Savile Row hasn’t experienced anything like it since its heyday in the 19th century, when the then Prince of Wales held court in his tailor’s salon.
Here they are, presented in the splendour of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, with tableux of style to illustrate their history as well as their modern efforts, attracting a glittering audience of royalty, style cognescenti and the press.
From classic business suits, including one featuring an horizontal pinstripe from Timothy Everest, through iconic replicas such as the checked blazer and flannels made for Fred Astaire by Anderson & Sheppard, the latest version of a tapestry coat style made by John Pearse for the likes of John Lennon, a sky blue Scottish tweed country suit from Norton, a blue cashmere corduroy suit from Tony Lutwyche, a plus-2’s shooting suit by Dege & Skinner and Maurice Sedwell’s purple ‘bleeding pinstripe’ evening suit to ceremonial robes and military uniforms, the variety emphasised just how far removed Savile Row is from its staid image of modern myth.
A combination of generous hospitality on the part of the organisers of the top menswear trade exhibition in Florence, Pitti Uomo, and support from British woollen merchants, and no little behind-the-scenes effort, brought about this splendid showcase for the Row’s craftsmanship
The ledgers and notes accompanying the clothes provided entertaining additions. Some white flannel polo breeches, for example, were ordered for the daughters of the Prince of Wales’s mistress in 1917; black bands have been worn around grey top hats to Royal Ascot since the death of Edward Vll in 1910; pop icon Pete Doherty ordered his first Savile Row suit in 2005; Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Paul and Stella McCartney all owned white three piece suits from the same tailor; noted 20th century dandy, Bunny Rogers, slimmed down to a 28inch waist to accommodate the hourglass coat shape that he favoured.
And the accessories, hats, shirts, shoes, sticks brought their own traditions and idiosyncracies – for example, an English hand-plaited straw boater for Henley, bespoke black and white leather brogues to go with a black and white windowpane check blazer; a silver topped cane; a grey Bengal striped shirt with white collar and a matching Bengal striped tie. They emphasised the individuality of the bespoke service.
It was a pity that each of the displays did not have a clear caption so that tailor and cloth, and accessories, could be more easily
identified, without recourse to the hefty programme. Perhaps this oversight will be rectified in any London-based presentation.
A number of the tailors took advantage of all the promotional interest to also stage a separate Trunk Show adjacent to the main exhibition, which seemed to be a success, and one tailor, Mark Powell, also had a stand within the exhibition, to show off his ready-to-wear collection.
All in all, it proved that Savile Row still has considerable cache abroad and that it can attract a young, casually-dressed audience.
From top, a plus-2's shooting suit by Dege & |Skinner in a cashmere heather check cloth; shawl collared evening suit by Ozwald Boateng; glittering 'splatter' suit by John Pearse, hand decorated with drips of gold paint; three-piece grey morning suit from Ede & Ravenscroft, sky blue cotton tunic shirt with white starched collar, and antique black silk top hat; scarlet cashmere corduroy dinner jacket with shawl collar worn with black corduroy cigarette pants, by Mark Powell; and an example of the intricate embroidery work applied to court dress, this a Privy Councillor full dress coatee, from Henry Poole.Click on a picture to view a larger version. More pics on Style p2 and p3.