How can I describe this? Well, I'm a native New Yorker living in Berlin and I'm a fashion designer. This blog will have all my experiences with design as well as discussions about things I see that move me. Basically, it's a blog about having fun with fashion.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Tommy Nutter & Edward Sexton: A Tribute
Whenever you think of great suits, you think Italian (Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabanna, Brioni), but when you think of bespoke (custom made) suits, you can only think of one street: Savile Row.
Savile Row is the one street in the world where the suit is king and the artisans that create them are the Gods of the craft. The craftsmanship that goes into a suit is phenomenal and the cost may be quite huge, but it is well worth it!! It will stand the test of time and will never go out of style. A designer can design a suit, but it's the tailoring that makes the suit what it is.
There are many tailors on Savile Row (Anderson & Sheppard, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes, Henry Poole & Co, H.Huntsman & Sons, Meyer and Mortimer, Chittleborough & Morgan, Norton & Sons and Richard James) and each tailor has their own style. They are bound by tradition, so when you are an apprentice to a tailor, you are learning it the way they learned it, face to face, one on one. It is very personal, so they are not about innovation and tricks. This is no place for designers or creative types. There are many great fashion designers, but not great tailors, just like there are many great tailors, but not great fashion designers. Very few can do both. Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney are just two. Edward Sexton and Tommy Nutter are the others.
Tommy Nutter was born in 1943 on April 17th during the height of World War II in Barmouth, Marioneth Wales. He was raised in Edgeware, Middlesex and went to Willesden Technical College in Kilburn, where he studied plumbing and architecture, but at 19 decided to study tailoring at the Tailor & Cutting Academy.
Edward Sexton was born in 1942 on November 9th (Happy Birthday, Edward!!!) in Dagenham, London. He went to English Martyrs School in Southwark from 1953 to 1957 and began working in a suit manufacturing company, where he received his initial training as a tailor learning the basics, then became an apprentice for a coat maker named Jerry Vanderstine at Harry Hall. As he continued his apprenticeship, he learned more of the trade and became an assistant cutter and trimmer there. In 1961, he took a position at Cyril A. Castle, a celebrity tailor at the time as an assistant trouser and jacket cutter and put himself through a pattern making course at the London College Of Fashion.
In 1967, the two gentlemen met when they worked together at Donaldson, Williams & Ward and they hit it off. Tommy and Edward were always very stylish, but like any other pairing one always stood out over the other and it was always Tommy, who was always the social butterfly. Two years later, armed with tons of training and brass balls, they opened Nutters of Savile Row, with financial backing from popular singer Cilla Black, her husband and producer, Bobby Willis, and Peter Brown.
The business took off and they were creating innovative looks for their investors as well as The Beatles, Mick and Bianca Jagger, and Elton John.
Edward was the traditional tailor and Tommy was the creative tailor and the two of them could do no wrong!!!!
As they entered the 1970's, bespoke tailoring was not as successful, so Tommy went into ready to wear, marketed through Austin Reed and expanded the brand to Asia, where he was also quite successful. Edward bought out Tommy in 1976, parting ways. Edward continued to run Nutters on Savile Row until 1983 and Tommy went on to work at Kilgour, French & Stanbury.
Savile Row had slight issues with Tommy Nutter. Savile Row is more conservative, with lots of bankers, kings, and nobility getting their suits made there. Tommy was brash and aggressive and he dressed the hot rock stars of the day. He didn't thumb their nose at tradition, for he knew all of the things that all of the other tailors knew, but he put his own spin on it, which was frowned upon by the stuffy old guard of Savile Row. Nutter was seen as an avant garde tailor, whose style (nipped waists, wide lapels, contrast piping, cuffed and pleated pants in a 1930's cut) attracted the young, fashionable, flamboyant and gay with deep pockets and an appreciation for the tailoring of Savile Row, but with the edge of the day. Tommy was a lovable man, full of life and energy, but many on the Row wouldn't take him seriously, even though he did all that he could to make sure that the traditions of Savile Row were upheld and respected by the younger generation.
Ringo Starr sporting Tommy Nutter ready to wear!!!! Love this shot of him!!!!!
While Tommy began selling ready to wear and building his brand, Edward set up shop in New York City and was quite successful. After a few years, he came back to London and set up shop, away from Savile Row, but still retaining the traditions of Savile Row. His most famous apprentice is Stella McCartney, the daughter of one of the most successful artists in British history and an amazing fashion designer in her own right.
Edward, to this day is still creating amazing suits for the world. There's still a little "Nutter" in what he does!!!
To this day, I would love a suit by Edward Sexton and Tommy Nutter. Although, Tommy passed away in August of 1992 from complications with AIDS, his style lives on as many designers pay tribute by injecting his style and ideas into their designs. Edward Sexton is alive and well and I would love to meet him sometime, just to tell him how much he inspires me.