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Burlington Arcade, Mayfair’s most elegant shopping destination, celebrates its 200th birthday this year. Tim Newark reveals its secret history.

Burlington Arcade is celebrating its 200th birthday on 20th March 2019 and Savile Row is at the very heart of its enduring exclusive style, providing the uniforms for its handsomely attired security force of beadles.

“Keith Levitt at Henry Poole in Savile Row is the gentleman who looks after the Queen’s Livery worn by the royal coachmen and us, designing our uniforms,” says head beadle Mark Lord. “They’re Keith’s interpretation of the uniforms of the 10th Hussars and what a footman would have worn at a stately home. It’s a cherry-red waistcoat, frock coat navy blue with silver trim, trousers black and in the winter, we wear a cape of the kind that cavalry troopers would have worn.”

Burlington Arcade was the ingenious idea of Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and one of the first covered shopping streets in Europe. Like all aristocrats at the time they recruited their own regiments and Napoleonic War veterans of the 10th Hussars were among the earliest beadles patrolling the arcade. Their widows were encouraged to manage some of the shops.

It’s said the arcade was built to stop revellers throwing empty oyster shells into the gardens of Burlington House. “There is some truth to that,” says beadle Mark Lord. “Old Bond Street was full of riotous drinking and gambling clubs where the fast food of the day was oysters from the Thames Estuary. Many of these establishments disposed of their shells by dumping them over the wall into Burlington Gardens. The smell could be terrible in the summer and one of the reasons why the arcade was built was to stop this culinary fly-tipping.”

But it also appealed to the wife of Lord Cavendish as an exclusive place she could shop with her friends. Designed by architect Samuel Ware, Lady Cavendish is believed to have had some input into how the arcade looked, demanding variations in the frontages of the original 72 shops. “She didn’t want steps either,” says Lord, “which is why the arcade is on a slope – a nine-foot incline from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens”.

It turned out to be an excellent investment too, attracting a fashionable elite of shoppers throughout its first decades in Regency and Victorian London. Other arcades in Mayfair followed in its wake, including the nearby Piccadilly, Princes and Royal Arcades, all elegant places to visit but Burlington remains the premiere historic shopping mall in London.

When the arcade first opened the tenants lived above and beneath their shops. Kitchens were in the basement, storerooms and bedrooms on first and second floors. Most shops are just nine feet deep.

Dark secrets
These tunnels partially survive now and Mark Lord took me to see one section. Stepping down the tight staircase from the showroom, we were suddenly back two centuries, walking on the original flagstones beside an iron kitchen range and peering out the basement bowed window into the gloom of the subterranean delivery passageway. It was then that Mark Lord told me other dark secrets of Burlington Arcade.

Customers were not allowed to carry large parcels inside the arcade. Anything more cumbersome than a small discreet purchase could not be taken directly out of the shop. It had to be brought to you and that came via one of the arcade’s great secrets.

Beneath the main walkway on both sides of the arcade were underground passageways that ran the entire length. Boy and girls would run along these underground passages to bring the parcels to your servants at the entrance of the arcade or take them all the way to your London address. “It has always mirrored the prosperity of the city,” explains Lord. “If London’s booming, the arcade is booming, but when recession hits as it did in the past, some shopkeepers looked at the rooms above their shops for an alternative income.”

Female and male prostitutes would not do anything as crass as directly solicit among the shoppers in the arcade but there was a definite system of attracting clients.

“Sometimes during the summer, they would lean out from the top windows making a clicking noise to interest passers-by,” reveals Lord. “A client would walk into the shop to make a purchase, take it upstairs to present it as a gift for the time of the lady or gentleman they desired and then they would sell it back to the shop to get their money. On other occasions they might hang a stocking from the upper windows.”

The most infamous sexual entrepreneur was one Madame Parsons who had lived her entire adult life as a woman. She died in her bonnet shop in Burlington Arcade and when a doctor arrived to process the death certificate she was identified as a man.

In Victorian London homosexuality was illegal but the police would turn a blind eye if one of the parties dressed as a woman. In that way, homosexual couples could see each other. There was a notorious beadle, George Smith, who got the sack for allowing these activities. “The beadle that gave us eternal shame,” sighs Lord.

A beadle for 16 years in Burlington Arcade, Mark Lord is joined by four others during the week.

“Technically the Metropolitan Police should ask permission to come through the arcade,” he says. “We’re not a real police force but we do enforce rules and regulations based around behaviour. You’re not supposed to whistle in the arcade as when it first opened there were criminal gangs of boys around who would whistle signals to alert each other.”

Famously one of the exceptions to the rule is Sir Paul McCartney who once had his Apple Company around the corner in Savile Row. Other rules still applied include no running in the arcade, no bringing in an open umbrella, no bicycles, no playing musical instruments. “You are not allowed to show merriment,” says Lord, “which is a polite way of saying drunkenness”.

Today Burlington Arcade attracts over four million visitors a year. In May 2018 it was bought by property tycoons Simon and David Reuben for £300 million, who no doubt will only want to enhance the reputation of the arcade for top-end shopping.

“For 75 years N.Peal has been selling cashmere and other luxury fashion,” says Lord. “Jewellers Richard Ogden have been here since 1952, when the upper part of the arcade had just been rebuilt after bomb damage in the Second World War. His son Robert Ogden has been coming here all his life. When a shop comes here, they tend to stay.” A previous trader at the Ogden premises was the infamous Madame Parsons.

Famous shoppers range from Fred Astaire and President Clinton to Naomi Campbell and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has a particular passion for the arcade’s shoe shops.

Like everywhere else, multinationals such as La Perla, Chanel and Mulberry have also moved in alongside the independents.

Burlington Arcade is also not just about shopping. Many nearby business people find it a quiet oasis off Piccadilly where they can have a relaxing 10 minutes having their shoes polished by long-time resident shoe shiner Romi Topi. Proposals have made in the arcade and there’s even been private romantic dinners.

Burlington Arcade looks perfectly set to entertain London visitors for at least another 100 years.

Tim Newark is a historian and journalist and author of The In & Out: A history of the Naval and Military Club.

Burlington Arcade, Mayfair’s most elegant shopping destination,

Dege & Skinner is the only Savile Row tailor to provide its own one stop bespoke shirt making facility. Cutter Tom Bradbury tells Daniel Evans about learning this rare craft.

If it weren’t for his grandfather, Tom Bradbury would probably not be talking to me now, front-of-house at Dege & Skinner, explaining the intricacies of bespoke shirt making and the enjoyment he gets from being involved in such a specialist craft.

Like a lot of young people, when he was 16 Tom began his A levels but decided it was not for him – “I don’t know why I tried. I hated doing tests,” – so he ended up spending a fair amount of time with his grandfather, David. “He was a joiner so every Thursday I’d go and work with him, to learn his trade and skills,” Tom tells me. “We’d just do stuff together as I’d always enjoyed doing practical things with my hands. I told him I was interested in fashion and had been looking for work around Carnaby Street and he said: ‘If you want to be in the clothing industry then get yourself down to Savile Row and work with the best’.”

“I’d never heard of Savile Row and didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. It was never mentioned in school.

You have all these career advisers but they never discussed the clothing trade and that the height of luxury was to get a suit made in Savile Row. You just don’t get taught that sort of thing at school.”

So, armed with his grandfather’s advice and his own CV, Tom came up from his home in Orpington to London and went in and out of the shops on Savile Row. Tom, now 24, takes up the story. “I came into Dege & Skinner and talked to the person by the front door. ‘Can I speak to the MD?’ I asked. ‘That would be me,’ said the man.”

Tom was not to know that the person by the front door was, in fact, William Skinner, Dege & Skinner’s managing director. “We began to chat and he was asking me lots of questions,” remembers Tom. “It was like an interview which you hadn’t prepared for. We stood in the front shop for quite a long time. He showed me around and introduced me to people, including the head cutter Peter Ward and others in the back room. William then asked me if I was doing anything the following week and whether I fancied coming in to do some work experience. Of course, I said yes.”

Over the moon
“I spent the whole day cleaning the shop. I was too scared to take my jacket off. It was the middle of June and I was absolutely sweltering. At the end of that day, William asked me whether I wanted to work for the rest of the week. I said: ‘Yes, of course’. But, at the time, I only had one smart shirt so, every day, I had to go back home, wash my shirt which was black from dusting, dry it overnight and iron it in the morning before coming back in. At the end of the week, I was offered a job. I was over the moon. I also got some money for the work I’d already done so I immediately went out and bought myself a few more shirts because I didn’t want to be doing the one shirt thing for too long.”

Soon after joining, Tom got to know Robert Whittaker, the veteran head shirt cutter at Dege & Skinner, and was keen to learn from him.

“I knew I wanted to ask him whether he would take me on as his apprentice but was too nervous,” recalls Tom.

“I had it in my head that I would talk to him about it but bottled it every single day and then, as we were going home one Friday, I found a bit of confidence and asked him.”

Tom was understandably
delighted when Robert agreed and began his apprenticeship. “Robert has taught me everything I know about shirt cutting,” Tom says. “I started from scratch. I’d never picked up a set of shears in my life. I’d never done anything like that.

Robert moulded me into what he wanted me to do, which was good, rather than picking up bad habits. He’s a bit of a character. I found him quite intimidating to start with but he always looked out for me and gave me stuff to do. I’ve got so much respect for Robert. He took the time to teach me and I could well see myself passing on that knowledge to others in the years ahead. I can’t thank him enough.”

Now Tom spends his time as a bespoke shirt cutter at Dege & Skinner, the only establishment on Savile Row which offers such a service. “It’s a proud thing to say,” says Tom. “We measure a customer up, ask some questions about how they would like the fit, what type of collar shapes they like. We make all sorts of shirts, from business shirts to more casual ones.”

I ask Tom to tell me why people should invest in a bespoke shirt. “Because it’s made just for you,” he says without hesitation. “It’s individuality – the fact you have put your ideas into it.

The fit, the elegance. It’s hard to explain until you’ve had one made and then you are never happy with anything else. We have had so many customers come in who have been given a bespoke shirt as a present, for a birthday or for Christmas, and who have come back a few years later to order some more because nothing else compares. Once you’ve had one, you can’t go back.”

Huge variety
“There is a huge variety of shirts you can have – the choice is unreal. You may just want a white shirt but then you think about what type of white shirt – if you are at a business meeting with 20 people in white shirts, you want to be wearing the best white shirt in the room.”

Although the classic white shirt remains the most popular choice, Dege & Skinner has plentiful options in collar styles and the softest Swiss, Italian and British two-fold 100s to two-fold 300s cottons, with either double (French) cuffs or two-button single cuffs.

Typically, it takes between two or three fittings for a single shirt, which will be turned around in eight weeks. This shirt will be used as a template for multiple orders. The tailor has a minimum order of four shirts, but some customers order two dozen at a time.

Prices start at £285 plus VAT for a simple handmade shirt but can run into the thousands.

“The most unusual shirt we had was an Egyptian-printed African style like you see in Nigerian headdresses. The only problem is that you have to match the patterns up, which is a long old job,” says Tom.

The job involves a fair amount of travel – Tom goes to America three or four times a year for two weeks at a time – but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. “I remember Robert telling me that it was good fun and that I’d enjoy it but that it was hard work – and he was right,” he says. “Some of my friends say it sounds like a bit of a jolly but it is pretty tough going.”

Tom’s grandfather died less than a year after his grandson started at Dege & Skinner but not before he came to London to see him at work. “He did come up a few times and we enjoyed a pint in the local pub, which was nice,” recalls Tom. “To be honest, if my grandfather hadn’t told me to come up to Savile Row in the first place, I probably still wouldn’t know where or what it was.”

Dege & Skinner is the only Savile

Canada Goose is taking on the new season with a fresh look, partnering for an exclusive collaboration with Savile Row tailors Henry Poole. The brands have come together to produce a down-filled blazer for men and women and a unisex merino wool scarf.

Driven by a constant commitment to authenticity and the desire to create best-in-class products, the collaboration fuses the tailoring expertise of Henry Poole with the deep knowledge of down-filling from Canada Goose. The pattern was designed and cut in partnership, and was made in Canada by Canada Goose sewers.

The seemingly unexpected pairing of the Canadian performance luxury brand with the English bespoke tailors in fact drew on many commonalities between the two companies; from being pioneers in their categories, to a functional approach to design, through to their shared tactical heritage.

“When our teams met they were excited about our common threads. We’ve played pioneering roles in our categories; Henry Poole founded Savile Row and invented the Dinner Jacket, my father invented the down-filling machine back in the 1970s which revolutionised the way we make outerwear, as well as now being recognised as Canada’s only true luxury apparel brand,” said Dani Reiss, President and CEO of Canada Goose.

“I like to surprise people with collaborations, but it has to be about collaborating with the right people. It has to make sense, there needs to be passion, and it has to be fun. Our W1 blazer is made from a medium flannel, which – together with the goose down – makes it a warm jacket and we all want something lightweight, practical and warm, especially when travelling,” said Simon Cundey, Managing Director, Henry Poole & Co.

The W1 blazer, named after the area of London in which the Henry Poole tailors shop and the Canada Goose London flagship store are based, is available in three colourways – red, navy and graphite. The quilt-through wool blazer features the iconic Canada Goose disc in black on the arm and Henry Poole house buttons.

The Selvedge Scarf is made from 100% super fine merino wool, it is dark green in colour with a herringbone finish and features the Canada Goose and Henry Poole wordmark logos along the edge.

Similar to Canada Goose jackets in the Lightweight Down category, the W1 blazer is rated as a TEI 1 on the brand’s Thermal Experience Index and provides lightweight protection for active pursuits at temperatures between five and minus five degrees Celsius.

The W1 blazer drops on 18th January 2019 in selected cities including London, Toronto, New York, Boston, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong.

Canada Goose is taking on the new

Richard Anderson has worked on the Row for 36 years. He started out at Huntsman, where he became head cutter, before launching his own house in 2001. His innovations include bespoke suits made out of Japanese denim and sequinned suits, and his customers include Bryan Ferry.

What makes Savile Row quite so special?
Savile Row is an iconic destination and we’re still the best in the world.

How would you describe your role?
I’m a tailor’s cutter. I’m like the architect overseeing the tailors who are the builders.

How did you become a tailor?
It was really an accident. It was my father who saw a tiny advert in the Daily Telegraph for an apprentice cutter and he frogmarched me up to Savile Row. I was clothes conscious as a teenager, interested in street fashions such as Punk and Mod. I walked into Huntsman on a snowy day and the bustling and fabulous ambience of the place was like walking into another world. It had a great energy to it even though the whole of Huntsman was an intimidating closed world. I was running around, being spoken to in a very derogatory manner.

Why did you set-up on your own?
I inherited Huntsman in 1994 as head cutter and we had two years to turn a loss-making company around. For the previous eight years the old management hadn’t put the prices up at all, so we were running at a slight loss. First thing we did was introduce our own fabrics, increase output by 20 percent and also put our prices up by 20 percent. Customers loved what we were doing. We doubled the volume of suits sold from 600 to 1,300 suits in one year. Unfortunately, our Japanese owners decided to sell us to a new group of American investors. I was 36 years old at the time and I could see the writing on the wall. I thought, it’s now-or-never to do it, and I was proved right, although everyone at the time thought my business partner and I were mad.

Tell me about the early days
Shops in Savile Row don’t turn up every five minutes. So for the first few months, I converted my garage into a cutting room. We went out to America taking orders and doing a trunk show. It was a really tense period though, trying to get a shop on Savile Row. Luckily nine months in Hackett had tried doing bespoke, but it hadn’t worked out so No 13 came up. We were lucky that its premises came up because we wanted to be on the sunny side of the street. I thought, well, 13 is a lucky number and we got handed the keys on Friday the thirteenth!

What was the difference between Huntsman and your own house?
We wanted Richard Anderson to be less intimidating for people my own age – in their late thirties – than Huntsman where it was very much, ‘Lord this, Sir that’. We had white walls and modern art and we also liked to play rock ‘n’ roll. What struck me was how much friendlier our clients were to us than they had been in Huntsman, which had a negative no-can-do attitude at times. That was something we wanted to change.

How would you describe your house cut?
Our house cut is a strong influence on Savile Row. It’s a mixture between a riding coat and a dinner jacket. We cut the armholes quite high to get a nice long movement through the side seam. It’s really to give people the illusion of being taller and slimmer than you are. It’s a clean look.

What’s been your worst moment as a tailor?
Once we had an order for a dozen pairs of bespoke white trousers (white is always difficult) and unfortunately a couple got marked while we were making them. So, my business partner took them home and put them in his own washing machine and hung them out to dry on his clothes line. During the night, foxes took them down and ate them. In today’s money, that would have been a Ford Focus worth of trousers.

What keeps Savile Row relevant today?
Savile Row is thriving but you have to be relevant to today. We’re known throughout the world for our quality. As long as we maintain that style, make and service, we’ll thrive. And we’ve got so many young people who want to come in to the trade, which was unheard of 20 years ago. The problem is that we haven’t got the places for them. A bigger problem though is the rents, which is what we’re up against.

Richard Anderson was speaking at the Fashion and Textiles Museum on 29th November. His new book Making the Cut is available to buy now.

Richard Anderson has worked on the Row

The journey of Royal Paris coffee maker began in the late 1850s. Emperor Franz-Joseph and his wife were to host a spectacular Royal banquet that their guests would never forget

Coffee was growing in importance as a bespoke statement of refinement and style. The Emperor commissioned what would become one of the most exquisite coffee machines still making a bold and remarkable statement today.

Our desire at Royal Paris is to recreate this imperial experience for the most discerning palettes and those who love to live well. Luxurious living well punctuated by the aroma and glittering statement of the Royal Coffeemaker bringing demi-tasse par excellence to the world’s finest homes and estates.

The dazzling elegance of serving coffee made “the Royal way” conjures up images of the Orient Express, the Great Gatsby, and places where beauty and style rule.

Royal Paris coffee maker is more than a statement of extraordinary taste, it is a commitment to making every moment of your life extraordinary and celebrating with those you love.

It isn’t just about brewing the finest coffee or being the celebrated host. It is about elevating every moment and celebrating life at the highest level. It is about honouring tradition and creating a new legacy.

Royal Paris invites to create your moments of imperial pleasure.


The journey of Royal Paris coffee maker