Do You Know Scavini?

Massimilano Mocchia di Coggiola and Julien Scavini, Paris, Sept 2013

On our last visit to Paris - for the I am Dandy book launch - Massimiliano invited Kelly and I to meet his tailor...and irresistible prospect!

We walked up the exceptionally wide open, and very-quiet-for-the-middle-of-the-day Boulevard La Tour-Maubourg around the corner from Les Invalides.   From the clear view on the boulevard we could spot Massimiliano several streets away walking quickly towards us with his happy gait.  He joined us and we went in to meet Julien Scavini, proprietor of Scavini Tailleur.  I don’t think any of you would blame me if I expected to see an old Italian man hunched over a work table, would you?  Who we met was a gracious, fresh-faced young French man who has set up a fastidious and charming menswear atelier.  His specialty is made-to-measure, which he has made by a small family workshop in, get this, northern Italy!

I ask him what he thinks of the word “dandy”:  “The true dandy is a myth, a fictional character. It is an idea, an essence. The dandy embodies the perfection of nothingness, emptiness. It is an art. And like any perfection, it is not of this world, but the world of ideas and concepts.  I prefer the term gentleman for men dressed elegantly. That said, for Massimiliano or Mickael Loir, the term gentleman is wrong, while dandy is best ... funny!”

Scavini’s passion for tailoring developed after he came to Paris (from his home town of Biarritz) to study architecture.  As a lover of classical architecture, towards the end of his studies he grew weary of the over emphasis on removing “old thinking”, and using technology to innovate.  He always loved menswear, so he decided to do his thesis about a Hackett shop.  “It was very funny,” He says.  After his graduation he started an apprenticeship with master tailor, AndrĂ© Guillerme-Guilson.  He spent a year with Guilson at the l'Association de Formation Tailleur learning the art of tailoring, and, although he is not a cutter, he can make a jacket “from A-Z” by hand.

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Scavini brings this keen understanding of tailoring, and a very discerning eye for detail not only to his shop, but to his blog Stiff Collar, which he started in 2009 while studying with Guilson.  Stiff Collar is a wealth of information and inspiration, and what you will immediately notice - even if you don’t read French - are his charming illustrations.  Scavini tells me started drawing during his architecture studies, ironically using his ArchiCad software to express the universe that inspired him - 1930s England, Hercule Poirot, classic tailoring, etc.  With their thick black outlines, one can see his artwork has been inspired by classic comics like Tintin, Blake and Mortimer, and illustrator Jean-Claude Floch.  Small framed prints of a selection of his artwork are on the walls of his shop, and it adds to the ambience - classic, understated, and a little modern in that practical way I like.

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Scavini Tailleur
50 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg
75007 Paris

Apart from visiting Stiff Collar, you can see Scavini’s illustrations in Figaro Magazine, and in a soon to be released fully illustrated book on classic wardrobe (title and link to come!).  He also will star as a tailoring specialist in an upcoming French TV show called Cousu Main (Hand Sewn), an adaptation of the English reality/game show The Great British Sewing Bee.  It premieres Aug 30, 2014 on M6 in France.  It appears we will be seeing and hearing a lot from Julien Scavini!

I am Dandy on CBS Sunday Morning!

I am beyond thrilled that journalist Serena Altschul loved I am Dandy enough to profile it, along with Dandy Wellington and Ed Hayes, on CBS Sunday Morning!

Interviewed by Serena Altschul @serena_nyc for CBS about #IamDandy! @nattyadams @gestaltennews

Happy Father's Day to all those dapper dads out there!

Fancy Meeting You


Summer is almost here.  The jacket colors are getting lighter, and the boaters and linen have made their way out of storage.  In New York we have about 3.5 days that are just about perfect before the “wet wool blanket” descends on the city.  The last couple days have been those days.  Everyone’s out and I’ve gotten to meet quite a few new people!

At the Jazz Age Lawn Party on June 14 it was a bit of an International Club.  First I met up with Yoshio Suyama, a barber originally from Japan now based in Toronto.  He told me he is from a small town in Japan, and made his way to London to study to be a barber.  He arrived not knowing any English and learned it (in 2 years!) by watching the movie This is England again and again.  It gave him a great accent, but he had to “unlearn” some rude colloquialisms.  Can you imagine?!

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The dapper barbers meet - Yoshio and Mike Haar


Simon was visiting from Stockholm with his lovely girlfriend Jessica. 

The Enforcers...of fun!  Sorry that was bad...anyways, moving on.

Now, to Jersey City, NJ, my I am Dandy co-author Natty's beloved neighborhood.  On June 12 we had a book signing party, this time hosted by Another Man’s Treasure.  On our way over from the train we ran into Natty's friend and local bespoke tailor DeCarlos, who you see here.  Natty says he's always riding around (on that great bike!) impeccably turned out.

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Denny Balmaceda, creator of the vintage menswear blog Look Rich Shop Cheap, in the doorway of Another Man's Treasure.  He's been blogging since 2007 about how to make the most of thrifting and vintage.  People always ask me if the dandies are rich, or if you have to have a lot of money to dress the way they do.  Of course you don't...but you will have to get creative, and it will probably take quite some time to gather.   I can see that Denny fully embraces this sensibility, and, above all, likes the challenge of a good find.    

One of my favorite couples, Bill Webb and Eva Kobus-Webb.  You can tell they have fun.

And finally, I got to meet Philippe Grenade, a director and filmmaker who I had a great time chatting with at the book signing.  Notice the thumbs!

I am Dandy Pre-Father's Day Party - June 12

My co-author Natty Adams is a proud resident of Jersey City, NJ, and has been trying to get me to visit for quite some time.  Well now I have a perfect reason!  And I hope you all will join the party too.

I am Dandy Pre-Father's Day Book Signing
Thursday, June 12, 2014
6:00 - 9:00 pm
353 Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ - Map

#DandyPortraits on Instagram

Sean Crowley and Andrew Yamato are not on instagram, but you should be!

Are you using instagram, the mobile photo sharing app?  Follow along with me @rcallahanphoto  I use tags #dandyportraits and #iamdandy most frequently, but I post many other adventures as well - like a recent weekend away with the tweed crew above that got dubbed #fancycamp.  It has been a fantastic way to connect with interesting new people - like the man sitting at the bus stop below.  He is John Carlos De Luna and calls himself Barrio Dandy.  Kelly and I met him one beautiful afternoon in his hometown hood of Boyle Heights in East LA.   Follow him and the rest of these dapper men...

John Carlos De Luna @barriodandy

Ignacio Quiles @sartorialparings

Ethan @theteenagegentleman and friend came by our Dapper Day book signing

Mike Haar @mikewillcutyou

Kelly Desmond Bray @kellfire

More dandies to follow on instagram:

I love to know about more!

Mariano & Luca Rubinacci talk with G. Bruce Boyer at FIT

An evening not to be missed.  It's free and open to all, but space is limited!  RSVP here   

G. Bruce Boyer and Luca Rubinacci at the opening of the Elegance in an Age of Crisis

Dandy Wellington Video Portrait

You may have caught a glimpse of Dandy Wellington around the streets of New York, on stage with his band, or on sites such as Humans of New York, or, of course, The Dandy Portraits and the pages of I am Dandy.  Or you might be seeing him for the first time.   In this film made by Rarebit Productions, a collaboration between my husband, Kelly Desmond Bray, and I, we wanted to find out more about the man who calls himself Dandy.

His wardrobe is larger than life, and his boutonniere often precedes him entering a room.  But for Wellington, dressing is the truest of joys - for him "life is a reason to get dressed up".  It's an act of self-creation informed by being a native New Yorker - a place where people aren't afraid to "be bright, be bold".  All the world is a stage and he certainly doesn't "wanna get caught in sweatpants".  How true!

Special thanks to the band featuring Vinny Raniolo (guitar), Eric Wheeler (bass), Ricky Alexander (reed), and Mike Davis (trumpet).  They were recorded live at Hotel Chantelle performing "Lulu's Back in Town" by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" by Fred E. Ahlert and Joe Young.
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