A Master Presses

    Sometimes words fail, and not because a few can’t be committed to paper—that never seems to be a problem.  Describing the complex or entirely subjective can be a challenge, but some jagged attempt is always possible.  No—the impasse to which I refer has little to do with ability; sometimes words are just not the best medium.  

    Returning from a recent trip, and despite my well planned packing, I found a linen suit was creased beyond the charming rumples that make wearing the stuff a pleasure.  With a holiday weekend full of invitations approaching, I needed it pressed.  As it happened, I had an appointment with my tailor, Chris Despos, so I brought the suit along with hopes of a tutorial.  What I instead witnessed was a master in his dojo vanquishing wrinkles with razor-sharp focus, speed and a few moments of humor.  

    His iron is old and formidable.  His bench wears a battered padded top.  Other implements—a standard spray bottle, a sleeve board, a shoulder stand, strips of unbleached muslin—are no more high-tech than the principle behind pressing itself.  As Despos puts it: “wrinkles release under pressure, heat and steam—remove one and you aren’t pressing.”  This is why he warns against hanging garments in a steam-filled bathroom—that old routine does little  but fuzzes the nap and puckers the seams.  

    I dislike when crafts or skills are compared to art as I feel doing so cheapens both.  But I must admit the parallels to poetry are obvious: form, structure, intent, beauty, and, finally, imperfection.  “A suit,” Despos says, “should never be perfectly pressed.”   Could have fooled me.