THE SHOULDER

It’s often in the style of the shoulder that you can distinguish a tailor’s signature, that complex interplay between the armhole and the head of the sleeve. Each tailor pre-empts his territory with his own way of conceiving the shoulder. Couturiers also see it as the place of their singularity, which makes Martin Margiela say that what interests him is the shoulder and the shoes, the rest he fills in.

There are many distinct shoulder styles: The distinctive concave pagoda shoulder, for instance, exemplified by Cifonelli’s la cigarette, features a pronounced downward “swoop” that visually uplifts the wearer, enhancing their stature. This is a visual detail so striking that Karl Lagerfeld famously remarked, “I could spot a Cifonelli shoulder from a hundred meters away.”

Another way is the so-called cigarette shoulder, which presents a smooth transition from shoulder to sleeve distinct from the roped shoulder prevalent in classical English tailoring  and the traditional Florentine style.

Finally, the ripples or shirring of a Neapolitan jacket shoulder, known as spalla a camicia, draw attention to the jacket’s broadest point, achieving a visually broader appearance. This construction technique involves taking a wider sleeve and inserting it into a narrower sleeve head, resulting in a shoulder line that seems to sit atop the sleeve.

Contrastingly, the Roman shoulder sits at a midpoint between the structured English shoulder (particularly the roped style) and the unstructured Italian shoulder (notably with light padding). This style gained prominence in Rome at the time of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

Between these major national trends, countless variations and modulations exist, each one a way to assert itself and respond to the morphological singularities of the wearer.

DAY-LEWIS, Daniel, act. Anderson, Paul Thomas, dir. Phantom Thread. 2017. 130min

DAY-LEWIS, Daniel, act. ANDERSON, Paul Thomas, dir. Phantom Thread. 2017. 130min.

DESICA, Vittorio. 1970’s

DESICA, Vittorio. 1970’s.

Pagoda, Vest-shoulder. Prince-of-wales. Husbands.2024

Pagoda, Jacket-shoulder. Prince of wales. Husbands. 2024.

MASTROIANNI, Marcello, act. Frederico, Fellini, réal. La Douceur de vivre. 1960. 167min

MASTROIANNI, Marcello, act. FREDERICO, Fellini, dir. La Dolce Vita. 1960. 167min.

GABIN, Jean, act. Becker, Roger, dir. Don't touch the loot. 1954. 94min

GABIN, Jean, act. BECKER, Roger, dir. Don’t touch the loot. 1954. 94min.

Roman, Vest-shoulder. Houndstooth, tweed. Husbands.2023

Roman, Vest shoulder. Houndstooth, tweed. Husbands. 2023.

MOORE, Roger, act. Glen, John, réal. Octopussy. 1993. 131min

MOORE, Roger, act. GLEN, John, dir. Octopussy. 1993. 131min.

VENTURA, Lino, act. PICCOLI, Michel, act. Boisset, Yves, réal. Espion, lève-toi. 1982. 98 min

VENTURA, Lino, act. PICCOLI, Michel, act. BOISSET, Yves, dir. Espion, lève-toi. 1982. 98 min.

  • THE SHOULDER
    « tailors also see it as the place of their uniqueness»
  • KITANO, THREE MOVEMENTS
    « His countenance and clothes then become the way to read him.»
  • THE PICK STITCH
    « historically done by hand, with a striking visual detail in lighter, brighter fabrics »
  • THE MEN OF MODIANO
    «Writer of memory, Patrick Modiano is also the writer of fabrics.»
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