Last week a special exhibition was held in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, titled “Savil Row and America: A Sartorial Special Relationship,” was hosted by Sir Peter Westmacott, British Ambassador to the United States of America, at the historic British Ambassador’s residence at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
The exhibition focused on the special relationship between Savile Row and the United States. It featured important commissions from famous Statesmen and Hollywood legends through to customers of today. Intended to demonstrate Savile Row’s position at the forefront of craftmanship and bespoke clothing for today’s style-conscious gentleman. Famous Americans Savile Row customers have included J. P. Morgan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Jacob Astor, to present day stars such as Henry Kissinger, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow.
As part of the exhibition, Bentley commissioned four leading Savile Row design houses to create their own interpretation of the classic driving jacket. Dee & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes, Henry Pool & Co., and Huntsman all participated.
Displayed in front of a Bentley Continental GT Speed, the jackets featured each designer’s interpretation of the driving jacket. Many had Bentley design cues incorporated including hand quilted linings and specially made Bentley Wings buttons. Fabrics raged from grey Donegal cashmere to dark police British flannel and elbow patches made from alcantara, which Bentley uses in its sports models.
Dege & Skinner, a 150-year-old tailor, embroidered a numeral 2 on the left breast pocket of a blue Scottish cashmere jacket to pay homage to “Old Number 2”, the legendary Bentley Speed 6 that competed a Le Mans.
Another piece, by Huntsman, was inspired by the Hon. Mrs. Victor Bruce, who was a British record breaking race car driver and businesswoman in the 20’s and 30’s. Their navy women’s suit includes a blouse made of specially printed silk depicting sketches of Bentley cars.
Speaking to Blouin Lifestyle, Bentley’s head of communications Graeme Russell said collaborating on the exhibition “was such a natural fit [because] once you understand what goes into making a suit, you truly realize the craft and attention to detail that make Savile Row such an iconic British institution are things that are also very similar at Bentley.”
He continued, “Purchasing a Bentley is a very emotional one and we’re looking for intelligent and creative ways to tell that story to a very sophisticated audience.”
As told to Blouin, David Taube, head cutter at Gieves & Hawkes, summed up the similarities saying, “The greatest similarity between Bentley and Savile Row tailoring is this idea of creating beauty out of something that is essentially functional.”
Video from Bentley: