Rory Bremner’s visit to Savile Row
Rory came to visit me in 2010. He had always wanted to purchase a bespoke suit, but it took him until the age of 50 to go for it and he actually rather enjoyed it. Rory is laid back, non assuming and non fancy shmansy, so I decided to keep the suit low key, with a fitted style with a timeless element that didn’t scream: “Look I’ve just bought a really bright, crazy bespoke suit!”
Over the years I’ve been measured, prodded and poked by many costume designers (as Simon and Garfunkel said, you have to keep the costumier satisfied). I’ve also been wedged into any number of outfits, from Nicholas Soames’s fat padding to the full Archbishop of Canterbury get-up.
But I never thought I’d be measured for a suit of my own. My suits tend to be neat and sober – a blank canvas for the impressions – anything too flamboyant would be an indulgent distraction. Until now, I’d found that whoever Emporio Armani (the high-street Armani) or M&S chose to represent my body type more or less did the job. The idea of a bespoke, Savile Row number seemed impossibly grand.
Until one day, into my inbox, among the various scripts and adverts for genital enlargement (how do they know?), there popped an offer from a bespoke tailor with a studio on Savile Row. Alexandra Wood said she’d like to make me a suit. A proper one.
And so I found myself squeezing between the S-class Mercedes and Bentleys parked along Savile Row – and into a tiny lift before emerging into a beautifully appointed suite at the top of the building with views over the Westminster skyline. That does imply that the Westminster skyline will have a less glorious view of you changing, but thankfully there were discreet blinds.
It was a relief when Wood herself ushered me into the fitting room – I’d half expected Paul Whitehouse or Mark Williams to appear with a measuring tape. And so the process began. I say process, because until you have a suit made you don’t realise how many decisions are involved.
First, the cloth. Light? Dark? Blue? Black? Grey? Pinstripe? Wool? Tweed? Rubber? I made up the last one, but you can have just about anything else. Then, what about the lining? Even more choices here, with if anything, more scope for imagination. Can I go now? No. What about the lapels? Thin or thick? Double-breasted or single? One slit or two in the back (matron); how many pockets, and where? Trousers to sit on the hip or higher? Hard crease or not? Bootleg or wider? For someone as indecisive as I am it is a tricky process. Gordon Brown would be in there all year trying to establish the convergence criteria for his flies. I leave full of curiosity.
A couple of weeks later it’s ready. It fits perfectly. There’s no two ways about it, you do feel special if you’re wearing a suit that has been designed to fit you, with all your eccentric contours. There’s only one problem. What shoes to wear? What belt? Come to that, what shirt? And what tie? With all these choices, I can see why Yul Brynner decided he’d have all his clothes the same. Black trousers, black round-neck sweater, black jacket. No choices, you see. Except for the black bit. And besides, from then on, it was up to his tailor. Lucky sod. He could have all his clothes hand-made. For me, it’s just the once.