Tailors Uncovered: Chittleborough & Morgan

“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” Taking advice from Oscar Wilde is easier said then done, being a work of art can be rather tiresome as I’m sure Tilda Swinton discovered snoozing in her glass box at the Serpentine Gallery back in ’95. Wearing a work of art should be the ultimate pleasure, enriching the lives of over others around you as well yourself. However, it is no less easy to achieve with style and elegance. Obviously one could don a Chapman brothers mask, but looking like an ethnographic anthropologist on his way back from an Amazonian burger joint may cause some mirth in the boardroom. The answer to the dilemma is to visit Chittleborough & Morgan in Savile Row and order a suit. No matter what cloth you choose the resulting creation will without doubt be an exquisite wearable work of art that will not only turn heads in the right direction but give you unbridled joy in both the bespeaking and the wearing. The reason your suit will be a work of art is quite simply because it will be hand cut and stitched by the most skilled and artistic of tailors, Joe Morgan and his protégé Francis Paley. As with any art, provenance is all-important and the suits cut by Joe Morgan have rested on the shoulders of iconic giants.

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He started tailoring at Wilkinson’s helping to measure up Harold Macmillan on his first day and then as his tailoring talents emerged he moved on as a cutter with Tommy Nutter. Here Joe cut suits in the definitively sharp house style for everyone who was anyone, from the Beatles strolling across Abbey Road to partying lords. All the time perfecting the cut and details, working on seams to smooth away any unnecessary drape from a garment and figuring out how to angle the pitch of armholes forward to avoid a single wrinkle on the chest.

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In the early eighties Joe moved on and started his own tailoring house with Roy Chittleborough another talent from Nutters. Their aim was to carry on developing the most stylised cuts possible and to take traditional tailoring techniques to the absolute limit of menswear couture. In common with all masterpieces no compromise is made at any stage, the finest linen canvassing and horsehair interfacings are sourced and I was amazed by the attention to detail.

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To perfect the dramatic shoulders and high arm holes extra layers of strengthening are added in tiny hand stitched layers that I have never seen in any other Savile Row tailor, and the fabric around the chest and armhole is cajoled with steam to sculptural perfection. Then, to confirm that every possible stage is truly a work of art I spotted the internal stitches of a basting.  Here for a colourful customer the functional threads are most beautifully sewn into a cat and pineapple, the fact that no one will ever see them and only the client will know is testament to a level of detail beyond meticulous. The passion for perfection in the workroom is palpable and all the young apprentices delight in this level workmanship. I was proudly shown photos of Dashing creations from a few weeks before where our checks are aligned in way I did not think was possible on a curved sleeve.

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For many tailors innovation is not on the agenda but when I asked Joe if he had developed new ideas recently he instantly showed me trousers with a lap seam that I immediately lusted after. The high waisted wide legged trousers had an immaculate overlapping seam running the entire length of the leg including the pocket and were examples of the most outstanding craftsmanship.

Standing elegantly tall Joe conducts proceedings in the house with energy and charisma sharing his knowledge and good humour. He is a great fan of our fabrics mainly due to freshness of our designs and the characters that bring them in for tailoring.

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In the present climate where large brands dominate and people are swayed into buying ersatz luxury, walking into Chittleborough & Morgan and seeing a totally British style at the most refined and modern is like discovering treasure of legend. I strongly advise you to pay them a visit and you will leave feeling a million dollars.

To find out more about Chittleborough & Morgan do pop in and visit them at 12 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PQ check out their website for more details