On the journey to setting up Dashing I ended up in the enviable position of having a suit tailored by practically everyone on Saville Row. Bartering tailoring with photography was a dream deal but not something I wished to squander with run of the mill cloth, so after meeting Kirsty and conceiving the creation of our modern urban tweeds I proceeded to acquire a wardrobe I could have only fantasised about a few years previously.
Image making for the newly formed Saville Row Bespoke company was completely inspiring, I had access to 200 years of archives and lifetimes of tailoring experience through all the fabulous characters of the Row. My personal experiences of bespeaking suits combined with the erudite writing of James Sherwood taught me a great deal. I thought I would share this with you in a regular post about tailors and tailoring.
Davies and Son has the august history you would expect from a tailor founded in 1804. Kings, Crown Princes, Dukes and Presidents have all swaggered in outfits tailored by the house. Royal cousins King George V and Tsar Nicholas II cut a dash in their near identical Davies and Sons blazers and flannels during Cowes’ Royal Regatta of 1910 and the most impeccably dressed Edward VIII had his suits and shirts finely stitched by them. A rich history is one thing but present day skill is what matters and although the new shop in Savile Row looks modest, when it comes to craftsmanship and style Davies and Son cut it. The house had its ups and downs as did they all in the 1990’s but Alan Bennett saved the day and bought the company in 1997. It could not have fallen into more skilled hands, Alan has been working on the Row for over 50 years since his teenage years apprenticing at Huntsman, and Kilgour, French and Stanbury THE tailors of their time.
I met Alan in the early days of Dashing and his support was invaluable. Bespoke tailoring is about making exactly what the customer wants but there are only a few who really can cut a garment from any historical period to match a discerning and often exacting vision. Alan certainly has the skills. My initial bespoke desire was a piece based on a famous Mr Fish suit now part of the V&A’s costume department. Double breasted with a seriously large notched lapel and slightly flared trousers, a suit to party in. As soon as I tried on my Dashing version I could not stop smiling, the fit was perfect with a high armhole to allow ease of movement on the dance floor and just the right amount of hand canvassing in the chest to give it a body of a hand tailored creation without feeling stiff. The trousers fitted immaculately and also had that rare feeling of being just right, a feeling that’s very hard to express.
Following this great success, I became interested in how pattern pieces work and at a degree show at the London College of Fashion I became intrigued by the work of final year students. Alice Burkitt had cut a pair of breeches based on a circular pattern and I immediately thought this could be a good way to allow more room for movement whilst cycling.
Being so pleased with my new striped suit I introduced Alice and Mr Bennett with the idea of having a novel pair of breeches cut in another similar design. Anxious that the idea of asking one of the most skilled cutters on the row to take a cue from a student was not tactful I arranged the meeting anxiously. Alan could not have been more helpful and interested, seeing a way to improve the design and tailor what is still one of the most original garments in my collection, with the stripes turning through 90 degrees from vertical to horizontal down the leg. I was seriously impressed. Another student Erin had a cape design with a bias cut back, another challenge that Alan coolly took in his stride, creating our fabulous cycle capes.
In addition, my suit cut by Alan in the Shetland Jig design has just right balance of well fitted tailoring and an easy wearing knock-about feel with patch pockets and turn ups.
Alan is now slowly handing over the business to another legendary cutter Patrick Murphy who joined the firm a couple of years ago after seven years as head cutter at Huntsman and with over 30 years of experience under his belt. Last year Pat cut us a suit for Freddie Fox in our Ben Lawers cloth. As you can see it’s a classic English style with beautifully matched checks and is as elegantly tailored, as any gentleman could desire.
If you have would like a beautiful classic English cut Savile Row suit or you have ideas of your own for a statement piece then I would not hesitate to recommend Davies and Son. Start by going in and chatting with Graham the most knowledgeable and helpful head of house and soon your tailoring dreams will come true.
For more information, simply pop into the Davies and Son shop on 38 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3QE