In Praise of the Drape

The Rake talks to Anderson & Sheppard’s head cutter Danny Hall about its revered English Drape Cut house style – and why the younger generation is falling for a style made famous by Fred Astaire. 

Anderson and Sheppard is maybe the odd one out of the Savile Row tailoring houses, in that it no longer resides there - it moved a mere 176 yards to neighbouring Old Burlington Street back in 2005, just a year shy of its centenary on the hallowed Mayfair street. But the slight change in location hasn't prevented it being held in awe as the standard-bearer of bespoke suiting.

For those yet to have had the pleasure of crossing the esteemed threshold of Anderson and Sheppard, allow me to elucidate. As you enter, the door swings shut swiftly in your wake on to what A&S callFront Shop: a welcoming, spacious habitat, not unlike a drawing-room of a fine aristocratic English country estate. From itsindubitablyunderstated reception desk, flanked by dark wood-panelled shelves ofEncyclopedia Britannica-resembling leather-bound ledgers; a rather grand open fireplace complete with mantle to ceiling mirror; two rather natty chairs with velvet cushions chiseled out of the inward-facing part of the window display to a rather lived-in olive green leather sofa with tomes ofVanity Fairperched on top of an ottoman style side table. A place so inviting and unhurried that in times gone by it was not uncommon for esteemed clientele to completely build a leisurely day around a visit, knowing their relaxant vessel of fino or scotch would always be topped up between consultations.

The interior decor owes much to the artistic nous of Vice-Chairman Anda Rowland, daughter of the intriguingly-named Roland Rowland, and famed A&S alumni known simply as ‘Tiny’. While the tailoring house has upheld a certain style and tradition for more than a century - something that was not lost on Rowland when she furnished the space - she has ensured it is a business fully-equipped to withstand the demands of the twenty-first century. The incandescent light adds a homely warmth that resonates throughout. From the orange ochre-painted walls adorned with historical paintings, you imagine, and rather eulogise, that an average day here barely changes from one day to the next. It will invariably involve Managing Director Colin Heywood extending a hand to greet you on arrival; Front of House William Lo offering a cup of tea or something stronger if you prefer, before clambering a step ladder to titivate a display wall of ties; sartorial widows waiting in the wings while their other halves disappear behind plush velvet curtains to extol the virtues of the house style and much-reveredEnglishDrape. In any case, this fumoir-like, albeit, nowadays cigarette-less destination, makes you feel very proud to be British. It is quite simply a bastion of timeless elegance. For the impressionable overseas visitor, and A&S has quite the global following, it is about as quintessentially English as you can get.


    January 2020


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