A few months ago, Vincent Metzger of French label Mes Chausettes Rouges provided us with several fil d’ecosse socks of Gamarelli and Mazarin. After a few months of wearing them, we want to provide you with a product review as well as an introduction to the long standing tailoring houses behind these socks.
Gammarelli and Stark & Sons
Just like the socks from Bresciani, all of our pairs were over the calf socks. While Gammarelli was founded in Rome, Italy more than 200 years ago and is still a famous tailoring establishment today, Mazarin is a French brand created by Parisian Alain Stark, the proprietor of the bespoke establishment Stark & Sons.
Despite their different national heritages, both have a number of things in common. First, Gammarelli as well as Stark & Sons are bespoke tailoring establishments who tailor clothes for famous individuals. In fact, while Gammarelli is among others the purveyor of clothing to the Pope and Italian clergy, Stark & Sons tailor the infamous habit vert tailcoat outfits for the members of the renowned L’Académie Française – The French Academy which has been the leading institution with regard to the French Language since 1635.
The Importance of the Socks’ Color
As such, Gammarelli and Stark & Sons noticed that their clients demanded over the calf socks in very specific matching colors. Consequently, both consulted with sock specialists in order to create their own socks.
Gammarelli had to come up with high quality over the calf socks in colors that would be in accordance with the different ranks of the church’s hierarchy. Cardinals always need a bright shade of red, whereas purple is designated to bishops and black is reserved for priests. Above all, the pope wears white over the calf socks which contrast well with his red shoes.
Stark & Sons, on the other hand, was established more than a century ago and today they tailor the aforementioned tailcoats in a dark olive green. It features an incredible amount of hand embroidery in green silk and gold. All work is done completely by hand at 16 Rue de la Paix in Paris. Unsurprisingly, this uniform takes about 600 hours to complete on average. Of course, the green is not just any green, but the so called “vert académie”. Mazarin was initially formed to provide over the calf socks in that exact shade of green, so the French Academians would no longer have to worry about what color of socks to wear with their costly tailcoat uniform.
After Gammarelli first began supplying the pope, more and more clergy members from the Vatican became their customers. Subsequently, the word spread to other clothes aficionados, who then “pilgrimaged” to Rome to bring home a couple of pairs of these red socks from the unassuming Gammarelli store tucked behind the Pantheon in Rome. The following eventually included politicians like the French Prime Ministers.
Gammarelli socks are available in 100% fil d’ecosse cotton lisle and 100% merino wool. The cotton has an extra long staple, which guarantees durability. The colors on the cotton socks seem to be a little more crisp, while the wool pendants are a bit fluffier with a more subdued color tone. Gammarelli socks are produced on machines with 240 needles and feature a hand linked toes, which results in flat, comfortable toe seams.
Considering Roman pride and patriotism, it is hardly surprising that Gammarelli socks are still produced just outside of Rome today.
We tested the red cotton socks from Gammarelli; the solid color is vivid and the socks are ribbed, creating vertical stripes. In terms of durability, the Gammarelli socks have not shown any signs of age after two months of wear. The colors are crisp, and the socks remained consistently over my calves, which is very important in my opinion. When washed for the first time, they seemed to have shrunk a little bit, but once I put them on, they stretched nearly to the original fit. The socks we received were ideally suited for summer wear since they are on the thin side. The warmer wool socks are supposedly a little thicker and better suited for the colder days of the year. Overall, the workmanship appears to be neat.
Mazarin may not equip the pope, however their roster of famous clients includes the likes of Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Charles de Gaulle and Jacques Chirac. While Gammarelli socks only come in four colors (white is delivered on special request), Mazarin currently offers long staple Egyptian fil’d ecosse cotton in 15 bright colors. While Mazarin offers classic shades like brown, navy blue, burgundy, beige and heather grey, they also offer a strong yellow, pink, vibrant orange, fruity Raspberry, light blue and, last but not least, green. Naturally, they offer the vert académie (academy green) but also a slightly lighter, so-called Christmas tree green.
Just like the Gammarelli socks, the toes are hand linked and they are very airy, lightweight and knitted on a machine with 240 needles. The rib looks identical and the workmanship overall is very similar to Gammarelli. As one of our pictures proves, one could initially almost see through the socks when they were new. After a few washes, they have shrunk a little bit and feel a little denser. When worn, they stretch out a little bit.
After a long day of wear, they stayed on my calves and I can particularly recommend them for summer wear.
Moreover, the vibrant hues will probably coordinate better with your spring/summer colors than with your deeper fall/winter shades.
Although French, Mazarin socks are produced in the area around Milan.
Mes Chaussettes Rouges
Mes Chaussettes Rouges is the exclusive retailer worldwide for Gammarelli and Mazarin socks. Other than at Mes Chaussettes Rouges, you may only find these socks at the Gammarelli store in Rome and the Mazarin socks at Stark and Sons in Paris. They offer European sizes EUR 38 to 48 ( US 5.5 to 13;UK 5 to 12.5) for €19.90 a pair.
In the future, the retailer plans to offer cashmere and silk socks as well as ski, hunting and sport socks. Also, they intend to offer a range of patterned socks.
In my opinion, the cardinal red and the vert académie are two colors you will most likely not find elsewhere. The other colors could very well add a nice colorful touch to your wardrobe, though they may be little over the top in conservative business environments. Otherwise, I would love to see different patterns as well. Priced at €19.90 a pair, Gammarelli and Mazarin socks are certainly not the most inexpensive socks available, but for your money you receive a good pair of socks that come in unique colors.
You can buy Gammarelli and Mazarin socks at www.meschaussettesrouges.com