… the very first suit my Mother got stitched for me was by Asam Ali Miaji a local tailor who lived near Garden Reach Calcutta. I was just five years old and was getting kitted out for my first year at Bishop Cotton School. My Mother was following the check list sent in by the House Master Lefroy to the “T”- Steel Grey woollen suit , 2 button with side vents and I was nervous or should I say mortally scared of leaving home for nine months. The year was 1961.Asam Ali came home and measured me up and in less than a week he concluded the trial and the final finish. Sunday Suits were to be worn at Evensong every Sunday at BCS. ( oh yes before I left Calcutta the barber came home on his bicycle and clipped my hair real short..)
My fascination with the English cut gained momentum in my growing years at BCS when Homer Gill used to arrive from England with his Jackets and suits- although he lived in Ibbetson House and I in Lefroy , it was Harry who used to borrow Homer’s suits … and conveniently keep them in “borrowed” state for months! I used to check the quality, the cut, the style , the finish and eventually the “Made in England – fine worsted wool” label tags.
Homer’s suits were not Saville Row nor Bond Street but they had class regardless and looked real snazzy when he wore them.. Harry too looked classy and his fabulous turban complimented the attire.
The Beatles , David Bowie, “Bertie” Wooster and Carnaby Street started lending strong influences into my dress sense but the most influential person was my Father! When he donned a suit I remained fascinated by his dress sense.. his patent leather brogues, cotton black socks with a discreet red paisley,double collar and double cuff shirts, his fabulous cuff links, his wide maroon braces with leather tips that buttoned on to his trousers, the immaculately tailored waistcoat , his silk pocket patch, the gel in his thick black hair and a dash of after shave to his Italian chiseled face just got my juices flowing, the zest for the art of great dressing and wishing to be different, original ,standing out from the crowd.He had his bespoke suits finished at Lafaans; English – French Tailors at Connaught Place New Delhi. He chose his cloth, they measured him and off flew the material to Paris for the final touch. My Father finishing it off with a Monte Cristo and smooth cognac..
I knew my days ahead would change my style from conservative to modern to the edge of becoming a Natty Dresser or should I say a Dandy!!
It was in the early 1980’s that I was introduced to Sanjay the draper and the best in his class of cutting the cloth and finishing the best suits. Sanjay has a very indiscreet little shop and neither I nor my dapper uncle who made the introduction wished the common rag tags and vagabonds nor flashers of money with zero class to get their suites made by Sanjay. He called them “clowns ” and often remarked to me ” what looks too good on you looks horrendous on others..ha!ha!
Sanjay was first written about in GQ UK and the humble lad admitted with even greater humbling that it was his Father, his Guru who started him as an apprentice which he remained for years..before he was given a chance to mark blue chalk on the cloth.
Sanjay sculptured all my suits from pure makhanjeen beige, pine green, cobalt blue, gabardine, cream and linen mint green.. we in a way jointly experimented with styles Italian , French and Spanish cuts and colours as well. Whether I wore Sanjay’s suits in San Jose Costa Rica, London, Genoa, Stockholm , Oslo, Delhi, Bombay, Simla and beyond; the office , official functions, fashionable joints, fashionable parties or Savile Row, Chatham House, the Imperial War Museum, the Mean Fiddler or the Intrepid Fox, heads turned! Ladies and Gentleman glanced, prolonged glances to study the art of fine bespoke tailoring. My suits tamed the ferocious and vicious when it came to deadly fashion. My type of waistcoats were worn by Brian May and Steve Tyler and Axl Rose and Slash and Myles Kennedy. Of course my shirts some double cuffed, the cuff links, my amazing ties, the tie pin of horses on gallop, the braces, contrasting socks from Black Magic and my patent leather shoes from Paul Smith further added the sartorial elegance from traditional to modern dandy I was.
My boxers were Frank Dandy, Björn Borg and my Egyptian cotton vests added elegance and I could feel the glow in my body, the cool walk and my cool talk that further added to my difference, my originality – which always culminated in my pocket patch.And yes “Tuscany” that my brother introduced me to ..
My suits were different as I shunned the colours brown, grey, brown and black. All I see is a sea of darkness with these colours aforementioned. Conservative maybe but not my style…
I like the Prince of Wales checks, bold Scottish tartan, pin striped orange, lemon and citrus colours; from purple to burgundy but never the real dark suits.
A Black Tie affair always called for hiring the ensemble.
Such was life- Such is life.
However on 30th December 2016 a final farewell to a departed one called for me to be donned in pure Black.
Alas.. I never owned a pure Black Suit…
I was defeated and embarrassed and in mourning that day. I hope someday I would go back to Sanjay and he measures me up to one.
Vivek (Bonnie) Bhasin
( I never owned a pure Black Suit..)
In memory of those who’ve passed on ..
And my Father ” The Bengal Tiger”
The Sharper Edge Indian
Representing Bishop Cotton School , Simla, India
Swedish Spring 2019