Sunday, October 31, 2010
James Sherwood's Bespoke: The Men's Style of Savile Row is a 5 1/2 pound (2.5 kilo) coffee-table sized book and that is all the better to show off the wonderful photography. A mixture of the familiar, some rarely-seen older shots and contemporary work by Guy Hills and others, Bespoke is a visual treat. And, oh yes, it also continues the Row's recent efforts to market itself with the story of the usual tailoring subjects, from Ede & Ravenscroft to Timothy Everest.
Though there is a two-page spread on the making of a suit, Bespoke is about style, tailors and the men who wear, or wore, the clothes rather than the making of them or how to dress well. And, after decades of "how to dress" books, that is a mildly refreshing change. It is in this case better to see a photo of a model wearing a contemporary Anderson & Sheppard smoking jacket embroidered spectacularly by London's Hand & Lock than to be told once again that the smoking is worn only at home or at one's club.
The book's 256 pages are organized into sections, each providing read-it-already information on subjects ranging from royal customers to film star customers and accompanied by profiles of several of the tailors that best represent the topic (I hadn't heard of two of the firms mentioned but Terry Haste and John Kent may be on the outs as they are not). Of course, it would be virtually impossible to write completely original material when a significant fraction of the firms involved in the project have already published books about themselves and the material is well presented.
Carrying a $65 list price (already discounted to $40.95 on Amazon) in the United States, Bespoke should be part of the library of everyone interested in classic men's clothing. Immediately following its purchase, the most dedicated followers of style will no doubt be inquiring about smoking jacket embroidery by Hand & Lock.