Wilkes Bashford Celebrates 80th Birthday in a Brenda Kett Vest

Wilkes Bashford wearing the Brenda Kett “Heavenly” vest, standing next to pal Willie Brown (photo by Catherine Bigelow, San Francisco Chronicle)

World renown San Francisco haberdasher Wilkes Bashford rang in his 80th birthday by celebrating and giving back with a fundraiser for the Marines’ Memorial Theatre at the Palace Hotel.

Wilkes wore the “Heavenly” vest, a Brenda Kett original. The vest was inspired by observing the night sky from an island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. It’s made of black silk velvet, with hand-beading done by a New York company which does much of the beading for costumes in Broadway shows. The back and lining are made of black silk with a ginko-leaf motif.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik wrote:

At the Marines’ Memorial Theatre fundraising party Willie Brown threw at the Palace Hotel to celebrate the 80th birthday of his pal Wilkes Bashford, I asked the honoree what he was going to do differently. His black-tie outfit included a velvet vest emblazoned with glittering comets and stars from the night sky. Bashford’s store is noted for its elegance; that vest was elegant but it was also poetic, an object of fantasy, “real racy,” said Bashford.

He said it symbolized his plans for the post-80 era. “I’m going to do what I want to do, and not really care what people think. I’m going to be a little less conservative. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?”

Catherine Bigelow, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle (“Wilkes Bashford toasts 80 with fundraiser“), noted that attendees included: Rep. Nancy Pelosi; George and Charlotte Shultz; Gina Moscone; Joachim and Nancy Bechtle; Pat Kelley; Nicola Miner and Robert Mailer Anderson; Sen. Mark Leno; Farah and Victor Makras; Donna Huggins; Lisa and Doug Goldman; Sonya Molodetskaya; Belva Davis and Bill Moore; Blanche Brown; Richard and Eleanor Johns; Joe Callahan; War Memorial Director Beth Murray; restaurateurs John Duggan (Original Joe’s), John Konstin (John’s Grill) and Paul Tanphanich (Le Central).

Here’s wishing Wilkes a happy and prosperous birthday!

Smoking Jacket

As the name suggests, a smoking jacket is designed to be worn while smoking.

A smoking jacket “imparts casual stylishness to the wearer and, of course, protects his other apparel from the residual odors of smoking.”

What you smoke, of course, is entirely up to you.

Famous wearers of smoking jackets include Hugh Hefner, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Fred Astaire, who was famously buried in his.

The Brenda Kett Smoking Jacket is a made-to-measure, regular length jacket made of exclusive English silks, silk-lined, with a shawl collar, closed with a tie belt with tassles. It has two lower front pockets and one upper inside pocket.

No two jackets are alike. Prices start at $2500.