The cutting-edge spirit for discovery and innovation is relentless at the House of Dormeuil. The roots of this family story wind back to 1842 when at the age of 22, Jules Dormeuil began to import English fabrics to France. He was joined by his brothers, Alfred and Auguste Dormeuil some sixteen years later, setting up the company as Dormeuil Frères, with headquarters at fashionable 4 Rue Vivienne in Paris.
By 1871, Jules Dormeuil had opened his first shop in the thriving tailoring district of London at 10 New Burlington Street. The momentum continued for the family with premises on Fifth Avenue, New York in 1905 as well as forming strong relationships in Japan and China. The roaring 1920s marked the beginning of its ladies division and the build of the prestigious Dormeuil House in London’s Golden Square.
The expanding cloth collection was boosted by Pierre Dormeuil (who went on to invent Sportex® in 1927, nicknamed “the cloth of champions” – the first ever cloth to use a woven selvedge) and Xavier Dormeuil (who introduced the famous Tonik® cloth composed of mohair – including its reputation for resisting creases and keeping its wearer comfortable in both warm and chilly temperatures).
Over 170 years on and the family passion for the world’s finest and rare fibres continues to cement the company’s reputation across five continents today. Dormeuil has its own design team and manufactures in England, using that special combination of the best of modern technology and traditional methods. I met up with Dormeuil’s Sales Director, Mr. Patrick Bunting, at their elegant London showroom in Sackville Street. Patrick’s knowledge and luxury antenna is evident – he is the master of the detail throughout the collection – fibre compositions, cloth construction and weight properties and, naturally, the design potential throughout the collection. I must also mention Dormeuil’s New York-based Sales Manager, Mr. Luke Mayes, who is equally fabric-fluent. Luke is inventive – he shares his passion for cloth brilliantly in the digital world, keeping the Dormeuil audience up to speed with tempting style and the latest cloth developments.
Across the pond, in September this year, Dormeuil was crowned Winner In Suiting. In partnership with The Woolmark Company and Saks Fifth Avenue, Dormeuil scooped the Fabric No.1 Award, a prestigious prize that commends the season’s finest fabrics for made-to-measure suits and sport coats from the world’s premiere textile mills.
Dormeuil’s winning fabric’s pure long filament Super 150’s worsted wool has the enigmatic name of “15 point 8.” This refers to the very fine diameter of the fibre used (a mere 15.8 microns) to create a fine, wonderfully soft cloth perfectly suited for wearing every season of the year. The extraordinary handle is further enhanced by the special 2/120 compact yarn used in both the warp and the weft. The compact yarn is woven in an extremely tight British setting, which gives incredible quality, regularity and performance for such a fine fabric. Dormeuil’s exclusive finishing process is applied to create a lustrous soft handle. This fabric is 100 per cent wool and available exclusively at Saks Fifth Ave as a limited edition, individually numbered, two-piece made-to-measure suit.
Dormeuil’s innovative cloths dress the globe’s elite – kings, presidents and Hollywood’s A-listers. Even Baz Luhrman, with his much-anticipated adaptation of Scott F. Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, couldn’t resist Dormeuil, either. I heard that Jay Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and other cast members were dressed in suits made from Dormeuil fabrics.
In addition to dressing Tinseltown’s elite, one of Dormeuil’s latest innovations is Extreme Vicuña. No stranger to the vicuña at The Luxury Channel – the Channel’s film feature of this beautiful and protected species was enjoyed around the globe. Vicuña are protected and regulated by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and are the smallest of the Camelid family at just 2ft 8″-3ft 7″ (0.8-1.1m) at the shoulder. They typically weigh in the region of 99-121lb (45-55kg). They are extremely refined to look at, cinnamon in colour with an apron of long white hair on their chest – and produce one of the finest fibres of any animal in the world.
For Dormeuil, the fascination is the native vicuña. The protected animal is treated with great care and respect during the shearing process, which takes no more than ten minutes. Each animal is only sheared every two years, providing approximately 300 grams of wool. For the very first time, in addition to Peruvian vicuña, Dormeuil has recently used Argentinean fibres. Extremely rare and very pale, it’s also extremely difficult to weave – the exclusive raw material gives Dormeuil’s Extreme Vicuña collection its supremacy. From careful shearing to precision weaving and finishing, Dormeuil ensures the traceability of this precious fibre. Its unparalleled length and fineness have an unmatched brightness. This really is the secret of their beauty and dreamy lustre. These qualities have allowed Dormeuil’s master weavers to create cloth of highly unusual colour and brilliance. Looking through the palette of ten colours, I noticed several unexpected choices, including gentle beige, light grey and plum – a reflection of the South American Mountains. For those working with this incredible cloth, vicuña wool allows scope for much technical virtuosity. The Extreme Vicuña collection stands out as unique – representing excellence, cutting-edge spirit and luxurious chic.
Sales Director Patrick Bunting and I threw water over some of the Dormeuil cloths. It was time to get in to Nano mode and the world of the Modern Man – crossing business frontiers and managing the unexpected moments in life. Dormeuil’s Aquaplan is a Super 130’s merino wool and is treated with a special Nano surface finish – just brilliant when surviving the changes in weather, lively coffee and mobile evening cocktails! Any liquid will just roll over the surface of this dynamic innovation. Aquaplan is the high tech fabric and should be worn in all weather conditions. I dare you!
From New Zealand’s merino wool to silk from India and China, cashmere from Mongolia to vicuña from the Andes, Dormeuil is the all-time top cloth creator for me, with an unparalleled knowledge base that has led the company to successfully (and sometimes exclusively) weave some of the finest and softest fibres in existence.
Melanie Sarah Image Styling, based in West Berkshire, is a bespoke service for men and women built on sound, expert knowledge and strong collaborations. Many of Melanie’s clients are British and are based in the UK, whilst some book a style review as part of their visit from overseas. From London to Bath, Melanie’s projects help her clients to fine tune their personal style.
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