When a London street has a 230-year history of tailoring custom-fit clothing for well-heeled businessmen, statesmen and soldiers across the globe, you expect its reputation to be understated. But every once in a while Savile Row makes a higher profile splash that reminds the world of how exquisite its wares are and just how broad its possibilities. For instance, when Hollywood went shopping to dress the spies of the Kingsman: The Secret Service, it went straight to the source. Martin Nicholls, tailor for his own Savile Row house as well as Alfred Dunhill, made the memorable suits for the movie as well as its sequel, drawing on not only his fitting prowess, but his real-life experience in adding hidden pockets for the kind of lethal things you’d expect secret agents to carry.
The Row, which built its reputation making military uniforms that eventually morphed into what is now the classic business suit, doesn’t follow fashion, but sometimes ends up making it. Because the bespoke suit is essentially a blank canvas, you can have anything you want. Rock stars of the late ’60s visited Tommy Nutter, who made sharply tailored outfits for the likes of the Beatles and Stones. His natural successor is former partner Edward Sexton who now operates on Beauchamp Place. Hardy Amies built a diverse reputation by making everything from dresses for the queen to the space costumes for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Richard James and Ozwald Boateng are the contemporaries that now wave the fashion-forward banner on Savile Row.
Of course, you can always get the great fabrics and attention to detail (dozens of measurements, several fittings) at more staid outlets like the exclusive Anderson & Sheppard or Huntsman (the storefront that had a cameo in Kingsman) with its expertise in plaids. At Henry Poole, where they have paper patterns of all their most famous customers from Churchill to Napoleon III on hand, you can go full-on old-school. They’ll replicate antique uniforms for you. You don’t even have to be making a movie.