How 3 Of Italy’s Master Tailors Are Making Suits Easier To Wear

The tastemakers behind Corneliani, Isaia and Caruso share how their new breed of tailoring fits the way we dress now.

By Aleks Cvetkovic 18/10/2022

For the past five or six years—but especially during the last two—menswear writers around the globe have been either balefully lamenting or gleefully exclaiming, depending on their personal tastes, the demise of the suit.

And indeed, for a time, it looked like the suit might have been on the way out, with brands including Brooks Brothers in the US and Kilgour and Gieves & Hawkes in the UK declaring bankruptcy or entering liquidation in the wake of lockdowns and empty offices.

Around the globe, yes, but in Italy, not so much. According to an admittedly unscientific survey of a few stylish Italian friends, far fewer column inches have been penned there on the subject. Italian tailoring has fared better than elsewhere, perhaps because it’s a different kind of animal: softer and less formal than its Parisian and English counterparts, more lightly constructed and relaxed in attitude than its American cousins. So the Italian sensibility is better primed to adapt more naturally to what is required right now. But possibly, too, because Italian men tend to wear tailored clothing differently—more casually, with an extra shirt button (or two) undone, with jackets unfastened, with loafers. Not just for work. For whenever they want to feel, and look, their best. You’ll often see older Italian men meeting up in town squares wearing tailoring that has clearly been worn for many years and still looks great.

So what can the stylish man, and indeed the style industry, learn from the Italians? We spoke to three of Italy’s biggest sartorial players—Corneliani, Isaia and Caruso—to find out. With close to a year of normal life behind them, this trio has found a post-pandemic-shutdown stride. All three make their clothing in their own dedicated tailoring factories and have evolved their offerings in interesting ways. What, then, do they believe menswear should look like in the post-business-suit era of 2022 and beyond?

To answer this question, Corneliani got creative. The label introduced a new, experimental sub-brand called Corneliani Circle for the autumn/winter 2020 season, just before the pandemic struck. Designed with “a forward-looking approach,” the resulting capsule collection—which featured distinctive pieces such as organic-cotton field jackets and blazer-meets-chore-coat hybrids—marked a step change for a company that has historically relied on traditional suiting. At the start of this year, Corneliani Circle was granted its own dedicated design lead, Paul Surridge, a Briton who was formerly the creative director of Roberto Cavalli. Billed as a collaboration with the new label, Surridge’s role is to “rejuvenate” Corneliani’s classicism and use the Circle collection to set a new, relevant direction. What does “rejuvenating” classic tailoring mean to him? Interviews have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Paul, you started to collaborate with Corneliani on Corneliani Circle in January. What were you thinking after two years of pandemic disruption?

PS: For me, that period was almost a complete reduction of taste, a reduction of style. We were just left with comfort—that was all that mattered. Consumers were bombarded with images of A-list celebrities and style icons in slouchy home attire. The glitz and glamour of the red carpet disappeared. Also, I don’t think the [pandemic] killed [streetwear], but it was already saturated, oversaturated, because it was in everyone’s lives.

Corneliani suiting

Softer, slouchier silhouettes in elegant neutrals, such as this ensemble in monochromatic beige, give a fashion-forward refresh to Corneliani’s classic suiting. Courtesy of Corneliani

How has this filtered into your new vision for Corneliani Circle?

PS: I looked at Corneliani and felt that [the Circle capsule] was an opportunity to rejuvenate tailoring and attract a more fashion-forward demographic by using comfort to do something very elegant.

And what does good taste mean to you?

PS: This whole idea of “radical chic.”

I like “radical chic.” Are you talking about the term Tom Wolfe coined with reference to liberals dressing like radicals?

PS: Yes, I heard the term from a close friend and CEO of a luxury brand when we were discussing design and luxury today. The “radical” works for me because I wanted to be a bit more provocative with the idea of tailoring for Corneliani. For me, this project is about how far I can push the envelope, while being relevant to the brand. The “chic” component is in the colours we used, which are very familiar but put into a differ- ent context. Beautiful earthy tones and sophisticated shades—I find them quite peaceful.

Surridge’s first capsule collection, which will be available next spring, epitomizes this idea. The items are more generous and slouchier than Corneliani’s clean-cut mainline suiting, with a washed-out colour palette and a focus on easy mix-and-match pieces. It’s a very different approach for the brand but still understated and composed. Take, for example, the collection’s Architect jacket, which references a straitlaced British look, with square proportions and a three-button front. Despite its classic roots, the jacket in Surridge’s hands is a subversive piece for customers “with a younger mindset,” distinctive in its silhouette and construction.

PS: It’s an oversized, upscaled blazer. We cut it in wool, hemp and silk, which I was worried might feel a bit [old-school], but by underpinning it with a white T-shirt, a tailored pant and then a long belt, it felt contemporary—like we’d tipped something very traditional into a modern key.

Do you think that modern tailoring still has a place in a man’s wardrobe today?

PS: Totally, it never goes away. The male wardrobe is defined by the shoulder. The shoulder expresses the times.

So, what are your shoulder lines saying about the future of men’s style?

PS: For tailoring to work it has to reflect the mood, so it has to be comfortable. It has to be loose; it can’t be fitted. It has to be soft. The shoulder has to be lightly constructed, and the jacket’s collar has to sit around the neck like a scarf. When you combine these things with the silhouette we worked on, with the jacket longer in the front and the shoulder seams thrown towards the back, you end up with a slightly sportier, easier feel. These aren’t clothes for a suited-and-booted investment banker in a boardroom.

Is the business suit on its way out, then?

PS: I think the idea of a uniform, of “institutional dressing,” is gone. The corporate suit will still exist because some professionals will always need to wear one, but in a world where most of us don’t need to wear suits, we have an opportunity to remove tailoring’s formal aspect and put it into an informal context, which I think is very fresh.

If Corneliani Circle’s new direction is all about quiet, contemporary elegance, at colourful Neapolitan brand Isaia, CEO Gianluca Isaia, representing the third generation of family ownership, has taken a different tack. Isaia has moved quickly to pivot its in-house production, supplementing flamboyant suiting with casual sportswear and all the pieces a man needs to dress down his suits and sport coats. In the first half of 2022, sportswear accounted for 40 per cent of sales, twice what it was going into the pandemic. Dialling in from a break on Capri, Isaia talked about this new strategy and how he’s elevating sportswear with a tailored sensibility.

GI: In 2019, the company was growing in a healthy way—we’d had double-digit growth every year for the past four or five years. Then Covid hit and we had a huge shock, because our sales were mostly concentrated in jackets, suits, dress shirts and ties. Perhaps only 20 per cent of our sales was sportswear.

That sounds challenging. How quickly were you able to respond to that, and what did you do?

GI: Even in the first lockdown, we started to plan a new strategy. Over the last two years we’ve internalized most of the production of casualwear categories that in 2019 we were making with external factories. Our own factory started to produce pajamas, robes, polo shirts and jersey pieces. If nothing else, we had to keep all our makers busy, because there was no need to make any of our tailoring.

Isaia Pinstripe Trouser

These trousers’ double-button waist tab and kissing pleats are among the sartorial details that ground Isaia’s more irreverent designs in the Neapolitan tailoring tradition. Courtesy of Isaia

You clearly recognized the need to respond to the pandemic by creating casualwear. But how do you think the pandemic has changed men’s style long-term?

GI: Men won’t go back in terms of comfort. Take, for example, the classic pant. We are selling more drawstring pants to wear under blazers than we ever have before, even in classic tailoring fabrics. Men’s shoes are different, too—men want more comfortable shoes. Honestly, today, I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to wearing ties.

So luxury sportswear is a growth area for Isaia, then? Is that customer any different from your tailoring one?

GI: Our customer can tell if a buttonhole is sewn by hand or not, and he can recognize hand-stitching, whether it’s in a jacket or a jersey polo. Certainly, our jersey is selling extremely well. We buy the fabrics from the best Italian mills, in cashmere-silk or cotton-silk, and cashmere-cotton blends.

But tailoring is still a significant part of your sales, so how are your customers combining suiting and sportswear?

GI: Let’s say a mix between tailored pieces and sportswear [simultaneously] that feels very fluid. Certainly, that’s what we now stand for as a brand.

Back in the north of Italy, in the town of Soragna, Caruso’s 420-strong tailoring workshop is struggling to keep up with renewed demand. “Production-wise, many brands thought the jacket was dead, and they shut down their own production. Now they’re coming to us,” says CEO Marco Angeloni, who joined the company in 2019 and has steered the ship through the pandemic’s choppy waters. Angeloni’s take on menswear is subtler than that of Surridge and Isaia. Caruso’s collections aren’t as flamboyant as Isaia’s, nor as fashion-led as Corneliani Circle’s. Instead, Angeloni is seeing his customers embrace “playful elegance” and a revived interest in the classics, including statement eveningwear.

Let’s get the obvious question out of the way at the start. How has the pandemic changed menswear for you, and for Caruso?

MA: When it arrived, everyone’s motto was: “The jacket is over. You don’t need a jacket for a video conference.” I think that was true for four or five months.

Now I really believe there’s a desire for a man to, first of all, enjoy life more, and to find pleasure in dressing up again. For sure, this isn’t a comeback of the uniform.

The uniform is something that, in my opinion, was already dead before the pandemic. The pandemic hit it really hard. Now the jacket is coming back because it’s an object of desire. All of a sudden, it’s a way of being chic again. I think we’re seeing something more playful but still elegant coming back.

What does that mean to you? What makes a jacket an object of desire?

MA: It means that we are talking to a man who wants to dress in a way that shows that his clothes are his own choice, not his boss’s choice. Last season, sales were 68 per cent up, which for us is a gigantic comeback. But if I look at the colours, before the pandemic it used to be 80 per cent blue, perhaps 16 per cent grey and then a touch of something else. Now it’s not all about blue. We’re seeing more natural colours sell, like camel, shades of green—something that shows you have taste.

Caruso’s fall/winter ’22 collection, inspired by perennial style muse Miles Davis, is awash in earthy colours and luxurious separates. And as Isaia mentioned, there’s not a tie in sight. Instead, sleek knitwear underpins tonal tailoring, and there’s a surprising focus on standout tuxedos, whether in bright brown silk-wool or bold silk-wool jacquard. Looking ahead to spring 2023, Caruso has developed several new qualities of seersucker in superfine tropical wool, in green, camel and other contemporary colours, challenging the fabric’s stuffy blue-and-white-striped stereotype. But, if Caruso’s styling and fabrications are evolving, the brand’s two oldest and most classic jacket models have quickly bounced back.

Caruso Jacket and Hoodie

Caruso is combining sportswear and soft tailoring for a modern take on the male wardrobe, as with this lightly padded Ponza jacket and wool-cashmere hoodie. Courtesy of Caruso

MA: During the pandemic, we introduced a technical jacket called Ponza, entirely made from Japanese nylon. It sold very well back then. Now I see this is already decreasing because, all of a sudden, people are asking for suits.

So technical, “novelty” tailoring had its moment in the pandemic, but actually that moment has passed?

MA: Yes. Now the Aida jacket [Caruso’s signature tailored jacket] is our best-selling item, a classic jacket in which there’s no shoulder pad whatsoever, just the canvas that runs up into the shoulder. If you look at the category of suits and jackets, the Aida will be almost 50 percent of sales—it’s really strong.

At the same time, we’re seeing an item which we thought was dead, our Norma jacket, which is more constructed, is coming back. I’m not sure whether it’s a fashion statement, or a reaction to hoodies and sweatshirts with no shoulder to them, but there’s a trend coming back there.

So, in 2022, the traditional business suit is on the rocks, and expressive “lifestyle” tailoring to socialize in is on the upswing. But if comfort was menswear’s buzzword in 2021, today the concept is combining with newfound sartorial freedoms and the desire, as Angeloni emphasizes, to play with the traditional uniform and still be elegant.

While the pandemic dealt many suiting brands a heavy blow, it has also helped some tailoring houses—Isaia, Caruso and Corneliani among them—break new ground and rethink what matters to their clients. Gianluca Isaia’s own personal definition of elegance speaks to this shift in perspective:

GI: I don’t think the concept of elegance has changed from before Covid. Elegance is something really personal. I always give this example: You have to imagine yourself on a stage alone with a lot of people in front of you. If you feel comfortable with what you’re wearing, you can be elegant anywhere.

What makes a man elegant in 2022, then?

GI: What has changed is the old concept of the rules: “The shirt has to be like this, the length of the jacket has to be like that.” Now we help our customers to find their own rules to be comfortable, and so to be elegant.”

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The Tod’s SS25 Men’s Collection in Milan Was a Showcase of “Artisanal Intelligence”

It was also the debut men’s collection by creative director Matteo Tamburini.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

Earlier this week, Tod’s presented its SS25 men’s collection at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) for Milan Fashion Week, where all eyes were fixed on Matteo Tamburini and his debut menswear collection as Tod’s newest creative director.

Striking “a balance between tradition and modernity”, was the former Bottega Veneta designer’s intention, and indeed his showcase offerered a spotlight on the quality, materials, and detailing that are central to the Tod’s wardrobe.

“The collection is more about subtraction rather than addition, highlighting the very elevated, timeless and relaxed materials,” says Tamburini via a statement.

Tod’s

In line with Tod’s restrained design codes, the garments presented were characterised by timelessness, unmistakable Italian flair, yet a casualness appropriate for everyday wear. Only the best leathers were used in the collection—thanks to the Pashmy project, which Tod’s unveiled in January to champion high-end Italian materials—used in creating garments like the Tod’s Bomber, the Gio Jacket, the Shirt Jacket, the Di Bag sack, as well as footwear staples, like the Tod’s T-Riviera.

Of course, the iconic Gommino driving shoe wasn’t without an update, too: you’ll find a new sabot interpretation, as well as the Bubble Gommino introduced in a new boat model with the T-bar accessory.

“Craftsmanship” was at the forefront of messaging, with chairman and chief executive officer of the Tod’s Group, Diego Della Valle, reiterating the message of honouring artisanal arts in an increasingly digital-first world.”[It’s] important to uphold artisanal intelligence, keeping under control artificial intelligence as it is now developing rapidly and powerfully,” he said via a statement.

“Individuals and artisanal intelligence at the centre, with its traditions and values, will contribute to keep artificial intelligence in check. Our Italian craftsmanship and supply chain can be an example of the combination of tradition and the new speed of artificial intelligence.”

tods.com

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Pitti Uomo’s Best-Dressed Men Cut Through the Noise With Personal Style

From vintage gems to tasteful tailoring, attendees of Florence’s biannual tradeshow brought their best sartorial selves.

By Naomi Rougeau, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Whether or not you’re well versed in the ins and outs of Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear tradeshow in Florence that brings together buyers, press—and, naturally, a vast ostentation of peacocks—the chances are that photos from the gathering are still making their way into your newsfeed. You might even smirk at the mention of it. To be sure, you’ll encounter plenty of “overdressing” strolling through the main venues but by and large, great personal style manages to cut through the noise.

Part of what makes the Pitti scene so exciting is that menswear moves relatively slowly. It’s less about seeing something earth shatteringly new but rather gradual shifts and discovering fresh ways to put things together. Menswear regulars such as Alessandro Squarzi, owner of a considerable vintage archive that influences his Milanese boutique Fortela, can be relied upon to provide inspiration on how to make tried and true staples and silhouettes feel modern.

Speaking of new old things, vintage fashions made their way into the chat in a big way this June, whether in terms of rare finds or sustainable efforts via upcycling, fabric development and natural dyes (Paris-based De Bonne Facture achieved an ideal medium brown using coffee, for instance). At the heart of the conversation was another bona fide vintage guru Maurizio Donadi who made a case for the timelessness and democratic nature of indigo with his centuries-spanning exhibit of antique garments from around the globe.

Below you’ll find a dozen of our favorite looks from Pitti Uomo 106, lensed by our eagle-eyed street-style photographer Lorenzo Sodi. We hope they inspire.

Lorenzo Sodi

A lesson in simplicity and the power of a classic palette—good quality vintage accents such as a turquoise embellished belt buckle add interest to timeless workwear. Ray-Ban’s universally-flattering Wayfarer sunglasses are the perfect finishing touch.

Lorenzo Sodi

Sans suit and shirt, the neckerchief (of which there were many at Pitti), adds a welcome dose of colour to a white tee and relaxed jacket and proves that sometimes one choice detail is all it takes. A well-loved, slightly-too-long belt and canvas Vans contribute to the casual harmony.

Lorenzo Sodi

Whatever the weather, you’ll find Douglas Cordeaux, from Fox Brothers, looking immaculate in shirt and tie… and a suit made of one of Fox’s many fabrics. British elegance, embodied.

Lorenzo Sodi

Relaxed elegance is the foundation of the Brunello Cuccinelli brand. Here, the maestro himself shows us how it’s done in a double-breasted linen ensemble featuring a few personal flourishes.

Lorenzo Sodi

Designer Alessandro Pirounis of Pirounis offers a masterclass on the rule of three with a contemporary twist, subbing the usual jacket with an overshirt of his own design.

Lorenzo Sodi

A renaissance man takes Florence. True to his roots, US Marine veteran, Savile Row-trained tailor and photographer Robert Spangle blazes a sartorial trail that’s all his own.

Lorenzo Sodi

Cream trousers are an essential element of elegant Italian summer style. Designer Nicola Radano of Spacca Neapolis channels one of the greats (Marcello Mastroianni) in a dark polo of his own design, collar spread wide across his jacket’s lapel for a welcome retro lean.

Lorenzo Sodi

Proof of the power of tonal dressing, that can create an impactful outfit just by sticking to the same colour family. A chic ensemble and in some ways an elevated version of the double-denim look, every element is working hard in service to the whole.

Lorenzo Sodi

UK-based stylist Tom Stubbs has long been a proponent of blousy pleats, lengthy db jackets, and statement-making neck scarves and here, in vintage Armani, he embodies the louche, oversize look that many designers are just now catching up on.

Lorenzo Sodi

A tailor splitting his time between Berlin and Cologne, Maximilian Mogg is known for his strong-shouldered, architectural suiting. Yet in Mogg’s hands, particularly with this non-traditional colour scheme, the effect is always modern and youthful.

Lorenzo Sodi

If Max Poglia’s relaxed Hawaiian shirt and suit combo is any indication, summer has truly arrived. But it’s an excellent example of how to wearing tailoring in more casual fashion. This cream db would look perfect with shirt and tie at a wedding in August and just as chic here with slippers and a laid-back shirt.

Lorenzo Sodi

Another example of how tailoring can be laid-back and breezy for summer, from a dude who looks no stranger to enjoying the best of the warmer months. Jaunty pocket square, sandals, untucked linen shirt…go forth and emulate.

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The 13 Best Watches From Pitti Uomo, From Rolex to Patek Philippe and Piaget

Each year in Florence, Italy, men walk the streets in the finest fashions, and they pair their watches perfectly.

By Allen Farmelo, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Pitti Uomo is a major fashion gathering in Florence, Italy where brands bring their best to buyers and fashion editor alike. But, perhaps more interestingly, Pitti Uomo transforms the streets of Florence into an urban runway on which guys from around the world with more than a passing interest in style go about their business—even if in some cases that business seems just to be hanging around waiting to be photographed—in their best threads and, of course, some excellent watches.

We pondered the relationship between men’s fashion and watches in more detail earlier this year, and what’s fascinating about the intersection of fashion and watches is how to situate the timepiece within an ensemble. To give you a sense of how that plays out, this year we saw a tonal pairing of a tasty vintage Rolex GMT Master Pepsi (red and blue) with rose and mid-blue summer plaid, and we saw high-waisted military green Bermuda shorts paired intelligently with a beat up old Elgin field watch with a matching green strap. Both looks were killer, the watches working as perfect accents, and there are many more great pairings to consider below.

As is often the case at fashion shows (including Pitti Uomo in previous years), Rolex dominated. Horological snobs might look down on this choice because the Crown is so often the default choice for so many, be they collectors signalling their access to rare references or those just getting into this obsession. But a more nuanced read on this tendency is that Rollies are fabulously versatile watches that one can rock with each new outfit—which some men will swap throughout the day. Breakfast might call for a casual look, lunch something more daring, and dinner that perfect summer suit. What better than a Rolex for all occasions?

But it wasn’t just Rolex at Pitti Uomo this week. The urban catwalk brought out Paiget, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Cartier, as well. But our favourite watch was a vintage Tudor Sub on a turquoise bracelet.

Below are the 13 best watches from Pitit Uomo 2024.

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The 10 Best Omakase in Sydney

Sydney’s best Japanese chef’s-table dining experiences.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 06/06/2024

In Japan, where food is a cultural art form, omakase stands for traditional Japanese foods made with seasonal ingredients. A good omakase meal, prepared with purity and mindfulness, can make an unforgettable imprint on the culinary memory. Yet in a land defined by seasonal traditions, omakase is a relatively new concept.

Omakase originated in Japan in the 1970s as affluent Japanese began to dine more regularly at first-rate sushi counters. Bowing to the expertise of the sushi master, omakase loosely translates to “I’ll leave it to you.” In a setting where money is no object, letting the chef decide was designed as a chic way to take the awkwardness out of ordering.

In Australia where there’s an abundance of fresh seafood, omakase menus have experienced a recent rise in popularity. Today omakase is any series of small dishes served directly by the chef to the diner. Each part of the meal is presented on beautiful ceramics and lacquer wear, with a great —and somewhat— intimidating reverence for elegant details. It’s a chance to see a chef’s knife skills up close and get a feel for their cooking style.

Omakase menus are based on whatever is freshest at the market and can be influenced by the chef’s mood, expertise, and response to the guest. They can be slowly paced like a ceremony—hushed and reverential—but they can also be rowdy, humorous, and personal.
Here we give you 10 of the best to try in Sydney.

Yoshi’s Omakase at Nobu Crown Sydney

Crown Sydney, Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo. Open: 12–3 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm Phone: 02 8871 7188 Reservations: F&B-SYD-Nobu@crownresorts.com.au; $380 per head (including matched wine and sake). Crownsydney.com.au

Sushi Oe

16/450 Miller St, Cammeray; Tue – Sat. SMS only 0451 9709 84 E: jizakana16@gmail.com Phone: 0426 233 984 $230 per head. jizakana.com.au

Kisuke with Yusuke Morita

50 Llankelly Place, Potts Point; Tuesday – Saturday: 17:30 – 10.45 (closed Sunday/ Monday) $185-200 per head Kisukepottspoint.com

Haco 

102/21 Alberta St, Sydney. Lunch, Friday to Saturday 12 -2:00 pm Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday 5:45 pm – 8:1 5pm (closed Sunday & Mondays) P: 0408 866 285                                     E: haco@hacosydney.com.au; $150 – $210 Hacosydney.com.au

Kuon

Shop 04 2/58 Little Hay St, Sydney, Lunch: Fri-Sun 12:30 pm. Dinner  Tue-Sun 5:15 pm or 7:45 pm sittings.  Reservation via SMS at 0488 688 252; $220 per head @kuon.omakase

Sokyo 

The Darling, Level G, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont. Open dinner Monday to Thursday from 5:45 pm P: 1800 700 700 $300 per head Sokyo.com.au

Kuro

368 Kent St, Sydney; Open Tue – Wed – Thur: 6 pm Fri & Sat: 5:30 pm P: 02 9262 1580, reservations@kurosydney.com $220 per head. Kurosydney.com;

Choji Omakase

Level 2, 228 Victoria Ave, Chatswood —upstairs from Choji Yakiniku. Every Monday to Wednesday at 6.30 pm. One seating per day only. $295 per head. Chojiomakase.com.au

Gold Class Daruma

The Grace Hotel, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney; 12–2:30 pm, 5:30–9.00 pm Phone: (02) 9262 1190 M: 0424 553 611 booking@goldclassdaruma.com.au·$120 – $150 per head Goldclassdaruma.com.au

Besuto

Besuto Omakase, Sydney Place precinct, 3 Underwood Street, Circular Quay. Omakase is available to book for dinner – Tuesday to Saturday. 5:30 pm & 8pm sittings. From $250. Besuto.com.au

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is no soy and wasabi offered during my omakase meal?
Even though sushi and sashimi are being served, the chef is serving each piece of sushi so quickly and directly that the chef is applying the wasabi and soy to the sushi themselves. Watch as they brush the top of the fish with soy and dab a tiny amount of wasabi on the rice, under the fish. You should not need to add extra, and in fact, it can be insulting to the chef to add more. Bathing the bottom of the rice of your sushi in soy sauce is considered bad manners, as it is seen as detracting from the flavour of the fish.

Nobu, Sydney

Can an omakase experience accommodate my dietary needs?
Although there is often little variation once the chef has set the daily menu, some customisation is possible. Advise the restaurant when you book and remind them of allergies or aversions again as you sit down. They will let you know when you book if your allergy is possible for the chef. Japanese menus feature a lot of seafood and dashi so accommodating a no seafood request can be genuinely tricky.

What are the golden rules for chopstick etiquette?
Use your chopstick holder in between eating, rather than putting chopsticks on your plate. Don’t use your chopsticks to gesticulate or point; if offering food to someone to try, never pass food directly from your chopsticks to theirs. Rather place the food onto a small plate and let them pick it up.
Never touch communal or shared food with your chopsticks. The longer, slightly larger chopsticks are like sharing cutlery, never put these in your mouth.

Without a menu, how can I know what I am eating during omakase?
Omakase is often a no-menu situation, and you are expected to try new things. Attending an omakase experience with an open, trusting mind yields the best results.
There are Wagyu and tempura omakase that reflect the chef’s personal predilections and training, but in a standard luxury omakase, the format will include a lot of freshly caught seafood and will usually kick off with a delicate appetiser. This will be followed by a sashimi and sushi course, a savoury egg custard (chawanmushi) with meat and seafood, a cooked or blow-torched market fish, a soup course, and dessert.

Can I talk to the chef during omakase? What is the protocol?
Guests at an omakase experience are welcome to ask questions of the chef; in fact, interacting with the chef is part of the experience. It is considered polite to ask questions or inquire about the food so they can explain.

What is best to pair with omakase  in terms of drinks?
In general, wine and sake are a perfect match for omakase. Aged fish and vinegar have strong umami flavours so depending on which course you enjoy, different wine and sake will pair well. Dry chilled sake is a great choice. Amazing sakes are imported into Australia, so trust the restaurant to advise you and take you on a sake journey at the same time.  If you don’t like sake, drinking chardonnay, a crisp young riesling, or even a dry complex Riesling is also totally acceptable. All three styles help bring out the flavour of the fish. Champagne can also be good. Try a blanc de blancs— 100% chardonnay —for a great way to start the meal. As you progress, remember that sake is good for dishes with a strong taste, such as uni and eel.

Nobu, Sydney

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The Sonos Ace Headphones Are Music to the Ears

The audio giant has (finally) revealed its foray in the personal listening category.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

In the ever competitive market for premium headphones, few brands have captured the hearts (and ears) of audiophiles, professionals and enthusiasts alike. Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Sony, and even Apple come to mind when debating great audio brands in 2024. Then there’s Sonos.

For over 20 years, the American audio manufacturer has been lauded for its high-end capabilities, particularly in a home setting; Sonos changed the game for the integration of home entertainment. But it had yet to venture into the realm of headphones.

Until now. Earlier this month, the company marked its long-awaited entry into the personal-listening category, with the launch of its highly anticipated Sonos Ace over-ear headphones.

“Fans have asked us for years to bring the Sonos experience to headphones,”says Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos, “and we knew our first foray into the category needed to champion the type of innovation and sound experience Sonos has become synonymous with.”

Sonos

On paper, the Sonos Ace is an enticing proposition: a premium over-ear headphone featuring lossless and spatial audio, intuitive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and Aware Mode. Most appealing, however, might be its new immersive home theatre offering; the Sonos Ace can pair to compatible Sonos soundbars with just a tap of a button. The new TrueCinema technology, which arrives later this year, will precisely map your entertainment space and then render a complete surround sound system for an unparalleled listening experience.

Sonos

Retailing at $699, they aren’t exactly cheap, and there more affordable headphones that compete with Sonos in terms of audio output and high-fidelity sound. But where Sonos thrives is in the details. Available in  stealthy black and pure white, the Sonos Ace are sleek and stylish right out of the box. Sure, there is some resemblance to the Apple Air Max Pro—arguably its greatest rival in the over-ear headphone segment—but Sonos has also added its own design touches, and it’s clear the Ace was made to look and feel as good as it sounds.

Its distinctive, slim profile elegantly blends metal accents with a sleek matte finish, and thanks to the use of lightweight, premium materials like memory foam and vegan leather, you get an airy fit that isn’t overbearing, even after extensive use. The design of the Sonos Ace is also intuitive; tactile buttons make controlling the headset a cinch, and pairing with Apple or Android devices is also straightforward. The dedicated Sonos App is also helpful for customising (somewhat) your listening experience, from altering EQ to turning on certain capabilities, like Head Tracking.

Sonos

It does fall short on a couple of key fronts.  I was expecting more from the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for over-ear headphones of this price point; there’s no way the ANC as it stands will filter out the sounds of a plane engine, for example. I also found the Sonos Ace has an issue, albeit subtle, with the mid-bass, which can sound muddy and lack punch at times.

But these are small nits. The Sonos Ace only adds to the company’s impressive standing as an unimpeachable innovator in the audio industry.

For more information, visit Sonos.

 

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