April 21, 2013


2013 is quickly proving to be the year of The Great Gatsby. With the much anticipated cinematic reinterpretation by Baz Luhrmann coming out next month, fashion's all agog about the Art D├ęco Roaring Twenties style that defines the novel and weaves are being torn out due to the extreme amazingness of the film's soundtrack curated by Jay-Z. If you haven't read the book - you really should, it's quite thin and an excellent summer read - this is the plot in one sentence:

It's the summer of 1922 and this guy from the Midwest, Nick, moves to Long Island and his neighbour is the mysterious Mr Gatsby who throws massive parties but never attends them and there are other characters and then something happens to his mistress and it's all about the emptiness of the upper class and there's a green light and yay symbolism! 

So when Eurostar invited me to pop down to Jermyn Street in London for a day in the life of Jay Gatsby, I was quite tickled to accept. Fashion field trip! Watch what happens when five bloggers (I was joined by GillesJonasKaren and Bram) get together for an outing across the Channel (spoiler alert: lots of staring through a lens / at a smartphone). Like Japanese tourists, only worse and at least the Japanese get to wear those cool beige fisher hats with the chin straps. Are you ready? Let's do this!

Early on a Saturday morning this tiny group of bloggers boarded the Eurostar Business Premier carriage to St. Pancras, acting precisely as a group businessmen would on a serious excursion: yapping excitedly, taking instagrams of everything and debating whether or not to embezzle the tiny jam pot that came with the lovely breakfast ("But it's so tiny! So bloody tiny!"). Karen and Bram fell asleep before we even got there. It was a very refined affair, if you must know.

Upon our arrival we took off to Jermyn Street, where our first stop would be the grand shirtmaker's house of Turnbull & Asser. Famed for their high quality shirts with a signature coloured body and prim white collars and cuffs; they were Gatsby's favourites. We chatted to Mr Steven Quinn, who personally holds the Royal Warrant for the brand, and he showed us around the plush store. Turnbull & Asser dressed the likes of Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Charlie Chaplin and more recently Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and even Marc Jacobs. 

Mr Steven Quinn, who fondly remembers Robert Redford's visit to the store when they were fitting him for the classic 1974 version of The Great Gatsby: "He came into the store in a simple black t-shirt, I'll never forget that. You immediately knew he was a star, he just looked so cool."

Mia Farrow simply could not hold in 'all the feels' when Redford would throw his £200 Turnbull shirts at her. We fondled the fabrics some more but then it was time to head down to Favourbrook, for a look at their Gatsby suit selection! 

Favourbrooks take on the quintessential Gatsby summer suit. It's all about the white linen, you guys. But only the smart tailored kind that doesn't make you look like a retired flower child on a patchouli-picking pilgrimage.

After all this sartorial jolliness, it was time for a delightful lunch at Franco's. They had created a custom Gatsby menu for little old us, with a special rose-infused Gatsby cocktail. Which was highly appropriate, for old Jay was all about the drink. 

After a delectable lunch, we simply crossed the street to Bates, the hatter responsible for that archetypal Gatsby 'newsboy cap'. That cap was introduced in America by Irish immigrants and was Gatsby's way of connecting to his past. The newsboy caps he wore were rich in fabric, but working class in heritage. So we got our heads measured up, knit ties were purchased and Binks the taxidermy cat added just the right amount of unsettling Old World class every hatmaker should aim for. The staff was pleasantly accommodating and seemed to take genuine pride in their job, a fact I noticed in most of the Jermyn Street stores we would saunter into that day. The way the Bates salesmen addressed eachother ("If you could pass me a size 50 Panama, please, kind sir?") was really quite endearing. 

Ah, not quite pulling that off now are we, Immi? No time to waste, on to the last stop! So we have our suit, our shirt and our hat. All we still need are...

Exactly. So we headed over to Foster & Son, founded in 1840 and London's oldest established shoemakers. Making bespoke shoes for any client with the time (and funds), these craftsmen- and women use the same age-old techniques they have since the 19th century. You literally stand on a piece of paper, they draw the outline of your feet and then they get to work. Again, it was fascinating to see young people show such dedication to an ancient skill. Reassuring, even. 

As we left the store, a heavy rain started pouring down. Ah, London, you cold mistress. I love you.

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