The Special Challenges of Dressing a Maestro

Conductor Alan Gilbert, music director of The NY Philharmonic with yours truly and our head tailor, Umberto Bove.

Kozinn+Sons was honored to outfit Alan Gilbert, conductor of The New York Philharmonic, with a new set of tails, formal shirts, grosgrain cummerbund and bow tie. The maestro wore this ensemble for the orchestra’s recent tour of Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

If you’re interested in our processes, here was the challenge: When he is conducting, Mr. Gilbert is constantly in motion. His activity plus the glare of the spotlights can cause him to overheat. He needs to look historically correct and glamorous without an overly heavy cloth. He also needs to have a full range of motion without looking like he is wearing an elastic suit. Before coming to Kozinn+Sons, several world-famous tailors in Italy and France had failed to fully accomplish these goals.

So how did we do it?

1. First we chose a uniquely resilient English cloth in a traditional barathea weave. Baratheas are woven specifically for formal wear with a full body and a matte finish. However, the cloth we selected is woven from Escorial wool as opposed to Merino wool. The Escorial sheep is very small, with a hair that is extremely fine and uniquely crimped. These sheep number in just the hundreds and are found only in New Zealand.

2. To give Mr. Gilbert the freedom of movement he needed, we cut the arm holes higher into the armpit than we’d ever set a sleeve before. This kept the shoulder in place whenever Mr. Gilbert moved his arms.

3. We pitched the sleeve very far forward which is the position Mr. Gilbert is in when he is conducting.

4. We cut the trousers high and the coat front relatively short to create a perfect “Fred Astaire” balance.

5. Key to this complex project was Mr. Gilbert himself. He was extremely gracious with his time, returning for numerous fittings. Some successful people fail to recognize that their time, more than their money, is necessary for achieving a proper fit.

Of course, we are very proud to know that thousands of concertgoers in New York and around the world will see our work. It is even more of a thrill that such a talented artist put his trust in our artistry.

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Kozinn+Sons Merchant Tailors
22 West 32 Street, 5th floor
New York, NY 10001
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