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When a Suit Becomes a Work of Art

LONDON – Each Huntsman piece is as unique as its wearer. But none more so than six jackets created by the tailor in 2016.

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BESPOKE HUNTSMAN JACKET FEATURING ED RUSCHA PRINT

Each is made from a different fabric and to a different cut, of course. But within lies their secret: each of the six jackets is lined with a silk print of one of Ed Ruscha’s iconic acrylic paintings from the eighties, Boy Meets Girl. As Huntsman chairman Pierre Lagrange remarks, "This is a subject forever."

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BESPOKE HUNTSMAN JACKET FEATURING MAGRITTE'S MAN IN A BOWLER HAT

The idea was born of a conversation between Lagrange and Anthony Peck, son of Huntsman regular Gregory Peck. Seeing the tailor’s printed silk linings of works by Magritte and Francis Bacon, Peck suggested approaching Ed Ruscha to collaborate on a jacket that could be auctioned to benefit America’s Alzheimer’s Association.

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BESPOKE HUNTSMAN JACKET FEATURING MAGRITTE'S THE LISTENING ROOM

While Ruscha had worked directly on to silk in the past, the concept of lending a work to the lining of a suit was a first. "I like the idea of a concealed secret," Ruscha says. "When someone wears a great jacket, there is a private luxury that only the wearer can experience."

First he chose the work: words seemingly etched in neon, hovering over a grid of night-time Los Angeles. The painting just happens to be owned by another Huntsman customer, actress and model Lauren Hutton, who’d won it from the artist on a bet in the seventies. "It's like all that early hope," she’s said about Boy Meets Girl. '"When love is young, you can change, you can get excited about different things."

This was certainly an exciting project. But it was demanding, too. Graphic, with a limited palette, the challenge would be to accurately recreate the painting, and to a standard that Ruscha would be proud of. As Carol Pierce, general manager at Huntsman, notes, "Technically this was quite a task to take on, and there was a lot of communication around it, because this is Ed’s work: it had to be spot on."

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ACTRESS LAUREN HUTTON (OWNER OF ED’S ORIGINAL BOY MEETS GIRL PAINTING) WITH HER GABERDINE HUNTSMAN MACKINTOSH

First, Huntsman produced five treatments for the positioning of the piece within the jacket. Ruscha’s choice dictated where the joins and repeats would be between the lining’s panels.

A printer was found who had the right inks and quality of print. Then there was the process of getting the most out of 30 metres of silk. Sufficient fabric was needed above and below the lettering so it could be placed correctly inside the jacket, with enough background print for left- and right-hand panel and sleeves. The artist approved every stage of the process, which, in all, took around a year.

For Ruscha it was the first time he’d had a bespoke suit made. Slipping the jacket on at 11 Savile Row, he was asked what it felt like. Gesturing to the lining, he said, "You know that you wear the jacket and clothing like this but then there’s this surprise, almost like you’re flashing."

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ED AND EDDIE RUSCHA IN THEIR 'BOY MEETS GIRL' JACKETS

From this collaboration came five artist’s proofs. Jackets for the artist, his son Eddie and friend Lauren Hutton, as well as for art dealer, Larry Gagosian, and Huntsman chairman Lagrange. The one jacket available to the public was then auctioned on 25 October 2106, raising $26,000 for Alzheimer’s. We can only guess what experiences the words within the jacket will bring to the winning bidder, as we understand a very elegant lady!

Watch Treasures from Chatsworth, Presented by Huntsman at www.sothebys.com/Chatsworth

For more information, visit www.huntsmansavilerow.com

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