In 1984 I had my first suit made for me by City tailor Couch & Hoskin after I had mentioned them in a piece on bespoke tailoring I’d written for the business section of The Observer. I went for a single-breasted three-piece in a black-and-white dogtooth cloth with a notch lapel. The tiny checked pattern was more interesting than a plain. I chose a bottle green for the lining.
I remember my first fully bespoke suit with great fondness: I’d had Made To Measure before, and in fairness, they too were beautiful garments made under the auspicious House of Sulka on Old Bond Street. A name from a bygone era of style and sophistication. However, no one can ever forget the first time they are taken in hand and guided through the labyrinth of full bespoke; First the style: Single breasted, double? How many buttons? waistcoat – pretty much the same questions. The trousers; pleats, pockets, brace tops. The list is endless, or so it seems. Having had some limited experience in my previous career, I wasn’t as daunted as I should have been. The cloth selection was the very best part of the whole experience for me and remains so to this day. Back in 1998 I selected a dark grey wool & cashmere with a red stripe, 3 piece with extra trousers and I have to say that 18 years later I am still extremely proud of that suit and even more proud that I can still get into it. Sure, some of the seams need a little attention at times but this is a hand made garment. The Rolls Royce of the sartorial world and just like those illustrious automobiles, they are crafted by people that fell in love with the bespoke world and became part of it. I’ve had many suits since then but the first always holds a special place for every man.
I almost forgot…..The tailors were Kilgour, the cutter was the newly appointed Richie Charlton (now at Alexander McQueen).
Prince Michael of Kent’s first proper suit was cut by Davies & Sons, tailors to Lord Nelson, the Duke of Windsor and Calvin Klein. ‘I was about 15. I’ve still got some Davies suits in tweed made for me in the 1960s,’ he says. ‘They still fit, though they would need some adjustments.’
Sergei Rachmaninoff was a customer of Davies and Son.
For those of you who might be suffering from ‘cultural withdrawal’ following the seasonal holiday, we can recommend this excellent BBC documentary ‘The Joy of Rachmaninoff’. If his music isn’t dark enough for January we don’t know what is.
Whether you are a classical music fan or not you will be familiar with his powerfully dark melodies as they are so hauntingly identifiable – in particular his Prelude in C sharp Minor which he composed when he was a teenager. There is a Slavic melancholic depth to this piece that, once heard, makes it hard to forget.
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