Below is a follow up interview with Vicki Vasilopoulos, creator of MEN OF THE CLOTH. As I was speaking with her, a theme to one of my questions continued to present itself:
If your viewer were to instead be reading MEN OF THE CLOTH, unable to see the garments, what major themes would she/he be exposed to?
VV: (…) My film is a subtle meditation on the importance of craftsmanship and what we’re losing as we move increasingly to a globalized economy devoid of any personal connection between the creator and consumer. Ultimately, my film is a moving testament on what it means to find your true calling in life despite the odds.
Please consider donating to this Kick Starter project. There are three days left until the campaign is over! Q&A below:
As of today, how many hours and/or days do you imagine you’ve spent on MEN OF THE CLOTH?
VV: I’m unable to calculate the number of hours or days I’ve spent on MEN OF THE CLOTH. It’s been a 10-year labor of love, and even when I’m not “actively” working on the film, I’m always thinking about it. As with any creative endeavor, it becomes a part of you.
And in all these hours and days do you find parts of the documentary that you wish you would’ve elaborated on more?
VV: My challenge has been to pare down 100 hours of footage to a compelling and nuanced story that can be contained in a 96-minute feature film. There are so many scenes I wish we could have left in the film, but people are unaccustomed to watching three-hour films! (And the Director’s Cut DVD will have many wonderful deleted scenes, personal anecdotes, and interviews that we could not include in the film itself, including a feature on the late Los Angeles master tailor Giacomo Trabalza, who had many Hollywood clients, and an interview with noted men’s wear author G. Bruce Boyer.)
Given your trained eye from previous work as a fashion writer and fashion editor, how do these MEN OF THE CLOTH suits communicate aesthetically in comparison to easily accessible RTW suits?
VV: RTW suits are not made for a particular individual; they’re made to fit everyone. So comparing RTW with a bespoke or custom-made suit that’s created with an individual pattern is like comparing apples and oranges. (Or as one Neapolitan tailor put it: it’s like comparing canned fruit with an apple picked fresh from the tree.) A master tailor is able to interpret current trends and adapt them for the specific body type and posture of his client. That bespoke suit becomes a living, breathing thing that will actually fit better over time. You could, in theory, get something very trendy made for you as a bespoke garment, but most clients would opt for something that expresses their individuality, whether their taste tends toward the classic or more iconoclastic.
Are you thinking of making an accompanying book?
I’d love to do an accompanying book but a book cannot compare to hearing and seeing the amazing characters in MEN OF THE CLOTH and their unique environments. There’s no substitute for the sensual experience of a film that captures the tactile pleasure of a tailor’s workroom, and the beautiful poetic score composed by Chris Hajian.
So, how does the client to tailor relationship work?
Clients tend to patronize a particular tailor because he understands and can interpret their needs —or give the client guidance, if need be. Assuming that you’re working with a master tailor who possesses a sophisticated take on men’s style, the process of commissioning a suit is a collaboration in the best sense of the word. A tailor’s goal is for the client to be happy— and that’s what makes him happy!