As part of the Chivas Regal Open Row event, members of the Savile Row Bespoke Association opened their doors to invited guests with each house offering unique presentations that showcase their history, workmanship and individual style. Activities included pattern cutting workshops, wet shave demonstrations, shoe shining services and style advice for the modern gentleman.
From left to right: Jason Smith, Brian Lewis, Sean O’Flynn, Oliver Cross, Malcolm Plews and Paul Munday.
To feel pre-event nerves is a very common human trait experienced in the most seasoned of hosts. Truman Capote – who famously threw New York’s biggest ever bash celebrating the publication of In Cold Blood in 1966 – must have felt a little nervous beforehand; and Elton John too, who is known for not being shy when it comes to throwing a lavish party or two for his long list of celebrity friends. With this in mind, it meant we were in very good company in the lead-up to the Open Row event that took place last night.
Meyer & Mortimer, although around the corner from Savile Row at 6 Sackville Street, is very much a tailor in the Savile Row tradition. Never having been a resident of the famous street we have however been making clothes, since 1798, within in the triangular catchment area of Sackville Street, Clifford Street and Savile Row; which, on condition, enables us to be a member of the Savile Row Bespoke Association.
As an official member, it meant we were a participating tailoring house in the Chivas Open Row event. It is an annual affair with the intention of opening up Savile Row to those not familiar with the world’s most famous sartorial street, and those who are but wish to know more. Sponsored by whisky brand Chivas Regal, invited guests were, according to The Savile Row Bespoke Association website, provided ‘an exclusive opportunity to meet the masters of both the bespoke tailoring world and the world of aged whisky in an after-hours celebration of their shared values of heritage, modern craftsmanship and style’.
A little-concerned visitors would remain up on The Row we started thinking how to tackle this issue. First of all, the good people at Chivas Regal ensured we would have a bar at the shop with a specific cocktail (Three-Piece) on offer not available elsewhere. Next, we thought of activities, talks, presentations always (well trying to) keep sartorial aspects at the forefront of minds. There’s no such thing as a bad idea in a brainstorm but we had to reign in some of the ideas that included a small elephant, Vegas-style entertainment and a Glen Miller style big band which for those who’ve visited our shop would understand the constraints on space of all three.
Oliver receives his close shave from Pall Mall Barbers
We decided, in the end, to work with Pall Mall Barbers and London Shoe Shine Ltd as we felt that along with ourselves it all fed into the eternal dialogue of men’s styling. It also proved to be, as we found out, a great topic for discussion, photo ops, Tweets that segued easily into the world of bespoke tailoring.
From Pall Mall Barbers, Adrian and Ben were on hand with their vintage barber’s chair (which had a built-in ashtray on the right arm); hot towels, lotions and of course the straight razor. In the London Shoe Shine Ltd corner was Paul, who since walking through the door and setting up was in constant demand for, what was for the next two and half hours. In that period, he managed a staggering 50 or so shines.
Oliver Cross and I put ourselves forward for a wet shave with Oliver, being the full bearded fellow he is, opting for a trim with myself – purposely growing a few days growth, going for the full shave. Both involved hot towels, massaging and of course that razor which Ben used meticulously which was not too dissimilar to a cutter’s accuracy when cutting cloth for a customer. His experience and precision was thankfully and immediately apparent. Invigorated by my shave and with the shop filling up fast I returned to the floor and Ben, like Paul, remained very well employed all night.
As the pictures show our shop got very busy so any pre-party nerves disappeared and we got on with the task at hand of ensuring everyone had a drink, a goodie bag (for the first 50) and that we talked to as many people as we could. It was a great opportunity to share our passion on bespoke tailoring with the invited guests over drinks.
The nerves disappear with a full shop at Chivas Open Row
Being in business for as long as we have means we got a lot of questions on our history and the military memorabilia adorning our walls and cabinets. Brian Lewis, our resident historian and director, was very much on hand to expand further.
Instead of a formal presentation we opted for the mix and mingle approach which allowed directors Paul Munday, & Brian, cutter Oliver Cross, bespoke shirtmaker Sean O’Flynn and myself to meet a lot of different people. It proved to be very interesting indeed with visitors coming from banking, aviation, global event companies, law firms and the odd celebrity chef. We also found out from Anthony, a regular customer of bespoke shirtmaker, Sean O'Flynn, that Mr O’Flynn’s first name is used in the context of shirt ownership by ‘having a few Sean’s’.
We are proud of our long history, proud also to say our bespoke garments are cut and made here at 6 Sackville Street and proud when we see a delighted customer go out of the door in one of our suits - and more so when they return. It was our aim last night to convey that passion to those who came down to our shop. We also hope we’ve opened the door a little further to those not familiar with Savile Row and our traditions so that they return again in the near future.
At 9 pm – the event’s close – we had a shop full of conversation and laughter which out-sized considerably any concerns we had pre-event. For that, we thank Chivas Regal and their associates for their support; the brilliantly efficient bar staff; Ben and Adrian from Pall Mall Barbers; Paul from the London Shoe Shine Company and of course the guests who came down to see us.
Group shot courtesy of Helen Abraham