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The architects of Savile Row parallel the master tailors who now occupy the address, says Neil Carr. Both lead skilled teams fulfilling the bespoke needs of customers

In his celebrated architectural guide to London, architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner describes Mayfair as “the epitome of London wealth, sometimes rivalled in fashion but never entirely surpassed”.

It is indeed an area of superlatives. Along with St James’, its slightly older sibling, it has more listed buildings than anywhere in the capital, including 19 Grade I. It displays among the most diverse array of building styles anywhere in Westminster. According to one recent report, it has overtaken Knightsbridge as London’s most expensive area and houses some of its most important cultural, economic and academic institutions.

Savile Row is emblematic of this cultural prominence; a street so synonymous with one singular activity that even the most callow youth seeking his first bespoke suit knows exactly where to go.

But it is not only for its connections with bespoke tailoring that Savile Row is valued. The quality of its architecture is recognised as being of national importance; reflected in statutory designations. The entire area falls within a conservation area and, within the Westminster City Plan, Savile Row has been designated a Special Policy Area, specifically to protect and promote the unique combination of buildings and activities with which it is associated.

But at the core of this architectural and historic value are the seven listed buildings between Nos. 1-17 on the east of the Row, which form the remnants of its original development.

Hugely influential
As part of the wider Burlington Estate developed by the architect and patron Lord Burlington as a manifesto for the principles of the restrained neo-Palladian design he espoused, Savile Row contained several buildings, including those at No. 1 and Nos. 22-23 (now demolished) believed either to be designed by him or directly influenced. Wealthy, aristocratic, an acknowledged arbiter of taste, Burlington was hugely influential and used his power and patronage to promote this neo-Palladian style in Britain. Indeed, he influenced the direction of British architecture. The Palladian style was founded on the architectural principles of Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Such was Burlington’s impact that the marks of this neo-Palladian style have been stamped on the DNA of British architecture. This has been exported around the world and directly or indirectly continues to influence the design of contemporary British architecture.

St. James House, SW1

St. James House, SW1

Of the remaining “Burlingtonian” buildings the Grade II* listed No.14 is the best preserved. Pevsner notes of Nos. 11-14 that “though Burlington’s control is unproven, their proportions show a general affinity with Palladianism”. No. 15, occupied by Henry Poole, was “rebuilt or refronted in ‘eclectic-Italianate’ perhaps for the Savile Club”. No. 11, occupied by Huntsman, is also Grade II*.

No. 3 Savile Row, once the headquarters of the Beatles Apple Corp is also listed II* and contains distinctive architectural interiors. Gieves & Hawkes at No. 1 occupies the former headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society in whose magnificent listed map room David Livingstone was laid before being buried in Westminster Abbey. Livingstone was dressed by Gieves; Stanley by Poole.

Not strictly on the Row but forming part of its architectural context is the grand Grade II*-listed Uxbridge House, originally a townhouse from 1721 by Leoni in the neo-classical style, now housing instead the very youthful Abercrombie and Fitch.

On Burlington Gardens are the stately edifices of the Royal Academy of Arts (1806-7) by James Pennethorne designed in an “enriched Palladian” style. Pennethorne also worked on Buckingham Palace and Somerset House but contemporaries described this as his “most complete and successful design”. The Albany (1802-3) is by Henry Holland, who also designed Brooks in St. James with the double-fronted neo-Palladian gateway to Ropewalk between. Finally, a run down the glittering luge of Samuel Ware’s 1818-19 Burlington Arcade has to be a must.

The architectural quality of Savile Row is not limited to its listed fabric. A number of 20th century buildings are singled out by Pevsner as worthy of note, including the compact stone in the neo-classical style from 1927 occupied by Oswald Boeteng. More contemporary buildings also make their mark. EPR Architects’ bold collaboration with ceramic artist Kate Malone at No. 24, embodying a blend of artisan craftsmanship with crisp architectural detail, forms a shimmering new gateway from Conduit Street which echoes the glitter of Burlington Arcade. Also of note is Piercy and Company’s award winning contemporary intervention at No. 25. Opposite, world renowned architect Eric Parry’s redevelopment of Fortress House “navigates a deft course between the modern and the conservative classical”.

Skilled craftsmen
Burlington’s legacy has been much altered by the very trade with which the area has become synonymous as tailors transformed the original domestic facades, inserting large 20th century glazed windows at ground floor and basement, literally tailored to their particular needs. Indeed, the sight of skilled craftsmen working in the windows of Savile Row is one of the unique joys of any stroll down it.

Yet this is not the only pleasure. Many shop interiors on the Row are worth inspection on their own merits not least for the way the interiors have been tailored to their client’s needs. Richard James at No. 28 is worth a visit, as is Teresa Hastings’ million-pound refit at Gieves and Hawkes, which superbly navigates the demands of reworking a listed building.
Any intervention into the fabric of a listed building is always going to be a challenge.

Marco Braghiroli, an award winning architect with considerable experience working with protected buildings in Mayfair and St James, says: “Working with listed buildings requires particular care and sensitivity. Bespoke architecture is all about details and care of both the building and the client.”

Braghiroli likes to think of an architect’s skills as paralleling those of a master tailor. Both are concerned with proportion, balance as well as performance and comfort. “In one sense our clothes are the architecture we carry around with us. Like the buildings we live in, they protect us from the elements, keep us warm, project our personal style,” he says.

But Braghiroli thinks that the parallels with tailoring go further. “Like an architect, the master tailor brings together the talents and skills of a team of specialists, artisans and suppliers.” he continues.

But the biggest parallel he believes is in the relationship with the client; delivering something unique and particular to their individual tastes, constructed to their specific requirements, tailored to their unique specifications. That is, after all, the very essence of bespoke.

The architects of Savile Row parallel the

Spain’s capital, Madrid is taking its rightful place among Europe’s most exciting city break destinations. Sarah Gordon gives an insider’s guide

Ernest Hemingway summed up the Spanish capital quite accurately when he said: “To go to bed at night in Madrid marks you as a little queer.”

After all, this is a city where dinner doesn’t start until 10pm, where cosy bars are found on every corner and where and fried doughnut-style churros and chocolate are served as breakfast to those returning from a night out at 6am.

Barcelona may be famed for its Gaudi architecture and beach style, but Madrid is known as the true city of Spaniards, where lively locals love nothing more than meeting in plazas for a caña (small beer), where all conversations happen 10 decibels louder than necessary and where, as Hemingway noted: “Appointments with a friend are habitually made for after midnight at the café.”

Perhaps it was this laid-back love of life that attracted the writers of Spain’s Golden Age to the smoky tapas bars of what is now known as the Barrio de las Letras, or District of Letters. Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Francisco de Quevedo all frequented this neighbourhood, which is still famous as an artistic hub thanks to Madrid’s three spectacular art galleries: The Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia.

Whether it is elegant architecture, a love of art, or culinary prowess that brings you to this city, Madrid won’t disappoint.

And with new boutiques, eateries and ultra-stylish bars opening every week, Spain’s underrated capital is taking its rightful place among Europe’s most exciting city break destinations.

Where to stay


Bless Hotel, Madrid

For a city that never sleeps, Madrid certainly has plenty of hotel options, offering everything from old-world elegance to trend-setting style. The Gran Hotel Inglés is the city’s newest luxury hotel… and also its oldest. It went into business in 1886, welcoming the great and the good from writers to bullfighters, and has just reopened its doors following an extensive revamp. With Art Deco touches, a sleek spa and an oh-so-chic cocktail bar it is once again the place to see and be seen.

Chueca is at the heart of Madrid’s trendy bar and restaurant scene and its most stylish address is the Only You boutique hotel in a 19th century mansion. Set around a glamorous mirrored courtyard, the hotel unfolds to reveal a library, all navy blue tones and Chesterfield sofas, and a low lit lounge bar where you can enjoy a fino nightcap with the city’s fashionable set.

In January, another glamorous hotel opens its doors. Bless Hotel in the refined Salamanca district will have all the requisites of a modern luxury hotel; a rooftop pool, spa and a restaurant by 10 Michelin-star Basque chef Martín Berasategui.

Where to shop

Casa de Diego

Casa de Diego

From the exclusive brands that line the Serrano street in the Salamanca district to the Chueca-based fashion brand Ecoalf, creating fashion pieces from recycled plastic (Queen Sofia is a fan), Madrid promises style at every turn. It is also where you can find those specialised boutiques lost long ago in many other cities.

Casa de Diego has been around for more than 150 years and sells and repairs everything from canes and umbrellas to castanets, but it is most famous for its beautiful handmade fans, while family-run Casa Hernanz has been selling Spain’s iconic espadrille shoes since 1840.

Spanish tailors have often been overlooked in favour of their European counterparts, but they offer great detailing and extremely good value for money, with a tailored suit often starting from 1,800-2,500 euros (£1,600-£2,200). Try three of the leading tailors; Reillo Sastre, Langa and Manuel Calvo de Mora.

Beyond its sartorial credentials, Madrid offers a delightful mix of other speciality shops, from the wine emporium that is Lavinia – complete with its own gastro bar – to the olive oils of Patrimonio Olivarero and cheese specialist Queseria Cultivo.

Dining in style

Manuel Calvo de Mora

Manuel Calvo de Mora

Madrid may be famed for its tapas bars, offering delicious jamon iberico and crispy croquetas, but its food scene has undergone a sea-change in recent years. You can still enjoy tapas dishes at traditional spots such as historic Bodega de la Ardosa and the bustling San Miguel market right by the Plaza Mayor, but you are also spoilt for choice when it comes to fine dining.

With 21 Michelin stars in total, Madrid attracts the nation’s greatest chefs. David Muñoz’s DiverXO has three stars for its artistic menu and ambience, which he describes as similar to Cirque du Soleil, while Ramón Freixa’s self-named restaurant has two stars and a tasting menu served in surroundings of pared-down elegance.

Beyond Michelin-star style, there are so many wonderful eateries to choose from. Botin is in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world, having opened in 1725 (and yes, Hemingway had his own table here), and Bodega de los Secretos serves contemporary cuisine to tables set in the alcoves of a 17th century wine cellar.

An artistic hub

The Caixa Forum

The Caixa Forum

Madrid is known as an arts city, helped in no small part by centuries of Spanish royals and aristocrats buying works of art to decorate their many palaces. The grand Prado museum first featured works of art from royal collections and is now home to the Spanish masters Goya and Velázquez, as well as works from all over Europe. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, featuring 20th century masterpieces, and the eclectic Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza complete the city’s spectacular artistic trio.

But Madrid’s artistic pedigree runs deeper still. The Caixa Forum hosts everything from contemporary art exhibitions to poetry readings and festivals, the Museo Sorolla is dedicated to the beautiful Mediterranean light painted by Joaquín Sorolla, and the elegant Real Academia de Bellas Artes is an impressive Old Masters gallery.

Madrid is also an architectural delight, its wide boulevards packed with Baroque grandeur (just take a stroll down Gran Via).

The vast Plaza Mayor is lined with ochre-coloured buildings, the 18th century Palacio Real is well worth a visit and bullring Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is still in use. Add in genteel El Retiro, the landscaped park and gardens in the centre of the city, and the huge Casa de Campo park just beyond the palace, and you can see why Madrid is considered such a liveable city.

The best bars

Viva Madrid

Viva Madrid

One of the cities with the highest density of bars in the world, Madrid will certainly spoil you when it comes to evenings out. And there is something for everyone, from Hemingway’s favourite haunt Cerveceria Alemana, where little has changed since it opened in 1904, to the palatial glamour of 1862 Dry Bar, set in a grand 19th century townhouse.

If it is tradition you want, the city still delights in classic bodega bars, often with a history stretching back more than a century. Dusty bottles line the walls at understated La Venencia (another Hemingway favourite), while Taberna de Angel Sierra is a delight of traditional coloured tiles and wood panelling and is perfect for a pre-dinner vermut (vermouth).

Viva Madrid first opened in 1856 and has been given a new lease of life as a cocktail bar and traditional tavern in one by Argentinian mixologist Diego Cabrera, while the Spanish have their own take on the gin and tonic, serving it in grand goblets, at the aptly named Gin Club.

Don’t miss Madrid’s many rooftop bars, perfect for enjoying great views and the warm evenings from spring to autumn. Gingko Sky Bar has just opened on the roof of the VP Plaza España Hotel, while The Roof at ME, atop the Melia Reina Victoria hotel, is an exclusive spot with signature cocktails and a DJ.

Spain’s capital, Madrid is taking its rightful

Vents in men’s jackets can be traced back to equestrianism and the military, says Robin Dutt

I have to say that when it comes to vents, I am somewhat divided. Much tailoring and many tailoring devices still used today owe their origins to horse riding or the military origins – and frequently both. Vents are no exception. They were, and are, designed to make riding a horse more comfortable, as the skirt of the coat can flare over part of the horse’s back and improve the flow and feel of that garment.

There are three types of vent – unless you find something quirky by some avant-garde designer type, who slices into the coat with whimsy, creating strips which might look more appropriate on a mediaeval tunic.

Vents are a matter of choice (some might say, taste) but also the directive of the garment itself. Personally, I favour, say on a blazer (particularly with wider than usual lapels), a double vent which always looks correct as it forms a balance and rarely a single – associated more with Italian sartoria and so perhaps, perfect for a Vespa.

And in the case of an evening coat, the skirting of that garment must flow seamlessly with the trousers – so no vents here. Just one, solid black, simple form.

A coat without a vent can, especially in a sporting example, look quite elegant and fluid. But in this case, this writer prefers the cloth to be made of woven material and multi-hued. A fine Harris Tweed, perhaps. Images of 1950s American actors sporting coats that were longer in the body spring to mind as mostly vent-less.

On a traditional morning coat, one of those tailoring staples, little has changed since the very beginning. There are no pockets externally and rarely internally, to achieve a cleaner, smoother line. The vent here has a dual purpose. The first, we are already familiar with. This long vent sometimes edges to match the silk lapels, also conceals an internal slit pocket to house cash, cards – and other essentials for a night time’s campaign.

Vents in men’s jackets can be traced

Nowadays the kitchen is no longer just for cooking. For some it has become a kind of status symbol. With fitted kitchens this is difficult to realize. That’s why the Zbären manufacture from Lenk (canton Berne) in Switzerland specializes in handmade designer kitchens

Ever since the kitchen has become more and more a living space, customer requirements have become more individual and sophisticated. Today, the kitchen should harmonize with the rest of the interior, look aesthetically pleasing, and still be functional. It should radiate the personality of the owner. The kitchen decorators have to react to that. That’s why Zbären manufacture specialises in hand-made kitchens made from selected materials.

Tradition and craftmanship: Over three generations, Zbären Kreativküchen AG has developed from a small mountain joinery into a world-renowned kitchen manufacturer whose unique kitchen items can be found not only throughout Switzerland but also around the world. The success is based on the continuous development through new ideas and experimentation with new materials. Constantly motivated by demanding customers who discover the craft and artistic potential of the company and challenge it in a positive way. The result is impressive, exclusive kitchen artwork.


Nowadays the kitchen is no longer just

Savile Row Style’s resident guru, Robin Dutt, praises Anderson & Sheppard for its ineffable sense of English style

Speaking of the soft drape… if you are in conversation with anyone who has any interest in ‘sartoria’, the one tailor possibly to be mentioned will be Anderson & Sheppard. Like a particular hallmark, expressing provenance and maker, the mastery of the shape of the drape has, since 1906, been at the epicentre of the individuality at the heart of this establishment. Its senior directors share over 100 years of experience.

Sir Hardy Amies famously (and often) trumpeted about sharp suiting being a vulgarity; a knife needs to be sharp – a suit does not. “Ease, peace, flow” was his making mantra when it came especially to the male wardrobe and he wrote lists of tips on how to be elegant in his famous ABC of men’s fashion published in the 1960s. And in a way, is not Amies’ tailoring philosophy at the heart of Anderson & Sheppard, too?

Beautiful clothes speak without a voice.

The late A.A. Gill, who was a contributor to my first art exhibition I Criticus in Notting Hill in 1987, spoke highly of Anderson & Sheppard. A sonic writer, he once described a suit made for him here as “a thing of striking beauty” – obviously remembering Keats.

Model turned designer, Tom Ford simply says that, Anderson & Sheppard is the best tailor in the world.

One might reasonably opine that all the above mentioned had no reason to want a soundbite attached to their names. Each Savile Row tailor’s presence on this unique London and internationally renowned street (once a street of doctors) has its own unique identity – easily understood, easily trusted. For, when one finds one’s tailored carapace, it is a matter of lifelong trust. And, whilst it may seem that the tailors are in competition, this is not really so simple. Everyone on the Row can collectively boast over a thousand years – or more – of contributing to a unique identity. A very English affair – the envy of the tailoring world.

There is no enmity in The Row. Perhaps, mutual arch admiration. In the tailoring alphabet, “A” is for Admiration. “J” is not for jealousy. Like an extended family, you can’t love everyone but you acknowledge all who are part of it. There is a reason why those who are there, are there. There is obviously a reason why others, so far from sartoria, crave a Savile Row address.

Anderson & Sheppard was established in 1906 and, like any true tailor on the Row, boasts several loyal staff with especial disciplines from Front of House (very important) to finishing (the outcome). Each element of any great tailoring house seems labyrinthine but it is actually and more importantly, logical.

Fabric to those who love it and understand it has soul. Fabric itself might be said to be the tailor.

I interviewed the great designer Yuki some time ago and he insisted that he cut as little as possible into the material, because for him, cutting cloth was akin to cutting skin. Master tailors know the importance of the performance of cloth.

One would hope to trust a doctor. It is the same with a tailor. One is in their hands. One might come in with an idea of what it is thought might make one a sartorial Adonis. But the masters must prevail. They know what will suit – quite literally.

The English Drape is also known as the London Cut. In 1906, it was a reaction to the constricting tailoring (sharpness again?) of the recently extinguished Victorian era. Dr Jaeger apart, who was passionately advocating the use of only natural fibres next to the skin, might have made a noble bow. Indeed, to emphasise the importance of any indispensable natural material, sourcing remains the central tenet. And what better way to remind all those who choose to care that the Campaign for Wool, which first took place in the autumn of 2010 and again in 2015, drove a flock of sheep down Savile Row? The sheep didn’t know it but they were the stars of the show. Their first skin is our second. Our second becomes our first.

Anderson & Sheppard is a typical old-school tailor. The interior is akin to a gentleman’s club, quiet, peaceful, all at ease with paintings, heritage furniture and leather-bound ledgers. Always so reassuring – even if you don’t know why. Other tailors refer to the company as “the Savile Row cardigan” – a reference to how, on the Row, one never refers to a jacket – that’s only for potatoes.

Naturally, perhaps Anderson & Sheppard’s most famous client is HRH The Prince of Wales. But is a sense, all customers are princes of their own being, princes of discernment. One might ask, what the legacy of this establishment might be? Perhaps the answer is easy enough.

Put simply, it is to be as it always has been. Even time itself can never counter real style.

Savile Row Style’s resident guru, Robin Dutt,