The Coat Route – Meg Lukens Noonan
I first heard about this book at a school fund raiser and I was intrigued by the whole coat making process.
Here is the blurb …
In today’s world of fast fashion, is there a place for a handcrafted $50,000 coat?
To answer that question, Meg Noonan unravels the story of the coat’s provenance. Her journey takes readers to the Sydney studio of John Cutler, a fourth-generation tailor who works magic with scissors and thread; to the remote mountains of Peru, where villagers shear vicunas (a rare animal known for its soft fleece); to the fabulous Florence headquarters of Stefano Ricci, the world’s greatest silk designer; to the esteemed French textile company Dormeuil; to the English button factory that makes products out of Indian buffalo horn; and to the workshop of the engraver who made the 18-carat gold plaque that sits inside the collar.
These individual artisans and family-owned companies are part of the rich tapestry of bespoke tailoring, which began in 17th-century London. They have stood against the tide of mass consumerism, but their dedication to their craft is about more than maintaining tradition; they have found increasing reason to believe that their way is best — for customers, for the environment, and for the workers involved.
Fascinating, surprising, and entertaining, The Coat Route is a timely love song to things of lasting value in our disposable culture.
As I am interested in textiles, I found this book fascinating. I hadn’t even heard of Vicuna, but I now appreciate why it is so expensive (although I do want to know if it is available in colours other than black, navy and brown). All of the steps involved in making the coat were interesting and very labour intensive. It is quite unsettling that these people might be the last people to make these objects. Surely the world will be a worse place if all we have is cheap fashion made by people who don’t earn a living wage. And what a fabulous opportunity for John Cutler – to be able to make the perfect coat (with no financial considerations).
I know it does sound a bit obscene a $50 000 coat, but what about a $6 000 coat the lasts for thirty years? I can understand the argument for good quality clothing that lasts a long time.
As an Australian, I found Australia being described by an American a bit odd. Robert Hawke who’s that? Oh she means Bob! And John Thompson? Surely she means Jack and I don’t think I have ever heard of Manly being described as a resort town six miles north of Sydney. But, this book is written for a global audience and not ‘know it all’ Australians.
I think if you are interested in Textiles, Bespoke Tailoring, Slow Fashion or just traditional crafts, then I think you will find this book interesting.