Saville Row and a Royal Tailor are my destinations today. On the way to Saville Row I was entertained by my cab driver and his interesting anecdotes of London's hostory. I heard about the Mayor of London who during the great fire of London was woken from his sleep and told there was a fire and it was bad. He asked if it was close to his home. When told not yet, he said wake me when it gets close and went back to sleep. When he was woken because the fire was close, he had his horses and carriages readied and got in them and then left the city to burn. That same night diarist Samuel Pepys was woken telling him there was a fire. He asked how far away it was and was told it was close but not upon them yet. He looked out his window and noticed his neighbor had his servants digging a hole and placing belongings in it. Pepys immediately had his servants dig a hole and there he buried his supply of wine and hams.
Then he told me about a little church in London named St. Olaves in Hart Lane where Mother Goose is supposed to have been buried in 1586. She was said to have been a nursemaid who sang and recited rhymes to her cares. If I had one more day I'd have gone looking for the grave but I'll be going home tomorrow.
When I was making my appointment with Tibor a Royal Tailor with Alexandre he told me he wasn't able to meet me yesterday because he was going to be at Buckingham Palace all day. He isn't allowed to say who he makes suites for and has had to sign confidentiality papers. The cabby and I had a few moments of confusion in finding the address. It seems that London addresses aren't consistent and these went from lower numbers to higher ones on one side of the street and the other side they went higher to lower. The addresses were in a circle in the same street!
We found Alexandre my destination and I headed in to meet Tibor. I was pleased to see that Alexandre offered very contemporary fashion as well as the traditional Saville Row looks. Tibor was lovely and educated me in the art of menswear. There is off the peg which we would call of the rack, where one garment is made to fit 3 different sizes. So know you know why things never fit your body correctly its not you it's that they make things a 'standard' size which is supposed to accommodate three sizes. Then there is made to measure here they take your measurements into consideration and do some of the sewing by hand and some by machine. Then there is Bespoke which uses even more precise measurements taking into account if you hold one shoulder higher than another or have an extremely straight back or a little bit of a belly or derriere. They cut this exactly to your body and it will fit no one else but you.
In both the made to measure and Bespoke you are able to choose your own fabrics, patterns and styles. They have hundreds of books filled with 50-60 fabrics to choose from and switch them out seasonally. They have a book with different pant and jacket choices everything from the width of a lapel to the angle of pockets are yours to choose. The only thing more custom would be to have a designer create something just for you. I think this is better because you get to choose it exactly your way. I had a great time going through books of fabric and styles and making my dream choices for a suit.
Tibor was telling me that Alexandre is one of the 'newish kids' on the block at Saville Row, having been in this location for a mere 40 years. The brand is 120 years old but they are amongst stores that have been here for hundreds of years. They have a Royal Warrant By Appointment of Her Majesty, they have also designed for the House of Lords, House of Commons, celebrities and have designed for the Chelsea Football Team. They get a lot of American Men who come in for their services as well.
I've been paying attention to Men's fashions while I've been in London because of a story I am working on and I noticed a few things which I talked with Tibor about. One was the way everyone was tying their tie. The knot as bigger and different than I was used to seeing, he said it was a Royal Windsor knot. I also noticed that pant legs were tapered at the bottom. He told me that this season things were more of a narrow look this season a little Italian inspired and the pants were tighter to the thigh and tapered down. So there you go a few London trend setting pointers for you. Still intrigued by the tie knot I asked him if he would give me a quick lesson in tying a Royal Windsor knot lets see if you can make sense of my notes and learn this knot.
1. The wide end should be Âlonger than the narrow end.
2. Take wide end under & over narrow end.
3. Then back under itself.
4. Then back over opposite side
5. This should form a knot underneath
6. Then back over to the side
7. Then through the top
8. Then push through
9. Set to width
Good luck I haven't tried it yet, I hope it works.
Tibor was telling me about Saville Row during the 80's it had a huge slump and many very old tailors went out of business. Then large ready made companies started coming in and rents went crazy. Some business had to join forces to survive. There is talk now of having the government regulate property and rent prices to help keep old timers in business. And prevent new companies from coming in and escalating prices beyond the means that independents can afford.
He also showed me a couple of bespoke tailors working and a store called Huntsman who has been in business for over 300 years. That is what is so interesting about Saville Row it has a legacy of businesses that have been around for centuries.
It was great fun to visit Saville Row, Alexandre and Tibor.
I spent the rest of my day shopping at Harvey Nichols and then checking out of the Waldorf Hilton, into a smaller hotel and packing for my return flight home.
I was picked up from my hotel by another Andy from iChauffeur, this time in a Jaguar and whisked off to Gatwick for my flight home. I was able to fly out business class across the pond and had a lovely flight.
I had a long layover in Atlanta and then home to L.A. in sardine land or they call it Coach. This time it was better than my first flight because I didn't have a tall long legged sleeper in front of me, so I had an inch of knee space but I still say the bathroom is larger and much more comfortable than the coach seats. I made it home safe and sound and will be going into further detail of the hotels and spas I visited so keep your eyes open for those. London is a great destination and is full of wonderful historical sights, all the typical tourist attractions, as well as a multitude of 'off the beaten path' delights just waiting for you to discover them.