Stories / November 2019

The Legends of Anderson & Sheppard: Fred Astaire

In the first installment of an ongoing series, we look at an iconic customer who put Anderson & Sheppard’s supple tailoring to the most rigorous of tests.

Fred Astaire and Paul Draper talking aboard the S.S. Queen Mary as they arrive in New York. (Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images)

Since the dawning days of the 20th century, Anderson & Sheppard has artfully cut a niche as the tailor of choice for discerning gentlemen unwilling to sacrifice comfort for impeccable sartorial style. Unlike the numerous Savile Row stalwarts trafficking in stiff militaristic fare, A&S’s soft-tailored ‘English drape’ suits famously flatter the form while remaining as pleasant to wear as a set of pyjamas.

Above all other factors, it is this blend of elegance and ease that has won A&S a following among a specific segment of the world’s great and good — gentlemen who take pride in their appearance, but great pleasure in their leisure. The house’s books include names such as Prince Charles, George Hamilton, Bryan Ferry, Charlie Chaplin, Manolo Blahnik, Ralph Fiennes, Guy de Rothschild, Jean Pigozzi, Cary Grant, Noel Coward, Gary Cooper, Douglas Fairbanks, Daniel Day-Lewis and Tom Ford, to cite but a few of the comfort-loving luminaries to patronise this Mayfair institution over the years.

One of Anderson & Sheppard’s most loyal and most demanding clients was the legendary American dancer, singer and actor, Fred Astaire. Astaire began frequenting A&S during his earliest flush of success, in the 1930s, when he was first making a name for himself on the stage in London’s West End. Serving as both day-to-day attire and his professional costume, the bepoke suits he commissioned had to allow for enormous freedom of movement — but they also had to stay in place, no matter how vigorous Astaire’s performance.

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