BAFTAs & Bespoke

Dear Rowley,

It’s BAFTA night so rather a relief that I’m in the middle of a series of four duvet days due to a slight chill caught recklessly walking home from the MTBA black tie dinner on Thursday. The MTBA is the bi-annual Savile Row tailors’ bash and I was a guest on the Henry Poole table. I wore the green and black brocade Tom Baker dinner jacket and a good time was had by all. The speaker was Sir Tim Rice – a highlight – and the biggest disappointment was that Poole chairman Angus Cundey’s wife Mandy was on the top table so not able to be my partner in crime that night.

Well, I have to tell you the BAFTA crowd looks as glorious and glamorous as the golden age of Hollywood. This was not the case in the 90s when ac-tors thought they had to dress like extras from the Addams family to prove they were serious practitioners of the craft. What I’m really enjoying is the older actresses defying gravity never mind age in the grand tradition of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Faye Dunaway and Cher. What a shame the boys at the BAFTAs don’t really step up to the Cary Grant/Gary Cooper high water mark. Jonathan Ross looks like Charles Manson. I was watching North by Northwest yesterday and Cary was simply perf as was Eva Saint Marie. That seduction scene in the dining car of the train was more sensual than Last Tango in Paris.

Before I came down with the big chill, I did spend one of those very gratifying Savile Row afternoons in the company of Jo Morgan of Chittleborough & Morgan and Gaziano & Girling: a bespoke shoemaking duo who Joe and his partner Roy have supported from the beginning. Roy and Joe are old school Savile Row but worked as cutters with Tommy Nutter and Edward Sexton so there is a level of ingenuity, optimism and flair missing at some of the other houses on the Row. In fact I’d venture to say that Chittleborough & Morgan are producing some of the most adventurous bespoke tailoring of any generation let alone their own.

I thoroughly enjoyed a patchwork tweed waistcoat of such precision that it would shame a mosaic floor excavated in Pompeii. Even more thrilling was seeing a curved cuff detail on a tweed two-piece that I took a snap of for you to admire and gasp in admiration. I believe the cloth was woven by Fox Flannel. But the biggest kick in hanging-out with Roy and Joe is meeting their customers; on that particular day a dapper chap with a penchant for herringbone trousers and matching flat caps with an accent straight out of Salad Days. It is superb to see such passion, dash and wit in the dress of a younger generation who ‘get’ Roy and Joe’s work.

But on to Gaziano & Girling, the reason I was asked to pop in and see Joe. The boys were trained by the Northamptonshire massive (aka Edward Green etc) in the old school traditions but bring youth and energy to their bespoke and ready to wear lasts. It is telling that they pay as much attention to the sculpting of a sole or heel as they do to the whip smart uppers. A favourite for me was a narrow black suede loafer with black leather trim and an ingenious, uniquely shaped welt. There is a major market for bespoke shoes. My better half practically blows a gasket when he sees a fine pair of brogues.

Oh, Helena Bonham-Carter has just won the BAFTA for best supporting actress. I would say department of no surprises but, let’s face it, she nailed the young Queen Mother and deserves that golden delicious. Miranda Richardson looks as though she’s just sucked a lemon then got a drip of juice in the cut caused by digging her nail into her palm. Do you know what? I don’t blame Miranda. I’m a sore loser too.

Have you seen Black Swan? I’m rather a fan of Nathalie Portman and I am sure her performance is sublime. But I hear the film involves hideous scenes of anorexia, bloodshed, psychotic episodes and black feathers growing out of the leading character’s skin as she goes slowly into meltdown. I think everyone in London has had enough nervous breakdowns of their own to contemplate sitting through somebody else’s however talented the actress.

Would you believe that by this time next week the Louis Vuitton Guide to London 2012 may be finished all bar the shouting. This is thanks in no small part to darling Mrs T who has scoured every inch of London for new restaurants, bars, nightclubs, art galleries and hotels. We’ve got a couple more previews to go such as the new W hotel in Leicester Square which sounds disco-ball-tastic and the Corinthian on the Thames. Not so sure about Emma Watson, are you? She didn’t do an awful lot in the Harry Potter franchise apart from look cross and shout ‘run, Harry, run’ about once every three hours of filming. She is a pretty girl though and that goes a long, long way in Hollywood.

My royal wedding preparations for the BBC News coverage is ticking along nicely; a favourite theory being that in addition to wearing the diamond fringe tiara worn by all royal brides bar Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Catherine might score a fashion coup by wearing the Queen’s Norman Hartnell New Look wedding dress. When the Queen wore Hartnell in 1947, it was an age of post-war austerity and the nation saved-up all their clothing coupons to pay for the dress. How fabulous would it be for Princess Catherine to wear vintage in our present age of austerity? Of course she’s taller than Her Majesty but surely one of our great British designers could rise to the challenge and make-do-and-mend. Until next time…