INTERVIEW PART II // COLLABORATIONS || ETON X EIDOS
In part two of their interview, Creative directors Sebastian Dollinger and Antonio Ciongoli talk Sartorialee through the finer details of their Eton X Eidos collaboration, a collection inspired by the artisanship of Florentine craftsmen.
Sebastian Dollinger: Via Email. Sending fabrics. But we’re both instinctive characters, we know what we like, we’re very quick with what we like. Never second-guess, it’s either yes or no, there’s nothing in between.
Antonio Ciongoli: It was fun to try and see what went well together from each brand. So the idea of picking a quality flannel that’s a little dressy and a bit casual, goes back to what we’re trying to do as well, the kind of fabrics we picked in the tailoring, how that was going to fit with the Eton aesthetic, that was the fun part, trying to blend the two aesthetics together.
sartorialee: Talk me through the intricacies of the collection AC: (on the Eidos flourishes) so the majority of what we did here was inspired by the Eidos fall collection, which was about the history of artisanship in Florence. Particularly the sportswear, these were elements we pulled out from the collection to mix in. We’ll start off with the sportswear then work backwards. The very first piece I designed in this collection was this sweater (pictured). I wanted to be an art history professor, that’s what I studied in college, and so what came to mind when I was thinking about the history of artisanship in Florence?
“I was at Pitti two or three seasons before that, walking by the Church of San Lorenzo. The backside of the church has the Cappelle Medicee, which was designed by Michelangelo. There are these incredible diamond window grates and I walked by and thought that would make an amazing, amazing sweater – that was the first idea.”
The sportswear was supposed to feel like something a Florentine artisan would wear. The main inspiration for this was a shoemaker named Roberto Ugolini – quintessentially Florentine, he’s rough around the edges, he’s a little bit gruff but he’s this guy that works with his hands all day long. When you go in to his shop in Florence you see him wearing this beautiful quilted leather apron with a huge hole in the centre – looks like he’s been shot or something – but he sits down at this little wooden table with a brogue jammed in to his sternum beating it to mould the shape of the leather around the lass and you think, right, now I get it. What does a guy who makes three thousand dollar leather shoes for a living wear that’s utilitarian, something that can take a bit of a beating but at the same time has this refined and heightened sense of style, so that’s where the idea for the sportswear came from. Taking this heavier, more substantial Donegal yarn, doing it in this rough and tumble roll-neck style, that’s where the thought processes came from. This basket weave cardigan that’s a mix between a shawl collar cardigan and a v-neck – it has the silhouette of a v but it sticks up a bit past the line of the sport coat so it almost looks like a scarf. The weave is reminiscent of Michelangelo’s black and white sketches. He used a technique called cross-hatching, which looks like a basket weave. Again this idea of Florentine work wear, this heavier wool and cashmere toggle vest (pictured)– meant to be layered under tailoring with these little suede details, suede and wood toggles so that’s where we started from with the sportswear component. Then we started looking at fabrics, thinking about this beautiful flannel quality. What were some of the things we could do to go back to that? We worked with the Carlo Barbera mill on this beautiful flannel windowpane.
SD: Probably my favourite pieces from the collection
AC: Probably one of the best mills in the world, probably the best Italian mill. We worked with my two favourite mills here from Carlo Barbera then Lanificio di Pray which is a small little family-run mill that does, I think, some of the most amazing things. We thought about the fabrics in general a great deal. Antonio Liverano is a Florentine tailor that we thought lot about for this collection. The roll is beautiful, you can really tell its full canvas. It’s a sewing technique of attaching the interlining to the fabric that gives you a perfect fit that adapts to your body. Liverano loves English fabrics and English inspired fabrics so something like this was a kind of classic gun check, something we really loved. We brought a model in that was directly inspired by Liverano tailoring. Instead of the classic dart that runs down the front of the coat, he employs this angled dart that comes from under the underarm and kicks in at the waist. It gives a bit more fullness in the chest but it still defines the waist, almost like an Italian sack jacket – this is the sport coat model of it. That broader sweeping lapel, full belly. A beautiful textured chalk stripe suit in a 3-piece. Our notion here was that if the clothing was the artisan, the tailoring was the patron of that artisan: bespoke details in top coats, unlined, really soft. We did a single-breast top coat in casentino, an incredible fabric. It made a lot of sense to us – it’s a 300 year-old fabric, one of the first Italian technical fabrics, originally beaten by hand with wood by monks, the pilling gives the jacket water resistance, it was a technical idea. You’re starting to see casentino on the market a little bit now, but for a Florentine collection it was key. It’s great for a market like London where you never know when it’s going to rain, it’s heavy and substantial it’s water proof and really warm.
“The idea of doing beautiful double-breasted suiting: I love the shadow windowpane over the little puppy tooth on the ticket pocket, those little Neapolitan details, the subtle pleating of the sleeve cap which has to be set by hand, it can’t be done by machine. Still very soft shoulders, that beautiful cascading ruffle down the shoulder, perfectly imperfect Neapolitan things.”
SD: (on the Eton detailing) It’s very easy to like blue and brown together but it’s really hard to make it feel fresh. So then you have to work with the different qualities you have. So what I did, I wanted to play with wool, cashmere, silk and cotton and try to mix things, blend things together. That’s where the ties really pick up what the shirt, suit and the jacket is doing. And also the scarves, not just working with a plain grey scarf, but having different patterns on it that are hidden in your look, subtle but interesting, binds it well together. The most important thing for me is do the qualities work together? I turn my nose up at colleagues who I see wearing a poplin shirt with a silk tie with a woolly suit. You’re like ol’ God it doesn’t work. And then finding the right manufacturer, as there are millions of tie makers out there, but my absolute favourite is this little one I discovered in Cornwall. It’s a simple wool tie but feel the lightness of it. Usually when you work with wool, you end up with this huge knot that looks awful but there has been so much thought in the interlining of the ties, to use the right quality to use wool and cotton in the lining. The ties are as well thought through as the rest of the collection. I always love to have a dash of colour in the pocket squares. It’s partly hidden by the double-breasted lapel here, but it adds that sort of elegant nonchalance to the look. Quality is key here. You have a silk-cotton blend and a wool-silk blend. We chose mainly to work with the cutaway collar because it dresses casual things up in a lovely way, but I love working with a button-down collar too but also seeing what happens. I’m wearing a button-down today and I like to dress things down (his button-down is unbuttoned). If you want to dress it up or down its up to you. When it comes to fit, there are four different ones – to cater for as many people as possible. It’s one of the powers of being a specialist, you can do this.
sartorialee: is this an on-going project?
Ant: I don’t know if it’ll be on-going. We haven’t ruled out the idea of doing something again later down the line, we’re just trying to enjoy the fact that it all worked out and we’re really happy how it turned out.
Seb: We’re enjoying the now. It’s been working really well. We launched the collection in the Stockholm area recently and I’ve really enjoyed walking in to our shops and seeing the collaboration and the customers love it. I’ve even had letters of admiration, there’s definitely a possibility that we’ll do something more together, I don’t know what it will be, we haven’t talked about it.
The Eton X Eidos collection is available online, or from:
Eton Flagship Store, 53 South Molton St, London W1K 5SF
Prices start from £140 for shirting, £295 for knitwear, £595 for jackets and top coats £795.