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by Alan Cornett


There are few more enduring legends in Western literature than that of the Holy Grail. The Grail was the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper, then later by Joseph of Arimathea to catch the blood of Christ on the cross. Centuries later, the worthy Sir Galahad, son of Lancelot, was inspired by a vision to seek the Grail.

“Grail” has become synonymous with an object that is highly prized, rare, and acquired only after a great quest. Many of us have spent long hours searching for a clothing grail item. The original legend gives us some guidance on what a true Grail is.

First, it must be rare, or even unique. The Grail cannot simply be another item on the shopping list. A pair of captoes to complement your suede wingtips doesn’t count. Vintage spade soles or bespoke Vass Budapesters might.

Also, there should be a quest involved. The Grail journey may involve time, travel, or sacrifice. You need not go so far as to smite enemies and save damsels in distress as was required of Galahad, but your Grail needs to have its own story.

The Grail will fit the searcher. A Lo Head might be sifting thrift racks for an ‘80s Ralph Lauren teddy bear sweater. Another may quest for deadstock Scottish cashmere in dusty out of the way shops. Galahad was the only knight pure enough to find the Grail.

Ultimately your Grail should be satisfying. When Galahad finally found the Grail, he knew nothing else in life could compare to it. His sole request was to leave this life, a request that was granted. As his soul ascended, a heavenly hand took the Grail.

My own grail story involved a pair of just-right cufflinks. I went through a period of sometimes indiscriminate cufflink buying until I saw a picture of Hermès sterling rope knots. The twisted rope effect gave them a texture not found in other links. The knots were not a shaped lump, but a true interweaving of the silver rope. I fell in love, but they were out of production, eluding my most determined efforts. A couple of years later, I discovered that the links were again being made. I sold off some lesser items in my cufflink collection to fund my Grail, and there my cufflink purchasing effectively ended.

One must be willing to sacrifice to acquire the Grail.