The early pioneers of speed records, not only risked their necks… they usually had neat collars and ties placed around them at the time. These gentlemen racers have been a great source of inspiration to generations, and it is, in part, tribute to them that the extended range of Motoluxe clothing is now presented as “perfect apparel for travel” by land, sea or air – whether it be in haste, or at a more leisurely pace.
Early pioneers broke records whilst looking good
Our early 20th century heroes were always respectably dressed, but given their tasks, their clothing needed to be comfortable and free from restriction. In-between producing and directing Hollywood films, the American tycoon Howard Hughes spent the 1930s setting multiple world air speed records, and he did so in style – with a penchant for elegant, super-soft tailoring.
Howard Hughes in softly-tailored apparel
Together with his handsome good looks and daredevil pursuits, Hughes looked every inch a star from one of his own movies. Inspired by the life of this great man, the first piece to follow the iconic Motoluxe Alpaca Teddy-bear coat is an unlined, unstructured, alpaca blazer.
Hughes wearing softly-tailored blazer and "good luck" hat
Taking styling cues from coats worn by Hughes himself, the Motoluxe blazer is single-breasted, button 3 (rolling naturally to the middle button), with an outbreast welt and side patch pockets. It carries the dignity of a fine piece of tailoring and the comfort of a cardigan. It is an essential garment for the modern man – bridging the gap between formal and casual dress.
The Motoluxe Baby Alpaca Blazer
Turning up the formality a notch, without losing the essential elements of comfort and practicality, the focus moves to Sir Henry Segrave for inspiration. The British national was born in Baltimore in 1896, to an American mother and Irish father. He was raised in Ireland and attended Eton College in England. He was commissioned to the Army at the outbreak of World Was One and, having been badly injured in hand to hand combat, became a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps… and all that before his 21st birthday.
Sir Henry Segrave racing in softly-tailored three-piece suit
Post-War, he became a successful racing driver, winning the inaugural Brooklands 200 mile race in 1921, followed by a win at the French Grand Prix of 1923 behind the wheel of a Sunbeam – the marque with which he set his first land speed record in 1926, driving “Ladybird”, a four-litre Sunbeam Tiger. He later became the first person to break the 200mph barrier in the 1,000 horsepower Sunbeam “Mystery”.
The Sunbeam "Mystery" leaves the factory (1927)
Segrave retired from motor racing after witnessing the death of Lee Bible who was killed attempting to break the land speed record at Ormond Beach, Florida in 1929. He subsequently turned his attention to water, travelling to Miami with his speedboat "Miss England" to race against American water speed record holder Gar Wood, which he won. It was Wood’s first defeat in 9 years, and Segrave returned to Britain to be knighted for his many accomplishments.
Segrave and Miss England preparing to race (1929)
On Friday 13th June 1930, a few months after receiving his knighthood, Sir Henry broke the water speed record, piloting Miss England II to an average of 98.76 mph over two runs on Lake Windermere. Tragically, on the third run, the boat capsized at full speed and both he and his chief engineer lost their lives. Segrave was just 33 years of age.
Major Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave
As a tribute to him, a Motoluxe suit has been designed in a baby-alpaca and cotton bouclé fabric – inspired by the Prince of Wales check that he is wearing in his most famous portrait. At first glance, it is not clear in the picture whether a sports coat or a piece of knitwear is being worn… which is precisely how it should feel when you are wearing super-soft, unstructured, Motoluxe tailoring.
The Motoluxe Baby Alpaca & Cotton Bouclé Suit
Naturally, soft tailoring needs to be paired with a soft-collared shirt. The inspiration for the Motoluxe shirt didn’t come from a speed record breaker, but from an individual who lived life in the fast lane. Gianni Agnelli was the elder statesman and uncrowned king of Italian business, serving as chairman of car giant Fiat between 1966 and 1996.
Gianni Agnelli and Jackie Kennedy (1962)
Renowned for his incomparable style and wit, he could speak four languages fluently and, during the late 40s and early 50s, squired a succession of jet-setting beauties, including socialite Pamela Digby Churchill Harriman, Rita Hayworth and Anita Ekberg. He was also romantically linked to Jackie Kennedy, and it is the photograph of them together in Italy in 1962 that provides the styling cues for the Motoluxe button-down popover shirt.
The Motoluxe Popover Shirt
It is made from Thomas Mason stretch Oxford cloth, allowing it to be slipped on and removed easily, whilst retaining its slim shape and offering a high degree of movement and comfort. This, together with its classic styling, makes it the perfect partner for Motoluxe tailoring… and if like Agnelli, you are a man on the move, buttoning down the collar is optional.