A New Look To No 1 Savile Row

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the-bespoke-room

No 1. Savile Row is of course the home of illustrious tailors Gieves & Hawks. I happened to be invited to the recently refurbished shop and preview of the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection. While said collection has some lovely pieces, not least a number of beautiful windowpane check suits and jackets, I spent the majority of my evening in the charming company of the two distinguished gentlemen below.

mr-tilley-and-mr-brett

On the left is Mr Peter Tilley the Gieves and Hawkes Archivist and on the right Mr Andrew Brett Director and head of the military tailoring division. As both a historian and clothing enthusiast, archivist to a tailoring house as distinguished as Gieves & Hawkes would be pretty close to my dream job. Mr Tilley was also Archivist to Dunhill before taking up his post at G&H.

One of the many improvements to the shop being show cased, along with the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection, was the opening up of the balcony above the shop floor which now houses a permanent exhibition of old ledgers and military uniforms. Previously stored away and viewable only by a select few anyone can now visit the collection, something I highly recommend. Unless you have a love of history it would be difficult to explain the joy I get from simply seeing the ledger headed Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington. But not everything is behind glass, as these pictures show.

raf-uniforms

Never having been a customer of Gieves & Hawkes bespoke service –a bit beyond my pay grade- I’m largely ignorant of the history of this most royally and militarily connected tailoring House. For instance, I hadn’t realised, until Peter Tilley explained it to me, that as late as 1974 Gieves Ltd and Hawkes & Co were separate businesses. While the two companies were discussing a merger an IRA bomb obliterated Gieves’ shop on Bond Street; the choice to base the new firm in Hawkes & Co No1. Savile Row store was thus an obvious one.

naval-uniform

While today G&H is synonymous with military tailoring for all branches of the British Armed Forces, originally Gieves Ltd was the Royal Navy’s tailor and Hawkes & Co. supplied apparel to the Army, and in particular headgear. Indeed, it was the Pith Helmet that made Hawkes & Co a fortune; thanks to a visit one day from a customer who had with him a cork hat bonded by rubber. Hawkes new owner bought the patent improved the design and made a fortune in the process.

Of course there is a lot more to the company than these snippets from my conversation with Mr Tilley and Mr Brett, I’d highly recommend you take a trip to No.1 Savile Row and see for yourself.


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Andrew Williams blogs at www.bespokeme.com and is based in London. For him style is a frame of mind not just a state of dress.

Comments

  1. Pauel says:

    A lovely report. I hope the Friday wedding will revive some interest in traditional tailoring.

  2. Flambee the Republican says:

    Loving the RAF full dress. Bring that back.