or The Eye of Be­spoke.

Ev­ery be­spoke tai­lor who learnt their craft from Fed­er­ick came to prac­tice the craft by fol­low­ing the same rit­ual. Even today, a tai­lor who uses the Drape Cut method of suit mak­ing can­not re­ally call it a Drape Cut Suit in its truest sense un­less it has been cut di­rectly on the fab­ric, the same way it was cut by Fed­er­ick.

A suit which is in tune with the ‘eye of be­spoke’ al­lows the wearer to achieve the same ben­e­fits while mak­ing them achieve the epit­ome of sar­to­rial el­e­gance. A true be­spoke tai­lor, would be able to cut us­ing his eye even today and re­mains a widely found prac­tice within the com­mu­nity of be­spoke tai­lors around the world.

PAWAN AND ASHISH ISHWAR are tai­lors at Knights & Lords, a be­spoke tai­lor­ing house in Dubai.

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