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Flight Plan: The Story of Garment 57

Posted 04.04.16  - Style

With a name reminiscent of a Hollywood espionage movie, Garment 57 is an extra-special addition to Turnbull & Asser. Its ambiguous moniker is a nod to the company archives, and its story is one that blends the fantastical world of 007 with a real-life adventurer.

Garment 57 is a short-sleeved resort shirt that forms part of the whimsical new-season collection - a campaign that welcomes an altogether broader, fresher colour palette, with standout pieces in exotic, contrasting prints and patterns.

Since taking on the head of design role at the brand in 2013, Dean Gomilsek-Cole has been credited with reviving the brand's original eccentric flair - a time when it was known as 'the peacock of Jermyn Street'.

The designer had been trying to master a short-sleeved cut for some time - a style that, he admits, was often more of an afterthought for the prestigious shirtmakers. During his research, he studied a T&A-clad Sean Connery in classic 60s Bond films, but it was only when looking further into the past - to the life of a real hero - that he found the answer.

Shortly before his death, a World War II pilot sent his most prized possessions back to T&A for safekeeping. Among the archive treasures was an apple-green short-sleeved silk shirt, which Mr Gomilsek-Cole immediately fell in love with.

Martin Wise, the company’s veteran archivist, brought a box of shirts once owned by a World War II pilot to Mr Gomilsek-Cole's attention. The officer had acquired a taste for Turnbull & Asser on the sartorial advice of his colleagues and went on to amass an impressive bespoke collection inspired by what he saw on his travels. Shortly before his death, he sent his most prized possessions back to the shirtmaker for safekeeping. Among the archive treasures was a striking apple-green short-sleeved silk shirt, which Mr Gomilsek-Cole 'immediately fell in love with'.

'At the time we were struggling with the idea of how to create a great short-sleeved-shirt silhouette, and here I had the answer from 70 years in the past.'

Apple-green silk is, understandably, not to everyone's taste, but the cut and style of the pilot's shirt ticked all the right boxes. Mr Gomilsek-Cole sought the services of pattern cutters in the bespoke store on Bury Street and the Gloucester factory. They decided on indigo fabric to give the shirt a contemporary spin - one version in a textured pattern, the other a woven material akin to jacquard fabric. The uncommon materials in Garment 57 and its retro, boxy cut afford it a unique and distinctly vintage feel.

'I imagine this young debonair pilot flying around the world, meeting lots of people and looking very stylish,' Mr Gomilsek-Cole says. 'He'd pop into Bury Street to get his shirts made before flying off again to some exotic location.'

Like all figures from the past, our anonymous protagonist takes on a romanticised narrative through the clothing he loved and left behind - a story woven into the fabric of Garment 57.

Gemma Billington - Writer for Show Media London

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