Yesterday menswear omnivore Derek Guy of Die Workwear! and Put This On started a tumblr devoted to the wit and wisdom of menswear legend Charlie Davidson, the octogenarian owner of The Andover Shop. “The Quotable Charlie Davidson,” a breezy little print tome, would be a logical next step.
Charlie-isms are rare, hence their value. When I interviewed him over several occasions for The Rake, he was an absolute aphoristic sound-byte spewing machine. Only trouble was that none of it had to do with the story I was trying to write. Charlie is a delightful conversationalist but a frustrating interview subject.
The icing on the cake is the delightful self-contradictions of some of his greatest epigrams. I got him to cough up, “I can’t believe anyone with taste would buy anything over the Internet.” Meanwhile The Andover Shop recently revamped its website.
Pictured above is the legend working the floor of his Cambridge shop, where according to sources he barely takes a moment to sit down all day long. “It’s a party in here every day,” he told me of his retail career, and why he has no plans to retire.
Finally, The Rake has OKd release of my profile on him, from which the above photo by Tasha Bleu was taken. Look for it next week. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Yesterday a link to a slideshow of the young Mitt Romney somehow made its way into my inbox. I took a look and wasn’t surprised to learn that the son of Michigan’s governor and former prep school student was raised on natural shoulders, oxford buttondowns and rep ties.
At least while it was current and fashionable.
In the ’70s he went hairy like most everybody else, and today the Harvard alum looks just like any other politician: sanitized for television and downplaying his elite background with populist pablum. (Continue)
The June issue of GQ, while also including Justin Bieber, devotes a full-page profile to Nick Waterhouse, a Southern California singer and guitarist who takes his music clues from Buddy Holly and songwriters Leiber and Stoller. (Continue)
Following Richard Press’ recent column “A Tummler On York Street,” Ivy Style received an email from Peter Feen, great nephew of the man profiled in Richard’s column.
Feen went on to tell us about his other great uncle, John Norey (above left), who also worked at J. Press in New Haven. Norey was an Englishman who started out in London tailoring before emigrating to America and going Ivy League.
Feen also sent us the picture above, taken in the New Haven J. Press probably in the late ’60s. When Norey died a few years ago, Feen used part of his inheritance to enter the apparel business, and now operates Peter Becks in Salisbury, CT.
Here’s an excerpt from Norey’s obituary:
After apprenticing as a tailor in the Stoke-Newington section of London, Norey joined the British Army and was stationed in North Africa and Italy during World War II.
After his discharge, Norey resumed his career as a men’s tailor before emigrating to the United States in 1950. Settling in New Haven, he began a long career with the famous men’s clothier, J. Press. At various times, Norey had different company roles and was as responsible as anyone else in the clothing industry in preserving the well dressed Ivy League Look for men’s clothing, not only by J. Press, but by Brooks Brothers, Paul Stuart, Polo and their ilk. After a long and rewarding career, he retired from J. Press in 1993.
In February Ivy Style featured a virtual question-and-answer session with columnist Richard Press, and this time we turn the podium over to menswear author G. Bruce Boyer, contributor to the upcoming Ivy exhibit at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology, and whose latest book, “Enduring Style,” features never-before-seen photos of Gary Cooper.
Today Bruce will be at his desk ready to ask your burning questions about style, college life in the early ’60s (yep, he’s that old), and anything else pertaining to dress and deportment. If you have burning questions that are actually about burning, however, such as when you urinate, please see a doctor.
To get your brain cells firing, consider revisiting Ivy Style’s Q&A with Bruce from the early days of the site.
Bruce will answer as many questions as time and energy permit.
Lord Of New York may sound like a comic-book villain, but it’s actually a lesser-known Ivy haberdasher.
It came up in conversation at a Paul Stuart event recently with a fellow who sells menswear on eBay under the username mack11211. Mack told me about a few bespoke Lord suits made in 1963 he has for sale.
The firm is mentioned in George Frazier’s seminal essay “The Art of Wearing Clothes.” Here’s a passage that explains the origins of Lord Of New York as well as serving as a kind of family tree of Ivy haberdashers:
Lord of New York is brash, explorative, and highly disorganized. Chronologically, Lord of New York is a branch of a genealogy that goes all the way back to 1835 and Brooks Brothers’ natural-shoulder — or, as it is precisely known, No. 1-sack suit. Around the turn of the century, Arthur Rosenberg, then the foremost tailor in New Haven, began to exploit this style among Yale undergraduates, and, not long afterwards, J. Press, also of New Haven, fell into line. Eventually, two Rosenberg employees, Sam Rosenthal and Moe Maretz, went out on their own as Rosenthal-Maretz; then Bill Fenn and Jack Feinstein left David T. Langrock to form Fenn-Feinstein (now associated with Frank Brothers). Somewhat later on, Mort Sill and (a year later) Jonas Arnold quit Press and opened a shop in Harvard Square, Cambridge, which they called Chipp. Then, with his partner’s departure to form Sill (New York and Harvard Square), Jonas Arnold entered into an agreement whereby two former Press employees — Sid Winston and the late Lou Prager — were permitted to use Chipp as the name of the shop they were about to open in New York. Arnold, who closed his Cambridge store several years ago, is still a partner in the New York Chipp’s. In 1952, Lord of New York was begat by Chipp — or, more accurately, by three of its former employees, Ken Frank, Mike Fers, and Peter D’Annunzio. Lord charges $195 and up for a two-piece hand-stitched suit lined with tie silk. Unlike Chipp, it neither charges extra for open buttonholes on jacket sleeves nor does it line coat collars with foulard. Unlike J. Press, it resists such gimmicks as lining the breast pocket of a jacket with foulard that can be turned inside-out to serve as a handkerchief.
And while we’re at it, here’s Frazier on Norman Hilton, The Andover Shop, and Brooks Brothers:
It could hardly have been otherwise, for nowadays even the smallest town has a men’s shop that carries the same suits and haberdashery that are on sale at, say Madison Avenue and Forty-fifth Street in New York. New Bedford, Massachusetts, for example, has Marty Sullivan’s, a store so attuned to the fickleness of fashion that it has its buyers and designers spend part of their Manhattan visitations in such bars-and-grills as P. J. Clarke’s, which attracts an extremely creatively-dressed Ivy League clientele. Furthermore, shops like Sullivan’s-Eddie Jacobs’ in Baltimore; Dick Carroll’s in Los Angeles; and, in New York, Casual-aire, Paul Stuart’s, Phil’s, to name a few — are far from expensive. What’s more, at their best-Atkinson’s in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, and the Andover Shops in Cambridge and Andover, Massachusetts, which derive much of their appeal from the superb workmanship of Frank Spade, the head tailor, and the creativeness of co-owner, Charles Davidson — they are superlatively tasteful. Even in 1960, however, not all ready-made suits are low-priced. Oxxford, for example, turns out a suit that costs $235 and up, is impeccably tailored, and has a following among affluent men who are either too impatient to hold still for custom fittings or dislike investing in a garment without knowing how it will look when finished. From the point of view of style, the best ready-made American suit is turned out by Norman Hilton, a young, enterprising, and discerning Princeton alumnus who, among other things, makes blazers and sports coats for Brooks Brothers. (Contrary to prevalent opinion, Brooks Brothers does not manufacture all its wares, but has certain items made to its specifications and on its own models. Only the label “Brooks Brothers Makers” means a Brooks-manufactured garment.)
Although Brooks Brothers (which also goes in for custom clothes) can no longer be regarded as the unique pace-setter it was prior to the recent renaissance of interest in men’s clothes, it still carries come matchless items, notably its neckwear and shirts, particularly its white buttondown in Pima broadcloth, which costs $8.50 and, among ready-made shirts, is in a class by itself.
The final word comes from our columnist Richard Press:
Lord was run by Ken Cohen, former Chipp road traveler, and Pete D’Annunzio, former fitter at Chipp. They were situated in the same building upstairs from J. Press in NYC and had a small but significant Racquet Club-type of following, similar to custom tailors Morty Sills and Rosenthal-Maretz.
Richard, incidentally, will be answering reader questions in a special post going up on Monday, souse the weekend to imagine what you’d like to ask the grandson of J. Press, who worked at the company during the good old days. — CC