I recently had a second fitting with Neapolitan trouser maker Salvatore Ambrosi. Ambrosi is something of an internet phenomenon; he’s blogged about in such reverential tones that it’s hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that he’s the world’s best trouser maker, but without making a trip to his workrooms in Naples it’s hard to be sure.
With no shop, no real website and very little in the way of supporting evidence it felt like a leap in the dark when I commissioned a £500 pair of bespoke cords in December, but it also felt like a necessary step. The Ambrosi experience is almost a rite of passage for men into bespoke style.
Our first meeting started inauspiciously, not least because Salvatore doesn’t speak much English, and I don’t speak Italian. This derailed my attempt to persuade him to give my cords a higher waist and a more generous cut than he usually designs. However, he did help me to find a great burnt-orange colour of heavy Holland & Sherry corduroy and he took the necessary measurements.
For my recent fitting I made my way to a modest hotel near Victoria in London. Having, with some difficulty, woken up the napping Salvatore we had a baste fitting for my trousers. They seemed far too small, but he assured me that a solitary extra centimetre in the waistband will take care of all the problems. The cut, slightly to my consternation, is pretty contemporary, meaning the trousers sit on the hip and are fairly fitted. The finished version is due in a fortnight at which point I’ll be ready to pass judgement on Ambrosi’s work, and hope to be able to reveal the baroque levels of intricate handiwork that his clothes are famous for.