If there is a name in the field of classic men's style which is respected and acclaimed in a world where it's becoming more and more difficult to tell the men from the boys (or real industry figures from fake influencers), then it is the name of G. Bruce Boyer. I write this not only because he is a good friend of Sonya's and mine and wrote the foreword of my book "The Parisian Gentleman" in 2015, but also because of the many accolades of which I will expand on in this piece.
As an eminent member of a rare league of journalists and authors who preached for classic elegance years before the digital revolution gained full strength (the 80s and 90s) and during a time when no-one seemed to care about sartorial subjects, Bruce continued to wave the sartorial flag, even during an era when mass marketed ready-to-wear reigned supreme.Today, with the revival of attention in classic menswear and artisanal craftsmanship, it's much easier to reach an audience interested in dressing well.
Yet, back in the day when Bruce wrote for media like Town & Country (a respected publication in the USA for whom he still writes), Esquire, Forbes or The New York Times, it's an euphemism to say he was preaching in a sartorial desert in a world under the domination of mega-brands selling fused (glued) suits for the price of gold.
During these years, Bruce also wrote several books destined to become classics : Elegance, Eminently Suitable and, more recently, True Style (a must-read for anyone even slightly interested in men's elegance).
It was around the mid 2000s when Boyer's name became recognized as one of the founding fathers of the contemporary sartorial movement, alongside Alan Flusser and a handful of others, like Bernhard Roetzel (whom we have the honor to publish as a regular contributor with the hope of growing his digital voice and fame).
Today we have the pleasure to inform you that the shirtmaker extraordinaire from Bologna, Marol, recently partnered with "Bruce Almighty" to design and conceive a brilliant small collection of high-end shirts that will be available this coming fall in many stores around the world.
The fact that Bruce accepted to associate his name and stellar image to the now famous Bolognese shirt making company shows, if this was still needed, that Marol has entered into the very closed league of the best shirtmakers in the world.
Before detailing this beautiful collaboration between Boyer and Marol, I must confess that the typical fashion of "capsule collections" is usually not my cup of Earl Grey. First of all, I dislike the word "capsule" which for me, refers more to spaceships, pills or beer bottles than sartorial collections.
Secondly, being an industry insider myself, I can testify that most of these small collections consist of artificially patching a famous name on a brand so the brand may take advantage of the person's fame to sell more products. This is what we call "influence marketing". But most of the time, the celebrity has no real clue about the collection and probably didn't even participate in its conception.
However, since I know firsthand that Bruce and Marol (with Bo and Manuela) have committed themselves to a legitimate collaboration, I've been curious to see what Bruce has brought to the plate, given his immense sartorial culture (if not to say "science") and his very safe taste--combined with Marol's unanimously recognized atelier expertise with 25 experienced seamstresses fully dedicated to the art of traditional shirt making, yielding highly artisanal shirts which are built to last.
The result of the partnership is a wonderful collection of six shirts : three classic business shirts ("Town") and three more casual and versatile shirts ("Country").
The six models have been elaborated on the same pattern, each of which Bruce has injected his highest ideas for quality timeless shirts which embody comfort, simplicity, proportion, and correctness of crafting.
In pure Bruce Boyer's understated style, the body of this shirt is all about balance : neither too tight nor too loose. Yoke with side pleats, front placket and side gussets.
The armholes are high and fully hand-sewn for beauty and for optimal ease of movement.
Bruce choose short barrel cuffs with rounded edge (my personal favorite, as I'm paradoxically not a fan of French cuffs). Also note on the photo below the (very) clever positioning of the button : high on the cuff in order for the edge to remain flexible to accommodate different sizes of timepieces.
For years, Bruce has waved the banner for understated elegance made of moderation in everything and respect for the correctness of proportions. Thus, the collar he chose with Manuela and Bo at Marol is the precise expression of an uncompromising approach to men's style : Medium spread and length, unfused, removable collar stays and rounded collar band with 1/2 inch of tie knot space. Neither too much, nor too little. Balance is the word.
Special attention has been given to the "guts" of the shirt (the invisible parts) with a particularly light lining in the collar, cuffs and front plackets.
The buttonholes on the Town shirts are opened and sewn strictly by hand---but on the Country shirts, they are not hand-sewn, to enhance durability and to prevent breakage.
This is what I like about Marol : this company is an authentic shirt maker with true convictions, no matter the trends, misconceptions and misinformation spreading like forest fires--especially in sartorial forums.
One of the most frequent "fashionable" misconceptions among the sartorial crowd is that a fully 100 percent handmade shirt is the Grail and the best quality out there. This simply is not true.
A fully handmade shirt indeed can be gorgeous (even if ordering a so-called 100 percent handmade shirt can be a lottery, with brand ambassadors receiving shirts with many more hours of attention than those ordered and received by the average consumer). If you learn one thing about artisanal shirt making, please do not let anyone tell you that "a sewing machine is evil". This is an ignorant and ridiculous statement, since a sewing machine is the ideal helpmate to reinforce targeted areas of a shirt which would otherwise fall apart if sewn by hand. Further, truly expert machine-sewing can require "Houdini hands" --mesmerizing to behold and an art form all to itself.
Another interesting and rare feature on this model is the technique used to sew the buttons on a foot and raise them a few mm above the fabric (see below). This small detail completely changes the buttoning experience (which can be a nuisance, even with high-end shirts), creating a fluid buttoning experience. Warning : if you try this feature on a luxury shirt, it will be difficult to look backwards. I find this "button foot" to be one of the things I value most in a true luxury shirt.
The buttons are, of course, in Mother of Pearl of the highest quality. The seams are positioned 5mm from the edge with Marol's unique 13 stitches per cm (the highest number of stitches per cm on the market, making the stitch line almost invisible)
In brief, Marol is once again delivering, with the complicity of G. Bruce Boyer, a supremely high level shirt model which will be available in six different fabrics, all from the Thomas Mason Silverline bunch.
There are three versions for the town shirt : a navy blue pencil stripe on white, a white "piqué" and a superb blue end-on-end, probably my favorite of the collection (click on the photos below to enlarge)
There are also three versions for the country shirt : two tattersall (red/blue and blue/green) and a brushed blue flannel (click on the photos below to enlarge).
These six beautiful shirts are not normally for sale directly to the public (this is a collection primarily designed for Marol's retailers around the world). However if you live in an area where Marol is not retailed, or if you crave one one these shirts (or more), then you can send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Parisian Gentleman.
As an additional note, in the next few weeks we'll also introduce a Marol Limited Edition shirt which can be ordered direct from the atelier: the impossibly sublime "casual chic" Jersey shirt for Spring and Summer. Stay tuned Gentlemen !