The wealthy classes in Asia have long recognized that bespoke clothing is the pinnacle of elegance, but now it looks like the smart money worldwide have caught on to the trend. As the world continues to shrink thanks to the internet, and fashionistas everywhere have access to the same ready-to-wear pieces online and the same inspiration from highly publicized fashion shows, the truly clothing-conscious are ready to make a break for the bespoke industry.
“Nothing I ever bought off-the-peg fitted properly,” insisted Hannah MacGibbon, the design consultant and former creative director at Chloe. It’s a concern that resonates with women (and men) everywhere. “The sleeves were always too short, and things just don’t sit right because they are made to a standard cut, and no woman is the same shape. I have found as I’ve got older, I need durable, well made clothes that are flattering and well cut. I can get a bespoke suit from Henry for the same price as one in a designer boutique on Bond Street, and I’ll never see another one the same anywhere.”
In fact, women now recognize that the wonders of bespoke clothing are lessons to be learned from men. Not only is it being seen as the best way to receive the most flattering, highest quality clothing, but participating in the creative process is a sort of luxury in and of itself. “It is fast and furious, with a constant demand for instant gratification, but this feels like the ultimate personal luxury. There is something about the process of being measured, choosing the details such as the right shoulder line, the lapel, the silhouette, going for fittings, the impeccable finishing. You gain a level of craftsmanship and quality, from skilled workers, that is simply not possible in a ready-to-wear garment,” MacGibbon tells The Guardian.
Who are the emerging players in international bespoke tailoring? The world’s favorite of the moment is Henry Rose, who trained for Savile Row and spent a decade as an in-house tailor for Stella McCartney. He has just been installed in a bespoke atelier on the womenswear floor at Selfridges. In addition to MacGibbon – who had Rose make her a tweed suit inspired by the idea of “Mick Jagger on a shooting weekend” – his repeat customers include Cameron Diaz and Madonna.
Working beside Rose is 29-year-old New Zealander Emilia Wickstead, who creates clothing for Kate Middleton, among scores of posh elite. “I wanted to shake off the slightly mumsy image of made-to-measure and make bespoke relevant to young, contemporary women,” Wickstead said.
Bespoke dresses made to specification currently run from £450 and £2000 (about $700 to $3000) at Selfridges. Emannuelle Rio, a young convert to bespoke tailoring, said, “It is not about making a statement with trends and flaunting labels: it is an understated way of dressing that means you are confident you have the most flattering garments in your choice of fabrics, with exactly the neckline, hem length, sleeve shape etc that you like. Once you have started buying like this, you rarely go back.
photo credit: gian decaro