Saturday, October 10, 2009

Edward Sexton: The tailor of Knightsbridge

During the summer, I visited the shop of Edward Sexton at 26 Beauchamp Place in Knightsbridge. Sexton is perhaps the most well-known London tailor not physically on the Savile Row. But he has of course deep roots through his association with Nutter's of Savile Row. Times have changed but the cutter behind it all remains.

I walked up one floor, entered a side door and met Mr. Sexton. He was in the middle of cutting a suit and hence handed me off to his colleague Davide Taub, who recently joined the shop from the Row. We had a brief but interesting chat. Davide averred that Sexton is a perfectionist at a different level perhaps from the rest of the Row. He is known to tear a jacket apart in the pursuit of perfection, driving his tailors crazy. Everything is done inhouse and they only have two outworkers who work exclusively for Sexton. Both are former inhouse employees.

Edward Sexton window 2

These days Sexton's customers include bankers and lawyers who are professionals but possess a "touch of naughtiness" as Davide described. What about the look? A Sexton jacket tends to have strong shoulders with a full sleeve. As James Sherwood writes in The London Cut, his suits have a bit of emphasis in the shoulder and chest, featuring a "high-cut armhole and rope shoulder". Interestingly enough, Davide showed me a plain weave navy blue single-breasted jacket (two button if I remember correctly) with very soft shoulders and soft chest canvas. This was cut for a longtime customer and not Sexton's usual way to construct a jacket but certainly shows a high level of tailoring versatility.

In another departure from other tailors, Sexton cuts ably for women - a fact not lost on fashion designer Stella McCartney, who studied with him. Cutting women's clothing is different than men's as the cloths often stretch and one cannot rely on the seams as is done in men's clothing. Sexton has certainly seen fashions change and styles come and go since the 1960s but what has remained constant for him is his dedication to the craft of cutting and shaping a jacket. Ars longa, vita brevis.

Additional links
- Finch's Quarterly Review profile of Sexton
- Independent interview of Edward Sexton and Petra Ecclestone, daughter of a well-known customer, Bernie Ecclestone
- Styleforum thread on Tommy Nutter

2 comments:

Bert said...

Very interesting indeed, thank you.
Would you ever consider to become a customer of Sexton's (say that style was the only criterium)?

sleevehead said...

You are welcome. In a world of unlimited resources, I certainly would become a customer. He's a giant in the British tailoring tradition.