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P Johnson

P Johnson

Apparently when a South Australian leaves school, they become either a doctor, a lawyer or a wine maker.

So when you choose the latter and realise you have an acute allergy to sulfur dioxide – one of the main preservatives in wine – how do you react?

“For me it was a relief,” says bearded sartorialist, Patrick Johnson. “I knew that my true passion was not wine.”

Well thank God for Plan B's. Upon the discovery of this highly inconvenient allergy, the young Schöngeist – who'd always had a bit of a thing for tweed – went directly to the UK. At his brother's suggestion, he enrolled himself in a fashion course at the prestigious Central St Martins. The rest is accidental history.

Patrick, who is now spruiked by Mr Porter's Style Council and has probably dressed at least a few of your savvy young gun pals, has become a serious bespoke tailor with all the right credentials. Little wonder given he cut his cloth on Jermyn Street under the tutelage of the enigmatic master tailor Robert Emmett - whom he came across by chance outside his Chelsea shop.

After a 'hearty confab' about wine, Robert Emmett offered him a job on the spot.

“Robert showed me another world really,” says Patrick, “One that isn't easy to access. I didn't last long at St Martin's once I discovered tailoring,” he says.

Not only did Robert teach him the subtleties of traditional English tailoring, but he also introduced him to casual, Italian sartorialism - and possibly made him the master of spezzatura (studied carelessness) that he is today.

The lightweight fabrics, scooped pockets and curved barchetta breast pockets of Neapolitan tailoring in particular stole Patrick's heart. So when he came back to Australia, Patrick reinterpreted Italian smart casual for his home continent – and, understandably, has enjoyed success ever since.

P Johnson, as he's fondly known, has set up shop with T.B Riley in Melbourne, but spends most of his time at his Sydney atelier – a show room bursting with dolce vita.

“We have a diverse group of clients, and all are after a better fitted suit and an extension of them, not something weakly defined,” says Patrick.

This means the full hand made finish: superfine stitching, perfect button holes and the sharpest of cuts.

So, on racing carnival eve, who better to consult on field day fashion?

Patrick sees spring carnival as a fun time of year. “I think people shouldn't be scared of a bit of colour or a more textured cloth like a linen or blended cloth,” says the tailor.

“But often I think we see this idea taken OTT and bit caricatured, rather than something elegant.”

“Pay attention to great quailty shoes.  Less is more.”

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Patrick Johnson's silk pochettes are available here.