Even the most famous people take on their pants one leg at a time. That is something Jarl Dahlquist knows for sure. He is the designated Nobel tailor.
Every year, on December 10, the Nobel laureates will arrive in Stockholm for the big Nobel dinner, to accept their prizes and mingle with the Swedish Royal family. Before that, most of them swing by Dahlquist’s cozy tailor shop in Stockholm’s Östermalm to get their rent tails.
“The ones that don’t have one before, usually come here to get it,” says Dahlquist. “Mostly the Americans,” he adds.
It’s not something he boasts with – “I don’t want to use it in marketing” – and you definitely couldn’t tell from the outside that come December, there will be many a limousine parked outside the “G. Dahlquist tailor shop”. G was Jarl’s father, Gunnar. Today, Jarl takes care of the business.
“It’s not like we have a deal with the Nobel foundation, but it has just happened. For one, the foundation is just around the corner here so it was easy for them to refer the laureates here,” Dahlquist says, sitting on a velvet chair, looking at the long racks of suits, tuxedos and tails.
Once the Nobel prize winners have sent their measurements, around mid-November, Dahlquist gets to work, getting ready for a fitting. And even if he says there usually isn’t much talk – at all – let alone about medical research or physics, some customers just stick out a little more than others.
“There was this one Chinese fellow, although he lives in France now. He won the prize in literature a few years ago (Gao Xingjian, 2000), and he was very interested in what I was doing. He kept asking me questions and was very, very curious and polite,” Dahlquist says. “Of course, he only spoke French, which I can’t speak at all, but we got along well.”
And more importantly for Dahlquist: “He was a tiny man, but he looked good in that suit.”
Then there was “the Russian guy.” Joseph Brodsky, also a literature prize winner in 1987.
“He showed up here totally broke. He didn’t have any money. Nothing. I guess he assumed the Nobel foundation would take care of everything for him. Which they did,” Dahlquist says laughing. “He also didn’t have any winter clothes, and it was a cold winter that year, so he was sent to the stores to get a scarf, an overcoat, the works.”
But with a reputation of being the Nobel tailor, surely others get their tails from Dahlquist as well. How many tails do you rent for the Nobel dinner, all in all?
“Probably about 60”, Dahlquist says. “So, yes, we’ve been busy”.