Saturday, November 7, 2009

Redux: Savile Row Meets Mount Everest

Ok…perhaps the title of this post is a bit of a stretch but not by too much. There is some history to correlate the British affinity for exploration and Savile Row. The Royal Geographic Society occupied No. 1 Savile Row before the building was purchased by Hawkes&Co. Today, Gieves and Hawkes still occupies No. 1. In 1866 while searching for the source of the Nile, explorer Dr. David Livingstone is rescued by journalist H.M.Stanley. Stanley is dressed by Henry Poole & Co and Dr. Livingstone by Gieves.

The legendary mountaineer...George Mallory
Most of us who engage in any kind of outdoor activity wouldn’t trade our North Face, Gore-Tex and Patagonia wares for the foppish predispositions of late 19th/early 20th century British explorers. However, you gotta give it to the Brits. It’s one thing to have worn a tie while playing golf in the late 1800’s but these guys even dressed for Everest!

The story of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine is a tragic but absolutely intriguing one. I’ve read three books on Mallory and his Everest attempts and loved every word of them. It’s a deep dive into exploration, risk taking and that Victorian-Edwardian British appetite for adventure. Unfortunately, Mallory never made it off of Everest and his body lay frozen there untilConrad Anker found him in 1999.

George Mallory and Sandy Irvine en route to India

Tweed Jacket and Plus-Fours meet the oxygen rig.
Mallory replete in a Norfolk Jacket
Every imaginable Country Suit treatment made it's way to Everest
Mallory died on Everest in 1924 at age 37. He was considered at the time of his death to be one of the world’s expert mountaineers. A Cambridge rower, he was friends with poet Robert Graves, serving in Graves’ wedding as Best Man. Style and aplomb were not lost on these explorers, even if some of them did not make it back from Everest.
Relaxing in Campaign or "Knock Down Furniture" including the infamous Roorkhee Chair
Conrad Anker finds Mallory's frozen body in 1999 and here above, is the sartorially-sequential-layered evidence of Mallory's attempt to foil the cold.
The proverbial unanswered question among Everest experts is whether or not Mallory and Irvine had made the summit and were on the way down when they fell. Most experts are inclined to believe that they never made it to the top.

Parts of Mallory's kit...Meat Lozenges...oy.


ELS said...

I just love this! Watched Shackleton last week weeping with laughter at the mad clothing they took - and wore. Have ongoing goretex versus tweed debate with the Colonel which he laid firmly to bed last February in the north of Sweden at minus 25; I hardly felt the cold due to the modern petrochemical schnmutter I had on. Am absolute convert, but still secret admirer of those who legged it up Everest in long johns and a tweed jacket with string toed round it.

Meat lozenges. The mind boggles

ADG said...

"modern petrochemical schnmutter" ....THIS my dear friend ELS, is why people will read your blog!

Anonymous said...

Well . . . what a happy turn. The redux is reflective on a few significant levels.

The one that impresses and warms me most is how it reveals the broadening and deepening of your following over the months: more are tuning in now, so more are getting to experience the former posts for the first time; and the longer-time set is now naturally tuned to the sort of sartorial and cultural nuance that you are so deft at illuminating (like breathing, my friend), hence they get to enjoy the former posts with fresh appreciation.


Rasputin said...

"modern petrochemical scnmutter"-
I am officially stealing this phrase!
Glad to see a fellow Mallory afficianado! Conrad Anker actually complted an Everest ascent dressed in period clothing a few years ago- (he donned modern gear for the final ascent).
His opinon was that Mallory's gear was crap.
If you want another take on early exploration, try Roald Amundsen's account of his expeditions. Romanticism aside, Amundsen was successful because he was so pragmatic and painstaking in his planning.
Thanks again for the post!

Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - I love this post. It's far greater than the sum of it's words and deserves to be re-posted at regular intervals. If you're going to die in the attempt then be as stylish and as well-dressed as possible. That's certainly the way I intend to go...

Scott said...

Poor old George. Between his parents' issues with money, status and that Leigh-Mallory business, and his rather bizarre Bloomsbury Group "friends", I don't see how he didn't go stark bonkers. I guess the stress of the war wiped all that stuff away and somehow set him right. That and mountaineering. And Ruth. Too bad how it all turned out.

I love that Norfolk jacket photo; and Cottie Sanders has a lot to do with it.


Summer is a Verb said...

I have always had a secret fantasy of climbing Everest. Of course, I would be in full Sandy Hill Pittman mode; Hermes scarfs, satelite phone contacts, sherpas, et al...XXOO

Skip Brooks said...

Off topic but I just wrote a post on my blog about LL Bean's Rubber mocs and I was wondering if its possible to flip the tongue down like in the TOPH. Trip told me that you wrote a old post on how its not possible anymore.

Leave a comment on my blog if you get a chance. Thanks ADG!

Love you blog!

heavy tweed jacket said...

There is a certain romance to the exploration of this era that the clothing and accessories only heightens. It must have been brutal, though. Tweed is an absolute must in a chilly room, but going up Everest? I also would need a flask of something strong. Great post.

ADG said...

Thanks all and yes Allie...I'm with Sandy. If I can't roll over and call room service-I'm not gonna be the happiest camper in the tent. LFG will tell you that the Sherry Netherland in NYC is HER hotel and that it's three thousand years old.