It is often said that the mark of a perfectly tailored suit lies in the details that you cannot see.
In which case, Mr Alan Gilbert’s suits are a testament to the finest of Savile Row tailoring. The Mr Gilbert we refer to is none other than the Director of the New York Philharmonic (pictured, top right, conducting said orchestra in a Richard James Bespoke suit), whose evening dress coat or ‘body coat’ (as our Cutter, Chris Foster-Hicklin calls it) is a truly unique and challenging garment to make.
Truly unique and challenging because no one moves around when wearing one of our bespoke suits quite like Mr Gilbert… After all, conducting one of the greatest symphony orchestras in the world does involve rather a lot of arm waving and pointing and body movement in general.
Shown here, we have Chris in the process of marking out the pattern for Mr Gilbert’s second Richard James Bespoke concert suit. He uses a very thin and robust mohair cloth, one that allows the moisture to wick away from the skin and accommodate the inevitable perspiration during a performance.
The second image (right, second picture) shows Chris making adjustments to the pattern of the front torso section of the dress coat. As he works, Chris explains that the most vital requirement for a conductor’s dress coat is that it maintains its shape; despite the upper body movement, there should be no more than a gentle swish of the coat tails while Mr Gilbert conducts the orchestra.
This style of jacket was adapted from 18th century riding coats, the strongest similarity being the armholes, which are cut slightly forward compared to a standard suit jacket. A conductor’s stance varies with their personal style, but the modified armhole allows easier arm movement and prevents the jacket from cutting into the chest.
The third image (right, third picture) shows the marked out pattern for the sleeves with a couple of lines marked in blue chalk which indicate the right hand side. These separate markings indicate Mr Gilbert’s stance and body structure, considering whether he leans slightly forward on one side or if the drop of his shoulders are uneven. The extra markings around the pattern show excess or seam allowance, which will allow alterations to be made during the fitting process.
Excess also comes into use while sewing the coat tails; instead of being cut away (as per the norm) the extra cloth is folded inward, which adds structure and weight to the tails. The fourth and final image (bottom right) has many markings on it, but it is easy to identify the lapel and the front torso section of the jacket.
We look forward to seeing the completed suit soon.
Picture of Alan Gilbert by Chris Lee, courtesy of the New York Philharmonic.