Finely Krafted

Weekly Magazine

The Cotton Club

In the field of stylish restraint an artisanal bespoke-inspired cotton jacket might be your shrewdest investment yet.
by Luke Middleton

On location in Equatorial Africa, the first day of filming Mogambo 1953 was badly disrupted by a large aboon. In the midst of shooting love scenes performed by Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, the curious primate kept on roaming into camera range. Faced with the trials of nature, the love triangle between Gable, Gardner, and Grace Kelly, not to mention the bouts of shakes that both Hollywood auteur John Ford and Gable suffered from years of heavy drinking, breaks were surprisingly frequent. When not donning his myriad of iconic safari jackets during production, Gable preferred to spend his downtime in a stone-grey cotton sports coat. Hot and humid all-year-round in Equatorial Africa, Gable saw the practical and aesthetic advantages of cotton. A natural fibre, that ensures airflow and absorbs moisture, plus its tendency to wrinkle allowed him to repress the heat, whilst maintaining that outdoorsy masculine elegance. Using a canvas – to afford more shape, the light tan safari-inspired sports coat that Roger Moore wore during his adventures through Cairo in The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977 is case in point of the fabric’s civilized-yet-comfortable properties in hot climates.

Cotton has heaps of character. Its mild creasing gives it a healthy of soupçon of leisure élan and Riviera elegance, whilst its gradual patina of age is entirely relevant in the art of accomplished informal dressing. However, these traits, along with its lack of drape are why cotton suits cut by the principal bespoke houses of Savile Row have historically remained elusive. Times have changed, and we’re now in a special era of dressing, one that thanks to forward-thinking designer Alexander Kraft, the so-called formal inadequacies of cotton have been cunningly refined – to now be assets in sartorial summer dressing. Using personally sourced high-end Italian cotton, and cut in the bespoke-inspired AK MC Signature style, the navy cotton twill jacket is an excellent example of how the cloth has been elevated to accommodate the industrious and socially-active lifestyle of the modern gentleman. With an elegant silhouette, enhanced by a nipped-in waist, if worn with matching trousers, the suit has the perfect credentials for daytime business meetings in La Défense, and for evenings dining in Allard, the intimate French bistro in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Typifying comfort, elegance and sex appeal during a jaunty European summer, one only has to examine the plethora of Italian-style suits that Marcello Mastroianni wore in the string of Federico Fellini-directed films in the 1960s. Predominantly designed by Rome-based menswear titans Brioni – the lightweight suits he donned suited the bon vivant characters he often played. Flitting from one rendezvous to another, his suits always looked lived-in, but never lacking that Italian elegance. Starring alongside Sophia Loren, the semi-structured beige summer suit he wore in the in the 3rd part of Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 1963 – is not too dissimilar in character to the AK MC Café au lait Barchetta Signature jacket. Like Mastroianni’s suit, its half-canvas constructions maintains its shape – appropriate for formal sporting fixtures and weddings, yet when worn as a two-piece with an AK MC long-sleeved polo shirt, and a pair of Goodyear Welted tassel loafers it strikes the perfect balance of chic and louche.

The pitfalls of air-travel today are all the more reason to maintain the same level of style and comfort as the grand hotel you’re staying in. Having a jacket made from sui generis Italian cotton, and encompassing the classic details you associate with bespoke sets an unequivocal foundation for the rest of your travelling attire. It’s in this situation when the trademark mix-and-match philosophy of Alexander Kraft really comes to the fore. Again, the underrated and flexible long-sleeved polo shirt is a delightful partner, whilst the AK MC cotton chinos and ivory linen trousers are well-suited to deluxe escapism.

Despite the name cotton being well-known, it’s actually an intellectual fabric in the realms of artisanal tailoring. By applying his very personal version to classic menswear, Alexander Kraft has certainly unlocked cotton’s sleeping credentials. Compared to wool and cashmere it’s an inexpensive fabric, and there’s no doubt a refined cotton jacket from Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo will prove to be a terrific investment.

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