Even throughout my tremendous grief and sadness, as we prepared to lay him to rest last week, I couldn’t help but notice how Pappou’s signature style still shone through; his favourite grey woollen check suit - I remembered it fondly from special family events - a retro-print tie and red pocket square, handmade tan leather shoes from his hometown in Greece, his most favourite pair. Despite having worn them over and over again, they looked as if they had been purchased just for this occasion; a testament to how much care Pappou took, the quality he always sought out in everything and his calm, gentle and thoughtful nature.
As we pored over 95 years worth of photographs, it was clear to me how he fell into his life’s work as a tailor. From the small black and white prints that fit inside the palm my hand to the groovy technicolor retro snaps, down to the thousands of digital photos on my phone - he was always impeccably dressed and groomed. Crisp shirts, pullovers over the finest natural fabrics, well made trousers and suit jackets that fit him to a tee, long coats that elongated his frame, an occasional tuxedo and bowtie for special occasions, scarves and hats of all shapes and sizes (he never left the house without one), his watches - a heavy gold framed one for the cooler months, swapped out for a lighter, sporty silver number with a stretch wristband come Summer - his well coiffed hair slicked to the side and of course - his signature clipped moustache (we only found one photo of him without it). Whether it was his clothes or the way he carried himself, or maybe both, Pappou always looked important, strong, suave, like he had just stepped off the set of a Hollywood film. My Yiayia, my grandmother, would often boast, when Pappou was out of earshot, how he had so many admirers in his youth.
It’s no surprise then that his love for garments helped secure his ticket to Australia. Having learnt the trade in Athens after the end of the second world war, his clientele were mainly wealthy families, politicians and dignitaries. The Australian Consular to Athens at the time happened to need a suit and the rest as they say is history.
I grew up hearing so many wonderful stories about Pappou’s tailor’s shop on King St, Newtown. It was a small establishment but he built a strong reputation because he only ever ordered in the best fabrics from Europe. In fact, he even had the opportunity to meet with the family of renowned Italian fashion house Zegna when they visited Sydney in the late 60’s at an event honouring “high-class” tailors in Sydney. According to Yiayia, he was so particular about his craft that he would often place suit patterns on himself, adjusting and altering them just so, carefully selecting the fabrics under the guise that they were for clients and then surprise her by wearing the always stunning finished products that he had made for himself.
Despite his old age, Pappou’s keen tailor’s eye never wavered, he always noticed the details and he missed nothing (the recent cataract surgery may have helped). He would greet me and then immediately comment on something that I or my bambini L and M were wearing that caught his admiration. A conversation would follow about where it was from, if it was European-made, the fabric - he could gage it all just with a glance. They piqued his interest and brought him joy and I will forever miss those moments and treasure those small conversations.
The LM Bambini family will never be the same without our beautiful Pappou, but his legacy lives on in us and in our work and our bambini L & M, his cherished great-grandchildren. It brings me so much comfort to know that we continue to honour his memory and his love for quality, for sourcing only the best, for supporting skilled artisans and for continuing to help other families create special memories like ours, that will last a lifetime.
Forever in our <3