As Davide Taub, Head Cutter at Gieves & Hawkes (one of the world’s longest-standing bespoke tailors) puts it, the words ‘Savile Row’ are practically synonymous with the word ‘menswear’. The famous London street is the home of bespoke tailoring, with historic companies such as Gieves opening in the early 1700s and serving clients from politicians and royals to the military. In fact, the Japanese word for ‘suit’, sabiro, even derives from the street name. And now, as with much else, women want a look in. With more and more brides wanting to wear a well-made suit on their wedding day, even bridal designers such as Savannah Miller and Kate Halfpenny now offer a bespoke tailoring service. But what about the crème de la crème of bespoke tailoring? Where can women go to get that one-of-a-kind Savile Row experience? We caught up with the experts to find out.
Davide Taub, Head Cutter at Gieves & Hawkes
Luckily for us, Davide has a background in women's cutting – and is no stranger to working with female clients. And, in his experience, the difference between investing in a bespoke suit versus a couture gown is that, in the former, the client remains unbranded. It’s the idiosyncratic service offered by tailors on Savile Row that enables this: with no creative director or designer influencing them, it is left entirely up to each client to choose their look.
Of course, Davide’s own talent does very much come into play – to the benefit of his clients, as we can see in the case of Penelope. Davide made an off-white 3-piece suit in silk jacquard and lightweight gaberdine for her wedding last year.
Q. Why did you decide to wear a wedding suit?
A. Growing up in my grandfather’s button factory and haberdashery, I developed an eye for detail (at least, I think I did!). I just found that nothing anywhere else quite matched what Davide could do. I suppose, eventually, through the bespoke process with him, I also realised that the suit also represented me better than any of the wedding dresses I had tried on. I got where I am through hard work and dedication – both professionally and personally – and the suit ended up saying that more than any gown could.
Q. Why did you choose Savile Row / Gieves & Hawkes bespoke?
A. It’s simple. I believe Davide is the best on the row, and the most creative. I had got to know him over the years through work and admired his creative integrity as much as his craftsmanship. Plus, he jumped at the opportunity!
Q. What was the bespoke experience like – designing it and having it made?
A. I love the shoulders on all of Davide’s jackets and I had said from the start that I’d like a sharp jacket. I have a small waist and a large bust and wanted to celebrate those features. The 100% silk jacquard jacket he created is divine, and I’ve worn it on numerous occasions, including to a black-tie event when I was 6-months pregnant. I combined it with a silver dress. It looked fabulous. That was another thing I told Davide: I wanted to wear my wedding outfit over and over again. With a bespoke suit I could do that. For example, I’ve worn the waist coat with jeans and platforms, or shorts and sandals, as well as as a top with my Roksanda puffy skirt! It’s so versatile.
I remember distinctly the silence during fittings. It was a chance for me to reflect on the process but also on the ways my life was about to change. Bizarrely, I think Davide was able to read my thoughts as he’d make amendments. He took the suit in the same direction as I'd be imagining – without exchanging a word.
Q. How did it feel wearing it on your wedding day?
A. Empowering! My husband loved it!
Pheobe Gormley, Founder of Savile Row’s first women’s-only tailor, Gormley & Gamble
Q. Why did you set up Gormley & Gamble as a women's-only tailor?
A. I set it up because, when I started interning with tailors as a teenager, I’d hear many of them say female customers would be ‘too hard to please’ or ‘not worth the time’. I thought: someone has to do this properly. I started Gormley & Gamble when I was just 20-years-old, and I’m proud that it’s the first women’s brand on the row in its 200-year history.
Q. What would you say to a woman wanting to have a wedding suit made?
A. Carefully select your fabrics. And not just the external fabric – if it’s lined with polyester, don’t buy it (or risk sweating like a bin bag on your big day!). I always suggest fabrics with a little Lycra in them, as a wedding can last a good 18 hours, so it needs to be comfy too. I adore making wedding suits because there’s so much more longevity in them than a gown. You can continue to wear it as a suit, or just pair the jacket with jeans, or the trousers with a camisole. You get many wears from each garment.
Q. What’s the bespoke process like at Gormley & Gamble?
A. Clients book a consultation via the website and have a good half-hour chat with me over tea about what they love and loathe in their clothes. Colours that make them feel great, fabrics they hate, cuts they love, the whole works. Then I start suggesting fabrics that suit their skin tone, the occasion and sometimes a colour scheme. Then we walk through different shape and cut options, settling on what suits her body shape best; then come all the measurements. We cut and make the garments and they have their first fitting six weeks later. Tweaks are made in about 10 days, depending on deadlines.
Q. Do you have any special clients?
A. International princesses I’m not allowed to talk about, two female CEOs, some lucky school girls, women who may have found a piece of cashmere on a trip to Scotland and want it made into a jacket, and those who would never wear a suit, but want the perfect pair of black trousers made!
Mark Powell, Founder of Mark Powell London
Brides also popped over to Soho to visit one of the biggest personalities in the bespoke industry (who also happens to have a long history of working with female clients), Mark Powell.
And many a high-profile client agrees with him, from Bianca Jagger herself, to Naomi Campbell and Keira Knightley. And this tailor’s work is as trendy as his store’s Soho location is. Elegant, 30s-inspired designs are partnered with a love of old world panache and lots of eccentricity. Think Katharine Hepburn meets rockabilly. For a bride who’s looking for that vintage feel in her big day tailoring, Mark Powell Bespoke is a great place to start. It’s all about alternative style – Mark’s beautiful tailoring just enhances it.
The Brides Women’s Bespoke Tailoring Directory:
On Savile Row
Gieves & Hawkes
Gormley & Gamble
Huntsman Savile Row
Mark Powell London
Mayfair and Shoreditch