I’m in New Jersey, leading the life of an ‘international dogsitter’, as Lauren Laverne put it yesterday. And that means I missed Savile Row tailors H.Huntsman & Sons cocktail in London last night that they hosted around Dr. David Starkey’s talk on the invention of modern men’s dress in Regency London. Dr Starkey wrote some of my History A Level textbooks and the Regency is one of my fascinations, so the next best thing was to send the intrepid Katie Rose off to attend in my stead. Here’s her report from the evening:
Last night I was lucky enough to hear Dr David Starkey speak at an intimate cocktail at the 162-year old tailors H.Huntsman & Sons on Savile Row. Speaking on the invention of modern men’s dress in Regency London, Dr. Starkey gave a lighthearted yet fascinating talk. Revolving around the 18th century, he described the shift from the prevalence of a French style and lifestyle to an altogether more English approach.
Delicate materials like velvet and embroideries and staggeringly expensive costumes resulting in a pampered way of life were phased out in favour of riding dress as an everyday ensemble. This English style, he explained, thus promoted a completely different, independent and altogether more comfortable existence for men. He went on to explain that as such, the suit as we now know it is in fact an English invention that has taken on such an international popularity that it has remained unaltered since the 1800’s.
After the talk there was a chance to have more of a nose around Huntsman. Speaking with head cutter Patrick, whose father also worked at the store, he explained he’s never had to buy a suit in his life, as his father would make him suits in the fashions of the time. He also recounted the charming story of how the stags’ heads above the mantelpiece in the shop came to be left behind by a gentleman one day in 1921 and after six months when he hadn’t retrieved them the staff decided they would mount them on the wall. These are now emblematic of Huntsman’s heritage and history in Savile Row.
H. Huntsman & Sons, 11 Savile Row, W1S 3PS