Introducing Project Furious Eagle: An Unexpected Collaboration
Gentlemanly and heritage-driven are words often used to describe Turnbull & Asser and when thinking of like-minded brands or institutions, there are definitely a handful that spring to mind. One would assume that a tattoo parlour is not one of them – that is, until now.
While certainly embracing our historic past and dandy-man customer, Turnbull & Asser could equally be described as eccentric, innovative and at times, unpredictable. This contemporary yin to our classicist yang has never been more dominant than with our new collaboration with Mr Mo Coppoletta, owner of The Family Business tattoo salon in Exmouth Market, London. An Italian body art expert partnering with our peacock designer Dean Gomilsek-Cole? Only The Rake, a friend to both establishments and barometer for modern luxury could have brainstormed such an offbeat pairing.
‘When The Rake instigate a meeting you know they have something special in mind,’ T&A head of design Dean explains. ‘They are the curators of all things tasteful so any collaboration they put on the table has been well thought through. A tattoo artist and a Jermyn Street shirtmaker? It’s not a case of thinking outside the box - there is no box.’
Together the trio of brands have created a two-piece collection that sees the quintessential menswear accessory, the pocket square, personalised and further evolved to produce what Dean has dubbed the ‘mega square’. The latter is quite literally a super-sized version of the former measuring 140cm x 140cm, making it more scarf than hank.
Dean created the mega square in brilliantly rebellious fashion after he was repeatedly told that the pocket square was dead and he should spend no creative mind space on it. ‘I love the phrase “go big or go home”,’ he says, ‘I thought the larger the scale, the louder the statement.’
‘My design ethos is based around taking a rooted knowledge of the past and reinterpreting it to fit the modern age, and this approach is shared by T&A.’ – Mo Coppoletta
A core objective of the collaboration was to focus on the main thing that T&A and The Family Business have in common – pure artistic skill. Dean explains: ‘Most of [T&A’s] innovations come through the constant experimentation with new cloths but this time the innovation wasn’t focused on fabric - it was all about getting two very different design studios to collaborate on something that ultimately fitted so perfectly. The project became known by the moniker “Furious Eagle”.’
Already used to translating his illustrations on to the most permanent canvas of all, skin, Mo saw men’s accessories as an exciting new concept.
‘Collaborating with Turnbull & Asser was a perfect fit. My design ethos is based around taking a rooted knowledge of the past and reinterpreting it to fit the modern age, and this approach is shared by T&A. Brainstorming with Dean felt so natural, we really let our imaginations run wild.’
The results were wild indeed – the pocket square features a detailed illustration of the eponymous bird, wings spread and clutching a pair of shields emblazoned with reimagined T&A and The Rake logos – but also gritty, with naval and industrial iconography decorating the background.
Mo explains: ‘Our inspiration was English heritage; a tribute to all things handmade that require manual hard work and craftsmanship at its highest level. This included turn-of-the-century dockyard imagery, industrial harbour landscape, war prints, propaganda posters and brickwork.’
Inspiration was English heritage including dockyard imagery, industrial harbour landscape and war prints.
As for the mega square, given the sizable nature of the garment one would assume that the subject would be nothing short of epic. On the contrary, Mo chose to embrace a more comedic angle while still alluding to a vintage era: ‘A touch of humour was due. A gentleman has to remember not to take himself too seriously at times and doing that in an elegant way is a sign of a great personality.’
So what did he do? ‘I kept within the theme of war but took a less tragic approach. I am an avid antique collector and once bought some old bandages called Esmarch [from German surgeon Friedrich von Esmarch] which were part of soldiers’ battlefield equipment. There used to be beautiful gentlemen’s drawings showing the different ways that these bandages could be used and that gave me the idea to do the same with the mega square.’ A very fitting idea given Dean’s tongue-in-cheek styling of the mega square at LCM which saw the huge creation flowing from models’ pockets and around their shoulders.
‘It takes a lot of courage and confidence to translate the past successfully for a contemporary audience without appearing too ‘retro’ or dated,’ Mo concludes. ‘I couldn’t be any happier to be part of this project.’
The limited edition squares officially launch at the end of October and will be available to buy in a multitude of colours on the Turnbull & Asser website.
Visit Mo Coppoletta
Visit The Rake
Photography by Piers Cunliffe