Size really does matter: true attention to detail at E.Tautz SS11
Having missed both the Barney’s trunk display in NY and what sounded like a great presentation on LFW Menswear day here back in September, I was delighted to have the opportunity to have a personal talk through the E.Tautz SS11 collection by Patrick Grant himself at their 9 Savile Row address a couple of weeks ago.
Despite having taken a transatlantic flight the night before, Patrick was impeccably groomed as ever, in a dark grey suit from the first E.Tautz collection, black knitted tie and tasselled loafers.
My first impressions from the rack of the E.Tautz line for next spring was that it’s a more casual, approachable collection with a colour theme involving lots of blue. This lighter take on English dressing was confirmed by Patrick, who explained that some of the more structured, fitted pieces had been edited out of this collection. “When it comes to fit” he said (and being the owner of Savile Row tailors Norton and Sons fit is something he knows something about) “things either fit you perfectly off the peg or need to be made especially for you to do so”. In this particular collection, structured tailored pieces have been replaced by an overall softer outline, in unstructured linens, magically light woolens, and some cool, checked, button down shirting.
As an example, Patrick slipped on an unstructured linen jacket, commenting on it’s “classically British” style. As light as a shirt and available in both a blue and brown fleck, this is the item to pull off that slightly crumpled, colonial look, ideally whilst gazing from the first floor balcony of the International Correspondents Club, Phnom Penh, G&T in hand.
In fact there are no suits in this collection, aside from the rakish dash of a shorts suit combo, this collection being made up entirely of separates, but all infinitely combinable, with a basic earthy colour palette, of stone, blue and dark brown. Patrick said of the colour scheme that his take “on British summer seaside”, “without all the colours being from the icecream van”.
Standout pieces include the button down shirts, partially inspired by a photo of Charlie Watt’s wearing a “really deep button down”, (Patrick explained) “to avoid that preppy look” and ideal for showing a bit of tie under your sweater. In fact, there is more than a touch of the 60s in this collection, in the slightly caped, high collared Mod-ish overcoats, a couple of which were modelled for me by Patrick. I loved the academic gown-ish fastening of the dark coat, and the pragmatism of including wool overcoats, admittedly in beautifully light woollen cloths, for a collection designed for British springtime, which, as we all know, can still be stark bollock freezing.
Patrick can talk about cloths and manufacturing and as a confirmed clothing lech, I’m more than happy to be talked at, and encouraged to stroke, hold up to the light and generally ooh and ahh over woolens, cottons and other fine materials. So it went on: a pair of perfectly light woollen trousers, Sea Island t-shirts and the two most covetable items for me: a loose weave cashmere sweater and an impossibly fine blouson jacket in a flecked woollen fabric in blues as varied as Scottish heather depending on which way the light catches it.
I commented that the ivory cashmere sweater (also available in a deep indigo) radiates a punkish air through the combination of fluffy yarn and the open, honecomb weave. This piece needs to be handled to really appreciate it’s beauty, but suffice to say that it feels breathable, perfect for changeable spring days that go from stuffy heat to chilled breeziness.
Which leads me on to key theme of this article: the uniqueness of E.Tautz’s small scale production technique which requires personal investigation and tactile experience to be really understood.
One of my main questions for Patrick was why had he chosen to personally present his collection salon-style this last LFW Menswear day. It was his feeling , he explained that this personal interaction with an audience was something that used to happen before vast, cinematic spectacle became the norm in the late 80s. Knowing virtually everyone in the room personally he said, here was an opportunity to introduce the subtle details, mysteries of production and signature influences to an audience already attuned to the level of detail he applies to each and every E.Tautz collection. In a sense this is an extension of the kinds of conversations that go on between a tailor and his bespoke customers, many of whom love to hear the provenance of the garments they are investing in, differentiated as much by the raw material as by the technique. As a side note, he said, this was a way of cutting down on the number of models required due to the pace of the presentation, always the main expense for a small label. “On the same day that Oswald showed 100 models onstage”, E.Tautz had used “around 16”. And even more quotable: “less than 100 yards of Savile Row separates E.Tautz from Oswald Boateng but we’re miles apart in how we think about clothes”. “We’re all about smallness” Patrick went on to to say and “from our experience at Norton and Sons we know what good cloth feels like.”
Feel the width: Patrick displays a selection of inky blue and khaki silk ties
Special cloths produced on a small scale by hand, using traditional techniques that you really have to look at and touch up close to appreciate are what it’s all about at E.Tautz, and not what looks good “under the halogen lamps but actually when you get to hold it isn’t really that nice”.
Leaving the showroom already filling with next collection toiles in a fittingly Tautzian deep yellow, and after a brief peek at some of his own compositions for the ongoing Postcard project, (which I’ve been keenly contributing to since the start) I was back to the Row. A spring in my step and feeling inspired by the singular passion of Patrick Grant for what he does, and having seen some genuinely beautiful clothes.
Individually curated selections from the current E.Tautz repertoire are available at Matches and Harrods in London and at Barney’s in New York. An E.Tautz online store is about to be added to the website, including the ever popular ‘sweaters with badges’ from their first collection, socks and other e-commerce friendly items. Pieces from the SS11 collection will also be available from Okini shortly.