Savile Row : The Mecca of modern male elegance
Savile Row
The Mecca of modern male elegance
Louis V.M.H, October 29, 2007
Spencer Hart Suit
Spencer Hart Suit


Located in the Mayfair district, Savile Row owes its name to Lady Dorothy Savile, wife of the third Earl of Burlington, an 18th century architect and patron of the arts. Under the impetus of master cutters like Henry Poole in the 19th century, Savile Row became synonymous with male elegance. Anderson & Sheppard, Davies & Sons, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes, H. Huntsman & Sons, Kilgour, French & Stanbury, Henry Poole & Co. … the most renowned English tailors all have shops on Savile Row.

Ozwald Boateng at Savile Row
Ozwald Boateng at Savile Row


Savile Row
Savile Row


Savile Row_Anderson R.
Savile Row_Anderson R.


Bespoke
Bespoke


This quiet street situated between bustling Bond and Regent Streets is the Mecca of the custom-made - or "bespoke" - suit. It is home to a dozen prestigious firms' shops, as well as workshops along the street.

Bespoke
Bespoke


The venerable history of the Savile Row suit begins in the late 18th century. Men's fashion at the time was experiencing a small revolution under the influence of George Bryan Brummel, known as "Beau" (1778-1840). A member of the inner circle of the crown prince, an arbiter of fashion and himself "prince" of the dandies, he decreed that well-dressed gentlemen should wear dark colors, devoid of embellishments, as well as trousers, rather than knee-length breeches. Although Brummel subsequently fell into disgrace and lived in exile in France after 1816, the new fashion took hold.

Bespoke
Bespoke


Bespoke
Bespoke


F.S.C.
F.S.C.


It soon spread beyond English aristocratic circles, gaining all of Europe and then the United States. Led by masterful cutters like Henry Poole - who succeeded his father on Savile Row in 1846 - the reputation of London’s tailors continued to grow. Demand from affluent customers, whether members of the aristocracy, bankers or politicians, was so strong that London became the center of international fashion in the second half of the 19th century.

G. Star_Erkek
G. Star_Erkek


At the beginning of the 20th century, an "accepted uniform" for modern gentlemen in cities began to take shape. Prior to that a gentleman wore a tailcoat, frock coat or morning coat with a vest of a different material, and trousers in still another fabric. The complete set of clothing - trousers, jacket and vest made from the same fabric, preferably 100-percent wool - did not become the norm until the 1930s. And thus was born the silhouette of the perfect English gentleman, the basis for masculine elegance in the 20th century.

Henry Poole & Co
Henry Poole & Co


Bespoke Couture by Ozwald Boateng
Bespoke Couture by Ozwald Boateng


James Sherwood and Edward Sexton
James Sherwood and Edward Sexton


In the period between the two World Wars, Savile Row was the fashion capital for well-dressed men. Things changed after the Second World War. While there were still hundreds of tailors in Mayfair in 1960, at the end of the 1980s there were only about 50 firms left, and the number has shrunk to twenty or so today.

Henry Poole & Co
Henry Poole & Co


This decline reflected the advent of luxury ready-to-wear, as well as skyrocketing costs in the neighborhood, forcing many tailors to move. But the main reason for the shift was growing competition from Italian tailors. Post-war Europe saw the emergence of a new elegance, as men sought la dolce vita, preferring supple suits in light tones, a far cry from London's structured dark suits. Movie stars like Gary Cooper, Clark Gable and Richard Burton now bought their suits in Rome.

James Sherwood
James Sherwood


James Bond_Casino Royal
James Bond_Casino Royal


Roxanne Jones, Ozwald Boateng and a model
Roxanne Jones, Ozwald Boateng and a model


The weight of tradition notwithstanding, Savile Row's tailors have proved expert in reinventing themselves. Even before World War Two, several distinctive changes emerged at the impetus of celebrated clients. The Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII (subsequently the Duke of Windsor after he abdicated) was fond of rather audacious sartorial experiments, including novel colors and mingling patterns. He also eschewed braces (which Americans call "suspenders"), preferring belts , and did away with the vest.

Bespoke
Bespoke


In the 1960s and 70s, designer Tommy Nutter  fitted the stars of "swinging London" with decidedly hip clothes. His stellar client list included Terence Stamp, Michael Caine, and both Mick and Bianca Jagger. Today, a new generation of tailors has emerged, led by Ozwald Boateng, who respects the principles of traditional cutting while creating resolutely fashion-forward clothes.

Savile Row
Savile Row


Bespoke
Bespoke