Berlin. Nothing beats bespoke tailoring! My humble self had always dreamed of bespeaking the premier product of this craft ever since I started to dedicate myself to classic menswear. But who to turn to for your first bespoke commission how many phenomenal tailors there are in the world? My choice is none other than Mr James Laurence Whitfield, Head Cutter of Purwin & Radczun in Berlin. Why? First and foremost, I live in this beautiful city and, as I want to be there to see my commission develop and follow every little step, having the tailor shop close to home is very handy. Second (though of no lesser importance), I, being a terribly vain creature, adore the house style of of the Londoner is a master. Last but not least, James is a professional perfectionist, a deity of details, and a great style enthusiast. When commissioning something like a three piece dinner suit, I want to be sure that I am in the most capable of hands.
Mr James Laurence Whitfield – Head Cutter of Purwin & Radczun
Mr Whitfield is a Savile-Row-trained tailor and head of Purwin & Radczun’s workshop in Berlin. The native Londoner started his journey at Newham College and went on to work for Anderson & Sheppard as a coat maker. Upon arriving in Berlin some five years ago, he wanted to create a style that is masculine, nonchalant, and easy to wear. The best proof of his success is to analyze his own personal dress sense. Every time I meet him, his clothing is absolutely impeccable, terribly understated and thereby very cool. It only reveals its true beauty through the most refined detailing I have ever come across. No wonder his name is familiar – and if it wasn’t, it should be – to everyone in Germany with a love of tailoring. There is not a doubt in my mind that I have found the right man for the job, especially given how positive our working relationship was during my half-year internship under his guidance. During my time with James, I appreciated another character trait immensely: Namely that he does not present himself as a big shot and doesn’t hide anything about how he cuts and makes garments. He is, simply-put, a tailoring enthusiast. This is also why he (in contrast to most tailoring houses) not only cuts but also makes the garments himself. He does it simply for the enjoyment of the craft.
The House Style
The house style is best described as a manly, British, timeless cut featuring high armholes and roped shoulders. The full-bellied lapels underline the aim of the head cutter to make men manly again. The coat length (which is anything but short) also serves to underline the masculinity of the wearer. The waist is not overly suppressed so as to allow the garment to flow naturally over the wearer’s body. This does not in the slightest, as some interested reader might be led to think, lead to a boxy silhouette. Trousers (when not bespoken differently) are cut with a high rise to visually lengthen the legs and feature a not overly generous knee and foot width. Overall, when talking about James’ style, we can see a mix of certain features from the 20s and 70s and a quality of making much-adored by our sartorial-geek-boner-instagram generation.
Bespeaking the dinner suit
For my first bespoke commission, I decided against the solid navy double or single breasted two piece suit. I also did not ask for a charcoal flannel double breasted suit. I expressed a desire (and, yes, this is a bold statement on my part) to have the most beautiful dinner suit ever made. While that wish of mine should certainly be taken cum grano, I have a certain predilection for the elegance of evening wear and so it is up to Mr Whitfield to help me fulfil my dream. I went into our meeting expecting a long and lively discussion about the style of the dinner suit. I was quickly disappointed, my bearded head cutter knew everything already…. arrrgh. Therefore, a three-piece dinner suit, it must be.
James’ style recommendations
Cloth and facing
The cloth I picked is a Vintage 425gr/m (which I consider the perfect weight for a nice heavy drape look) Black Cashmere Barathea by Harrison. For the facing, I chose the cheaper and more understated option of black satin made from polyester… #jk. A black fine grosgrain by Bernstein & Banleys took my fancy. Playing around with lining colours is not my cup of tea. As such, I opted for black silk. The sleeve lining is white.
Finally, I hear my readers cry in unison! This is a three-piece dinner suit.
The one-button coat’s chest is covered with full-bellied peak lapels and is cut with no back vents. The shoulder line is heavily roped. The sleeves feature a silk-faced turn-back cuff. The two jetted pockets are, of course straight, and also faced in silk.
The waistcoat is a single-breasted horse-shoe waistcoat with lapels and three buttons. We opted for a cloth back (instead of a silk back) with no adjustable belt as we both agreed it looks nicer.
The trousers are going to look especially phenomenal. They sit high on the natural waist and are cut for braces with a fishtail back. I wanted to have the leg quite wide to allow it to cover most of the shoe – I find this look more flattering when you are very slim. Furthermore, we decided on two forward pleats and a fob pocket with a flap. We both agreed that a back pocket is unnecessary for dinner suit trousers. The side pockets will be James’ signature invisible seam pocket – a detail I am particularly excited for.
James and I are going to meet before Christmas for the first fitting. A follow-up episode covering the fitting will be published shortly after. MM/DC