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The world of British tailoring flocked to the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, London, in July for the annual Bespoke Tailors’ Benevolent Association Summer Party.

With everyone looking elegantly cool, tailors, cutters and apprentices made the most of the warm, Summer evening to catch up with friends and colleagues in the Hall’s calming courtyard before heading into the impressive main hall for a relaxed, buffet dinner. Organised by Claire Barrett of Hawthorne & Heaney for the first time, there were several key figures from the Association in the room, including the Association’s President Patrick Bunting and Board member William Skinner of Dege & Skinner. A highlight of the evening is always the awards presentation, with several apprentices receiving their coveted apprenticeship certificates. The BTBA works tirelessly to support the tailoring industry and currently supports more than 60 beneficiaries through its highly regarded grants scheme. So this evening, one of two major events run by the Association to raise funds and highlight the work of British tailoring, is always a key fixture on every tailor’s calendar.

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The world of British tailoring flocked to

It seems hard to believe that Angus Cundey, elegant in his three-piece suit and a recent recipient of an MBE from The Queen for services to bespoke tailoring and trade charities, knew nothing about Henry Poole until his headmaster put him straight just weeks before leaving school in 1954. “When I was about 17, my headmaster [at Framlingham College] summoned me to his study and said: ‘Now Cundey what are you going to do when you leave at the end of the term?’. I replied that I was going into the RAF as I wanted to learn how to fly, but he said, ‘Cundey have you not heard of your wonderful family business, the most famous tailors in the world?’”

Although Angus and his sister regularly came up to London in school holidays to see their father at work, Samuel Cundey never explained that Henry Poole was the family business and that Angus could be the sixth generation of the family to work there. Luckily for tailoring, the young Angus had time to mull over his future on the train heading back to London at the end of that final school term. “I sat there thinking: do I really want to be a pilot or a tailor? When I got out at Liverpool Street I asked my father, will there be a place for me at Henry Poole? A great big smile came across his face and he said, ‘of course.’”

What makes this anecdote even more remarkable is that Henry Poole has been managed by a Cundey since 1876. Angus’s great-grandfather Samuel Cundey took over the business when his cousin Henry Poole died. Although it has not always been a smooth or straightforward path to the title: “The Most Famous Tailors in the World.” “When Henry Poole died in 1876 the company was basically bankrupt,” explained Angus. “Customers such as The Prince of Wales [later King Edward V11] were very good customers, but didn’t always pay their bills. Henry Poole refused to send the Prince a bill and I believe a figure of £10,000 was outstanding in 1876, which was a lot of money. My grandfather [Howard Cundey], who was a brilliant man, sort of inherited the business from Samuel Cundey and made the business viable. He pulled the company around and opened branches in Paris, Berlin and Vienna.”

The same could be said of Angus Cundey, a past president of the Federation of Merchant Tailors, Chairman World Congress of Master Tailors 1973, President Master Tailors Benevolent Association and a founder of Savile Row Bespoke, just a few of the many accolades he has acquired throughout an illustrious career.angus-recieving-mbe-from-queen-credit-image-courtesy-of-british-ceremonial-arts-limited-1024x732

Unbeknown to him, Angus was not just joining the family firm, but also taking on the role as custodian of tailoring history. Henry Poole has an impressive archive, featuring sales ledgers dating back to 1846 with orders from celebrated customers such as Charles Dickens, Emperor Haile Selassie, Tsar Alexander ll of Russia, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Dr Livingstone, Buffalo Bill, the Royal Household and Winston Churchill. The latter was another customer reluctant to pay his tailor’s bill and when he became Prime Minister in 1940, a member of staff at Henry Poole, in desperation, sent the outstanding bill to Number 10 Downing Street. The bill was paid immediately, but Churchill never visited Henry Poole again!

Although Angus’s father, Samuel Cundey, made no reference to this great legacy, he did set in motion a plan that continues to reap benefits for British tailoring to this day. “I had two weeks’ holiday and was then sent to Paris,” recalled Angus. “Our Paris branch had been ransacked by the Germans in 1940 and we never opened it again, so I was sent to learn to sew at Lanvin Menswear. They showed me how to pad collars and even how to hold a needle, but more importantly for me, and for Henry Poole, they taught me French.”

After Paris and National Service – Angus drove ambulances for the RAF in East Anglia – he spent time at the Tailor and Cutter Academy, before heading through the doors of Henry Poole. However, it was not long before Angus was back in Paris.

“My father had written to all our pre-war French customers in 1963 and said I am sending my son with cloth samples and measuring tape. Business took off and so I began to take our head cutter with me. This was really the start of my career because the Paris business became quite big and we acquired some wonderful customers in Paris.

“General de Gaulle was one,” explains Angus, “until he suddenly went the other way and said ‘I am not going to wear English suits anymore’.” We had Prime Minister Balladur, who was a most charming customer for years. He would send a police car to fetch me from the hotel to take me to the Matignon and I used to be embarrassed as the police would put on the sirens and people would stare and wonder what I had done. But then Balladur put himself up for President of France and a spin doctor told him he shouldn’t wear waistcoats and he shouldn’t wear English suits and he promptly lost the election.

“President Giscard d’Estaing became a wonderful customer and remains so to this day. In fact, one of our senior cutters went to Paris just a couple of weeks ago because d’Estaing had phoned up – he must be about 90 now – and said ‘I want a new sports jacket’. As our cutter was leaving he said: ‘I hope Henry Poole doesn’t do a Brexit and not come to Paris anymore.’”

With such fond memories of Paris and possible plans to open again in the French capital, “maybe sharing with a shirt maker”, it is a surprise to learn that Angus voted to leave in the recent EU Referendum. His reasoning is simple though. “Henry Poole has always been a totally international company,” he says. “The EU is really not so busy as it once was. Switzerland is busier than Paris and America accounts for 40% of our business. The UK is 32%, while the EU accounts for 11%, but we also do 11% in Japan and we would like to extend our business in China and even more in Japan.”

Leave or not though, Angus remains in regular contact with the EU Commission thanks to his work on creating a geographical indicator (GI) for Savile Row with the Savile Row Bespoke Association (SRB), which he co-founded some 15 years ago. This pioneering work aims to protect the name Savile Row in a similar way to the existing protection for foods such as champagne and Parma ham. “As it stands at the moment you cannot protect the name Savile Row as it’s the name of a place, but we have registered Savile Row Bespoke. Despite Brexit I remain very confident of it working successfully – a wine maker in Kent is not going to suddenly produce white wine and call it champagne is he?”

An unlikely supporter of SRB’s GI campaign is the GMB union. During the annual wage negotiation for the Savile Row tailors, which Angus still oversees, there was a discussion about GI. The union was immediately behind the campaign. “They realise it will protect their workers and so have been really helpful,” said Angus. “They explained that they have a branch in Brussels and offered the services of their European officer Kathleen Walker. The upshot is that we have already addressed the 300 delegates in the European Parliament and are now in touch with a chap in Switzerland who looks after the whole of the wine and food GI and he is keen on getting involved on our behalf.”

The success of the GI campaign would be the perfect way for Angus to conclude a glittering career in Savile Row. He can take much of the credit for ensuring that Savile Row tailoring remains revered to this day, although this part of London looked very different when he first took up a needle at Henry Poole in the 1950s. “When I first arrived here there were masses of tailors and woollen merchants too. Of course some of them had been bombed out during the war, but there were still many more tailors then. Today we have 14 pure, bespoke Savile Row tailors in SRB and I believe that provided we can keep the landlord at bay we can survive another 100 years. Our product is really enjoyed throughout the world and now we have the Chinese wanting the ultimate British suit.”

One major change has been the arrival of the Row’s first lady tailor, but that is more to do with logistics rather than sexism. “We used to have 16lb irons, heated by gas or coke ovens, and only men could press a collar or open a seam as the irons were too heavy for ladies to use,” recalls Angus. “Buttonholes and things like that were made by tailoresses, but there wasn’t one lady coat maker.”

It’s a different story today and the tailors have Angus and SRB to thank for the successful apprenticeship partnership with London’s Newnham College. “SRB’s Su Thomas and Philip Parker, a director here at Henry Poole, have worked very hard to make the scheme a success – one of the stipulations of being a member of SRB is that you must have at least one apprentice – and we have about 60 apprentices now. They are mainly coat makers and at least half today are ladies thanks to the introduction of the electric iron. In fact, I think half our staff now are youngish girls – it has transformed our company.”

Aged 79, Angus can now start to think about time spent away from Savile Row – maybe relaxing with his wife at their Suffolk home or enjoying adventures in his cherished vintage Frazer Nash. And with the seventh generation of the Poole/Cundey family already firmly established at 15 Savile Row – son Simon is Managing Director and co-owner of Henry Poole – Angus knows that his beloved Savile Row is in safe hands and thriving.tweed-ml087

 From Savile Row Style Magazine: Read this Edition Here

It seems hard to believe that Angus

Robin Dutt takes a stroll down the Row, and further afield, to discover the must-have styles, fabrics and hues for men to remain on trend this Autumn

Trends of course are important – more so seemingly in the womenswear sector. Here, shapes, colours and patterns vacillate from novelty to inventive, chic to ridiculous. However, in the case of men’s trends, especially where Autumn is concerned, we have been recently witnessing a “build-on-build” phenomenon which only goes to prove the essential and refreshing stasis of the male wardrobe. Themes are revisited – trusted cuts, although slightly revisited but essentially the same and a delightful consistency when it comes to suiting fabrics, traditional patterns and weaves.

“The Savile Row Effect” is central this season when it comes to sartorial inspiration, ensuring garments are instantly useful and immediate wardrobe staples. This Autumn there is a magnetic embrace of the English obsession with fine wools, slim and exaggerated lapels which float down the chest, standard black and white duo chrome and quite the opposite, surprisingly harmonic clashes of colour.

Take the sensational “A Child of the Jago” for example – a creation of Joe Corre (of one time Agent Provocateur fame) and the inspirational son of Dame Vivienne Westwood. Instantly proclaiming a Dandyesque look, with a slice of calculated danger – well, the company’s strap line is “Original Terrorist Clothing” – full of truth and irony. And when the ‘T’ word is used, it is in this case reminiscent of cheeky Victorian mudlarks, no-good mashers and swells and Dickensian street loungers, all done up in the finest threads. A historical set of themes is also to be found in many other collections too, from the always elegant blazers and coat choices of Ralph Lauren, redolent of 1920s New York country clubs, to the lounge lizard jazz bar feel of Gianni Versace. But Corre’s take seems uniquely exaggerated and especially racy, many outfits topped off by inflated Homburgs.

A nod to British travel clothes can be found at Richard James – whom many seek out for his well balanced windowpane checks and solid tweeds or Paul Smith’s smooth, more Continental feel in the suiting department. Although travel has inspired both in certain elements of the collections, James’ conveyance might be a British Racing Green open top; while Smith’s is a jet plane.

As usual, expect great things from the House of Alexander McQueen. Whilst alive, McQueen was one of the few designers who could make statement pieces for men, which, though often based on costume styles and sometimes the stage, never made the wearer feel he was out of place or kilter. The House continues to deliver today, as this season reveals; stridently sharp suits and sculpted coats, which of course, take no prisoners. You may have a well-honed body, but a McQueen ensemble continues to challenge as he always did when he worked on the Row in the early days. Can that really be a size 40″? More gym, I fear…

A disturbing trend in menswear seems to involve oversized tailoring worn with sporting/casual elements; even pants that look like pyjama bottoms. I only mention this because, like it or not, it is an Autumn/Winter look which one predicts will find the nearest sale bins before long. It really is a look that suggests that you got dressed at night, wearing a blindfold. This one is best left to the young gentleman who can deal with irony. But then again, irony should be treated as a seasoning and not a meal in itself.the-english-gentleman-at-apsley-house-411

The waistcoat comes into its own at this time too – a visual and functional device which can add satisfying layering and an opportunity to share some of your judicious autobiographical essence when it comes to strategic buttons, neckwear and watch chains – all informing the efficacy of the whole ensemble. Investigate the offerings from New & Lingwood, Turnbull & Asser or take a trip to Portobello, Hornets in Kensington or Old Hat in Fulham to trawl through some mint condition examples from the past. On the Row, look though Mr Gary Anderson’s polished silken choices.

The military look again has become a firm Autumn staple with gilt buttons, solid one-colour frogging, epaulettes and brass or silver buttons. A search through collections by Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci may reveal a treat or two and never forget the authority of the Row’s Welsh & Jeffries if a ball or some other event beckons.

Etro’s superb tailoring and sparkling use of pattern and colour, frequently featuring clashing hues and intense paisley designs reminds all lovers of wearable “excess” that you can be adventurous this Autumn. It may even inspire you to hunt for some vintage bolts of cloth or even a heavily embroidered sari with gold thread and gems to have whipped up on Savile Row into a statement shirt or tunic jacket in the manner of Mr. Fish, in his heyday so much part of the peacock parade, which, especially this season, shows no sign of concealing its tail of a thousand eyes.

Faux fur, leather and shearling all made appearances on the catwalk and again not all worn tightly and formally, but teamed with the casual and trims – lapels and cuffs were everywhere!

As usual, it is those little details that make a seasonal outfit come to the fore again – as they always do… skull braces and socks at Jeffrey-West, a surprising swirl-design pochette from Liberty, dotty cravats from Turnbull & Asser, all ideal to spruce up the strident or if you must, a little relaxed tailoring that is going to be the toast of the town this Autumn and really… SO on trend it hurts. But in a great way.

 From Savile Row Style Magazine: Read this Edition Here

Robin Dutt takes a stroll down the

IMAGE: Beretta Gallery London

Be it cars or guns there are some added extras that today’s action man cannot afford to be without this sporting season. James Turner compiles a collection of his own exclusively for Savile Row Style Magazine

After a long Summer season, although I use the word Summer loosely, it is now time to put away the warmer-weather wardrobe of Royal Ascot morning suit, Wimbledon whites, polo chinos and Henley’s striped rowing jackets and swap your golfing plus-fours for shooting “breeks” in preparation for the Autumn’s sporting highlights. This may be a day (or two) spent on a grouse moor, taking in the early jump meetings at racecourses around the country or admiring, and driving, the ultimate in motoring beauty at a clutch of concours d’elegance. Whatever takes your fancy, these Autumn pursuits insist that you focus on the details. Participants are becoming increasingly style conscious which has seen the traditional sporting brands embrace more style and fashion-led designs, think Holland & Holland; whilst fashion brands like Belstaff have collaborated with organisations such as Lord March’s Goodwood. In the same way that sailing embraced Formula One technology, not only in its yacht design, but also in its clothing, shooting has embraced hi-tech fabrics and technology to ensure improved performance on the field. So be inspired by our own collection of essential Autumn accessories. They cannot guarantee you a successful day but allow you to concentrate on the important details.

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Perfect Cover

Think Purdey and depending on your forte then either a matching pair of guns comes to mind or the TR7-driving companion to Steed in The New Avengers. Sorry boys, it’s not the screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-17-00-20latter this time, but the gun and rifle maker who has caught our attention. Renowned for superb craftsmanship for more than 200 years, Purdey has turned its attention to detail to clothing. New for this Autumn and looking equally at home in a cityscape or field are the Rochester and Ilkley jackets. Made in impressive Hawick Tweed, these coats not only offer effortless chic now, but will survive the rigours of life so that the next generation can look equally on trend.

Hidden Attraction

Land Rover has been creating off-road workhorses for almost seven decades. The arrival of the Range Rover in the 1970s proved that utility vehicles did not have to be drab or unfashionable. Now an exciting partnership between Land Rover and London gunsmith Holland & Holland offers unrivalled luxury for the keen shot who never compromises style for function. Featuring all the usual attributes of the Range Rover Autobiography – including great off-road performance – this magnificent beast also incorporates style cues such as using polished walnut veneer to resemble a gunstock and Holland & Holland’s instantly recognised engraving in the door handles. However, this car’s best feature is hidden away in the boot – an easily removed, leather trimmed aluminium gun case. Perfect for your matching pair.l405_15hh_int_det01

Hand Controls

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-17-01-32In the 1950s and ‘60s no gentleman of style would consider it proper to be behind the wheel of his beloved motor without driving gloves. The advent of power steering and improved car heaters has seen this trend diminish unless you need to hurl a beast of a wheel of a vintage, 4-litre Bentley or its ilk. Car or not though, what better way to finish off an Autumn outfit than with a pair of classic driving gloves? Dunhill, whose slogan was “Everything But The Motor” is perfectly placed to revive this tradition. These elegant gloves, made from English leather, recall an earlier, maybe more sartorial era, but one that any man about town or country would be happy to adopt.

Champion Style

This year marks the 40th anniversary since British sporting legend James Hunt’s legendary Formula One Championship win at Fuji, Japan in 1976, where he snatched the championship by one dramatic point from fellow racing hero Niki Lauda. screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-17-03-46Belstaff has commemorated such a moment by unveiling the James Hunt 40th Anniversary Capsule Collection – created in collaboration with Hunt’s sons Tom and Freddie – to celebrate their father’s legacy and indomitable spirit. The Hunt brothers feature the collection’s hand-waxed leather jackets – one with four-pockets and with quilting details on the shoulder, while the other is a shorter shape with two chest pockets. There are six pieces in total to this collection – each piece perfect for a concours stroll.

Head Start

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-17-04-55The Autumn chill means a chance to reach for the much-loved flat cap. Now making a resurgence with the younger generation – think Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake or Ryan Reynolds – the flat cap is taking centre stage once more. Traditional hatters such as London’s Lock & Co have responded to this new demand by retaining the quality and standards by which they are known worldwide, but breathing new life into a traditional staple. Take the limited edition Muirfield, a traditional eight-piece cap. It may look conventional, but is crafted from lightweight Shetland wool with an added cotton sweatband – perfect for those early Autumn temperatures.

Timed to Win

Motorsport is all about the timing. Yes, speed matters, but only in the context of achieving the fastest time. Many of the sport’s characteristics are also familiar to watchmakers – reliability, precision etc. Zenith has taken these links to a new level by creating a timepiece to celebrate its association as official timekeeper of the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation (HERO). The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open 1969 HERO Cup Edition is based on the launch edition of the original watch, created in 1969, and believed to be one of the first automatic chronographs. The subtle introduction of the HERO Cup medallion on its face may be the only outward reference to HERO, but its movement – 5Hz frequency (36,000 beats per hour) – is a USP that every racing driver will understand.zenith_el_primero_chronomaster_1969_hero_cup_edition

Fashion for the Field

Shooting is a sport of heritage and tradition – reflected in the clothing as well as the weaponry. So creating something new to wear for this very conservative (with a very small c!) audience is never an easy ask. But Farlows know their customer – they have been sporting outfitters since 1840 and so are an ideal brand to create a Field Coat to deliver in all weathers and terrain. As with every piece in Farlow’s Fieldware Collection, it has to perform on two fronts – not only look the part, but be hardworking too. Although made using an exclusive range of Hawick Tweeds – a mix of pure Cheviot and twisted merino and Cheviot yarns – this coat is not made in Scotland, but sent to a small coat maker in England, who hand cuts and crafts it into a field coat. And with the sportsman in mind at every turn, this jacket even has rubberised Farlows’ snaps to protect precious gunstocks.

 From Savile Row Style Magazine: Read this Edition Here

IMAGE: Beretta Gallery London Be it cars or

Robin Dutt delves into the treasure trove that is the great fabric houses of Europe, some dating back more than 300 years, but always remaining on trend

When the poet W B Yeats wrote about wishing “for the cloths of heaven”, we know he wasn’t thinking of tailoring, although he could have been. For, as anyone who understands cloth knows, the whole sartorial process begins with it – the weight, the texture, the subtleties of colour and, perhaps strangely, even the smell – authoritative and reassuring. A task for many tailoring students used to be the blind test where a bag full of fabric swatches was passed around, the object being “to see with one’s fingers”. Touch is vital – it may be seductive to some and unpleasant to others. Don’t forget the importance of associations and memory too. Take a hairy tweed? It may force some to run to the hills, while others will never want to remove such a garment.

Undeniably there is a psychological aspect to this, our second skin. The designer Yuki once said that he cut fabric as little as possible because, for him, it was akin to thrusting his shears into skin. Or as the celebrated designer Murray Arbeid once offered advice to a novice: “Think twice, cut once.”

Throughout the history of Savile Row, the satellite fabric suppliers, whether close at hand or further afield, have formed a unique alliance which combines to generate a force which creates elegance – or indeed functionality alone. After all, although this international street is known primarily for its suiting, it is no stranger to clothing for sport and the field. A first time visitor to a fabric house or if lucky enough a mill itself, will be astounded by the art – and that word is not used lightly – of the creator. That our species is naturally visually curious seems to be echoed in the sheer variety of cloth available, with each establishment and even each bolt, telling a very individual story.

Dashing Tweeds

Set up by the charming and charismatic Guy Hills, who is also a photographer, Hills has allowed his natural passion for tailoring to spill over into the creation of cloth – the better to establish a defined and individual identity. He describes his signature as modern urban woven. “I see fabric as an extension of the personality,” says Guy, sitting in his bijou studio-shop off London’s Vigo Street. “I am very interested about how men can express themselves through colour.”

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Colour there is, standing out brightly among the more familiar anthracites and charcoals. Bold window panes in cerise, lavender and emerald have become something of a trademark for this company and Hills never forgets the importance of texture.

Holland & Sherry

holland-sherryStephen George Holland and Frederick Sherry began their business in the last year of the reign of William IV and over their celebrated history have acquired almost 20 other respected wool companies to create a monolith. Originally located in London’s Old Bond Street, specialising in wool and silk, the company moved to Golden Square and today is the only cloth merchant remaining in that part of London. Perhaps that is why one cannot question their appellation “The Finest Cloths in the World”. Apart from catering to gentlemen of exquisite taste who understand how and why cloth performs, the company has provided cloth for film and stage – from Mission Impossible to the English National Opera. Holland & Sherry is at the forefront of keeping a world-renowned tradition alive and relevant. Vivienne Westwood, perhaps Britain’s foremost designer, often renders radical styles in the most traditional fabrics – tweed which she is delighted to export to the world not only in the shape of clothes, but in the identity of tradition.

Johnstons of Elgin

johnstons-of-elginFounded in the late years of King George III’s reign, Johnstons of Elgin is widely regarded as crucial in the origination of a vast range of designs known as Estate Tweeds and their development, largely due to the fading of influence of the clan chiefs after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. However, the company’s pioneering spirit has been responsible for associating its name not only with the finest cloth (their sentiment is that only the best will do) but since the “Peacock Parade” of the 1960s Johnstons has understood the power of fashion and so has invested in knitwear, manufacturing garments in classic and on trend shapes and colours. Consequently, Johnstons today can boast one of the most advanced weaving and knitting plants in the world and is the only company to see the entire garment construction through from raw material to finish.

Scabal

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Luxury fabrics are chiefly associated with Scabal and so many of its bolts offer a lightness and luminosity suitable for the most statuesque formal wear, as well as elegant business suiting. This writer well remembers witnessing a lavish length of pinstriping – sparkling gold and crushed diamonds – waiting to be whipped up into a suitably strident suit, or perhaps a twilight ensemble for the hush of a club in St. James’s. Founded in 1938, but tracing its origins to 1539, Scabal’s Autumn/Winter collection is inspired by British heritage and nature, balancing classic and modern tailoring details as in blazer shapes to a new shirting range in “Silver”, “Gold” and “Washed” distinctions.

Dormeuil

The name itself is a moniker of taste and is familiar with all lovers of tailoring. It seems to reassure and from 1842 has been creating timeless classics and indispensable familiars enjoyed by kings, presidents and the well-informed, for whom the three rams’ heads on its shield is synonymous with style. Although Dormeuil, started by a slip of a young man, Jules Dormeuil at 22, is proud of tradition, that is no reason for Dormeuil not to commune with the present and indeed the future. Take its Tecnik range for example. Describing it as “intelligent fabric” in the same vein as Sportex, Tonik and Laser, this fabric has the modern man on the go very much in mind; a fabric which cools the body when it is externally hot and warms it as the temperature cools.

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 From Savile Row Style Magazine: Read this Edition Here

Robin Dutt delves into the treasure trove