Elia Caliendo: final jacket
This is the final jacket from a commission with Sartoria Caliendo in Naples, reported at various stages here in The Rake. As with most beautiful examples of Neapolitan tailoring, it deserves a little dallying over the details. I start with a picture of the outbreast pocket for a reason. During the commissioning process, there was a rather enjoyable 10 minutes when I tried to explain to Elia Caliendo, the young head cutter at the house, the meaning of the English word ‘cute’.
Elia’s normal style for a jacket such as this, you see, would be to have patched hip pockets (if only so there is no need for a pocket bag on the inside and the lining can therefore be that much slimmer) – but a welted outbreast pocket. I explained that I wanted a patch pocket because I loved the shape of the Neapolitan patches. They have so much more subtle style and swerve, such insouciant bounce, compared to their rather practical, square and hunting-related cousins in the UK.
The patch outbreast pocket is the perfect distillation of that style. Reduced in size and slapped on the top of the jacket like a badge, it shows off all the best of Neapolitan style in miniature detail. It is small – you can barely get a handkerchief in it, certainly not a full-sized linen one. And it is cute. “What is ‘cute’?” asked Elia. “Small, petite, attractive, appealing; your baby is cute, kittens are cute,” I stumbled in reply, making my best use of Neapolitan hand gestures. Elia was nonplussed.
But back in London last month, to deliver the jacket, Elia turned to me triumphantly: “I looked it up in an English-Italian dictionary, now I understand,” he said. “It is how I will describe it in future.” Perhaps it will become known generically as a cute pocket among English customers of Neapolitan tailoring. Or perhaps not.
Elsewhere, it is worth pointing out the single cuff button – typical on an odd jacket for Elia – and the polished horn used for those buttons. So many English tailors say they prefer unpolished horn because it doesn’t look ready-to-wear; with something of this variegation, I think it’s rather a shame not to polish it up. Also note the double stitching around all the edges of the jacket. Unsure of this at first, I like it on a summer sports jacket such as this. Perhaps not on a navy business suit, and certainly not in contrast stitching, but here it is a subtle pick-me-up to the finely worked edges.
A beautiful piece of work.