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REEVES BLOG

Modern English Tailoring

INTERNATIONAL KLEIN BLUE SUIT

David Reeves

The other day I Received an interesting request from one of my favorite clients; did I have access to an International Klein Blue color cloth for a suit?

International Klein Blue (IKB) is quite an interesting color because it cannot be displayed accurately on a computer screen or on television.

In the novel Zero History by William Gibson, the character Hubertus Bigend has a suit made of material in IKB. In the novel he states that he wears this because the intensity of the color makes other people uncomfortable.

........WOW.

Pretty cool, rather exotic and an excellent example of how a suit can perform different functions or impressions on people.

I had an idea of what IKB looked like as at one point in Leeds I acquired a B.A, (although the details are rather foggy) but I decided to do a bit of research and consult with Professional Artist Charles Spurrier, who is also my father in law. Upon visiting Charles' studio in Brooklyn, he explained to me that IKB was patented by  Artist Yves Klein and that the intense blue of IKB was in essence an ultramarine that could retain the color of a pure dry pigment.

There is something of the "Emperors New Clothes" in discussing this color on the internet with accompanying photography but I was actually able to source a good approximation of IKB in cloth form which is a super 130s Gaberdine woven in the Great Britain.

What is really astounding is that in the flesh the color on the left is extremely close to the color of the cloth swatch in the centre. The sample on the left and far right are both IKB but in different medium namely oil paint and oil pastel but they look rather different due to the application of the medium (applied heavy or light) and the medium itself.

Identifying what exactly IKB actually looks like (my initial objective) really lead me into color theory. What is color? Does it exist on paper or in the eye, or the medium it is expressed? Can IKB truly exist in cloth form? My conclusion: probably not in the strictest sense. IKB is patented as a color but mainly as a process of retaining the color in paint. Cloth and paint are very different mediums, a true comparison is not possible but if the client was looking for a suit in International Klein Blue I believe I have found the cloth to use.

Certainly interesting questions are raised here about the nature of color, its effects on the viewer psychologically and indeed how it is seen.

Quite a bit of research and thought here just to acquire samples, but very interesting and fulfilling to do for its own sake. The Client will be looking at samples of this cloth and deciding if he wishes to place a commission. Creatively, I really hope he goes for it.