What Next for Savile Row? December 2010

Dear Rowley,

I love BBC Breakfast, don’t you? Always puts a smile on my face at 6am especially when Bill and Sian are presenting. They were having a hoot this morning about the price of gold, frankincense and myrrh being up on 2009. As Sian said, ‘my myrrh bill has skyrocketed this Christmas’. Priceless. The most cynical bit of news this am? Oprah Winfrey being paid £6 million to make a ‘state visit’ to Australia to promote tourism there. The Aussies might as well have invited Rustie Lee for all the good Oprah crowing ‘I love Australia’ at the top of her lungs from the top of the Sydney Opera House. You would love Australia, wouldn’t you, if they paid you £6 million.

Don’t know about you Rowley but I am bewildered that a young Moslem guy with movie star looks would choose to blow himself up in Stockholm. Waste of a face and a life. Thank goodness he muffed it though. We live in interesting times, no? We Brits believe in live and let live. They believe in live and let die. On to more amusing subjects. Whither Savile Row? I am asked on a fairly regular basis if there is room for a new name on the Row. Names possibly.

Nobody since Tommy Nutter and Edward Sexton rocked the Row in 1969 has stepped up to the challenge of bringing great style and great cutting skill together to lead fashion. Many think they are achieving this. Few are. I think one of the greats at present is Richard Anderson who is quietly building a stellar book of style leaders and taste-makers. Richard was not invited to my Savoy Savile Row book launch due to an oversight on behalf of the PR company who handled the list. Unforgivable. He is one of Savile Row’s stars.

It is definitely time for a new generation to rock-up and fuse fashion and fine tailoring. Ever since I christened Ozwald, Richard and Tim the ‘New Establishment’, there has been scads of articles in the press about the new generation of cutters on the Row. But do remember Boateng, James and Everest were new generation in the very early 90s. Of course we had Carlo Brandelli at Kilgour (much missed) and the sensational Nick ‘Spencer’ Hart who is the epitome of glamour, but isn’t it about time an investor took a punt on two fly young guys who may restore the Row’s rightful position as leader of British fashion?

What has prompted this rant? I spent the day yesterday with a terrific young guy called James Shepard. He reminds me of a younger Mr Miller – the MD of Turnbull & Asser. He’s got style, attitude and  a point of view. What I like most about Mr Shepard is that he can drink his body weight in prosecco at Cecconi’s and still hold a strong conversation. He’s getting married on Friday at the same town hall as Cilla got married to Bobby in 1968. After ‘lunch’, we decamped to a fabulous gym and spa off the Brompton Road: he for a facial and me for a Turkish. We had a nightcap at around 6pm at Kettner’s champagne bar and a good time was had by all.

Did you watch the Savoy documentary? No, me neither. But a tonne of friends and family texted to say ‘when are you on it?’ I’m not darling but I am filming a diamond documentary with Zack at the BBC in early Jan so possibly it was a good thing that I wasn’t a comedy turn on ‘Carry On at the Savoy’. Always look on the bright side darling…

My pictures this time are as random but satisfying as my day yesterday. As I was stoating down St Martin’s Lane yesterday, I happened to glance up and saw the London Coliseum and the spire of St Martin’s Le Grand shrouded in mist: magical what you see in London when you look up. After a coffee at Franco’s with Mr Shepard, we popped in to James Lock & Co on St James’s Street to buy a replacement Lock & Roll chocolate felt Trilby to replace my stolen one. Then Scott texted to say that he had picked-up the lost Trilby after one of our lunches and it was safe at his gaff. So that’s a result. Refund. Kerching.

Lock are going to put together a tonne of pictures for my Fashion at Royal Ascot Thames & Hudson book. They are the oldest hatters in the world and you would die for the shop. Some of the architecture is Elizabethan. And the hats! When I go back to the Savoy in the New Year I have a fabulous idea for the Signature Suites. Every last icon that we named the staterooms after was a Lock customer: Sinatra, Dietrich, Callas, Hepburn, Coward, Harris, Chaplin, Churchill and even I think Monet. Why don’t we buy each signature hat, put it in the suite then invite the guests to send us photographs of them wearing said hat in said suite? We could then do a book. If we don’t we have a record of great Savoy guests of the future.

I tell you Rowley, I get my best ideas between 6 and 7am, wearing my blue silk Sexton dressing gown lounging in bed at Bloomsbury Towers with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea. Until next time…