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Log for Francis Bown

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BESPOKE WINTER SUITS

DAVIES & SON

For a bespoke suit, you will find no better place on earth than Savile Row. But there are, sadly, busy folk who think that they do not have the time to have such a suit made. Will it not mean many visits and numerous fittings? Well, not necessarily. I am happy to report that I now have a most wonderful suit, a fine example of the tailoring art, the kind of suit which has made the name of Savile Row famous throughout the world – and yet, apart from the initial measuring and the final try-on and collection, I made only one visit to the tailor. And which tailor has produced this splendid suit with only one fitting? The noble firm of Davies & Son.

Number 38 Savile Row is a shop of modern appearance and modest frontage. But therein I found a bastion of tradition and a treasure chest of expertise. Established in 1803 by George Davies, the firm was for many years in Hanover Street. Only in 1986 did it arrive in Savile Row itself. But over the two hundred years of its proud history, it has welcomed European royalty, stars of stage and screen, heads of corporations and leaders of governments. What such customers always have in common is a determination to wear garments of the finest quality, made to their exact measurements. Among them have been Clark Gable, Benny Goodman and President Harry Truman. And, more surprisingly, the members of London’s first police force – for Sir Robert Peel’s ‘bobbies’ came to the firm for their uniforms. I suspect that never since have the sartorial standards of our constabulary been so high.

Davies & SonDavies & Son is now owned by Mr Alan Bennett (pictured). As I talked to him, it was reassuring to sense that the great tailoring traditions here are in safe hands. Savile Row means the best, and Mr Bennett is clearly determined that at Davies & Son today – as throughout its long history – only the best will do.

This filled me with confidence about my planned suit. I had in mind something dark, with a prominent stripe. The jacket would be single-breasted, with peaked lapels (of the type usually found on double-breasted suits), a single rear vent, four working buttons to each cuff and a lining of red. The stripes, if possible, would meet at the joins on the shoulders and on the lapels. The trousers would have turn-ups, straight side pockets, no back pocket, a button fly and two front pleats to each side in the English manner (that is, facing inwards – our American cousins like them facing outwards). The back would be made for braces, and the buttons for the braces would be outside at the front and inside at the back. (The last part of this arrangement would be to avoid any impression of the buttons in the leather of the Royce.)

Davies & SonEnter the excellent Mr Andrew Musson (pictured). Mr Musson was to be my cutter. And the cutter is the linchpin of bespoke tailoring. He does the measuring and he does the cutting. Upon him all depends. A wrong measurement or a wrong cut and disaster beckons. Mr Musson hails from Lincoln and is the son a tailor who still works in that great city. Immediately upon our meeting, I felt that I was in safe hands.

From his thousands of samples, Mr Musson soon found what I wanted: a navy blue material of 12/13 ounces with a ¾ inch bold chalk stripe – from the Huddersfield firm of Dugdale. And what of all my other requirements? An eyelid was not batted. I was anxious about the meeting of the stripes on the shoulders and lapels, for I knew this would not be an easy matter, particularly with such a wide stripe. Would this be possible? There would be no problem. It was a warm day, but the air conditioning in the small fitting room was doing its job. My ageing frame was measured and described in coolness and calm. I was soon on my way to lunch. It had been a most agreeable visit.

Davies & SonAnswering the call to the first fitting a few weeks later, I was surprised to find that the unfinished suit already fitted very well indeed. The trousers were hanging well, the jacket length was spot-on and the sleeve lengths were exactly right. Impressive. We decided on only three alterations: an extra inch in the trouser waist, half an inch extra to the height of the trouser waist and some adjustment to the hang of the back of the jacket.

Davies & SonAt my next visit, everything was exactly right. Remarkably, there was not the slightest further modification to be made. Quietly and efficiently, Mr Musson had produced precisely the suit I wanted. Those who have yet to have a bespoke suit made in Savile Row, for fear of multiple fittings, please take note.

My suit is a delight to wear. I particularly like the waisted jacket – so different from the formless cut of the ‘designer’ jackets I see on too many of my friends – which manages to convince me that my body still has a healthy shape. Needless to say – for we are talking of Savile Row – the buttons are of real horn, the trousers are half-lined and my left button-hole has a loop on the underside of the lapel to hold a flower stem in place. There is also a feature new to me: a fob pocket in the front right-hand waist of the trousers.

Including Value Added Tax, the suit cost £2,338.25. This I judge to be excellent value. For it will last many years. Every time I take it from the wardrobe, I will admire its quality and its elegance. And I will remember, too, the astonishing fact that it was made with only one fitting. For this little miracle on Savile Row, I salute the ancient firm of Davies & Son.


ADDRESSES

DAVIES & SON

38 Savile Row, London W1X 1AG, England.
Telephone +44 (0)207 434 3016 & +44 (0)207 437 7986
Fax +44 (0)207 287 4348
Email: davandson@aol.com
www.daviesandsonsavilerow.com

Two-piece suits from £1,990, excluding V.A.T. (£2,338.25, including V.A.T.)
Three-piece suits from £2,360, excluding V.A.T. (£2,773, including V.A.T.)
Regular trips are made to France, Germany, Switzerland and the U.S.A. Ask for details.
Personal consultations can be arranged anywhere in the world (on condition that a minimum order of £15,000, plus expenses, is received). Ask for details.

Francis Bown 2004
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