Second Skin


Which gentleman wouldn't like a suit which fits like second skin? But one needs a master tailor to make it a reality. Camps de Luca from France definitely fits the bill!

By: Veronique Poles, Luxury & Fashion Consultant

Posted on: December 10, 2011

Which gentleman wouldn’t like a suit which fits like second skin? But one needs a master tailor to make it a reality. Camps de Luca from France definitely fits the bill!

Men need a masterpiece suit jacket, and oodles of confidence of course, to exude power. And the jacket has to be made by a master tailor to provide the best effect! What better option than Camps de Luca?

Camps de Luca has been enchanting connoisseurs of crisp tailoring for three generations now. The brand story is marked by friendship and partnership. Joseph Camps and Mario de Luca were friends, each one with a different character. Joseph Camps, who had done his training in Spain, was an innovator. In the 1960s, he made a great impact in men’s fashion by revolutionizing cut and style. He developed many innovative ideas for men, to give them elegance, style, comfort and true Parisian chic! Mario de Luca had trained with his uncle who was a tailor in Abruzzo in east of Rome. He was more attracted towards the art of ‘le coup d ‘oeil’. He developed an innate sense of style, aesthetic and harmonious lines while designing in perfect proportion to be able to best embody the customer.

They were two independent, already renowned tailors when they arrived in Paris in 1946. They united and combined their talents to form Camps de Luca which was born in 1969. The two tailors were part of the ‘Group of Five’ which was something very innovative in those days. The group was the platform of the best five master tailor houses of Paris united together. In those days, ready to wear (prêt à porter) did not exist. The group, however, decided to design all together two collections per year and showcase them during fashion events.

Mario de Luca’s son, Marc de Luca, began his apprenticeship in 1970 at the age of 16. He spent 12 years learning the trade - assembly techniques, making of patterns, fittings, etc. When he reached the level of becoming master tailor, in 1982, his second son Charles was born… More than 20 years later, Charles de Luca became his ‘student’. Julien, his brother, works along with him too.

Camps de Luca works exclusively on-order with each one being unique. For many years, politicians, the elite in the art world, and royalty, have pushed open the door of their atelier in Place de la Madeleine. The father-sons trio knows how to create signature pieces that combine comfort and elegance. But to immerse ourselves more in the tradition of fashion and craftsmanship, we have a beautiful interview with Mr Charles de Luca from this Parisian atelier.

Veronique Poles: How has Camps de Luca made a revolution by innovating with some specific elements in men’s fashion?
Charles de Luca: Undoubtedly, in those days, the trends were given by English tailors. Like with most of the French tailors, Camps de Luca developed a compromise between the English style and a kind of Italian work. The house Camps de Luca, however, is characterized by a constant search for quality and innovation, while keeping alive the spirit of tradition, always looking for new lines and cuts. It stands out as a reference in the excellence of made-to-measure traditions and bespoke products.

VP: What are some ingenious fine details that you have created?
CL: Camps de Luca has developed a number of details that have inspired many Parisian tailors such as the side seam, the roped sleeve head, the ‘Camps’ lapel (a lapel which has quite an acute angle, the vents are fairly high and larked with the iron) and other details such as the little raindrop pocket (in the left lower front). In fact, Smalto, a well-known French designer, was trained at Camps de Luca workshop and he used some of those secrets later on in his collection. Most of the French tailors are part of Camps de Luca School of tailoring. It’s a way to follow the tradition and to keep it alive.

VP: What made Camps de Luca focus on the chest?
CL:
In the cut named ‘Camp de Luca’, which is a distinguished feature, we create clamps with the fabric, to shape the chest and highlight it. The chest is cut sleek, which refines the size and accentuates length. Clients find that this cut gives them a feeling of invincibility and power with extraordinary comfort!

VP: What are the secrets of the ‘Parisian comfortably heroic fit’ which is the mantra of Camps de Luca and how many steps are needed to make the inimitable Camps de Luca jacket?
CL: Thirty-three measurements are needed to establish a pattern. The collar is sewn on by hand in true Luca style. The Camps de Luca signature jacket is fitted at the waist, the chest is highlighted, the sleeves are floating and the shoulder stands out while appearing natural. As we work on details, we have quality finishing and the specific stitched seams are distinctive signs which are the hallmark of the atelier.

When a client orders a suit for the first time with us, three fittings are required after the session of measurement. Then we keep all the information recorded for following orders.
The cut and assembly are executed entirely by hand. The Camps technique is, no doubt, the Parisian signature of elegance. It’s also a worldwide renowned method and technique, notably marked by an angle for the lapel fairly closed.

VP: How many hours and how many people are involved to make a perfect suit?
CL: I should say 65-75 hours, following the finalization of the pattern, are needed to make a suit. Each person in the workshop has been assigned meticulous tasks. And every one is conscious that excellence is the result of teamwork. Patience and precision reigns at the Atelier

About six to seven people are involved in working on each jacket suit. We have a competent and passionate team with different talents and skills and we make efforts to maintain specialized workers as our workstations require traditional production techniques, for example, the head cutter, the trouser maker, the person in charge of the handmade buttonholes, the person in charge of attaching the sleeves, lining attachment step, and sometimes the expert is waistcoat is also required.

VP: What are the traditional techniques still maintained?
CL: We proceed step by step, starting with the measurement and realization of pattern, preparing the canvas, form around the chest, then assembling the jacket fitting once for the fitting session. When the adjustments are done, we can assemble the shoulder at the jacket, the collar and sleeves are sewn for a second fitting. Every step is done by hand, and only a few seams are done through machine. More than 95 per cent of the work on our jackets is done by hand. And to give an example, we need 15 minutes to make a hand made buttonhole!

VP: How many years of training are required to learn the assembly techniques, the making of patterns, etc, before becoming a master tailor?
CL: A lifetime! To learn how to make a jacket, it takes seven to eight years. To learn the pattern making step it takes two years! To become a master tailor it takes minimum fifteen years.

VP: Some examples of your unforgettable, most challenging, most beautiful bespoke creations?
CL: We do not disclose the name of our clients, but just to give an example, once we made a jacket for a client who asked us to use some Hermes scarves to make the lining.

Sometimes, we order very rare fabrics, even vintages ones with only a few meters available in the world today. Only few exclusive men in the world will get a suit jacket made out of those fabrics! Once we made a jacket with crocodile skin using 23 skins to make it.

VP: What are the types of fabrics you use?
CL: We have reviewed our production work to adjust our techniques to the various fabrics available nowadays. In particular, they are some blends like mixed wool, silk, cashmere which react differently to heat. They are part of the parameters we take under consideration when cutting or assembling the fabric. We have been adapting ourselves to this and I should say that we are proud of our expertise on the finest fabrics, which also forms a part of our actual reputation.

We work with the best suppliers of fabrics like Holland & Sherry Scabal, Drapers, Loro Piana and Dormeuil to mention some. Being some of the best tailor masters in the world, we are used to having the most exclusive and unique fabrics delivered to us.

VP: A Camps De Luca suit is also like an investment. What is the average price for a suit?
CL: Our prices start at 6000 Euros. As for limited editions fabrics, some of them cost more than 3000 Euros per meter, which means an average of 15,000 Euros only for material!

VP: You have fitted Kings, Princes, President, Film stars, famous singers…can you name few of them?
CL:
The King of Jordan, the Shah of Iran, President of Argentina. We have dressed French artists and stars. In particular, we are very proud that my grandfather personally took care of the international well-known French singer Claude François for his shows. He used to come to us…

VP: You work exclusively on-order for private customers. Where are they from?
CL: Our customers are both French and international, coming from Eastern Europe, Asia, Emirates and South America. The Chinese customers started coming to us a year ago. They come with their own fabrics which are much lighter than the ones we use, due to the climate in their country, and the fabrics do not react the same way. We have to admit that making suits for the Chinese customer is a great experience. It enhances our know how and enriches our expertise

VP: Coming to Camps de Luca atelier is like a throwback to another era. Nevertheless, what is the average age of your customers? How you can explain this situation?
CL: We try our best to maintain tradition with evolution. And despite the fact that Camps de Luca may seem like a throwback to another era, the majority of our clientele has an average age of 35 to 45. It’s a sign of renaissance justified by the fact that they are now sick of either semi-measured offers or tired of their suits marked with famous luxury labels. They prefer customized products signifying a kind of return to tradition, personalized advice, patient sessions of listening and understanding their needs, specifications and dreams. They value the unique relation they can get with their ‘personal master tailor’ - which is a sign of, what we can call, long lasting desirable luxury!

VP: Who do you dream to make a bespoke jacket for?
CL: Georges Clooney. Who else? But on a more serious note, anyone who appreciates our art.

VP: What is luxury for you?
CL: To make your desires come true and to experience beautiful ‘rencontres’! It's a privilege.

Véronique Polès is a freelance fashion and luxury consultant based in Mumbai, with more than 15 years of extensive experience with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Givenchy and Waterman/Gillette Pen Company just to mention a few. Bespoke creations, however, are her first love. For LuxuryFacts, she unveils some of the best-kept secrets in the sphere of ‘word of mouth landmarks’ for connoisseurs of products with substance. They are greatest creations, made by artisans of excellence and guardians of tradition, who work with passion for details and quality to make your dreams come true.

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