All Posts in Menswear

March 30, 2015

Q&A: The Art of Tailoring, Passion, & The Importance of Quality with Joseph Genuardi

Looking at Joseph Genuardi, you’d never expect the old soul that lurks within. He’s well-dressed with slicked-back hair, polite, and soft-spoken. What you won’t get at first glance is that he’s a trained master tailor with educators who had more than 75 years of experience, a five-month-old son who is well on his way to becoming a tailor himself, and the ability to make a mean suit. Joe is currently Head Tailor at Martin Greenfield Clothiers—a name well-known for hand-tailored mens clothing—amongst the best of the dressed.

Custom tailoring has quite the history, as do the most accomplished of tailors. But those accomplishments are more readily measured by the smiles of those fitted in a brand new custom suit than public recognition—and because of that, it may seem like the title of Master Tailor is slowly meeting its end. Joseph is living proof that the craft is alive and strong—and that everyone should get to know their local tailor (not only for their craft, but also the great stories they’re bound to have). We were first turned on to Joseph and his story at a viewing of “Men of the Cloth,” a documentary following a number of master tailors and their stories—Joseph’s weaving its way in, as well.

Nicole spent some time getting to know Joseph and the art of becoming a tailor. Get ready to be inspired!

Making a Career Change

martin_greenfield_basting
Basting, one of the many stages in constructing a tailored suit

Joseph Genuardi: My undergraduate was in industrial design at Carnegie Mellon. I loved it, but late into my college term and early into my working career this idea popped into my head that it would be awesome to make suits.  I started doing some art direction—product design and graphic design—and I saw myself move toward clothing. I launched a graphic T-shirt line where I was designing the shirts and having them printed in Philly by a local silk screener. I would sell them in boutiques in the area and at art fairs. The tailoring idea came back to me, but much stronger than the first time around.

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December 1, 2010

Lev – Custom Kittel

Inspired by his fiancee's working with me on custom bridal accessories, and disappointed with the tent-shaped, mass-produced, yet overpriced options available, Lev contacted me about having a custom kittel made for their Jewish wedding. I was thrilled to take on the project, and went about researching kittels to start the design.

Lev informed me that kittels were often worn not only on a man's wedding day, but also when he leads passover, on Yom Kippur, and when he is buried. I discovered that kittels were not meant to have pockets, because a man should be marrying for love, not possessions, and should also be buried without any belongings. For the silhouette, I created a pattern that was tailored for Lev's slim build, but would also fit comfortably over a suit jacket. We hemmed the length just above the knee, added a vent in the back, and a belt to tie at the waist. For design details, we wanted to keep them subtle but tasteful and unique, so opted for a Mandarin collar, and a decorative trim at the front placket and sleeve cuffs.

Lev and Gabby had previously lived in NYC but recently moved to San Francisco; we were able to manage our design discussions over email, phone, and text, and fittings during already-planned trips on both of our parts to the opposite coast(s). Together, we picked out the high-quality cotton from a wealth of options at Britex in San Francisco. I sourced heaps of different trim options from the garment district in Manhattan until we both agreed on the perfect one, which just so happened to include bells in its pattern. We were pleased to learn that bells had been worn on the hems of garments by the High Priests, and carried positive symbolism. I also found lovely white covered hook & eye frog closures for the front opening and cuffs.

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January 4, 2010

Jill – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

As founder and editor-in-chief of green design blog Inhabitat, Jill was only willing to go the sustainable route with her wedding attire. In addition to sourcing minimal impact materials, we wanted to design a dress indicative of Jill's sophisticated style, in a silhouette that was fun and fresh, and also re-wearable. We first started by exploring fabric options such as organic cotton tulles and silks, such as the below.

Jill was then offered her fiance's grandmother's Victorian wedding dress from circa 1900, which was a beautiful lace gown, completely deteriorated in most sections, but intact in others. Jill had already decided that she did not want a full-length gown, but I had to make sure that we had enough material from the vintage gown to create even a knee-length dress! Through careful cutting and efficient patternmaking, I was just able to make it work, utilizing the lace's scallop edges at the neckline and asymmetrical hemline of the dress.

The lace needed to be carefully cleaned and restored back to its original colour, as pictured below.

We both love the colour green, and decided on a hand-dyed ombre (green with a gradation from light to dark) silk charmeuse for the underlayer of the dress. From my collection of vintage lace trims, we selected one to use for the straps, which I dyed using green tea to   match the ivory of the dress lace.

The wedding and reception were held in San Francisco's beautiful Presidio Park, which tends to become cool at night, so we made a custom bolero jacket in a matching green to cover Jill's arms.

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January 1, 2010

Marcia – Natural and Playful Wedding Gown

When Marcia first contacted me over email about having her custom wedding dress made, she provided many descriptors as to how she wanted to feel in her gown. To name a few: graceful, fun, elegant, sexy, playful, feminine, unique, and goddess-like. She was a slightly older bride who, while wanting to dress age-appropriately, was not afraid to have a gown that exuded youthfulness, and even fantasy. When I met Marcia and her then-fiance, Andy in person, it was immediately apparent how much life radiated from within each of them, and how completely in love they were with one another. Andy attended every fitting with enthusiasm and engagement, supporting any decision Marcia and I made during the process.

Having previously tried on some gowns at wedding salons, Marcia was appalled at how many "high-end" dresses were lined in nasty synthetic fabrics. She was very adamant about using only natural fibres in her dress, which is standard for me anyway. To achieve a soft and flowing silhouette, we selected a light-weight silk tissue chiffon for the draped and gathered overlay, and a supple silk double-sided satin for the underlayer. The neckline I designed was a wide-v in the front and low in the back, with off-the shoulder straps, to provide a sexy, yet comfortable, look. We highlighted Marcia's tiny waist with a fitted bodice, releasing the pleats at the hips for more ease and comfort through the skirt.

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