“Suit Geek” is PRINCIPLE M’s original feature column where each month we reach out to one of our loyal customers & friends and ask him to share his clothing, life, and his unique point of view on gentlemen‘s style.
For our 16th interview, we invited our long-time client & friend Mr. Dmitri. Born and raised in Russia, his old family photos became his early inspiration archive, not long after he developed a great interest in classical menswear. He sees suits as his second layer of skin, feeling like he could be someone else, going on an adventure in it, like in a novel. He also shares his love for art and literature, which will definitely resonate with some of our readers.
/FAMILY HERITAGE AND INFLUENCE
I grew up in St. Petersburg. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the school uniform ceased to be mandatory, so in high school, there were no uniforms. I was the only one wearing suits, probably. I wore something like my great grandfather used to wear during his school years.”
“Growing up, I remember looking at our family photos, from the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. In the pictures, they were wearing suits since the Victorian age. I was fascinated and wanted to dress like that.”
“At work, I usually wear traditional business suits. Navy suits. Single-breasted. Nothing special. When I’m on vacation I’d go for something special. Like if I go to France, to the countryside, I’d wear a tweed jacket, or travel suits, channeling a 19th-century style. It feels very nice.”
“You know how they say that some people weren’t born at the right time that fits them? I’m wearing a tweed jacket, on the train, traveling to the French countryside, I feel like I was someone else, that I could be someone else. Maybe it has something to do with me studying Linguistics and Oriental Studies. Growing up, I read so many books, and always imagined things, wanting to go on an adventure in a certain kind of style. Like in a Sherlock Holmes novel, you wear a tweed jacket, hop on the train and take off.”
Justin: Do you think that’s why modern-day people are so into Cosplay? Except for us, it’s every day (wearing suits), so we can get away with it on a daily basis.
Mr. Dmitri: Exactly. One of the things that fascinate me is what I discovered in Tokyo. The people there working at the office, who have got a nice job at a big private corp. but on the weekend, they put on super complicated costumes, some of them would spend 6 hours doing the makeup, just to become someone else for a day. Maybe that’s also why Harry Potter is so popular because they offer you this universe that you can immerse yourself in, and become a wizard.
“However, I wouldn’t say it is to escape the reality. For me it’s more like altering the reality.”
Justin: What would you pack for travels to Europe? Do you find it difficult?
Mr. Dmitri: It’s not difficult at all for me to pack. You just pack the right suits depending on the season. For example, in winter, I’d pack two tweed suits and some trousers, and you put your coat on, a couple of shirts, you’re done. Pretty easy. Nothing special about it.
For me, it’s always been quite natural. I’ve heard people saying how they found it difficult to match ties with shirts and suits. It’s not that complicated. For me, style comes in a natural form, like it’s already said and done. It’s also like having a capsule wardrobe, where every piece connects with the other. For example, right now I’m wearing this green jacket, it’s easy to match with any light colour trousers, any brown shoes and striped shirts. The same thing with white trousers, you can pair them up with any jacket, green, navy, black, whatever. So it’s not hard at all.
“I made some specific items this year because I’m moving to Oxford, UK to pursue further studies. At a prestige university like Oxford University, they have transitions that I revere, that I want to follow, like formal dinners, the dress code is black tie, you have to wear a dinner jacket. It’s always nice for me to follow those traditions and channel my desire to wear classical menswear.”
Justin: You’ve commissioned quite a few pieces with us this year. Why not wait until you move to the UK and go to Savile Row?
Mr. Dmitri: You know that when you find a good tailor, you don’t tell people who he is even when there’re others forcing you. I’m super happy with here. Why am I looking for something else when you already found the perfect place?”
/HIS LOVE FOR ARTS AND LITERATURE
Mr. Dmitri loves travelling. He told us the main reason for him to travel is for the art exhibitions.
Justin: What is your most recent memorable exhibition?
Mr. Dmitri: Well, for 2020, I didn’t go anywhere because of the covid. In 2019, I went to Paris to see the Da Vinci exhibition in the Louvre. Degas at the Opera at Museé d’Orsay, El Greco at Petit Palais and Francis Bacon at Centre Pomidou.
Justin mentioned once Dmitri told him that he flew to Paris from Beijing on a weekend just for an exhibition.
Mr. Dmitri: Yeah. So Air France has red-eye flights. Hop on the plane at 11pm in Beijing and 5am you land in Paris. Then you spend a weekend there, fly back at night from Paris to Beijing and arrive at 8am in the morning. So you see, it’s doable, but exhausting. I wouldn’t recommend people to do it, haha. Except there’s a very important exhibition at Louvre, like Da Vinci, which only happens once in 20 years.”
“Now it’s impossible, with quarantines and all.”
500 years after his death, the ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ exhibition (October 24, 2019 – February 24, 2020) attracted over 1 million visitors, which set a record for the Louvre.
We also discussed Dmitri’s most recent favourite literature work.
“The author I connect with the most recently is Joseph Brodsky, a Russian-american poet. I’ve always loved his poems. But for some reason, recently, I’ve been reviewing some of his poetry. With poetry, I think it’s the same for me with suits. You can’t put it into words; it’s just the feeling. Like if I ask you to explain what love is, that is not something you can explain. Poetry, without the form, there’re just senseless words. A friend of mine, a professor who teaches French literature, once told me how to define a good poem: it’s the poem when every word is connected to every other word, that’s what creates the magic. It’s like when you’re wearing a suit. You just have to feel it.” □ PRINCIPLE M
Interviewer: Justin Writer: Carrie Photographer: Adora Produced by PRINCIPLE M