Between Conduit Street and Burlington Gardens, in the Mayfair district, central London, is a Street with a capital S that stands for more than concrete and the pases that stamp its pavement. We’re talking about, as most of you might already know, Savile Row. The mere name of this street might have lighten a flame in the eyes of most of you and that’s precisely the magic of Savile Row, the mecca of gentleman dressing.

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Savile Row, the early years.

More than 300 years ago, the Savile Row was not born yet, but this whole area was linked somehow to the noble people of London. The Earl of Burlington marries Lady Dorothy Savile in 1723. Please do note the name of the lady as it is, as you might expect, highly linked to the story of the Savile Row. As happy as a marriage can be, it is bittersweet for the Earl of Burlington, as he is forced to sell his lands. The Queensburry house is built where his lands once were. Ten years later, Savile the Row is built and it is named so by the same Earl of Burlington, in honour of his spouse. In 1771, Thomas Hawkes opens his tailoring shop in London and he both dresses King George III and his son Prince Regent.

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Beau Brumell statue that stands in Jermyn Street.

As fashion evolves, particularly due to the revolution in France, London insists in simplifying the pieces, making it more wereable. Beau Brumell, considered to be the Savile Row godfather, goes to what is now knows as Mayfair area to get his tailoring done. He’ll later introduce the trousers to the Britain Capital City. Between 1846 and 1846, Savile Row welcomes two more firms: Henry Poole’s and Huntsman. This last one will specialize in sporting clothes – such as hunting. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are customers.

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Nutter, also known as “The Rebel Tailor

As we can see Savile Row is, at least during this first period of time, highly connected to people of power. The monarchs give warrants away to the houses they see fit and get their tailoring done at these same houses. Following the leadership is, as often, the entertainment industry. In 1925, jazz is everywhere and Savile Row is no exception. French and Hungarian tailors are fashionable and the house Fred & Stanbury create the famous white tie and tails that Fred Astaires wears in Top Hat. Nearly 35 years later, the same house is creating Cary Grant’s suit for Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. During Swinging London, The Beatles, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Apple Rercords’ manager, Peter Brown and Michael Caine amongst others (in Caine’s case, for The Italian Job production). In 1971 Katherine Hepburn, as maverick as always, goes as far as ordering denim jeans from the Huntsman house. They don’t know it yet, but this order is avant-garde as years later, Savile Row will indeed produce bespoke denim jeans. All of these innovations come from the hand of Nutter, a daring-spirit house that was and still is open to novelty and renewal of the spirits that inhabits the Row.

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In 1979, Roger Moore appears in For Your Eyes Only, the new James Bond adventure, dressed by Douglas Hayward. Amusingly enough, this is not the first time that Bespoke tailoring is linked to espionage. During World War Two Charles Frazier-Smith – a character not far from Jan Flemming’s Q – approached Gieves, a tailoring house, in order to create cavity buttons and compass button for the agents operating in Germany and occupied France. The story doesn’t tell if in the end these button were indeed created and used.