The Hollywood Tailor: Art Lewin & Co. Bespoke Clothiers By thehounds.com
In Dressing The Man, a book that is deemed by countless as important to the literature of men’s fashion – and certainly to me – Alan Flusser reported on the Taylor cut as, “British-inspired, with narrow shoulders, shaped torso, slant pockets, and deep vents”.I thought back to the styles of those well-dressed men of that era in the books I had read- Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra who were all dressed by Taylor himself- and wondered if time has taken its toll and produced a difference in cut and style.
I stood outside on Wilshire Boulevard to absorb the features of the building before me, a large office complex, completely covered in glass. Perhaps I had written down the incorrect address again.
“Art Lewin? Yeah, it’s here.” The gentleman gave me directions to the shop and smiled at me. “By the way, nice jacket.” I couldn’t help but smile to myself, shirt wet and stuck to my back.
I was approached by Richard James Taylor, a tailor who I talked on the phone to earlier and he shook my hand with the most gentle of grips. He was clad in a charcoal grey pinstriped suit, with broad notch lapels, blue herringbone woven shirt with a white collar and monogrammed cuffs, white silk pocket chief folded sloppily in his breast pocket showing off the blue hand-rolled edges. As he motioned for me to sit with him and crossed his legs I couldn’t help noticing the black cordovan penny moccasins shining in the light. Sitting down at the coffee table, he smiled and admired the room with me; suits (probably in the 140’s) and sports jackets in deep navy pinstripes, glorious grey glenchecks and even micro-patterned houndstooth in Loro Piana worsted wools, cashmere and thick tweeds (They have tweed here? For this weather?) hung on timber hangers. To the left in a well lit open closet, ties and socks of all kinds, fabrics, and colours in front of me along with sample cuffs and collars, signing off (quite literally) with autographed pictures of celebrities such as Lionel Richie and Jon Voight expressing their thanks hanging on the right.
Richard is a tailor with a lot of experience. Having previously worked at Men’s Wearhouse and as a costumer for studios and agencies around America before starting at Art Lewin & Co. Bespoke, he understands how to achieve the perfect fit for anybody. His interest in tailored fashion was sparked with love for the art and wearing clothes. “It just gives the suit a new sense of style.” He brought me in closer with his gaze, leaning back on the sofa relaxed yet still in deep thought. “When you put a jacket on and it fits, and you put a jacket off the rack on and it has to have alterations, there’s a big difference there. There’s a difference in price but there’s also a difference in the way it feels and the way it fits.”
I felt like a welcome friend in the room as he laughed and smiled. I asked him what he thought of the renewed interest in tailored menswear. “Young or old, a sharp dressed man gets attention.” Art Lewin & Co. Bespoke does receive a fair amount of younger clients. ”I think the newer generation should carry on the look and the prestige of great menswear. You’re starting to see it a lot more here in the states as well. Whatever people see on television, people emulate it from the screen and then it comes out on the street.” Our conversation continued as we dived deeper into the bespoke process, the tailoring experience and even women’s fashion.
I inquired into the Jack Taylor cut. Richard explained that Art Lewin & Company Bespoke prefers to cut clients with a European style, but essentially aims for the “timeless and classic” that Jack Taylor was famous for. Whereas Jack Taylor had preferred the “lapels a little wider” and the “shoulders a little broader”, Art Lewin has taken things into the new era; slimming things down “just a bit”. Richard brought me up to have a look at some of the suits where I could examine the quality and the style. Indeed, European tastes had made its way into the business suit. The former sack suit that defined America was no longer. Richard invited me to have a closer look at one of the more interesting pieces: A wonderful woollen flannel, blue Prince of Wales Check with a subtle red windowpane overcheck, masterfully crafted. This was one of Richard’s favourites, and I could tell why. Every single line of the intricate pattern was perfectly matched from sleeve to shoulder, an attention to detail found only on the most careful of garments. The bold and wide peak lapels, padded military shoulder, and suppressed waist produced a clean masculine silhouette that Jack Taylor would approve of. As I appreciated the suit Richard just smiled.
Before leaving I had a final look at the room. I realized that Art Lewin & Company is Jack Taylor’s small tailor shop on Canon Road, Beverly Hills for the 21st century. All tailors must create clothes appropriate to their client’s needs and though the modern “fashionable” man prefers a slimmed down Continental cut, Jack Taylor’s teachings remains.
As I approached the door Richard shook my hand once more, and gave me the same soft smile. It was a special parting gift from Art Lewin & Bespoke: a shop with a lot of experience, a lot of stories, and a lot of warmth.