In Memoriam: Savioa

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Michele Savoia, the eccentric but utterly charming Manhattan tailor, passed away last month as only he would: by falling off a ramp leading to his Chris-Craft yacht——where he lived——on the Hudson River. February was brutally cold month, and surviving any amount of time in the frozen river would have been near impossible, but Savoia had been drinking, wearing a heavy raccoon fur coat, and it was the middle of the night.

The first time I met him in the late nineties, Michele was showing a line of custom clothes during NY Fashion week, when it was at Bryant Park. His models? The cast of The Sopranos. Subsequently he made me a couple of suits and a pair of trousers, all in the exaggerated 1930s or 40s style——his favorite era was from the late 20’s to the 40’s—-but he was willing, even eager to incorporate some of my own style. He agreed with me on peak lapels, on the 3-button roll, and even on the belt-less trouser. Not exactly of a specific era, but close, and individualized. The full, no baggy, trousers were zoot suit proportioned, except not tapered. Fred Astaire probably wore pants like these.
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Savoia’s fortunes rose and fell. He had a boutique, then moved to L.A. for a while ‘working in the pictures’ (as they used to say in 1937, his favorite year), returned to NY and partnered with John Allan at his hair salon, did Broadway, opened another shop on the Lower East Side (where he had begun), and was recently looking to open a new atelier on the West Side. We kept in contact—-him sometimes shouting my name as he swept by on his vintage Harley, and we were planning to go on a short cruise on his restored boat whenever the weather turned kinder. I’m sorry we never did, and I’m sorry he’s gone: NY will miss a true character, and one who truly enjoyed life as much as his craft.
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My Savoia clothes are old now, but in perfect condition. This suit is probably the best-fitting bespoke item I own, and will last long enough for a grandkid to wear it. It’s pure Savoia (albeit with a touch of Majd), and that’s the way it should be. It’s not fashion——perhaps it’s even the antithesis of what is fashionable today——but it is style.

RIP, my friend. I will always have the suits you built for me.

6 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Savioa

  1. Sorry for your loss,sounds like a man who did the things he like and not everyone can say that,people who break away from the pack show us another road through life,not easier,but more fullfiling

  2. Beautiful elegy, and condolences.

    I just wanted to say that on a drive up from LA to SF today I listened to the old GQ podcast that featured you talking about The Ayatollah Begs to Differ and I found it quite enlightening and eye opening. Since I discovered this blog a few months ago I merely enjoyed your perspectives on classic mens style, but apparently there is much more to learn from you. I will be picking up a copy soon. I hope someday in my lifetime I can visit Iran, it seems like a great place to see.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

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