Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Between Émile and Mr Creakmore

Who didn't note, when the Prince of Wales thought it proper to mark his successor-apparent's emergence into that distinction which Nature reserves for all youth, that his gift to him was a valet? To be handed a valet at the age of 18 could not have been more convenient, looking back, for those of us who had to improvise the rela-tionship from a distinct-ly iffy duffle-bag. Where was everything? 
But eventually every father, whether on the insistence of his spouse or as a precaution against further embarrassment at his beach and tennis club, will introduce a lad to his tailor. At least then, if the tide is crimson, it'll be repp-striped or it may not come up to the pool. "Born free," but hungry.
How uncanny is it, that Charles Dickens seems to have intervened in the naming of our lives' devoted support cast? I remember Creakmore as if it were yesterday, into whose fitting room my father handed me with confidence that I'd not emerge as the revulsion one apparently was. What wale of cord did we wear then, to simulate the part of 'men'?

But this was not so, for our tonsorial requisites. It's up to Everyman to find his Émile. My Émile happened to be named Émile, and to maintain a chair in the basement of the St Regis, before Mr Coppola shot it up. One would buzz in to see Émile without fail, to freshen one's face from the New Jersey Turnpike or the Merritt Parkway, and make one dimly tidy enough not to scare one's dinner hostess. Émile gave one the haircut one sustains to this day, which seems to soothe the vines, if not the livestock. But they're a moody lot, wherever you find them.
Weekdays, on the other hand, are to rural oblivion what weekends are to the urbane. From time to time, these days, the razor takes a rest, and the face of endless Californian days is just as glad.


  1. I had the very fortunate luck to be introduced by thoughtful parents to Melissa Tailors in Hong Kong in the early eighties. While not holding the same cachet and sway as anyone from Saville Row, they were always up to copying and making with wonderful workmanship new duds for me. Even making sure what side I dressed on!

  2. I didn't mean to exile Mr Creakmore; his atelier was at Brooks Brothers. :)