Interview – Vicki Vasilopoulos, Director of Men Of The Cloth

Presented as part of the cultural program for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, ACMI’s annual ‘Fashion on Film’ season premieres this weekend with the new feature length fashion documentary by Vicki Vasilopoulos.

Men Of The Cloth focuses on three Italian tailors working New York City. Nino Corvato, Checchino Fonticoli and Joe Centofanti share a devotion to their craft while facing challenges due to the changing nature of their business. I was lucky enough be able to ask Vicki a few questions about the documentary and the culture that surrounds the world of bespoke tailoring.

Can you please give a brief description about your background before “Men of the Cloth”.

Before embarking on filming Men Of The Cloth I was a men’s fashion editor for the trade magazine DNR (now a part of Women’s Wear Daily). And then I worked as a freelance writer covering style, arts and culture.

What was your main inspiration to make this film?

Since high school, I’ve loved studying sociology and anthropology. That’s why I went into journalism. And fashion has been a lifelong love of mine. I’ve always been fascinated by visual artists and artisans – and the beautiful, handmade things that they create. They imbue them with their very essence and passion.

As a fashion editor, I saw how our culture exalts “status” purchases with little intrinsic value. By contrast, my characters embody an Old World tradition that exalts the individual and values artistry above any financial gain. Nino, Joe and Checchino are not only supremely accomplished in their trade –they’re also charismatic and sympathetic. I see Men Of The Cloth as akin to the Slow Food of clothing, and these gentlemen’s personal stories were my true inspiration for the film. They’re unsung heroes, and I wanted to celebrate their craft.

How did you find out about Nino, Checchino and Joe?

I found Nino, Checchino and Joe through good old research, the journalist’s stock in trade. I met Checchino first on a trip to Italy where I was reporting on the luxury market. He gave me a tour of the Brioni factory and school in the town of Penne, and then introduced me to his cousin, who was the last remaining independent tailor in town. I immediately became hooked. I couldn’t help thinking that craftsmen of his background and caliber were like the last tribe of the Kalahari. That planted a seed that would take eleven years to take shape and come to fruition as a completed film.

What were your thoughts about bespoke tailoring before making this film?

I always had an appreciation for fine men’s tailored clothing when I worked as a fashion editor and produced photo spreads, but I was not intimately acquainted with the bespoke process. Making the film was a crash course in this art.

I know in Australia particularly bespoke tailoring is a dying art. What are your thoughts about American culture and tailoring?

There’s been an upswing in interest in bespoke tailoring in America, especially for younger men who have discovered the great pleasure that can be derived from dressing up and from collaborating with a tailor to get a custom suit that will last a lifetime. I think part of the appeal is that you’re breaking the rules (by not buying off the rack) and there’s also the appeal of experiencing a different aesthetic value system that makes you stand apart.

Do you think the upcoming generations will want to take on this type of work?

In my experience, the younger generation is most definitely interested in learning bespoke tailoring. They attend all my screenings – from New York, to Chicago to Amsterdam and Toronto. But there are very few master tailors left who can devote the time and resources to train this next wave of artisans.

What are you hoping this film will do to the cultivation of bespoke tailoring?

I hope that Men Of The Cloth heightens the interest in bespoke tailoring, but more importantly, I hope that it creates a cross-generational dialogue on how to “solve “ the dilemma of carrying on this craft for a younger generation.

Final question, any future films my readers should look out for?

Men Of The Cloth had its World Premiere last November at DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the USA. That feels like yesterday! Since then I’ve been deep in the throes of doing festival and theatrical screenings in the U.S. and abroad, which has entailed a great deal of travel on my part. That doesn’t leave much time for rest or developing other projects! But I’ve unexpectedly started pre-production on my next film (and shooting in the Midwest the same week as my screenings at the ACMI). The film explores the impact of a non-profit organization working to help children in Africa. I’m also developing a personal film that relates to my Greek heritage.


Back to Work

Well, my holiday is over and I'm well and truly back to the daily grind. To say a huge thank you to all of my old and new followers, I've teamed up with the folk at  Eastdane.com to give all of you the chance to win one of 4 x $50 gift vouchers.

For those who aren't familiar with Eastdane, they are the brother store to Shopbop.com and sell a wide variety of brands including Gant Rugger, Drakes, Filson, Loake 1880 and Wolverine 1000 Mile footwear. To top it all off they offer free 3 day shipping worldwide - You can't get a better deal than that these days!

Because they carry so many of my favourite brands, I've been creating my own wishlist from the products available on the website. That, combined with the fact that they currently have a 50% Off Men's promotional offer means that I may soon find myself indulging in a little bit of online shopping.

Here's a list of my current top 3 Blazers :

 Pique Blazer by Aspesi
Cotton DB Blazer by Jack Spade

Cotton Blazer by GANT Rugger

To be in the running to win one of four $50 East Dane vouchers all you have to do is:

Follow both APMMillions & EastDane on Instagram
Choose your favourite looks on Eastdane.com
Leave a comment on this post telling me what you'd spend your $50 voucher on!

*this competition ends on September 1st 2014 at 12am AEST and the winners will be annouced via FB and Instagram*


Florence, Italy Scarpe Fatte a Mano Part 1

Working in fashion retail means that I’ve grown an appreciation for quality, value and construction, with a history in selling footwear, shoes have helped play a massive role in my style education.

With most high-end shoes constructed by a combination of both man and machine, my recent time in Italy has lead me to wonder what the main points of difference are between English and Italian footwear – Are all British shoes made with Goodyear welting and Italian with Blake stitching?

Being in Florence has meant that I’ve gotten to see a variety of different shoemakers and brands, including Sutor Mantellassi. Founded in 1912 by a fellowship of cordwainers; passed down from family member to family member, this Italian brand makes most of their shoes with Goodyear welting and the finest Italian leathers and Crocodile skin. Their construction (from what I have seen) is Goodyear welting and closed channel welting - The only Blake stitching I saw was on a pair of patent dress shoes.

I purchased this pair of snuff suede tassel loafers (above) because I was instantly drawn to their iconic blue soles closed channel welting. The suede is beautifully soft and very comfortable. It seemed like an offer too good to resist when they happened to have my size in stock during sale time and rest assured that I got these for a bargain. The shoe’s sizing seems to be a medium fit, not a true fit. (So I suggest trying half a size down). I would recommend this brand, especially for those of us who like to mix a bit of colour into our wardrobes with our accessories.


Firenze, Italy "Otto Marchesi"

Open my heart and you will see, graved inside of it, Italy.
                                                                                   - Robert Browning

Today I landed in Florence, Italy. For those of you who don’t know, my heritage is a mix of French and Italian and I was so excited to finally visit the country that my family emigrated from all those years ago. I felt really calm as my flight landed and after checking in at my hotel I decided to hit the streets and explore my new (temporary) neighbourhood. It might sound strange, but a part of me felt like I’d visited Italy before, I found it easy to navigate the streets and the locals were friendly and up for a chat as I wandered past. Yes, all of those Italian clichés are true; you have to try the food, see the art and experience la dolce vita.

I decided to take a spur of the moment trip to a local outlet village known as The Mall, my visit was fairly unsuccessful but on my way back from Santa Maria Novella station, I noticed a name I had been told to check out while I was in town - Otto Marchesi. The best part was that it was only around the corner from my hotel. I took it as fate and wandered in to have a look around the small outlet.

As soon as I entered the store I saw a face that I recognized from hours searching fashion and style blogs online. His name is Emanuele Pecorella; one of the most stylish men in Italy. Emanuelle’s passion was explosive and although we only spent a brief moment together I picked up some great tips from him. Language wasn’t a barrier and he told me so much about style in such a brief period of time.

One of the interesting things that he taught me during my visit this afternoon was my idea the Italian collar.  I now know that the collar I’ve long considered to be Italian was actually known as a French collar here in Italy. The French collar has a cutaway or extreme cutaway where as an original Italian collar is semi-spread.


Hola Barcelona

I'd like to live as a poor man, with lots of money.

                                                       - Pablo Picasso

Barcelona is an amazing place, the streets are like a maze and I've found it all too easy to get lost on my travels around this breathtaking city. As well as the beautiful architecture (including Gaudi's truly inspiring 'Sagrada Familia'), there's also an abundance of shopping to be had, especially around the central area of La Rambla, a touristy street full of little shops and market stalls, selling everything from food, books, souvenirs and clothing.

In my travels I managed to track down the traditional shirt maker Xancó Camiseria. Housed in one of the oldest buildings on the strip, Xancó Camiseria first opened their doors to the public in 1820. The store produces beautiful handmade shirts out of cotton, linen and wool (unfortunately with prices starting at 175 euros for a cotton shirt they're a little over my travel budget), but they have many styles, colours and patterns to choose from and I enjoyed spending a hour or so window shopping there.

Located in central Catalunya, Passeig de Gracia has quickly become one of my most loved shopping areas here in Barcelona. The street is massive and there's a good mix of high street and designer brands including Zara, Brunello Cucinelli and Brioni.

Santa Eulalia has easily become my favourite shop in the whole city. The department store stocks both mens and womens fashion and is spread over three levels. The only way I can think to describe it would be a combination of Henry Buck's and Harrolds mixed together with a hint of Oscar Hunt Tailors.

Some of you may have seen a recent Facebook post where I mentioned trying to purchase linen clothing without breaking my bank account. I didn't want to ruin my good clothes while I was travelling, and after chatting to a couple of friends who've recently visited Spain I decided to track down Adolfo Dominguez. This store is all about linen and stocks pants, suits, jackets, shorts, shirts and even linen T-Shirts. Luckily for me, my visit coincides with the summer sales so I've managed to pick up a couple of bargains.