Icons / May 2017

The Buddha of Mount Street: Doug Hayward

Doug Hayward was the ‘showbiz tailor’, a man who rose from modest surroundings to clothe and befriend stars of the sixties such as Michael Caine, Terence Stamp and Roger Moore.

"A working-class hero is something to be,” declared John Lennon in his song of the same name. Doug Hayward didn’t make Lennon’s suits — that honour fell to the more celebrated sixties Savile Row insurgent Tommy Nutter — but he would surely have concurred with the sentiment. Hayward’s distinctive sense of style was shaped by a working-class childhood, when labouring men like his father, who cleaned boilers at the BBC, stood straighter and walked taller when they went out on Friday night in their best, and only, suits. And while Hayward’s tailoring establishment in Mount Street would eventually clothe men across the social scale — from friends and fellow upstarts like Michael Caine, Terence Stamp and Terry O’Neill to Sir John Gielgud and lords Lichfield and Weinstock — he never forgot his roots. “He knew what it was like to be dirt-poor,” says Audie Charles, the director of Anderson & Sheppard’s Haberdashery, who worked with Hayward for 30 years. “For all those guys — Michael, Terry and Doug himself — no matter how famous they got, there was always the feeling that someone was going to tap them on the shoulder and say, ‘O.K., you shouldn’t be doing this, get back to where you belong’. They all felt like they’d found a lucky ticket. And, in many ways, Doug was at the centre of it all. He epitomised that sixties explosion.”

Hayward had grown up in Hayes, on the edge of London; he won a place at Southall Grammar School but decided to leave at 15, to “learn a trade”, as one did in the early fifties. “We didn’t have a careers master,” he later recalled, “but I found a booklet that listed possible occupations. I went down the list and when I got to T for tailor, I thought, ‘I don’t know any tailors. I can’t ever be judged as being a bad or good one, so I’ll be a tailor.’”

He served an apprenticeship with Dimitrio Major in Fulham, tailors to the theatrical set; early clients like Peter Sellers and Stamp came via the BBC at nearby Lime Grove, or through Hayward’s first wife, Diana, sister-in-law to the film director Basil Dearden. When it came to his own premises, he shunned Savile Row — “he resented the snobbishness and the hierarchy and the condescending manner,” Charles says — in favour of a house at 95 Mount Street in Mayfair that Stamp found for him. “Mount Street was like a little village then, in 1967,” Charles says. “There was a chemist, fish shop, dry cleaner, post office, and a little hardware store. People would pop in between the bank and the butcher’s. It was a kind of social hub.”

With its grey flannel walls and profusion of sofas and easy chairs, the Hayward front room, designed by George Ciancimino, was part gent’s club, part salon, with Hayward very much presiding; he lived above the shop and would often descend, toast in hand, his Jack Russell capering at his feet, to make people tea. “You’d get such amazing combinations of people in there,” Charles says. “Michael Caine, Roger Moore, Michael Parkinson, Johnny Gold and Mark Birley, all nattering together. Alec Guinness sitting with a cup of tea. The racing driver Jackie Stewart alongside a famous heart surgeon, chatting away. One client kept his whisky in the cupboard and would sit with his feet up doing the Times crossword, waiting for someone he could go to lunch with. It was like the social networking of its day.”

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Stuart Husband