IT’S ALL RELATIVE: Dressing like Albert Einstein is one thing, but now true devotees can smell like him, too.
Levi’s Vintage Clothing has introduced a limited run of a replica of the Nobel Prize winner’s favorite leather jacket — Levi’s Menlo Cossack Jacket and a complementary Einstein-inspired scent. Levi’s plunked down 110,500 pounds for the pungent, well-worn leather jacket at Christie’s Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale in July 2016. At the time of the Christie’s sale, specialist Thomas Venning commented about the aroma of the pipe smoking-physicist favorite jacket — more than 60 years after his death. The esteemed scientist who became a U.S. Citizen in 1940 often appeared in photographs at the height of his fame in the mid-Thirties wearing his Menlo Cossack.
There are now 500 sheep leather pieces of the Italian-made piece and each is hand numbered. The Brooklyn-based perfume house D.S. & Durga developed the Levi’s-approved bottled scent — a blend of burley pipe tobacco, papyrus manuscripts, and vintage leather. Consumers who buy the $1,200 jacket and GWP at Levi’s online store or at select locations will also receive a No. 97 auction paddle as a wink at the one that was used to bid on the actual garment.
The German-born theoretic physicist who introduced the world to his theory of relativity, the structure of the DNA and the law of photoelectric effect took to American style quickly. Early photos of Einstein wearing the jacket were taken shortly after he applied for permanent residency in the U.S., after fleeing Germany in 1933. Christie’s specialist Thomas Venning said at the time of the sale, “This jacket seems to capture Einstein’s mood as he embarks on a new life in the U.S. It’s made by Levi Strauss and feels particularly American.”
Another shot of Einstein arriving for a Bahamas vacation in 1935 shows the Nobel Prize winner wearing the leather jacket “improbably paired with a rather natty wing collar,” Venning said in 2016. Einstein’s fondness for the jacket was in synch with his less-is-more mindset regarding materialism. Another Princeton University scientist and friend Leopold Infeld wrote how “one leather jacket solved the coat problem for years.”
Apparently the professor also preferred to keep his wiry hair long to limit trips to the barber. To further simplify his life, Einstein reportedly bought variations of the same gray suit, creating an unofficial uniform of sorts — a habit that other overachievers like Steve Jobs adopted. Einstein stopped wearing socks after tearing one too many pairs and even going sockless when meeting President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
After getting word of the Christie’s auction, Levi’s Vintage Clothing’s head designer Paul O’Neill found and bought a Menlo Cossack jacket at another auction site. “When reproducing the jacket, it was very helpful to have the identical jacket I had purchased online as we could use this to study the leather quality and tanning process as well as make molds from the buckles and reproduce the buttons etc. as this was not something we could have done with Einstein’s jacket which would remain under lock and key.” he said.