Henry Herbert - Savile Row By Scooter

As customers value the experiential aspect of brands more than ever before, forward-thinking companies are reaching their customers in new and interesting ways. Recently I met a Savile Row tailoring company who are doing things a little bit differently to others...

On my recent visit to Henry Herbert (HH) tailors, I had the pleasure of meeting William, who kindly invited me to the Grays Inn Workshop to discuss the fascinating world of Henry Herbert tailoring over a cup of tea. Despite not meeting the founder of Henry Herbert Charlie Baker-Collingwood on this occasion, it is clear that he is very entrepreneurial with a lot of creative ideas to bring a fresh perspective to the traditional tailoring industry. Charlie set up Henry Herbert around seven years ago, and all HH bespoke suits, shirts and other garments are handcrafted in the workshop using only the finest fabrics sourced from mills in England and Scotland.

Image Credit: Henry Herbert

However, there is an interesting twist.

Customers are welcome to visit Charlie and William at either of their central London studios, but HH also have a very unique approach to visiting customers wherever and whenever is most convenient for them...Watch the short film below to see how HH tailors travel around London to meet clients on custom built Vespa scooters!

The Savile Row by Scooter Service offered by Henry Herbert is a lot of fun for customers (and for Charlie and William, too, I’m sure) and less stuffy than some people may expect Savile Row to be. With each of the Vespa's conveniently custom built to have fabric on board, William and Charlie have made their service more accessible to people without losing any of the traditional tailoring quality for which Savile Row is renowned. A well dressed man hops off a Vespa and appears at your door, you choose the fabric, cut, length and feel, then a few weeks later, a beautiful garment appears on your doorstep. Now that's what I call outstanding customer service!

Image Credit: The Holborn Magazine

The character of Henry Herbert himself was once master of the royal wardrobe to both King Charles I and King Charles II, and his name has been resurrected by Charlie in order to continue the tradition of fine English tailoring, in an affordable, personable and non-intimidating way. On visiting HH at Grays Inn Road, I couldn’t help but admire the wonderful illustrations of Henry Herbert, which were sketched on the walls of the workshop using approximately 30 marker pens. I also noticed one of artist Hormazd Narielwalla’s Dead Man’s Pattern skulls displayed in the workshop, and it is these quirky touches, along with the friendly and involving nature of the company, that ensure a visit to HH is always a welcoming and enjoyable experience.

Image Credit: Henry Herbert

Henry Herbert caters to a very broad range of clients, yet as a younger business with a youthful team, it is fantastic to see the company attracting a wealth of younger customers with their unique tailoring services. During my conversation with William, I met a very satisfied HH customer attending the final fitting of a new bespoke suit to celebrate his graduation, and he expressed his pleasure in being able to invest in an exquisitely crafted bespoke suit from a slightly more contemporary tailor.

So what next for Henry Herbert? Well, I read in Drapers that a HH tailor currently visits New York once a month to pick up orders, and with growing interest overseas, it looks as if HH Vespa's may become a familiar sight on the streets of New York...New York residents, keep your eyes peeled!

As a social media savvy company, you can connect with Henry Herbery on Facebook Twitter and Youtube, and you can also follow their work on the  blog  on their website.

Many thanks to William for inviting me to the workshop.

Hormazd Narielwalla - The Artist Revitalising Bespoke Tailoring Patterns

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the studio of talented emerging artist Hormazd Narielwalla, to discuss the inspiration behind his fascinating work and to see a selection of his most recent series Le Petit Echo de la Moda, the focus of his exciting solo exhibition at the Indian Art Fair in new Deli beginning at the end of January 2014.

Having seen a selection of images from this particular series online I was particularly looking forward to admiring the work in real-life, and when I arrived at the studio, the vibrancy of the colours and textures were intensely more striking than I expected. Not surprisingly, Hormazd’s work is continuing to gain amazing responses worldwide, and identifying him as an artist of growing international acclaim, this year the Crafts Council selected him as one of only eleven artists to exhibit in the Project Space at Collect 2013 hosted by the Saatchi Gallery. The Saatchi Online magazine also declared him as “One to Watch” in October this year.

Photo credit: Hormazd Narielwalla
Photo credit: Hormazd Narielwalla

I was interested to find out how Hormazd’s fascination with tailoring patterns first began and I learned that, having earned the only International Rector’s Scholarship from London College of Fashion, it was at Dege & Skinner on Savile Row that he started to experiment with tailoring patterns. Here he wrote the tailoring biography of Master Tailor Michael Skinner, The Savile Row Cutter and, inspired by bespoke patterns of customers now deceased, he produced a beautiful limited edition art book named Dead Man’s Patterns, which has been acquired by several art collections around the world, including the Rare British Modern Collection at the British Library and the National Art Library.

Photo credit: Hormazd Narielwalla

On his first visit to Dege & Skinner, Hormazd was intrigued by the patterns concealed in brown paper envelopes that were destined to be shredded; he couldn’t believe that these beautiful drawings and paper blocks full of knowledge, history and personal details were going to be lost. Finally given set of patterns, Hormazd was never going to make suits out of them, but he started to view the patterns as objects in an aesthetic sense, and saw that he could revitalize them to create things other than clothes.

Hormazd has exhibited in London, Melbourne, Stockholm, Athens and the eminent Scope Art Fair in New York, however, his next showcase is a highly anticipated solo exhibition from 30th January to 2nd February for the Birla Academy of Art and Culture at the Indian Art Fair in new Deli. As India’s premier international art fair and a pioneering platform for contemporary art in the Asia region, the exhibition focuses on Hormazd’s most recent series Le Petit Echo de la Mode, in which he draws inspiration from the similarly named Parisian fashion and lifestyle magazine published between 1897 and 1983.  

Photo credit: Hormazd Narielwalla

Photo credit: Hormazd Narielwalla

What is particularly compelling about this body of work is the exploration of the blurring lines between fashion and art, and the tensions that lie between figuration and abstraction. In transforming the ‘do-it-yourself’ tailoring pattern guides into a cubist’s delight of abstracted two-dimensional shapes, Hormazd infuses his works with a sense of rejuvenation and revival. Re-using discarded materials, he reworks the tailoring templates into delicately faceted planes of colour, giving new life and meaning to these once forgotten and abandoned patterns.

Thank you to Hormazd for participating in such an in-depth discussion; I left his studio feeling extremely inspired! To find out more about him and his work please visit http://narielwalla.com/

The Art of Bespoke Tailoring - Henry Poole & Co. Exhibition at The Bowes Museum

London is the iconic ‘home of menswear’, however, travel north to the Bowes Museum in County Durham and you will find an exhibition celebrating the supremacy of men’s tailoring on Savile Row together with the finest cloth in the world. Lack of time following the preview event has delayed the writing of this post; but, as the exhibition is running until May 11th 2014, there is still plenty of time to visit!

As the subject of the Bowes Museum’s inaugural exhibition of tailoring, Henry Poole & Co. is currently showcasing its incredible 200-year old tailoring archive for the first time; exploring the history of high-end British tailoring and celebrating the art and craftsmanship of bespoke. The global phenomenon of luxury menswear has given British menswear a boost of momentum, and as young designers show alongside traditional tailoring brands at London Collections: Men, I am excited to observe that interest in bespoke tailoring has seen a bit of a renaissance in recent years.

Photo Credit: Fashion156, Presentation photography: Ama Samra

Photo Credit: Telegraph Fashion, London Collections: Men spring/summer 2014 live blog

Established in 1806, Henry Poole is steeped in heritage, and with a keen interest in contemporary menswear, I found it fascinating to delve into the history of the tailoring brand that launched the start of Savile Row. I learnt that it was Henry Poole who made the original dinner jacket, or Tuxedo as it has become known, for the Prince of Wales in 1865; creating a garment that transformed men’s approach to fashion and etiquette.

The wool fabrics displayed in the exhibition are all sourced from British mills and include the famous Churchill stripe fabric, which, as the name suggests, was especially created for Winston Churchill, one of Henry Poole’s many eminent clients. Emperor Napoleon III was another illustrious client of Henry Poole, and Jules Vignon’s 19th Century painting from The Bowes Museum’s permanent collection is displayed as part of the exhibition, depicting a dashing Napoleon in full ceremonial outfit. More recent recognisable clients of Henry Poole include David Gandy, who recently wore Henry Poole & Co’s renowned Tuxedo to attend GQ ‘Men of the Year’s Best-Dressed Men’ Event.

Photo Credit: davidjamesgandy.blogspot.co.uk

What is particularly interesting about the curation of the exhibition is the mix of Poole’s contemporary tailoring and historical ceremonial dress; from the tweed shooting jacket and the sports blazer to the collection of ceremonial outfits from Poole’s historical archive. It was brilliant to be able to talk briefly to Henry Poole’s Keith Levett, to discuss the past and future of tailoring, and how heritage tailoring brands are adapting with the changing times.

Over the next six months, a series of gallery talks and live demonstrations by tailors from Henry Poole are bringing the skill of tailoring to life at The Bowes Museum, enabling a wider audience to connect with the beauty of bespoke. It is wonderful to see the history and craftsmanship of Savile Row’s oldest tailor exhibited, as tradition will always remain at the core of the brands DNA. However, how to master a successful balance of heritage and innovation is important for the future, to ensure that Savile Row itself does not become a thing of the past.

Thank you to the Bowes Museum for allowing me to take a few photographs for my blog during the preview event only.

Louis Vuitton L'Aventure Pop-Up Store Paris

Whilst in Paris during September, my visit coincided with the the opening of Louis Vuitton's travel dedicated pop-up store 'L'Aventure' on Avenue Montaigne. Naturally, I had to pop in for a look!

Craftsmanship is at the heart of the Louis Vuitton philosophy, and it's monogrammed  luggage represents the epitome of quality and style for the discerning global traveler.  Designed in collaboration with Monocle magazine's editor Tyler Brûlé and his creative team, the pop-up store offers visitors a fascinating glimpse of the intricate behind-the-scenes craftsmanship that characterises Louis Vuitton's most covetable 'objets voyeurs'.

Whilst browsing the latest additions to the Louis Vuitton luggage collection, you can observe skillful artisans as they work; painting, stitching and personalising, it is the human touch which makes these products so exquisitely timeless and unique.Yet the store is as much about offering special personal services as it is about exclusive products, and highlights include 'the art of packing' demonstrations, repairs and bespoke monogramming options.

One of the most striking features of the store interior is a large wall painting by Dutch illustrator Letman, which is made up of multi-coloured monograms inspired by the Louis Vuitton archives. Leather hammocks and palm trees add a relaxed, exotic feel to the store, and I love that you are supposed to feel as if you have stepped into a glamorous age-old travel agency as you browse.

I couldn't resist helping myself to a small selection of the 26 collectors postcards, representing an A-Z of travel destinations with recommendations of restaurants, bars and hotels on the back of each one. I also treated myself to a Louis Vuitton Tokyo city guide ready for my trip in February...


Harvey Nichols London Collections: Men Tour - Manchester

Last month I attended the London Collections: Men A/W 13 Tour presented by Harvey Nichols in Manchester to view a preview of some of the brightest new names in British menswear. Travelling from London to tour Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester, the event featured Autumn/Winter menswear collections by Casely-Hayford, James Long, Christopher Shannon, Katie Eary, Lou Dalton, Mr. Hare and Bernstock Speirs. With most of the designers in attendance, it was wonderful to chat to them about the inspiration behind their work and the growing momentum of the rapidly-evolving menswear industry.

The nature of many menswear labels associated with London Collections is somewhat ‘London-centric’, so it is fantastic to see a selection of exciting LC:M labels gaining recognition further afield; especially in the North of the country! Introducing a new audience to the strength of the design talent currently emerging from London, Harvey Nichols buying manager Darren Skey describes how the tour was a ‘chance for us to firstly create wider recognition of these brands and secondly test our regional markets to understand their thirst for them with the intention, if successful, of rolling out in the future’.

Set in the contemporary music, arts and cultural exhibition space of Manchester’s creative Northern Quarter 2022NQ, an endless supply of complimentary cocktails, inventive canapes and upbeat live music encapsulated the creative energy of the London catwalks. It was brilliant to talk to Harvey Nichols fashion director Paula Reed at the event, who commented ‘that energy is reflected in dynamic sales growth in all our [Harvey Nichols] stores’ and ‘in respect of menswear in particular, the interest in British designers is not limited simply to a niche of fashion mad customers in capital cities’.

I love a mix of classic and contemporary design, and although all of the collections are impressive, some snapshots below show a selection of the pieces that stood out to me from Mr Hare, Casely-Hayford and Katie Eary:

Mr Hare

Mr Hare
Mr Hare




Katie Eary

Katie Eary

Katie Eary

The London Collections: Men designs are available to buy online from harveynichols.com and at selected Harvey Nichols stores.

Talking Menswear with David Gandy

‘Fashion is fuelled by passions elsewhere.’

Delighted to be a guest at The Industry London’s exclusive networking event last Wednesday, it was fascinating to listen to David Gandy in conversation with Hilary Alexander, answering questions about his successful career as the world’s only male supermodel. However, with a keen interest in the growth of British menswear and the future of men’s global fashion, there were a number of menswear-related questions I was eager to ask him myself...

David Gandy. Photo Credit: Sam Atkinson for The Industry

It can be a common misconception that the fashion world exists in isolation, so it was great to hear David talk about his equal passion for fashion and cars and how fashion can relate to men through other industries. As a self-confessed car aficionado, modelling is only one aspect of David’s life, and he admits that one of the best things about his job is the other opportunities and interests that modelling has enabled him to pursue.

Arriving at The Old Sorting Office for last month’s London Collections: Men driving a classic Morgan car for example, David demonstrated how effortlessly the worlds of fashion and motoring can coalesce. The extraordinary excitement generated around the car during his arrival and departure shows that fashion is indeed enriched by other passions; proving to men that fashion is neither scary nor inaccessible.

Photo Credit: The Morgan Motor Company

Photo Credit: The Morgan Motor Company

Writing a popular blog for Vogue.co.uk, contributing as a writer for Man about Town (one of my personal favourite men’s publications) and reviewing cars for GQ, David establishes a voice through which he can express and unite his interests in cars, fashion and other passions in his life, without being in front of the camera. As part of the discussion on Wednesday I enjoyed hearing his animated account of a recent Jaguar trip with Yasemin Le Bon, in which the duo participated in The Mille Miglia in Italy, racing 1000 miles in what David described as one of the toughest but greatest adventures of his life.

Keen to ask David about his observations of the augmentation of the menswear industry, until the inaugural London Collections: Men, he had noticed a gradual expansion of the menswear market since the start of his career. However, thanks to the resounding success of LC:M, he has seen interest in British menswear explode in the last few years.

LC:M attracts incredible global attention to British fashion talent, and David commented that the Asian market is a very important menswear market, not just for the world, for Britain, too. David believes that when it comes to individuality, British designers have the edge over anywhere else, with a wealth of young, fashion-forward designers shaping the future of innovative British design, fuelling a market which continues to get bigger and better.

Interested in emerging menswear designers, I asked David which menswear brands he thinks are particularly exciting for the future, and right now he believes that one of the best tailors in the world is Thom Sweeney. I have a thing for quality suits and tailoring (those who know me well will vouch for this!) and Thom Sweeney first really caught my attention when David Beckham arrived at the London 2012 Olympics in a speed boat, wearing an exquisite Thom Sweeney two-piece wool suit and silk tie.

Thom Whiddet and Luke Sweeney. Photo Credit: Thom Sweeney

Photo Credit: Thom Sweeney

I love how every Thom Sweeney suit is perfectly tailored to the personality and individuality of each client, whether the client is a lawyer, journalist, model, financer, T.V presenter or artist. The exhilarating new world of bespoke which has been created by Thom Whiddet and Luke Sweeney encapsulates the ultimate in luxurious craftsmanship and quality, and as David pointed out, if you turn on your T.V and see a great suit, it's most likely Thom Sweeney. I could go on to say a lot more about Thom Sweeney tailoring, but I will save further thoughts for a dedicated post!

David is an ambassador for Thom Sweeney, but he is also determined to keep men’s fashion accessible to everyone and he has long been a devoted advocate of M&S. Proud of British heritage, he is particularly excited by the M&S Best of British range to be launched by M&S in autumn in partnership with the British Fashion Council. First presented at LC:M in June, there could not have been a better occasion to showcase the modern yet unapologetically British collection characterised by tweeds, checks and British materials to celebrate the best of British design and manufacture.

David mentioned that a lot of men aren’t aware that this sort of style and quality exists on the highstreet, and of the 44-piece premium collection modelled by Oliver Cheshire (excellent casting), the double-breasted men’s overcoat and Donegal-tweed two-piece suit are a few of my favourite capsule pieces. Encompassing a broad range of classic consumers as well as an increasing growth in the under 35 market, the M&S brand is pushing their style aspect further with this collection and it will be interesting to gauge its popularity when it goes on sale in October 2013.

Donegal-tweed suit. Photo Credit: M&S. 

Overcoat. Photo Credit: M&S

Men's fashion is ever-expanding, with more men taking an interest in their personal style and an increasing number of high-profile men from different industries such as sport and acting becoming closely associated with fashion. Asking him about role models, David thinks that the topic of role models in fashion is interesting; he’s not sure you can aspire to be in fashion as much as an industry such as sport for example, however, he believes that fashion can still be incredibly inspiring for men.

There is now so much inspiration out there for men with an interest in style that it can seem quite intimidating, so David tries to make fashion tangible for everyone, conscious not to alienate any man from fashion. What he has always tried to do is to simplify fashion for men, and his style guide app serves to provide some much needed straightforward advice on how to build a wardrobe for every occasion.

Women have long had access to a preponderance of information about fashion, where stylish celebrity and street-style looks are regularly recreated for different budgets in 'Get the Look' type edits. Yet men also look at contemporary style icons and often think ‘how do they do that?’, so it is a brilliant idea to make shopping and style as uncomplicated as possible for men, too. Of course, some men enjoy styling for themselves, but many are grateful to have complete outfits edited and pieced together for them so that all they have to do is go online and click to buy. 

Compared to the saturated womenswear market, the fast-growing, underserved menswear market looks set for a dynamic and lucrative future. I agree with David that there aren't many stores dedicated solely to menswear; however, as the emergence of men’s-only flagship stores across the luxury segment begin to pave the way for the burgeoning menswear market, there's a good chance highstreet stores will follow suit, to give men more choice than ever before.

Thank you to The Industry for hosting the event; it was wonderful to meet David in person and I am extremely grateful for his insightful answers to my menswear questions. Thank you, David!

A Dangerous Obsession With Science and Beauty - Diversity NOW! Winning Journalism Entry

I was surprised but delighted  to win the journalism category of the Diversity NOW! Competition in association with i-D Magazine with my award presented to me at Graduate Fashion Week a few days ago. 

The journalism brief was a piece of energetic writing, charting a thoughtful and adventurous journey through or about image. It was to include a brief analysis the current culture of beauty and body ideals from your perspective and be no longer than 800 words. The aim of the competition was to empower the next generation of creatives, from design, film, photography and journalism to create a fashion future that promotes a broader range of body and beauty ideals to truly celebrate individuality. 

Fashion media is an increasingly powerful source of inspiration, information and comparison, and taking part in this thought-provoking competition has changed my perspective on the notions of beauty and the way that fashion is communicated. In a world where the boundaries of science, technology and beauty are becoming increasingly blurred, I think that it is vital to communicate a positive message that the future of fashion should embrace diversity and different types of beauty.

My winning entry is below:

Modern society has developed a dangerous obsession with science and beauty; a combination of powerful forces which, when combined, are alluring, seductive and mystifying. It is human nature to be seduced by beauty and to strive for self-improvement; to push the boundaries of humanity to become stronger, faster and more desirable. We live in an innovative, progressive society, constantly chasing the reward of the future, yet consequently, we are barely aware of the beauty of the present. Amidst our rapid race to move forward and improve ourselves, it is poignant to stop and think. About beauty. About the future. About humanity.

With eclectic channels of creative expression permeating the world around us, it seems incongruous that we should limit ourselves to portraying images which promote narrow ideals of beauty, endorsing unrealistic expectations of bodily perfection to define socially acceptable appearances.

What about diversity?

Such is the destructive nature of projecting images of digitally constructed beauty in the media, body dissatisfaction is now considered a normative discontent. Considering that we live in a society which prides itself on empowering and inspiring its population, it seems repressive and dysfunctional that women in particular are resorting to dangerous practices of self-destruction, putting themselves at risk in pursuit of what they are led to believe is the perfect body.

Cosmetic surgery procedures and eating disorders are rife and self-esteem is at an all-time low. This is at odds with the image of an empowering society. In the Western World it is engrained in our beliefs that we, as individuals, are responsible for ‘making it happen’, and in contemporary culture this ‘it’ is increasing associated with achieving physical perfection. With each one of us held responsible for our successes and failures, the value of success should be re-evaluated, with less emphasis placed on appearance as the dominant formula for personal achievement.

It is important to consider the nature of the society we are creating for younger generations; to analyse the messages we are communicating about the true meaning of beauty and the values of humanity. When I look at an image of a woman that has been subject to hours of meticulous manipulation to erase any trace of imperfection, I don’t see perfection as a result. Instead I see someone who is sterile, sinister and artificial. This goes for the faces I see which have been distorted by plastic surgery in order to imitate the look of a flawless image.

I like to see wrinkles to know that a person has laughed; I like to see scars to know that a person has lived and I like to see flaws to know that a person is real. Reality is not perfect, yet perhaps the most meaningful form of beauty lies in truth.

In the modern, cosmetically altered woman, a monster has been created; her skin is flawless, her lips are plump, her cheeks are well-defined, but her face lacks the capacity to express her emotions. With a countenance that defies her inner feelings, she is barely human.

Advances in technology and science in contemporary culture have enabled the human race to strive towards achieving the impossible. The conflict between nature and culture has been prominent since civilization began, yet never before has nature been defied or pushed to such extremes as it is in our current society. Experimenting with the configuration of the human body, we are dabbling in the unknown. The threatening development of genetic modification for aesthetic enhancement is surely a step too far? Attempting to re-code the very building blocks of our existence is dangerous territory. Push nature too much and she is sure to rebel.

With this in mind, I envision two potential futures; one is an uncertain future in which the face of beauty is homogeneous and manufactured; the other is an exciting future in which beauty is representative of individuality and creativity. It is within our power to shape the beauty of the future wisely, and responsibly, by challenging conventional notions of beauty and promoting images which are beautiful regardless of race, age, size or gender. We should portray images which encourage self-esteem rather than self-destruction, celebrating the eclecticism of natural beauty which cannot be digitally constructed on a computer screen or cosmetically enhanced in a surgery. Let us embrace diversity. NOW.