Jason Basmajian and Gieves & Hawkes
I’m not going to lie: It is difficult to get me excited about mens suits. I mean how exciting can a suit get without looking, well, ridiculous?
Then I met Jason Basmajian.
It was January of 2006 and he was the Creative Director of S.T. Dupont at the time. I was writing for Fashion Wire Daily, covering the shows in Paris, and my friend Erin Fetherston said I HAD to go see his collection. That Jason was “insanely” talented. I remember thinking that if she, the girliest girl I know, was raving about a capsule of menswear, then I definitely had to take a look.
I vividly recall the whole experience as if it were yesterday. It was just after five p.m. and the cold winter sky was already dark from the heavy clouds – I was already dressed for evening, so this made me feel slightly more comfortable. I stepped out of my taxi on Avenue Montaigne, umbrella unopened in my hand, and walked into the newly refurbished, clean, modern interior of the S.T. Dupont store. Everything was somehow dark and sexy even though the store itself was quite white. Dark suits, black and charchoal cashmere, glints of shiny lacquer and chrome and stitched leather engulfed me. An impeccably dressed, impossibly handsome man stepped toward me to offer me a glass of champagne on a small tray. I felt as if I had walked on the set of a James Bond movie.
As I waited a minute for Jason to appear, I looked at the press release. The theme of the collection was Casino Royal and without ever meeting Jason, I knew he was a genius.
I caught my first glimpse of Jason as he walked towards me from the back of the boutique. All I could to do was beam at him. Pardon the banal expression, but he looked like a million bucks. He was flawlessly groomed with the perfect amount of day-old stubble shading his demure smile. I suddenly saw the difference between a good suit and a great suit… and how wearing a great suit transforms a man into James Bond.
As you can probably tell by now, Jason and I immediately hit it off and have never turned back. It turns out we both grew up in the (extremely preppy) suburbs of Boston, navigated our way out of that thick and dense forest of J.Crew and The Gap and found our calling in the circus of fashion. We definitely relate.
For the past eight years I’ve watched Jason quietly and efficiently climb the ropes of the big top, and lading himself firmly in the center ring. First he gave a nice boost to S.T. Dupont’s image as a luxury lighter and pen company and turning it into something sexier than that. Then Jason moved to Brioni for several years, deepening that brand’s credibility as a leader in classic Italian menswear while simultaneously freshening it up with his distinctly sporty – and preppy – New England instincts. Jason has never been about reinventing the wheel, just making perfectly fitting, luxurious menswear that is timeless. Which is exactly how menswear should be. Avant-garde mens clothes have always scared me. How can you take a man seriously in some weird, edgy outfit? But how else could you not take a man in a Prince of Wales flannel suit? And is there anything sexier? Okay, maybe a man in a tux… and Jason cuts a mean one of those.
Now Jason is at Gieves & Hawkes and I can’t think of a better fit. A bespoke suit made at no. 1 Saville Row is about as luxurious as a man can get. And Jason, with his clear vision as to how a modern man should look combined with is past experience, is perfect. Jason won’t change the traditional, conservative and royal roots of this luxury menswear brand, he’ll do what he’s always done: enhance it, bring it up to date… and perhaps turn Gieves & Hawkes into England’s leading menswear brands. If anyone can do that, it’s Jason.
I bet I’m not the only one excited about a suit now…