Last night was the third and almost final week of Cafe Lago’s Seattle Met-curated fashion dinner discussions, and Michael Cepress’s dissertation on the lived experience of clothing was insightful, thoughtful, and funny—the perfect complement to the previous weeks’ chats about Italian manufacturing and Italian suiting, that I figured I had better hop on and provide a recap for those who weren’t able to be there.
Way back on January 4 (it does seem so long ago), we kicked off the series with Amanda Brotman, who, among other things, told the packed back bar area at the Montlake restaurant about the Italian lady who refused to work weekends just because production was running a late for a little something called New York Fashion Week. The woman was making all the bags of a certain style, start to finish, for Brotman’s Amanda Pearl line. If I’m remembering correctly (there was prosecco, and then wine), it took her about a day to do each one. Brotman and her husband essentially attempted to bribe the old gal into working overtime, but she was having none of it. Very European, huh? Feel free to relate this tale to your boss next time you’re asked to log in on a Sunday. Oh, and I had pizza.
The following week, I had steak and my husband had lasagna. We kind of shared. More importantly, Lago was full of handsomely attired forty- (fifty-?) somethings with perfect George Clooney hair. It was a sight to behold. And Gian DeCaro held it. The second generation Italian tailor delivered a thoroughly entertaining monologue on men’s style from an Italian perspective. Guys, bag the black suit and get one in navy—and (does it need to be said?) be sure it fits impeccably. This and other sartorial tips (your suit jacket looks silly without a pocket square in the pocket, but don’t ask how to fold it, just tuck it in there and get over yourself) came with DeCaro’s bawdy sarcasm and brotherly ribbings. Someone needs to get that guy a TV show.
We had to skip a week because of Snowpocolypse (more on that in a minute), but a new group gathered on January 25 for UW fine arts and textiles guru Michael Cepress. While I had meatballs with linguine and a caesar salad, the always dandily dressed menswear designer managed to compress a history of tailoring, a history of costume, and the spiritual, energetic properties of loved, worn cloth into a 40 minute chat—with slides. I don’t know if the room loved him more when he explained how tailors used to use the shape of their palms to measure the pattern of an arm hole, or when he told us that science has solid proof that what we wear, especially our jewelry, carries our energy, our essence. Cepress is a born speaker—a fantastic teacher. We all wanted to quit our jobs and take his class, even after he told us about his infamous first-week-of-the-semester assignment: students are asked to create 50 sketches or collages on a theme of their choosing. 50 collages or other small art pieces; one theme. He says it’s the best way to shed convention and cliche and really get underneath an idea.
At each of the above, strangers sat next to each other and passed the Parmesan and gratis appetizers and chatted about the weather, the dinner, their ideas about style, and whatever else. It’s great to see Lago going beyond the realm of what a restaurant usually does, and it’s great to the community respond in kind.
There is one more after-school special if you’re up for it. While we originally conceived this series as a thing that January would contain, Mother Nature had other ideas. Because of the recent storm, we had to cancel my January 18 shopping tour of Seattle-as-Italy and put it back on the calendar for February 8. There are a few spots left at the family-style communal table; call Lago and reserve yours. If I can do half as well as my cohorts, it should be a pretty good time.