Cologne, 8th December 1968. It is a truth universally acknowledged that what makes a republic is that it is impossible for an everyman to become an aristocrat. Hence, the populace must look for other means to create inequalities among equals. This process is, of course, somewhat more subtle than in a monarchy, but the results are no less clearly defined. One of the most common ways to join the republican ‘aristocracy’ is to be invited onto your nation’s early morning television discussion programme to debate the issues of the day. To be invited to share one’s opinions with the nation in conversation with the allegedly great minds of neighbouring allegedly great nations. What a joy it is! So it is that this morning, four other journalists and I are to be knighted before the viewing public.
After a hearty breakfast, his future-lordship (that is to say, I. Or, rather, we) takes a sip of white wine for some Dutch courage and then finishes off a last cigarette before doing a final check of his appearance. And what a sight it is to behold. His lordship’s tailor truly has outdone himself. The result is a true masterpiece of conservative sartorial art. The single-breasted jacket with its tight waist, broad shoulders, high button stance, and flared skirt creates the most stirring hourglass shape. We did opt to reduce any distractions by foregoing the habitual sartorial digressions du jour (the jacket has only a single vent and two flap pockets. Beyond that, she is bare.), so as to place the cut and the fabric in the foreground. And what a fabric it is! A beautiful 400g/m nailhead in navy and blue from H Lesser. The cloth’s handle is sturdy but luxurious. It is the quintessence of elegance and understatement. For the trousers, the future Baron Von Umsprung decided on a high rise with a plain front, and no turn-ups. To match the proportions of the jacket, the trousers are just a hint more narrow and shorter than might have been the case with a double-breasted jacket, for example. In this suit, we are ready for war.
And, indeed, the battle begins anon. The opening salvos of the discussion are predictable but they do allow us to get into the swing of things. Around the third question, the white wine begins to kick in and our (somewhat notorious) lack of patience with the French becomes apparent as we fire a shot across the bow of our Gallic colleague as he rambles on incoherently as always. What a scene! After a minute’s back-and-forth, the host takes control of the situation and most deftly changes the subject. As we look down in mock-contrition, we do get a glimpse of our shirt: A stunner with a semi-spread collar and a three-button cocktail cuffs (the occasional indulgence must be permitted. It is, after all, what makes us human). The fabric is a playful little thing with navy, blue, and red stripes on a white field. We are looking most smart today.
For reasons both sartorial and political, we have opted to forego the more traditionally conservative navy blue tie in favour of a red little bundle of silky joy with woven ton-sur-ton polka dots from French maker Charvet. While we may dislike the French in conversation, we must admit a certain affinity for their tie makers. As we look up from our tie, we can just make out through the thick dust the remnants of a recent skirmish between two of our colleagues. We are just about to join the fray when a glass of white wine appears from over our shoulder. A civilised man should never choose a discussion over a glass of white wine and hence we sip a few moments away. As events are drawing to a close, we decide to join the fray. We fend off the odd attack from our rivals, parrying left and right with equal efficiency before making a few final fatal thrusts of our own to finish the segment. Many a drop of blue blood is spilled but none could ever manage to touch our devastating bespoke cap toe Oxfords from our man in Frankfurt, Mr Leonard Kahlcke. There is perhaps nothing that could keep one more grounded than the Kontakt zur Straße they afford. And on to greater things we go! JoLo/DC/MM