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:

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.

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