Gay Talese et l'art tailleur

Gay Talese and the art of tailoring

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Almost every morning of the year, an 88-year-old old man wearing a felt hat and dressed in an elegant Italian-made suit leaves this mansion he occupies in the very chic Upper East Side new- yorker and discreetly joins a sort of shelter installed under his porch. There, in the middle of a perfectly ordered collection of boxes filled with hand-written notes lit by the bedside lamp, he settles down against a long varnished desk and begins to type on the keyboard of a seemingly computer. unearthed from the time when computing was still in its infancy. Gay Talese is a writer. He is also a legend, a name that is invoked in many anthologies, columns and speeches from editorial offices to university lecture halls.

Gay Talese is undoubtedly the one who brought to posterity the famous New Journalism, this literary genre where the journalistic story is infused with the tools of fiction. Whether books or articles, everything here is a matter of finely crafted staging, colorful dialogues and descriptions teeming with detail on the shape of things and people.

“I cannot afford to be ordinary, ever. I am an elegant man and I believe in elegance in all circumstances”

After shaping his style in the columns of the New York Times and Esquire magazine in the 1960s, Gay Talese built up a thick bibliography. There we find Your Father you will honor (1971), where we embark on the wheel of a powerful baron of the Italian mafia from New York, like Le Motel du voyeur (2016) which is the thrilling encounter of this boss of a inn of the American depths likes to observe the privacy of its customers by means of some ingenious stratagems. In “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” a sweeping portrait of America's most prominent crooner, Gay Talese writes: “Sinatra wore a charcoal oxford suit, cut quite conservatively on the outside, with a lapel made of 'a flaming silk; his English shoes were impeccably polished, right down to their soles.” A sum of information which reveals the author's obsession with good looks, in others as well as for himself. “I always have to be perfectly dressed. When I leave my house to have a sandwich down the street for lunch, I dress well. For what ? Because people are going to see me. I can't afford to be trivial, ever. I am an elegant man and I believe in elegance in all circumstances,” announces Gay Talese in the latest issue of L’Etiquette magazine.

To be honest, rags have always been part of the author's life. Gay Talese is the son of an Italian tailor from Ocean Beach, a mid-sized town stuck in the shadow of New York, and he spent his childhood and adolescence watching the local notables parade in front of his father's mirror. While he was in Europe carrying out his military service; the young Talese went to Paris where his uncle Antonio was a renowned couturier in the Opera district. “I then became a loyal fan of the costumes made by my uncle,” he explains. In the years that followed, I managed to earn enough money to become one of his clients.” Impeccably cut pieces in cream or ocean blue costing $2,500 or $3,000, even a discount due to family proximity.

Today, Gay Talese owns nearly a hundred suits signed by his uncle, but also from Brioni, Zegna, Battaglia and even Melandri, the kings of Neapolitan tailoring. Some are crossed and decorated with a belt. All of them are at least twenty years old and reflect the style of the 1930s, Gay Talese's favorite period. “They are timeless pieces that impose their own style,” he says proudly. To be able to wear period costumes, with their body-hugging cuts, it is important to keep the same appearance, points out Gay Talese. “As I like to wear old clothes, it is important that I do not gain weight. For fifty years I have managed to always weigh the same thing. I do exercises, and I don’t eat ice cream.” The ultimate advice for wearing your clothes for life?