Back to Indiana, for his real start in tailoring. This time the work consumed him; he became obsessed. But most of his father’s work was made-to-measure (for a RTW brand called Society Brand) not bespoke. He made suits at the weekend, for friends, but that was it. (“This was during the Second World War, when there was a wool shortage. When people heard my father had some wool in, they would just show up at our door,” Chris recalls).
So, to New York to talk to Louis Scalise – the first American designer to have his name on the clothing label along with the brand. Scalise put Chris to work in one of his two tailoring shops in New York, under Austrian tailor Frederick Blum. Blum was then 69 (this was 1974) and had opened and run two tailoring schools in Europe. Prior to coming to New York he worked under Angelo Litrico in Rome. (Litrico famously made suits for both JFK and Khrushchev during the Cold War. Each had a separate mannequin in the back of the shop.)