Life is Beautiful

John David, a chain of men’s clothing stores, founded in 1904, in business until 1964.

Registered Clothes tuxedo
Tuxedo, tailored by Registered Clothes for John David, worn by Ismar David at the Weizmann Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in 1947.

“I conceived the idea of a haberdashery shop, as attractive as the exclusive ones, where goods of real taste would be displayed with prices marked plainly so that passers-by would not be afraid to enter.”1John David Dead: Merchant Here. President of Large Chain of Clothing Stores is Stricken in Atlantic City. New York Times, November 16, 1937, p. 23 With this concept in mind and the savvy to recognize the potential of Times Square as a retail area, Pittsburgh-born John David (no relation) opened his first store on 42nd between the Sixth Avenue subway station and the forthcoming Times Square hub. His no less forward-thinking successor, Ralph E. Ladue bet on Fifth Avenue as “the best shopping area in the world”2 Men’s Store Goes Uptown on Fifth, New York Times, May 5, 1954, p. 47. and in time, there were three John David stores along Fifth, at 43rd, 49th and 56th Streets, as well as stores along Broadway at 32nd, Dey and 42nd Streets as well as a store in Brooklyn. Ladue saw the future of selling trademarked goods. By featuring brand names, he felt that customers got a twice the guarantee, one from the retail store and one from the manufacturer.3Boyo, Gene, John David Chief Began as a Buyer. New York Times, May 9, 1954, p. F1 and F10.

In the autumn of 1947, Ismar David had mixed feelings about attending the Weizmann Dinner. He wrote to Alisa Wirz, “Mr. Weisgal insists that I go to the Weizmann reception and dinner, which takes place on the 25th of the month. I think I will go. Unfortunately, I’ll have to dress for it (tuxedo required). My life here is very expensive. You’ll remember the saying, ‘Life is beautiful and expensive. It can be cheaper, but then it’s not so beautiful anymore.’ Apart from the beauty, I think I have to put myself out there.”4 Undated letter to Alisa Wirz, 1947. Translated from German. “Mr. Weißgal besteht darauf, daß ich zu dem Weizmann Empfang & Dinner komme, am 25. Dieses Monats findet es statt. Ich glaube ich gehe. Leider muß ich mich dafür verkleiden (Smoking Pflicht.) Mein Leben hier ist sehr kostspielig. Du erinnerst Dich an das Sprichwort ‘Das Lebe ist schön u. teuer, man kann‘s auch billiger haben aber dann ist es nicht mehr so schön.’ Abgesehen von der Schönheit glaube ich aber, daß ich ein bischen representieren muß.” He bought a tux from one of the John David stores on Fifth Avenue.

The suit was made by Registered Clothes and featured the generous proportions and quality materials that had been popular (and possible) before the war. Registered lived up to its promise of, “care lavished…stitch by stitch that culminates in a suit of clothes ready-to-wear—yet the nearest approach to individual tailoring.”5Advertisement in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, September 20, 1946, p. 9. The fabric is sumptuous Melton wool. The double-breasted jacket has heavy weight (probably nylon) lining and faille lapels. The trousers are double pleated and have braided stripes, a watch pocket, double pleats and six buttons for suspenders, with a typical tiny v-shaped vent at the back of the waistband.

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