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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,

The team at Savile Row Gin were delighted to have received the most votes for the best gin, as voted by attendees at its first consumer gin event, The Gin Lounge held at the Oval Cricket Ground on the 11th & 12th May 2019

The team were joined on their stand by the founders of Savile Row, and the creators of the dinner jacket, Henry Poole & Co, who showcased many different cloths in addition to the original Winston Churchill fabric. Henry Poole were represented by front of house manager Anthony Rowland who gave visitors an insight into the history of Savile Row and the Henry Poole story which dates back to 1806.

Commenting on the award, Stewart Lee, CEO of Savile Row Gin told Savile Row Style: “This was an important test for Savile Row Gin as whilst many thousands of guests have enjoyed The Perfect Serve Savile Row Gin & Tonic at our partner events, this was our first public facing showcase, attended by a loyal, knowledgeable and gin-loving audience who certainly knew their Gins.”

“The overwhelming feedback over the two days was very positive for sure, and I could tell they liked it a lot, as many visitors came back at the end to buy a bottle”, added Lee. The team were joined by head mixologist Maurice Lawrence who gave visitors to the stand an in-depth talk about the gin’s twelve botanicals and what they can expect to experience when tasting this very smooth gin neat, and when served with tonic and a slice of pink grapefruit. “They loved our samples of the Perfect Serve”, Lawrence told SRS – 50ml Savile Row Gin, 150ml classic Indian tonic, a slice of pink grapefruit and a mint leaf. Lee also confirmed at the show that the brand will be exhibiting at this year’s Imbibe Live at Olympia in July.

To find out more, please visit: Savile Row Gin

Savile Row Gin winning at the Oval

The team at Savile Row Gin were

Robin Dutt celebrates the history of Mayfair nightclubs, from aristocratic Annabel’s to sexy, swinging Tramp.

In essence, London could be the only place on earth associated with the concept of “the club.” It created this night-time entity with a zeal which is internationally recognised and thronged to. The identity of a club and its sparkling denizens was and remains not British, not even English, but stands for London itself.

Annabel’s, Tramp, The Embassy and Titanic, for example, are emblematic names – along with a handful of others – even if some are consigned to history. The understanding of a club might be said to have found form in the St. James’s of the 18th century where the idea of being “apart” from society but with your “peers” took happy and healthy root. Who one knew, who one was – how much did you spend (or lose, which was no shame) are still hallmarks of today’s club scene. Arch froideur was a passport too, the dandy, Beau Brummell once exclaiming from the safety of his club’s bow window that he loved to see the ordinary people pass by in the rain.

The club is a sheltered world within a mass-populated one. The very word is thought to be traceable to the 17th century. Celebrated London clubs benefitted from the grand classical nature of the mostly one-time grand family houses they occupied. Every club wants to have that crucial slice of the social cake. As Bryan Ferry, who made the song The ‘In’ Crowd so famous, sang:

“I’m in with the in crowd
I go where the in crowd goes
I’m in with the in crowd
And I know what the in crowd know”

But the song might be said to have in equal measure, irony, and sarcasm when he adds, “Looking flash, talking trash…”

And yet, this is part of the whole purpose. Long-standing, even generational and loyal members might be culled to make way for the new blood. It’s as draconian as that.

Take me to Bel’s
Annabel’s began in 1963 in a Mayfair basement. Historian Harry Mount writing in the Daily Telegraph, quotes celebrity interior designer and socialite Nicky Haslam as saying how he had been asked to cover the opening party by one Diana Vreeland for Vogue. He recalls the aristo-mantra at the time by the debutantes, “Take me to Bel’s.” It is worth remembering that Annabel’s remains the only club that HM The Queen has visited for a cocktail. Basement coal hole as it surely was, it was a magnet. Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, George Hamilton, Princess Diana. Everyone in the know, simply knew.

“Once people had made it in London, everyone went to clubs – sportsmen, pop stars, actors. Anybody who was anybody, went to Annabel’s,” says one-time regular, property developer David Green.

Jackie Branston, another habitué, recalls the ladies at Annabel’s clearly: “Women dressed like women – stylish, sexy, international – something quite unique that has never been repeated. You always went to Annabel’s first and ended up at Tramp. Johnny Gold [Tramp founder] was the perfect host.”

And it is David Green again who remembers the cheeky signage there: “No Bird, No Tramp.” That’s why the girls went to Morton’s to pick up fellas, to go on to Tramp. The regime was that you went to Mortons, then to Tramp.

Art dealer and collector James Birch recalls his London clubland vividly, going to Annabel’s and Tramp “a lot” with his friend, Daisy Borman. Prior to that, it was The Embassy for him, sometimes every night, although he cites it as “a poor man’s Studio 54”. Tramp, he says, “always used to have a morose George Best sitting there, not speaking. There was always the Maître D – Guido – who liked to share a joke with you”.

Tramp regulars included, from the early days, Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Liza Minelli and Ringo Starr and they all had their wedding receptions there. Founded in 1969, it is considered to be one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. But the fact that London’s clubland was and remains same and different saw a criss-crossing of its selected clientele, however loyal they might be.

Embassy was started by Mark Fuller and he was vocal a couple of years ago when he lampooned the greed of some of the London club owners who have, he told the Evening Standard, “have killed our industry”. He cited free drinks and the hiring of attractive women as a disastrous move by some establishments.

And it is certainly not all roses for one-time club goer Demir Mustafa, whose views might in some way chime with Fuller’s. Mustafa points to the pretentious nature of certain establishments, their emphasis on celebrity – even saying pointedly that one (remaining nameless, naturellement) is “full of people who have an overinflated view of themselves”. He describes another venue as “dark, pretentious and unnecessary – a place one goes to merely tell others”.

But then, an exclusive club might be a circus ring or a psychiatry wing at the same time. Who are the players, who is the audience?

Andy Warhol certainly understood celebrity in a prescient way. He understood people’s hunger for it, their abject need for it. Clubs were – and are – ready stages for spangled performances; the manufactured reality more important than reality itself. When I interviewed him a year or so before his death, famed for his celebrity pop portraits and snaps at Studio 54 and clubland in general, of all the beautiful people, I met him in a London gallery. There were vast queues for his autograph – scrawled on paper, proffered jeans, catalogues – anything. To hold celebrity or a snatch of it, is to be rewarded, somehow, to some. As Bryan Ferry put it in the song, “You ain’t been nowhere till you’ve been with the in-crowd.”

Robin Dutt celebrates the history of Mayfair