Say “Savile Row” and it immediately conjures an image of a man in a suit — smart, classy and impeccably tailored.
That’s because since 1846 it has been the first and last word in bespoke (made-to-order) tailoring for men.
Anderson & Sheppard, Davies & Son, Dege & Skinner, Ede & Ravenscroft, Henry Poole & Co., H. Huntsman & Sons, Meyer & Mortimer, Kilgour and Norton & Sons are among the bespoke tailoring firms on London’s “golden mile” that have dressed everyone from Cary Grant to Hugh Grant, from Prince Albert to his great-great-great-great-grandson Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
Now comes a book — actually this is its second, more compact incarnation — from men’s fashion editor/expert James Sherwood and Thames & Hudson called “Bespoke: The Master Tailors of Savile Row” ($40, 287 pages) and it is a humdinger, with its yummy pink binding and gray, tweedy covers. Between them you’ll find the story of Savile Row organized chronologically, thematically and by tailor, along with a foreword by Tom Ford, looking natty and sexy in an open-shirted tux that we have to assume is not a Savile Row suit (“….if I did not design my own men’s collection, I would have virtually my entire wardrobe made on Savile Row,” he writes).
But you do not have to know a waistband from a welt pocket (“outside pockets on a suit coat finished with a horizontal band of tone-on-tone cloth”) to enjoy this book, which is rich in reproductions of paintings as well as celebrity photographs.
To say it is raining men here is an understatement. There are men in form-fitting trousers that show off the silhouette of the leg — and then some — in a way that would’ve made Regency dandy Beau Brummell proud (Prince Albert again, Mick Jagger). There are men in uniform (Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh). There are men in plaid. And there are men you might not know but would want to (a particularly dashing Prince Eddy, who would’ve succeeded his father Edward VII had he not died of influenza; and the tenderly handsome, pooch-loving Prince Felix Youssoupoff, who would become famous, or infamous, as the man who murdered Russian royals manipulator Rasputin). They’re all gorgeous.
There’s a smattering of women here to keep the guys honest — Iman in a striking red satin gown with husband David Bowie in Spencer Hart bespoke at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Ball; Gwyneth Paltrow in a Vivienne Westwood gown with a fascinatingly cantilevered décolleté, accompanied by Jude Law in Kilgour bespoke; and Nicole Kidman in chartreuse chinoiserie by Christian Dior Couture (one of the best Academy Awards gowns ever) with then-hubby Tom Cruise in Richard James Bespoke block. The caption reads in part: “Nowhere was the ability to make a man walk taller apparent than when worn by Tom Cruise at the 1997 Oscars….” Meow.
Fortunately, “Bespoke” is only peppered by snark. And just as well, otherwise we’d have to point out that it should read “more apparent than.” And that “North by Northwest” — starring Cary Grant, the ne plus ultra of bespoke — was a 1959 film, not a 1946 one. That’s like a missing button or a pulled thread on a bespoke suit.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop “Bespoke” from being a terrific book for men who aspire to style — and the ladies who love them for it.
For more, visit thamesandhudsonusa.com.