London Calling

It’s Saturday morning, I’ve just done my last fitting before Christmas, there’s a brass band playing carols in the Victoria Quarter and I’m feeling simply bloody marvellous.

Whilst the bling-tastic Christmas tree outside is impressive, it’s nowt compared to the bright lights of London.

Last Thursday I spent twelve glorious hours in our throbbing metropolis.

Most of it was out and about on the streets of Mayfair, a perfumed playground for the privileged, where delicate noses safely sniff, far away from the fetid stench of despair and poverty that lies beneath this truly great city.

My first port of call was to investigate a new workroom which I’d heard made-up for the great and the good down South.

I’ve seen quite a few operations in my time and this one hit the spot. Run by a lady with real passion for the trade, I was impressed not just by the quality of their work, but the fact that the atmosphere was jovial. People were enjoying their work and the focus was on quality rather than quantity.

Here I am modelling one of their smoking jackets made-up for one of the outfitters on Jermyn Street who holds a Royal Warrant.

It’s a bit “Captain Peacock” for my taste. I’m not really a fan of all the frogging around the button holes and cuffs but at last I’ve found a team who are happy working with velvet. The uber-cool Michelsberg smoking jacket will be a reality. Get in!

After that, I had lunch with my friend Flynny at The Hawksmoor on Air street. Now that’s a steak joint. Slightly art deco in style it’s a mahogany and leather temple to man-food. A place where the dreams of carnivores collide with the nightmares of the bovine massive.

After my cholesterol raising car-crash of rib-eye, bone marrow, triple cooked chips and red wine, I stumbled outside and paid homage to my spiritual home (after Croyde Bay) – Savile Row.

If tailoring is part theatre, then this is the ultimate stage. Just being here fills me with pride, joy, a sense of hope and fuels the dream of what might be.

My favourite bit in “Masterchef” is where they get to cook for some of the best chefs in the world and meet their heroes in the flesh. Being on Savile Row is just like that for me.

First port of call was Huntsman, pictured above. Now these guys are busy but I was still given a warm welcome by their head cutter, Patrick Murphy, and Johnny Allen, their Sales Manager. Then who tapped me on the shoulder? Steve from Yorkshire Textiles. It seems us Northerners get everywhere.

After that it was over the road to Spencer Hart, tailor of choice to the coolest of cats.

Here I am with Theo Gould in the inner sanctum where fine threads have been commissioned by the likes of Robbie Williams, David Bowie and David Beckham. Eight years ago, when I first started my own tailoring business, I remember entering this cavern of dark wood and even darker suits, meeting Nick Hart and being blown away with the set-up. Inspirational stuff.

Then, it was down the golden mile and off to Lock and Co on St James’s street to pick up a Christmas present to myself – a new hat.

I adore this place. It’s understated, charming, devoid of all pretence. The gentleman above is Andrew Baselgia, their retail manager, and twenty minutes later, armed with a spanking new ‘Borsalino,’ I headed to my final destination – a Christmas party thrown by Scabal on Savile Row.

The wine flowed (heavily) and here I am with the guys from Kilgour – Michael Smith, their Senior Cutter, and Martin Crawford and Andrew Skillen on the sales floor. We talked shop and I loved every moment.

As I pulled out of Kings Cross (drinking yet more wine) I reflected on the words of Samuel Johnson – “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – and after living the dream for a day, I couldn’t agree more.

So that’s it. “Out of office” on. Shop Shut. Here’s wishing you a truly magnificent Christmas and a fabulous 2013 for us all.