Madras–hand-woven, India cotton Madras, to be specific – is Spring-Summer’s signature. Unarguably, the season’s definitive fashion gesture. Boasting a flamboyant juggling of plaids stacked atop plaids – almost always a large plaid overlaid atop a small, with a third, and sometimes a fourth, squeezed in-between – the beauty of Madras is that it tastefully teeters at the brink of visual anarchy.  Therein its appeal to dandies and dashing bon vivants. And the raison d’etre custom-bespoke suit maker, Adrian Jules, chose a choice of over three-dozen, mild to daringly wild, and Madras plaids to headline their Savannah Jazz Collection of haute summer looks. Festively colored in a free-for-all kaleidoscope of rule breaking hues and shades that mixes bold, vibrant brights with vivid, amped-up pastels, then tosses-in an odd sprinkling of earth-tones, Madras boasts palette that tests the boundaries of controlled chaos.   Gossamer thin and featherweight, Madras is perfectly suited for summer’s soirees and country club picnics. Soft and comfy, it mimics the cooling merits of gauze and other loosely woven cottons but is considerably stronger; thanks to a unique weave fashionistas call a “60-40” cloth. Without question or rival, it ranks the best, all-around warm weather fabric ever devised.  To this day, authentic India cotton Madras is still hand-loomed by peasant crofters and is woven in but one location throughout the world: The ancient, southeast Indian seaport on the Bay of Bengal that now ranks India’s fourth largest city and is today called Chennai. Originally named Madre de Dues by its early-1600s Portuguese settlers, it can thank mispronunciation by conquering British soldiers in the early-1800s for its Madras name, which endures, unofficially, to this day.  Nicknamed the clan Tartan of India, Madras not only changed the parade dress of English officers but sired what the world today calls a cummerbund, a Hindi word meaning “waist sash.” Only Scottish clan Tartan itself, which dates to the 8th century, can claim a heritage older and more storied than Madras.  Although the British introduced machine looms to India in the 1850s, the most sought after Madras among in-the-know fashion connoisseurs remains the version hand-loomed by peasants, its colors, to this day, still created from local plant dyes. Reason for its coveted status is simple: Madras ranks fashion’s most exclusive, one-off cloth; an oxymoron of sorts since it also ranks one of fashion’s least expensive cloths.  In-more-ways-than-one, each plaid – and on an even smaller scale, every bolt of hand-loomed Madras — is a limited edition; both its coloring and plaid a one-off exclusive that’s never again repeated. It’s this unique individuality and one-of-a-kind, custom-made character that remains the perennial allure of the thousands of individual patterns and plaids that collectively define Madras fabric; the same hand-hewn charm that first captivated Britain’s military officers in the mid-1800s.  Like Scotland’s clan Tartan, each Madras plaid is unique to just one family, and occasionally, a village hamlet. A sort of visual brand name or trademark handed-down from one-generation-to-the-next for the past 300-years, or more. Each plaid is like a fingerprint that identifies either a family or peasant hamlet. Therein the reason for the literally thousands of intricately designed, one-of-a-kind multi-color plaids, as well as occasional stripes and solids, that make-up the genre.  Like all hand-crafted artisan goods, the small amount of yardage hand-loomed annually by each family is itself a de-facto guarantee that each plaid is a limited edition. Since hand weaving is art, not science, no two patterns of a plaid, or even their coloring – even from the same family of weavers — are ever recreated the same. From one-day-to-the-next, colors and patterns, along with the slubby surface texture characteristic of Madras plaids, vary from imperceptible to sometimes distinctively obvious; a limited edition virtue characteristic of folk artisans, alone.  Therein still another reason that Adrian Jules, arguably America’s most exclusive custom clothing maker, chose Madras to headline its summer line-up: It’s the definitive, artisan-made custom fabric to compliment an artisan-made, custom-bespoke sport coat.  To maximize ROI, peasant looms operate round-the-clock, 24/7. Helmed in shifts by patriarch to youngest child, every family member takes their turn at the loom. Since subtle variance in color and pattern are at the discretion of each weaver, every family member imparts their own interpretation to the plaid’s basic framework. That too, accounts for each plaid’s one-of-a-kind, limited edition status.  Final wild card that defines the one-off, limited edition character of Madras cloth are the plant dyes themselves. Derived exclusively from local vegetation, the tonal intensity of each shade of dye can vary significantly, from week-to-week, depending on fluctuations in micro-climates. Therein the beauty of finished, hand-loomed Madras garment: No two are ever alike. For a multiplicity of reasons, each Madras garment is a one-off, limited edition.Finding favor in its bold and inventive, one-of-a-kind patterns, resplendent colors and hand sewn, native charm, it was Britain’s returning colonial military officers who first introduced India Madras plaids to the world in the mid-1800s.  Adopting a custom then fashionable among India’s ruling elite, British officers shunned the official vest required of their parade and formal dress uniforms. In its place, they began draping their waists in multi-wrapped sashes of brightly colored Madras plaids, tied at their sides. Mimicking the battle style of Maharajas and warlord aristocrats, they then snubbed their military issued saber belts and instead threaded their sabered swords through the folds of their sashes in an ad hoc attitude of devil-may-care bravado.  A sort of heraldic crest that paid visual tribute to their India military campaigns, British officers returning to England continued wearing their side-tied Madras waist sashes with their formal and parade dress uniforms, sparking a craze that quickly gripped all of Europe. Hence was born the cummerbund and the explanation for its now faux folds designed to mimic what was once a waist sash. All by bespoke – ADRIAN JULES’
  • Madras Sport Coats:  Adrian Jules Bespoke
    Fabric:  India cotton Madras
    Make:  All-handmade in America
    Retail Price:  $1,350; custom-bespoke or made-to-measure
    Retail Avail:
  • Adrian JulesRochester, NY
    Liles Clothing Studio; Raliegh, NC
    Harper’s Haberdashery, Baton Rouge, LA
    H. Herzfeld, Manhattan, NY
    Website, Telephone:
    www.adrianjules.com
    585-381-1111 

    Winter White, Hollywood Waistband Dress Slacks:  Stinson R. Ely
    Fabric:  Wool gabardine
    Make:  All-handmade in America
    Retail Price:  $695
    Retail Avail:
    Khakis of Carmel; Carmel, CA
    Liles Clothing Studio; Raliegh, NC
    Plain Clothes; Birmingham, AL
    Website, Telephone:
    www.stinsonrely.com
    858-573-1698

    Stripe and Gingham Check Dress Shirts With White Cut-Away Collar & White French Cuffs:  Stinson R. Ely
    Fabric:  All Cotton
    Make:  All-handmade in America
    Retail Price:  $345
    Retail Avail:
    Khakis of Carmel; Carmel, CA
    Liles Clothing Studio; Raliegh, NC
    Plain Clothes; Birmingham, AL
    Website, Telephone:
    www.stinsonrely.com
    858-573-1698

    Silk-Linen Stripe & Paisley Four-in-hand Ties:  Stinson R. Ely
    Fabric:  Silk-linen
    Make:  All-handmade in America
    Retail Price: $165
    Retail Avail:
    Khakis of Carmel; Carmel, CA
    Liles Clothing Studio; Raliegh, NC
    Plain Clothes; Birmingham, AL
    Website, Telephone:
    www.stinsonrely.com
    858-573-1698

    Linen Pocket Squares With Contrast Color Edge Piping:  Stinson R. Ely
    Fabric:  Belgium Linen
    Make:  All-handmakde in America
    Retail Price:  $95
    Retail Avail:
    Khakis of Carmel; Carmel, CA
    Liles Clothing Studio; Raliegh, NC
    Plain Clothes; Birmingham, AL
    Website, Telephone:
    www.stinsonrely.com
    858-573-1698

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One Response to SAVANNA JAZZ MADRAS

  1. Kathy says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THESE!!!

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