Thursday, May 3, 2007

Chatav Ectabit, Revisited

Design has to begin somewhere, and Cliff and Sandy have begun with the favorite clothes in their closets. It’s a personal stance: they don’t make anything they wouldn’t want to wear themselves.

The silhouettes are easygoing and persuasive, the fabrics friendly to your skin. The clothes do not strive or aspire, except to be the one you wear all the time, the one you turn to in moments of need or crisis, the one that sees the most sun and rain and soap.

The cut is the same for men or women, idiosyncratically sized from 0 to 6. The emphasis is on craftsmanship: hand-made buttons of bone or silver, satin piping, individual dyeing and over-dyeing. Both Cliff and Sandy are partial to hidden embellishments, an inch or two of vintage trim stitched discretely beneath a flap, something only the owner can know, a small but cherished secret.

Here is a jacket, tossed onto a desktop after a fitting. It is made of velvet, poplin, and silk. Each panel has been cut by hand; each stitch performed by a thumb and forefinger. Its architectural drapes and folds remind me of a Renaissance cathedral. This one I want to try on, but sadly it is not my size.

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