I’ve known the De Luca family for a while now – particularly since Julien rejoined the business a few years ago. Julien was English-educated and worked in the City before going back to join Camps de Luca, and somehow the English connection makes a difference. Europeans don’t really do banter, for one thing.
Earlier in the year I took the big step of commissioning a suit from them – a two-piece in grey, 13-ounce pick-and-pick. One of the interesting things about that process was the fitting models that Marc (the father) and now Julien use to take measurements. You can see me wearing one in the photo below.
The attitude of tailors to using try-on garments at the measuring stage varies hugely, and I’ve never found any correlation with the final fit. Huntsman used one of their ready-to-wear suits to try on, for example; F Caraceni were keen to see an existing bespoke piece; Lorenzo Cifonelli ignores any existing garment. It’s a question of what works for the tailor concerned. People learn a system and work within it.
Camps de Luca has blue-coloured jacket bodies in the standard chest sizes. Each has horizontal and vertical lines of white stitching at the crucial points. Most of all, according to Marc, the role of the blue try-on is to easily gauge the balance of the body. On an idealised body those lines would be parallel, and they’re not.
“We find it enables us to skip one fitting, when needed,” says Julien. “The important points of balance and body stance can be nailed early on.”
For those that don’t know Camps de Luca, they are the smallest of the three big tailoring houses in Paris, along with Cifonelli and Smalto. There are others – including Arnys, now owned by Berluti – but they are small, one-cutter operations. Camps shares the stunning finishing of its fellow French houses, with a few trademarks of its own, such as the teardrop-shaped pocket that’s being made above.
Julien (front, with sadly departed moustache) and Marc (rear) at work
Many of Camps’ customers are from Africa and the Middle East, as well as southern Europe, and as a result they work consistently in lightweight cloths. Marc couldn’t remember the last time he had cut anything as heavy as a 13-ounce.
I’ll post something on the first fitting in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see how the square-shouldered Camps style sits on my frame. In the meantime, below is a typically daring jacket-and-waistcoat combination commissioned by Mr Wei Koh. Julien was not looking forward to the pattern matching on that one.
Camps de Luca: 11, Place de la Madeleine, Paris
Suits start from €6500
Simon, I searched for the name Mr Wei Koh as I was unfamiliar with it and saw he is he connected to Rake.
What tyoe of shoulder would you describe this jacket as having, as I quite like the shoulder style?
Yes, Wei is the founder.
That is a highly roped sleevehead, but with a relatively unpadded shoulder. Might be Camps de Luca, I’m not sure.
And the accessories are all Al Bazar…
Before reading your words, I scrolled through the photos. I was taken aback by the blue trial jacket, thinking, “Wow, Simon’s chosen an ‘interesting’ jacket this time”. My mistake!
Regarding the Big 3 of French tailoring, briefly, what stereotypes are attached to each?
Ha! Yes that would have been bold.
That’s a big question on the tailors. Perhaps have a browse of their respective pages (under ‘brands’) and let me know more specific questions if that’s ok?
suits start at 6500 euro Simon? not surprised where their clientele come from at those rates, good to see the plunder of middle eastern & African plutocracies is being spent on such rarefied craft.
Hahaha, v good post. I also raised a few eyebrows at the price. They can’t have many domestic clients considering Hollande’s taxes…
In fact Simon that would be extremely interesting, a piece on the clientele of tailors, both the Row and abroad. I’m sure you can’t get much as people like confidentiality but it would be very interesting to see who buys the majority of work now days. London presumably bankers, aristos and foreigners but to what extent I have no idea. It is an interesting question as craft is something everyone would like to support, but who really keeps the backbones of these businesses alive? Menswear bloggers can’t be the only ones!
Also on the note of other customers it would be great if any tailors show you some of their other pieces, cuts and clothes that they design, to get an idea of style and diversity beyond your own purchases.
Thanks Bertie. Good idea on the other pieces of tailors. I used to do a lot of that on Anderson & Sheppard’s The Notebook when I was running it.
On clientele, to be honest I don’t think the tailors themselves ever add up the numbers. But for most Savile Row houses, over half their revenues come from the US… Mostly US visits
I can’t get over their lapels.. I’m very interested to see how they look on you. Definitely an acquired taste.
6,500 Euros for a suit? And that’s the starting price? Forgive me but that’s just crazy for something as fragile as a suit of clothes. At what point does something enter the realm of the ridiculous?
I’m intrigued by the French tailors, although the cost in €€€ is eye-opening. Although the Cifonelli DB seems unparalleled, it seems like I should save money by finding a cheaper Italian tailor (like Solito) and using the rest of the funds for G&G MTM.
1. You previously wrote:
French tailor Smalto is not talked about much by the bespoke enthusiasts of the world.
Why is this?
The jacket style is also characterised by a well-padded shoulder and close waist. While still being lighter in construction than any of its Savile Row cousins…
Are Smalto and Camps more substantial/more padded than Cifonelli? To put it in London terms, which is closer to A&S, and which to Huntsman?
– Yes, the price makes it something for the future for most people
– Smalto is not much talked about for many reasons. Partly because it is sullied by some rather dreadful RTW, and often makes suits along the same lines (cloths with a customer’s name woven in gold throughout it…)
– All French construction is more similar to Huntsman, but with a lighter touch throughout and more emphasis on things like the shoulder roping and lapel. But the differences between the French tailors are very small compared to those between the English tailors you mention.
Is it possible to purchase ‘exclusive fabric’ from a larger brand and then have it made by a smaller tailor?
From a larger tailor? Some do, but they don’t particularly want to. They make such a tiny margin on cloth, if anything at all, that they don’t want to become a cloth dealer.
Most tailors can order any cloth they want though – why do you need to order it from a bigger one?
What do you mean when you refer to the ‘finish’ of a suit?
All stitching on the exterior – so buttonholes, edge stitching, attaching lining. Have a look on the posts on my Cifonelli pieces and you’ll get an idea. The level of detail is astonishing (often without practical benefit)
After reading through your other posts, I’ve got the questions I want to ask you! First, you mentioned that Smalto is NOT often talked about in the bespoke world. Why is that? Secondly, of the Big 3 Parisian houses, which makes the more substantial cut vs. a softer cut (esp. with less shoulder padding)?
Hi JW – see reply above.
Regarding the ‘exclusive’ suit fabric question, my apologies.
From earlier posts, I thought you had concluded that most bespoke suit fabric offerings tended to be conservative/boring, so a client was stuck. In contrast, the ‘exclusives’ at places like Kiton or Purple Label were far more daring. I wish I could find the photo, but, for instance, I am thinking of a gorgeous Purple Label chocolate brown tweed with a pink windowpane that was featured a few seasons back, modelled by Ollie Edwards in a (garish) crocodile chair…
Ah, I see.
No I’m afraid the designer brands are not going to sell their cloths to consumers to have them made up by a tailor. The designing of exclusive cloths is a big part of what the brands sell. It’s not just the design of the cut etc.
Simon. Great work. Re Tailors fabrics. P. A. Crowe’s.in the city , have there own Albert Check. Although I have not had the courage to use it it’s there. At least last week.
Thanks Peter. Yes a lot if tailors design their own cloths – Poole and Huntsman will always have a few, and A&S has a wall of them. But they never compare to the range developed every season by a big brand, either in terms of volume or originality
Is there anywhere we can get more interesting clothes? And if not why is there not a merchant experimenting with small exciting batches?
Some tailors and merchants have archives of old cloths that are worth looking through. I used some for my Rubinacci and Liverano jackets (have a search on the site).
Merchants aren’t experimenting with them because it’s a big risk. Creating and supporting a bunch (carrying on producing it) is a big cost, and 90% of the market is still dark suitings…
One tip for cloth-hunters: If you live in a center of textile or clothing design, there are usually cloth merchants selling odds and ends that were designed for fashion houses. On ebay and elsewhere, I’ve seen unusual shirtings, for example offered by such places in Paris.