MISTER FREEDOM® COLLECTIONS
Les Apaches Collection
BY: MISTER FREEDOM®
MF® Originals Manufacturer
MFSC® American Headquarters.
Vintage clothing and accessories supplier.
7161 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA 90036
Tel: (323) 653 2014
Fax: (323) 932 9590
11:00 am to 6:00 pm, 7 days a week.
BY: MISTER FREEDOM®
Cho Lon, a long time ago…
Piasters changing hands Rue des Marins, Triad run parlors, the infamous Bay Vien, ‘Maitre de Cholon‘ and the feared Bình Xuyên gangs, White Mice patrols, the yellow walls of the World’s largest gambling hall rivaling in decibel with Macao’s roaring finest, hazy opium dens, snake wine and fine Cognac, white nón lá and garrison caps, local taxi girls and international high society, áo dài and white linen suits, stalled Citroën 2CV and frantic cyclo-pousse, Bastos smoke-filled cabarets… and thousands of sampans sleeping on the Arroyo.
And a stone’s throw to the East, the ‘Pearl of the Orient': Saigon.
It is not out of nostalgia for its colonized past, with men in pith helmets and successors in M1 helmets, that Ho Chi Minh City is still referred to as Sài Gòn by some Vietnamese nationals today. This serves as a subtle reminder of the violent troubled past of that South East Asia corner of the World, hinting at the lingering controversial topic of the reunification of Vietnam achieved by the communist-lead North in 1975 and its aftermath.
For locals, choosing the name Saigon over its official HCM City version is not pure semantics, but can convey a political statement as much as an identity crisis.
It is the stuff of wars to leave everything in grey areas. Nothing stays black or white for long. Lines had plenty time to get blurry during the 30 years that opposed North and South Vietnam, a territorial split originally prescribed by an international band of experts around a Swiss round table in 1954.
I recently had a conversation with a person of Vietnamese background, born in North Vietnam in the 1960’s and of Chinese parents. You’d figure that would put you on the celebrating side after the war was won… Turns out her family joined the ranks of the three million refugees who were to flee the Indochinese peninsula in the years following the victory of communist North Vietnam, China and Russia’s protégé.
The troops of General Võ Nguyên Giáp, Northern national hero already victor of the French Army in 1954, would claim Saigon in April 1975.
Everyone who had sided with or fought for South Vietnam feared the purge. The Saigon government, backed by of a long-disillusioned America, had been the wrong horse to bet on. Hanoi was the new sheriff in town. The streets were littered with abandoned ARVN uniforms. Surreal scenes of men stripping down to their skivvies, watching triumphant soviet-supplied T-54 NVA tanks roll into town… Vietnam’s American war was officially over, not everyone’s woes.
But let’s rewind a bit and take a stroll down Đồng Khởi , better known to some as Freedom Street… The bustling downtown artery of the South Vietnam capital had been called Rue Catinat up until the end of the French occupation in 1954. It was to be renamed Tu Do Street for the next twenty years. Tự Do means freedom in Vietnamese.
In its early days, Tu Do Street was lined by colonial architecture buildings housing offices, hotels, cafés, and an array of small boutiques and family-owned businesses. At an intersection also stood Vietnam’s first hotel, the “Continental”, owned by an allege member of the Corsican Mafia.
A Saigonese landmark since 1880, the Continental had welcomed guests from all walks of life. Decades of French rubber industry magnates aka ‘Michelin men‘, spooks, opium addicts, celebrities, quiet Americans, diplomats, thrill seekers, Air America crews, visiting mistresses, writers, stringers, gangsters, opera singers, war groupies, tourists… Some guests were at times a combination of a few of the above. Current affairs were constantly being discussed and gossiped about at the Continental’s terrace (aptly nicknamed “Radio Catinat” by some), and the international press found enough material there to feed flows of dispatches heading to the Associated Press and its fascinated audience.
As the demand for ‘entertainment’ grew in the 1960’s, the Tu Do Street eclectic mix of establishments got inevitably sleazier. Still, along its air-conditioned cabarets, Saigon tea dives and massage parlors, one could find yard goods boutiques and honest tailor shops. Skilled Vietnamese and Chinese thread and needle specialists mixed traditional and European influences in custom creations, targeting both a civilian and military personnel clientele unaccustomed to affordable bespoke fashion.
“... he was dressed in one of those jungle-hell leisure suits that the tailors on Tu Do were getting rich cranking out, with enough flaps and slots and cargo pockets to carry supplies for a squad…“ (Excerpt from the ever relevant ‘Dispatches’ by Michael Herr, 1977)
Virtual visual time traveling available here and there courtesy of the internet. Thank you to the owners of those flikr accounts for making these photostreams publicly available. Full credit to those who snapped the shots and chose to share them for the sake of History preservation. Viewer discretion advised on some albums, war is hell.)
And now, finally, a few words about our “Saigon Cowboy” garment du jour.
The Mister Freedom® ‘Continental‘ shirt/jacket only features four pockets, but a glance at its intricate inside construction could qualify it as a quasi tailor-made garment. The combination of bias tape piping and fabric selvedge is quite pleasant to the eye, if we may say so ourselves, and would have had its place in a Tu Do Street store front window display.
Style-wise our ‘Continental‘ is a combination of several influences: fancy 1950’s-70’s unlined tropical gear, short sleeve blazers popular with the African elite, safari-type pocketing, elegant uniform silhouette, whiffs of colonial empires, Old World tailoring, Larry Burrows‘ wardrobe… and the mighty Sun Zhongshan suit, a favorite in China since 1949.
Our ‘Continental‘ overall pattern is adapted from a vintage late 60’s custom-made jacket, the work of a Vietnamese tailor by the name of My Nha, located at 827 D. Nguyen-Tran (unidentified city).
Our ‘local tailor’ looking MF® label combines the yellow background with three red stripes of the flag of South Vietnam and, for a USO flavor, the red white and blue of Old Glory. The specific rectangular shape with beveled corners seems typical of Vietnamese custom tailor woven labels of the period that I have seen.
Inspired by tropical tailor-made attire, with a sober ‘Mao suit’ influence.
The “Bush” model: 100% cotton mil-spec OD popeline shell / 100% cotton Buzz Rickson’s USN blue chambray lining yoke.
The “Continental” is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan by Sugar Cane Co.
* Yes, we dared make a short sleeve blazer.
* Elegant tailored uniform-like silhouette with elaborate darting.
* Two chest flap pockets, one pencil slot.
* Two lower flap cargo pockets, ‘invisible’ stitch.
* All inside seams finished with OD color bias tape, unless selvedged.
* Corozzo wood buttons, golden brown.
* Two-piece back with vent.
* Made in Japan
Our ‘Continental’ comes raw/un-rinsed and will shrink to tagged size after a rinse/dry process. All three options will approximately shrink to the same measurements.
We recommend an initial cold soak, spin dry and line dry. The wrinkling ensuing this process is normal, in line with the ‘tropical’ look effect.
If you are a Medium in mfsc shirts/jackets, you are a Medium in the ‘Continental‘.
Because of the specific cut, the darting and requirements of this blazer-like pattern, this shirt/jacket will not fit every frame. For instance, the arm construction, although comfortable, disqualifies this jacket as beach-volley attire. There are no expansion pleats.
CLICK TO ENLARGE
Please refer to sizing chart for measurements.
Launder when hygiene dictates and common sense prevails.
Hand wash or delicate cycle machine wash. Cold water, eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry.
Patina will develop according to activities and frequency of wear.
Color: Jungle Green
The Garrison Shirt
Color: 12.4 oz Olive Denim Twill
Color: Loland Camo