The Loden Coat’s Style and Substance
James Hunt. David Ogilvy. Those are just a few of the 81 names in Patrick Grant’s “Original Man: The Tautz Compendium of Less Ordinary Gentlemen” (Gestalten), his recent book about the uniquely stylish fellows who inspire his work as owner and designer of both menswear label E. Tautz and Savile Row tailor Norton & Sons.
The most appealing of the bunch to me is Gunter Sachs, the late German jet-setter, legendary lady-killer, accomplished bobsledder and art collector who wooed Brigitte Bardot in 1966 by dropping hundreds of red roses by helicopter over her home in St. Tropez. (They wed about two months later.) “If it’s possible to be both a playboy and a figure of substance, then Gunter ‘Sexy’ Sachs was that man,” wrote Mr. Grant.
In 1967, Mr. Sachs wears a traditional German hat and charcoal-colored loden wool coat as he takes an autumn stroll with his new bride. Loden fabric—a dense matted sheep’s wool that is almost completely wind- and waterproof—has been around for over 900 years. It was originally worn by farmers and shepherds in the Austrian Alps, and then adapted by the area’s aristocracy for hunting and leisure. It usually comes in hunter green but can also be found in navy or charcoal.
“Gunter’s coat is a traditional style with a long collar and a special cut of shoulder for protection against the rain and to carry the gun for hunting,” said Alfons Schneider, owner of Schneiders of Salzburg, a company specializing in loden garments for more than 50 years. Mr. Grant is also an advocate of the piece. “The loden coat is one of the few things that central Europe has contributed to the classic wardrobe of modern menswear,” he said, pointedly.