What does it take to produce a $50,000 overcoat? For the coat’s creator, John H. Cutler, a fourth-generation tailor in Sydney, it was “‘the ultimate expression of the bespoke tailor’s art.’” The photograph on Cutler’s Web site looked to journalist Noonan’s untutored eye like something off the Macy’s menswear clearance rack, but it piqued her curiosity and inspired her to research the coat’s origins. Noonan’s lively journey begins in the Peruvian mountains with the elusive Bambi-esque vicuña (the animal that provides the fleece for the coat), and is followed by stops in Florence, to meet the creator of the coat’s silk lining—enigmatic menswear designer Stefano Ricci; Yorkshire, where a textile mill spins vicuña fleece into yarn that Gary Eastwood’s Pennine Weavers turns into cloth; and Birmingham, for hand-carved buffalo horn buttons. “We could be moved, as I was, by the work of many hands to make a single perfect thing,” Noonan writes—and we are. Traditions of bespoke tailoring (and other related crafts) are skirting the edge of extinction. Noonan’s delightful story makes us hope they endure. Agent: Deborah Grosvenor, Grosvenor Literary Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/15/2013 Release date: 07/16/2013 Genre: Nonfiction
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