Fulfilling his reputation as “Motor Carnarvon”, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon experienced his closest brush with death, when he swerved his Panhard Levasseur to avoid a cart pulled by oxen near Bad Schwalbach, Germany in 1903. With badly damaged lungs, his doctors advised that he avoid the damp English winters. Cairo seemed perfect for his delicate health, but finding it a little dull, he took up Egyptology. Coinciding with the complete renovation of the Winter Palace Hotel Luxor, he moved in – even calling it his second home. Usually dressed in porous three-piece linen suits – to combat the baking heat of the Valley of the Kings, it was also the fabric of choice for daytime meetings between smart British nobles, Egyptian officials and archaeologists at the colonial-style hotel. Considering it was where Lord Carnarvon first took refuge in 1907, it was only fitting that when his chief archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the intact tomb of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922, they chose the decadent surroundings of the Winter Palace Hotel to announce their discovery to the rest of the world.
Important archaeological finds were frequent in early 20th-century Egypt, but in the case of registering the history of linen, the uncovering of the Tarkhan Dress by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1913 certainly gives the fabric noble status. A 5000-year-old linen garment, it is now on display at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London. The fact the dress has survived for so long is extraordinary, but linen is a remarkable fabric. With the highest tensile strength of any natural fibre, it is also breathable, absorbent, hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and ranks highly in the sustainability stakes.
For the purpose of comfort, and for a healthy soupçon of leisure élan and Riviera elegance, Italian linen comprises the key properties. Soft, light, and smooth to touch – it is an apt description for the navy linen Barchetta Signature jacket offered on this platform. As is custom with Alexander Kraft, he has personally selected a high-end Italian linen. The advantage of choosing linen woven by an established mill is that the charm of the fabric is able to fully shine through. Cut in the bespoke-inspired AK MC Signature style, the lovely navy blue shade benefits from a subtle sheen, that has been finished the traditional way. A more elegant and nonchalant version of the navy linen suit that Daniel Craig wore in Casino Royale (2007), both manifest a sporty edge – a welcome trait for attending Wimbledon or Longchamp.
Despite David Niven looking immaculate in a light Gabardine taupe suit, two-tone shoes and straw boater hat in scenes in Death on the Nile (1974), he does make use of the jacket as a separate with cream linen trousers when getting a leg-up on a camel by Peter Ustinov. Pairing the AK MC label’s linen Barchetta jacket with matching linen trousers makes for a strikingly beautiful semi-formal/business outfit, but in lieu of Alexander Kraft’s design nous, both are constructed to mix-and-match with other items in the collection. Striding along the coast of Ravello with Jackie Kennedy, the famous picture sees Gianni Agnelli sporting a long-sleeved polo shirt, tucked into jeans. Paying homage to Agnelli, you’re able to replicate this look with the blue cotton ‘Avvocato’ jeans, and polo shirt from the AK MC collection. However, considering their beautiful weight and natural creases, the navy linen trousers are also primed to utilize with an AK MC long-sleeved polo shirt from day-to-night on the Riviera.
By eliminating that cumbersome rigidity from tailoring, Alexander Kraft really has set a blueprint for displaying the true essence of Mediterranean casual glamour. It’s helped by the noble cloth linen, and even more so when you have a designer carefully sourcing the best Italian linen to maximise comfort and style during the height of summer.