Aah, the menswear Mecca that is Savile Row. Completely unobtainable to most us, this famous London thoroughfare is packed full of bespoke tailors to royalty and the famous. In the words of the great Withnail, “Free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can’t.”
Chester Barrie’s presence at LFWM was somewhat of an anomaly. Savile Row isn’t known for showing at London Fashion Week (I guess they don’t really have to) but Chester Barrie is an ambitious brand and this was their way to reach out to people who would otherwise not consider contemporary designs by a stuffy old tailor in the West End.
Before we look at the standout pieces from the presentation (and believe me there were lots) I spoke to Christopher Modoo, Senior Creative Manager at Chester Barrie, about dressing like a gentleman, how to choose a suit that’s best for you, and his own style icons:
Let’s start with the sumptuous new A/W17 collection you showcased at Smith and Wollensky. What was the inspiration behind it?
As always we created a ready-to-wear collection with a contemporary Savile Row bespoke taste level. The better British and Italian mills have produced some stunning cloths, so it was great working with some really innovative fabrics. We showcased some very strong black tie looks as that is what our customers expect but my favourite part of the collection was how Grace Gilfeather (our stylist and GQ fashion editor) created some really modern polished luxury looks by mixing with jeans, t-shirts and fashion-forward footwear. It illustrated how good tailoring is versatile.
Why did Chester Barrie decide to become involved with LFWM? Isn’t it unusual for Savile Row to be involved?
We are ambitious and have always aimed to grow the brand beyond a flagship store on Savile Row. LFWM has given us the platform to connect to a worldwide audience.
In your opinion, what makes a man stylish? And who are your style icons?
Confidence and the ability to express who you are with your cloths make a man stylish. My style icons are varied; Joey Ramone, Walter Payton, Ian Carmichael, Peter Bowles, Bunny Roger, Fred Astaire and Charlie Watts to name a few, but in real life I admire my father and the tailor Edward Sexton.
If money was no object, I would only dress in bespoke suits and wear bow ties under a Turnbull & Asser silk dressing gown of an evening! Alas, I have a 15-month-old child, so all my cash goes towards looking after her. Do you think money has to be a barrier to dressing like a gentleman?
Not at all! You do not need to spend a lot of money. I would suggest simple outfits and paying attention to the details. Just because silk dressing gowns are not a practical choice that does not mean dressing like an overgrown toddler in a tracksuit is acceptable. Dress like a grown-up, polish your shoes and avoid sportswear when not participating in sport.
For those of my readers who are thinking of investing in a made-to-measure or bespoke suit for the first time, perhaps for an wedding or an event, what advice can you give? And more importantly, how much should they be looking to spend?
Decide why you need or want a made-to-measure or bespoke suit. Is it a style or cloth not available off the peg or are you a difficult fit. Have you tried getting a good ready to wear altered? If you feel having something made is your best option, expect to pay £1k for made-to-measure and at least £4k for bespoke.
Savile Row can be a rather intimidating place (not to mention eye-wateringly expensive) so would you ever recommend buying something off-the-peg on the high street? If so, which high street stores produce the best entry level suits in your opinion?
Yes. John Lewis stock a great entry-level suit called Chester by Chester Barrie. It is from the same designer as the main collection and has a really good fit. The cloths are all properly constructed which is rare at the price. A lot of High Street suits have too many details…fancy linings, coloured buttonholes, contrast stitching etc. These details are rarely seen on expensive suits. Simple is better.
And finally, what’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever been given that you can share with us?
Be a good role model.
Opulent Art Deco setting? Check. Lamb chop canapés? Check. Suits, coats and smoking jackets in sophisticated English and Italians cloths? Check. Prince of Wales check in fact. If Dale Winton were to appear and offer me the chance to do a ‘Big Sweep’ I’d have taken EVERYTHING. Here are just some of the highlights from the collection:
When I’m a proper grown up, I’ll holiday in Tahiti, spend my weekends in the country, and shop at Chester Barrie…