Costume has long been used to communicate the nuances of a character to a film’s audience, and certain outfits can have the power to impart information and develop personality in just a glance. Michael Caine’s navy blue three-piece suit in Get Carter is one such ensemble as he plays the eponymous gangster Jack Carter. The suit is the character’s status symbol, a trophy for transcending a working-class background, and draws parallels between Caine and Carter, who were both of an era when having a suit made was a rite of passage into adulthood.
It’s thought that the suit was originally cut on Mount Street by Douglas Hayward, who Caine went to for most of his tailoring. Hayward, who was known as the ‘showbiz tailor’ and taught at the Royal College of Art, told his students “You can’t do anything unless you can cut”. Anderson & Sheppard’s Audie Charles (who worked with Hayward) told The Rake how “It was the uncorrected stuff that Doug addressed, and that’s why his cut and silhouette was so flattering.” When you see Michael Caine’s less-than-athletic figure in Get Carter, it’s easy to see what she means.
With this firm grounding in British culture, the suit inevitably became an icon in itself, which made it an obvious choice to recreate in collaboration with Savile Row tailoring house Chester Barrie. Chris Modoo, previously the house’s Creative Director and the man behind the concept, explains how customers have always used the Carter cut as a point of reference when investing. “It is one of the all-time greatest suits of modern cinema, and both Wei [Founder of The Rake] and myself are huge fans of the film. The suit is also a big part of the story – when Carter returns to the north in a handmade suit in expensive fabric, there is a contrast created between his sophisticated London lifestyle and the grim realities of working-class Newcastle. But most importantly, it’s his suit of armour.”