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21 Ultimate Gifts: Looking Good on the Links

William Kissel

The Gift
A 36-piece custom golf wardrobe for each of three people, made by Italian fashion designer and avid golfer Luciano Barbera. — A weeklong trip to Courmayeur, Chamonix, and Crans-sur-Sierre—three of Europe’s most exclusive golf clubs. — A visit to the Carlo Barbera textile mill in Biella, Italy, where you can select limited-edition fabrics for a week’s worth of business suits.
Starting at $1.65 million

Luciano Barbera believes that golf clothing should be refined, should reflect the taste of the man who wears it, and, above all else, should be comfortable. He created his namesake golf collection in 1995, shortly after returning from a Palo Alto, Calif., golf outing in which he was the best-dressed and least sweaty man on the course, despite having played in a pair of wool poplin trousers and a cashmere vest that he wore over a long-sleeved cotton polo shirt. "It occurred to me at that time, and made me curious, why men who dress in $10,000 suits and $1,000 shoes for business buy cheap, unimpressive things to wear to play golf," says Barbera, who makes his golf clothing from fine wools, cashmere, and cottons and finishes them all with water repellency. His golf shirts have collars that can be worn up to keep you warm in cool weather, and the pants have pockets that are divided to hold tees and balls separately.

Barbera is offering you and each of your two guests a 36-piece golf wardrobe that includes a selection of Sea Island cotton shirts, cashmere club blazers and sweaters, rainproof wool jackets, and handmade waterproof leather golf shoes, plus other golf and postgame fashion items. The clothes will be made from limited-edition fabrics from the Carlo Barbera textile mill in Biella, Italy.

Barbera, a champion amateur golfer, and his friend Baldovino Dassu, an Italian golf professional who won two European titles (the Dunlop Masters and the Italian Open, both in 1976), will alternate serving as your fourth player while you tackle the courses at three of Europe’s most picturesque Alpine golf clubs: Courmayeur in Italy, Chamonix in France, and Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland.

"Courmayeur is a nine-hole course at an elevation of 5,000 feet, and from a scenic point of view, the location is mind-boggling," says Barbera, who has been president of Courmayeur since 1998. "It also makes for a game of golf like no other because the balls fly higher and longer due to the elevation and atmosphere." Chamonix and Crans-sur-Sierre offer equally beautiful courses that can challenge even the most skilled players.

The first component of this gift will take place in spring 2008, when U.S. president of Luciano Barbera Michal Sestak and one of the firm’s top Italian tailors will meet with you and your two guests to take measurements and help you plan your golf and travel wardrobes. Prior to your departure next summer (the only time of year when these three courses are open), you will receive cashmere travel outfits and monogrammed leather overnight bags to take on the plane. You and your guests will receive the remainder of your wardrobes when you arrive at Courmayeur, located at the foot of Mont Blanc.

After golfing at the trio of courses, you will travel to the town of Biella, where Luciano Barbera will guide you through his family-owned textile mill and admit you to its fabric vaults, which never before have been opened to the public. There you and your guests each will select seven cloth designs, all in cashmere or Super 200 fine wools, which will be made into a week’s worth of suits and then delivered to your respective doors by summer’s end.

Luciano Barbera USA, through Michal Sestak, 212.315.9500, www.lucianobarbera.it

{ The price will vary depending on the fabrics selected and the sartorial details
requested. The gift is limited to one group of three, although it can be purchased
per person for $550,000 each. This gift is not available until spring 2008.
}

Something in the Water

High in the Italian Alps, an old-fashioned waterwheel at the Carlo Barbera textile mill pumps clear mountain water into vats used to treat the company’s fine wool and cashmere fabrics. The minerals in the unfiltered water give the Barbera cloth its unique finish and leave it feeling extremely soft, says Carlo’s son, Luciano Barbera, whose menswear collection features many of the mill’s rarest blends. Some of those cloths have been sequestered in Barbera’s fabric vaults since the family acquired the 161-year-old mill in 1951 from Rodolfo Caraccio, a wealthy wool merchant. He and Carlo had formed a partnership 20 years earlier. "He told my father, ‘I have the money, and you have the capacity to run the company, so why don’t we share the business 50-50,’" says Luciano, adding that Caraccio agreed to sell his stake in the business if the novice cloth maker could keep the factory profitable over the ensuing two decades. Carlo achieved the goal by convincing Caraccio to invest in new machinery that enabled him to produce the woolens that have made the mill one of Italy’s premier cloth houses. As part of this gift, Luciano will grant access to the mill’s cloth vault, where you and your two guests each will select seven patterns and fabrics for a week’s worth of business suits. You can have the cloths recolored or rewoven into blends of your choosing and have your name added to the selvages, or edges, of the cloths. You can even arrange for the personalized selvages to appear in the linings of your suits’ breast pockets.

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