Wrong Trowsers

E.S. Turner

  • A History of Men’s Fashion by Farid Chenoune, translated by Deke Dusinberre
    Flammarion/Thames & Hudson, 336 pp, £50.00, October 1993, ISBN 2 08 013536 8
  • The Englishman’s Suit by Hardy Amies
    Quartet, 116 pp, £12.00, June 1994, ISBN 0 7043 7076 X

The patron saints of tailoring, it seems, include Homobonus, who ‘all week long cut garments that were miraculously assembled’ every Sunday while he was at Mass, and Bartholomew, a victim of flaying, who ‘carried his skin draped over his arm’ rather as if returning with a suit from the cleaners. Whether either of them would be happy to retain his patronage of the scissor-men after leafing through Farid Chenoune’s heavyweight dossier – in which the dandy and the incroyable give way to the quiet gentleman and the dégagé sportsman, only to be followed by a collapse into androgyny, street-wise dumb insolence and ‘a syncopated disestablishmen-tarianism’ – is problematical. This book packs some of the nastiest shocks since Richard Walker in The Savile Row Story (1988) disinterred a Lloyd’s Weekly News headline on a sweatshop exposure of 1892: ‘The Duke of York’s Trowsers Made in a Fever Room.’

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in