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By Robin Dutt

A mutual passion for motorcars is what brought Ben Cussons and Henry Poole together. He is a racing driver and Chairman of the RAC Motoring Committee, and both Angus and his son Simon Cundey of Poole are, to say the least, keen on cars.

“I’ve known Simon for some time, “ said Cussons. “Poole has a close relationship with Goodwood, as does the RAC, and Simon comes to the Goodwood meetings. This Spring, RAC members were invited to join in the prestigious 72nd Members’ Meeting of the Goodwood Road Racing Club, and for such an occasion, Simon suggested a new suit was warranted.”

And so Cussons joined David Gandy in being kitted out in a driving suit that should never see an oily rag near it. Made in the sort of sturdy, warm cloth that makes driving an open-top in British weather comfortable, Cussons is so delighted with his new three-piece suit that he has been won over to the joys of bespoke.

“My father had his suits made in Savile Row but I’ve not really felt the need for bespoke – until now. This is just so fantastic to wear, that I’m definitely going to order another.”

Based upon the styling used for a driving outfit Poole made for King Edward Vll, it has been suitably updated, with the addition of a mobile phone pocket. Made in a Glen Royal 14oz check from the Harrisons of Edinburgh range, it shows its country influence with the shooting pleats at the back, and its lovat and lilac colouring. Such colours are traditionally favoured for shooting clothes, to blend in with the countryside and so the game can’t see the hunter.

Cussons arrived at Poole’s in his splendid C-type Jag, the sports motor that he races, and which had passers-by stopping to photograph it. A well known and committed racer, he took part in the Collins Trophy race at Goodwood members’ meeting, up against Aston Martin, Ferrari and Maserati legends, finishing a creditable near third.

By Robin Dutt A mutual passion for motorcars

By Robin Dutt

Girls the world over would undoubtedly say that Mr David Gandy is a very nice man, and indeed he is. As the male celebrity of the moment, feted and photographed wherever he goes, seen at all the best parties and in all the gossip pages, it might be expected that he had become just a touch removed, a little precious, but not a bit of it.

He managed to cause no little excitement in Savile Row recently, when being fitted for his latest suit at Henry Poole. Posing outside the tailor’s beside a rather special 1952 C-type Jaguar sports car, he even had some other tailors, noted for being singularly unimpressed by celebrities, coming out to catch a snap of him – though admittedly, the Jag might have been the main attraction for some male passers-by.

He is that rarity – a hit with the ladies and yet very much a man’s man, a good bloke. And even rarer in the modelling world, he has the sort of physique usually associated with a boxer, broad shouldered and narrow hipped, a muscular figure that makes the stick insect shapes of other young male models look as hapless as their female counterparts.

The Poole suit, still at the fitting stage, showed this off to advantage. The bespoke cut fits the shoulders naturally, then the jacket whittles to his enviably trim waistline, with a Norfolk pleat back giving freedom of movement for his muscular top. Ready-to-wear would never do such justice.

It was being fitted in time to be worn at the Goodwood members’ meeting this Spring, which he was attending with Simon Cundey of Poole, both passionate about cars.

“I have lots of Savile Row suits,” Gandy volunteered. “I just love the feel of them and the way they look. I am very supportive of British craftsmanship and believe it deserves more honour in its own country. Rather than letting foreign investors take over our top British firms, there should be more investment here. It makes economic sense.”

In one of his many sidelines, he has written fulsomely on this theme, most recently in a Daily Telegraph article that attracted a high response. He also makes the point that British consumers can do their bit.

“Not just in clothes but in other areas, consumers can help British businesses and support traditional crafts like Savile Row simply by buying British.”

He has been a customer at Henry Poole for two and half years, and likes a certain fairly traditional style. For this latest outfit, he chose a cloth from the new Hardy Minnis range, in the Worsted Alsport collection, designed especially for town and country wear.

Since winning a modelling competition on TV in 2001, Gandy has modelled for all kinds of top international brands. But he sent a million female hearts aflutter when he appeared in the memorable Dolce & Gabbana campaign in 2007, modelling underwear, and since then has chalked up a raft of industry awards, magazine covers, fashion projects and writing assignments, and managed to find time to support various good causes.

One of these is as patron and foster carer for the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. “I’d love to have a dog but it just hasn’t been right up till now, with all the travelling I’ve been doing. But I’ve now got a nice old Victorian house with a garden, and the dog I’m fostering at present is so special, the time may just be right…”

David Gandy’s suit is in a brown herringbone with a double brown window check, a 12 oz weight, with the jacket showing Norfolk-style shooting pleats at the back to allow him ease of movement when driving.

By Robin Dutt Girls the world over would

One of Hollywood’s greats is the subject of exhibition in Savile Row this summer to celebrate the star and his style quality…

Huntsman mounted an exhibition last summer to celebrate the life of Hollywood legend, Gregory Peck. Peck was the favoured tailor of the stars, and for nearly 50 years the house made around 160 outfits for him, both for on-screen and off.

The exhibition in June, showed many of these pieces, along with other memorabilia of his life and activities, plus some screen footage and many photographs of him with other star names. It portrayed the spirit as well as style of an actor who was recognised as not only one of the greats but a great humanitarian as well.

Peck hit the big time in the 1940s and continued to be one of Hollywood’s most successful and popular stars right up until the 1990s. He received an Oscar for his role in ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ and had many other critically acclaimed roles to his credit. But apart from being a successful actor, he was recognised as one of Hollywood’s gentlemen, and was also named in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1983.

The exhibition has come about under direction of ‘new’ man, Roubi L’Roubi. Its hard to believe that he took over the Huntsman helm just a year ago. In that time, he has created two ready-to-wear collections, has two more in the pipeline, revamped the premises, planned this major exhibition, and had a whirlwind of trips to source new fabrics and accessory suppliers.

Lest these activities should suggest that he is not paying attention to Huntsman’s bespoke roots, nothing could be farther from the truth. He understands its importance, has put in place a monthly showcase of five new garments to inspire bespoke customers, and firmly believes the ready-to-wear selection complements the bespoke.

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“We all like to pick things up,” he says. “So a bespoke customer may come in to order a new suit and then also see a blazer he likes in the ready-to-wear which he can pick up immediately. It may need minor adjustments or it may prompt a made-to-measure order. Of course, the reverse is also true – someone may come in to buy ready-to-wear and decide to trade up to bespoke. I’m happy with both.”

When he arrived in Savile Row early last year, he was generally known as a womenswear designer with perhaps little knowledge of tailoring. However, his early years in design saw him producing menswear collections and he is an experienced and talented cutter.

Huntsman, once the jewel in the crown of Savile Row, had had a somewhat chequered career for a few years when Roubi and his partner Pierre Lagrange took it on. It needed some TLC as well as determined reorganisation whilst retaining its core bespoke ethos.

“There’s been such pressure,” he admits, “but I’m enjoying it immensely. I have to oversee everything, from choice of fabrics and designs through planning presentations and photography, looking to expand our bespoke facilities, and ahead to when we can launch a wholesale operation for the ready-to-wear. Some days I’m just on another planet!” But his commitment to the company is solid. Recent rumours regarding Oriental possibilities are dismissed with an incredulous laugh. He is in it for the long term.

Some additions have already been made to the tailoring staff and he wants more young trainees to cope with demand. The showroom has been opened up to provide space for receptions and exhibitions. And the first exhibition to take place here will be the Gregory Peck event.

Articulated models will bring life to a display that will range over Peck as the Hollywood icon, the Oscar winner, political activist, humanitarian, anti-war and anti-racist campaigner, and family man. Some of his original garments have been reproduced, and an exclusive Huntsman tweed inspired by one Peck chose in the 1960s is now available to a new generation of customers.

And what will come across strongly is just how contemporary these designs look now. Like Gregory Peck, the Huntsman style, long, lean, single button and with high shape to the jacket, continues to exert a glamorous appeal. The two add up to star quality.

One of Hollywood’s greats is the subject

The Duke of Edinburgh has never been cast as a fashion figure, but he could well be seen as a pin-up. Prince Philip typifies the restrained, even wary approach to clothes of the typical English gentleman, which appeals to men – and women – around the globe. While much attention focuses upon the Royal women and what they wear, the Duke, like other male members of the Royal family, is now largely taken for granted but over the years has undoubtedly been a fine ambassador for Savile Row’s finest.

And just who is the finest so far as His Royal Highness is concerned? Well, John Kent has been his long-time tailor, a ball of energy, a tailor’s tailor, noted as a cheery chap with a fine line in old jokes. A few years back, he suffered a bout of illness and it was thought he would retire. But he bounced back and was re-appointed as the Duke’s tailor and Royal Warrant Holder. He is now based in Sackville Street, with his partner of many years, shirtmaker Stephen Lachter, and another tailor, Terry Haste, formerly with Huntsman, making up the Kent, Haste & Lachter company. “You have to be able to judge the moment,” he says, “as with all customers. If he has a lot on, an important meeting, then you act accordingly. But if he is relaxed and has time, he has a wonderful sense of humour.”

duke_coatStarting in the Row nearly half a century ago, Kent gives credit to training under some of the stars of the tailoring hierarchy – the Stanbury’s, especially Fred, and the Helman’s, Burt and Harry. Now, he has a wide cross section of customers and remains busy. “We charge the sort of prices that I would be prepared to pay,” he emphasises, “not some of those silly sums.” His main piece of advice to those ordering a suit is to go for a British cloth. “The French and Italian cloths are lovely but they go for a softer finish. British cloths are firmer and they hold their shape longer.”

While Kent is responsible for the Duke’s civilian dress, his military requirements are covered by Davies & Son, and his naval dress covered by Gieves & Hawkes. In addition, there are Warrant Holders for ceremonial robes, kilts, waterproofs, hats, shoes, knitwear, boots, buttons and hairdressing, et al. They all have to have chalked up five years service already to attain a Warrant, and by definition they have to represent quality and reliability.

Ede & Ravenscroft is the Duke’s robe maker, one of the oldest of companies holding a Royal Warrant, dating back to 1689. All the ranks of dukes and earls and lesser mortals at major royal events are wearing ermine-trimmed robes made by them. This would be a somewhat limited market to sustain a company, given that robes have little use and so last a long time, but the company is also big in the legal world, and the clergy, and also in bespoke civilian tailoring. Though their main base is in ancient premises in the City of London, they have a fine building looking up Savile Row.

duke_twoThe Duke may no longer wish to bare his knees very often in public but Kinloch Anderson remains his kilt supplier, and of Scottish and Highland dress generally. From their Edinburgh base, the firm has made uniforms for all the famous Scottish regiments, kilts and trews, and such is the on-going appeal of Highland dress that they also send off to would-be Scots around the world. There is a bespoke and ready-to-wear service and they will supply in any tartan, and provide all the traditional accessories.

John Lobb Ltd is the shoemaker responsible for shoeing the royal feet, both Prince Phillip’s and the Prince of Wales’. This family bespoke business in a lovely old building on St James’s is not to be confused with the John Lobb that now belongs to the Hermes Group, making ready-to-wear shoes. Lobb’s bespoke may be identified by looking for the Royal Warrant insignia, and by experiencing the handmade quality of their shoes and boots. The founding John Lobb started the royal connection by making shoes for Edward VII, and a long line of famous folk have followed in his footsteps.

Though Lobb’s handmade boots are well up to withstanding rough terrain, they are really too elegant for mucky country wear. That’s the preserve of Hunter Boots, the wellington boot of choice by the Duke, and which has come into the fashion spotlight in recent years since being seen on model Kate Moss at mud-soaked Glastonbury. From its basic rubber design, as worn by troops in WWI and II, and throughout the British countryside, it has now moved into town in a blaze of colour and new designs. But plain black and green wellies remain the country choice, guaranteed not to frighten the horses.

The ultimate country accessory is the gun and a Purdey gun at that. Purdey celebrates its bi-centenary this year, and is listed under the Warrant heading of ‘sports, hobbies and entertainment’. It began life as a gunsmith and has continued to make the finest guns over the years, decorated with exquisite silver engraving work. To mark their anniversary, the company has launched a commemorative trio, sure to become collectors’ items. This includes two shotguns and a double rifle, each handmade and inlaid with gold engravings. In addition to guns, there are new Purdey collections of country clothing and accessories.

The Duke of Edinburgh has never been

By Tom Corby

A touch of the peacock lurks in most men, even now in this time of down dressing, and the wearing of a well designed tie or cravat fulfils that sartorial must have, as it has done through the ages.

Despite attempts to loosen the tie’s grip on the civilised man’s throat, this strip of silk, ideally the fabric of choice, continues to hold on for dear life. As a fashion statement, it has had many incarnations, from broad to narrow, and back to broad.

Men’s neckwear has been around for a very long time, with the first recorded mention dating back to 210 BC in China. In Xian, the clay terracotta warriors guarding the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di, can be seen to be wearing this fashion staple. The story goes that the Emperor commanded that his army should be adorned with ties as an indicator of the honour he accorded them by being recreated in clay to forever guard his earthly remains.

Italy’s obsession with fashion might also have its roots in history. In ancient Rome, the Emperor Trajan erected a column carved with replicas of his army; the soldiers are all wearing neck ties of varying kinds. Like the Chinese Emperor, this was Trajan’s way of signifying the respect he felt for the valour of his men, and at this period in history Roman orators wore neckerchiefs to protect their vocal chords during the cold winter months.

In the 17th century, Croatian mercenaries were recruited by Louis Xlll to fight on France’s side in the Thirty Years War. The King was intrigued by the scarves wrapped round their necks, and called their neckwear “La Cravate,” the French name for a neck tie to this day. This fashion fad quickly crossed the Channel, and King Charles ll is said to have spent £20 on a lace cravat, the equivalent of £1,800 in today’s money. The well dressed man of that era also wore cravats made of embroidered linen, cotton and plaids.

Fast forward to the early 19th century and we have that arbiter of masculine elegance, Beau Brummel, who introduced a stiffer, more formal version. He always liked to have the morning ‘well aired’ before he got up, and spent several hours each day preparing to preside over the world of men’s fashion. His dictum was: “No perfumes, but fine linen, plenty of it, and country washing.” If his cravat did not correspond to his sense of perfection in its first tying it was cast aside, and his valet was seen one morning leaving his dressing room with an armful of creased cravats, solemnly referring to them as “our failures.”

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His patron and friend was the Prince Regent, later George lV, but Brummel openly antagonised the increasingly corpulent Prince. The crunch came when he asked a fellow guest at a reception, “Whose your fat friend?” and on another occasion ordered the Prince to “Shut the door, Wales.” This act of impertinence was the beginning of the end for the royal favourite, and in 1816 he fled to France to escape his creditors. He died penniless and insane from syphilis in a French asylum in 1840.

So much for the fortunes of high fashion, but his contribution to the revolution in men’s clothes and the introduction of understated, but perfectly fitted and tailored bespoke garments, of which today’s classic suits are the legatees, was commemorated in 2002 by the placing of his statue in Jermyn Street.

Later in the 19th century the Brummel look was adopted by Oscar Wilde and other members of the aesthetic movement. It mutated into different forms, notably the Ascot tie worn with morning dress, but in the 20th century, the day cravat, a silk scarf worn under an open necked shirt was taken up by film stars such as Cary Grant, David Niven, Michael Caine, and Roger Moore. The choice of the stars was copied by thousands of young men who hoped that some of the glamour of these film icons would rub off on them. Fashion pundits are now predicting that the cravat is due for a comeback.

The long tie as we know it today did not emerge until the late 19th century but since then has undergone many – often subtle – changes. It is all about modern man’s expression of his own style.

Not to be ignored, of course, is the celebrated Windsor Knot, believed to have been made popular by the Duke of Windsor, although there is a school of thought that it was named after his father King George V. The Duke preferred a wide knot and had his ties specially made to produce a wider knot when tied with the conventional four-in-hand knot. From James Bond to John F Kennedy, the Windsor Knot is still today regarded by many as the sign of a true gentleman. It is particularly suited for a spread or cutaway collar, and needs a tie that is about four centimetres or 1.6 inches longer than a conventional tie.

Still flourishing are ties that mean something to the wearer, an identification, an affinity to a group. Some years ago ‘The Book of Ties,’ now out of print, published a listing of 749 special ties, old school ties, graduates, the armed forces, the Inns of Court, any number of sporting clubs, the London Livery Companies, Guilds, the jokey ‘One Holer’ for golfers who have shot a hole in one, and so on.

Regimental and old school ties have gone on to inspire many similar designs, and of course there are those who wear the authentic article who are not entitled to. Con men, in particular, have adopted this trick as a means of suggesting a gentlemanly, trustworthy character. Not surprisingly, those with bona fide credentials for wearing the tie of their regiment or their old school take great exception to their tie being usurped.

A walk through the City of London on a Friday, during working hours, shows many younger men not wearing ties. This was unheard of not so very long ago, although you can be sure that they have one tucked in a pocket or a desk drawer ready for a quick switch if summoned to the board room or some other higher authority.

Ties say something about the wearer, from the more muted designs to the flashy, and are one of the few ways left that 21st century men can express their sartorial personality. They are here to stay.

By Tom Corby A touch of the peacock