As the Savile Row tailor passes away, revisit a story from Another Man, in which he discusses a bespoke suit he created specially for Harry Styles
This article is taken from the Autumn/Winter 2016 issue of Another Man:
Tailor Edward Sexton is the old-school gentleman you often hear about but rarely encounter. “Am I a dying breed?” he deadpans, manoeuvering into a chair at his small showroom, a hive of action tucked away on a Knightsbridge side road. “I’m in the business of making people feel good about themselves. Manners come free.”
Sexton, a rakish silver-haired septuagenarian in a petrol blue mohair suit, was due to do a fitting with Harry Styles today, but the superstar is now in Paris. In his absence, Sexton shows off another Styles jacket, commissioned by Another Man’s creative director Alister Mackie. “Alister selected the fabric, which was vintage Biba and quite a challenge. It’s silk lamé and incredibly delicate and resistant because of the silk thread. This is no ordinary fabric, I can tell you.”
He’s not joking. With broad art deco stripes – “a nightmare to line up” – and rock star lustre, the look is unmistakably Sexton’s: a slim-fitting, dandyish line that has graced the rich and famous for over 40 years. “It’s got my signature lapel, but we made it a bit more 1930s. Our original style is based on an old hacking jacket with incredibly close-fitting shoulders and exaggerated lapels, but we make it interesting with the fabric choice. Alister’s vision was a tribute to Bowie and he knew exactly what he wanted; he’s got that rock’n’roll thread running through him.”
With that in mind, Sexton talks about his clients, a roll-call of rock’s greatest clothes horses, most of whom he met in the 70s when he was in partnership with Savile Row legend Tommy Nutter. The Beatles, Stones, Rod Stewart and Elton John have all walked out in one of his suits, with icons like Bobby Gillespie and Jarvis Cocker continuing the tradition today.
“I’ve worked with a lot of rock stars, but I never got close to any of them. It was never about socialising with clients, it was always about the garments, the quality, the fit – all those fundamental things. And the personality of the client: can they carry it off? How extreme could you go? What I’ve always found with rock stars is that they’re incredibly artistic themselves and it’s always a pleasure to work with them. You can learn a lot from a client.”
Like what? “Well, for example, I had one client with a big arse, I mean a huge arse. He asked me to move the vents of his jacket in a way that would disguise it, and it was a good idea.” Who was that? “Oh, I can’t remember.” Really? “Maybe I can. Who was it? Oh, yes. Neil Sedaka.”
Eager to steer matters to the present day – “I don’t really do nostalgia” – Sexton brings things up to date with more Harry Styles-related news, pulling out a pastel gabardine jacket covered in chalk marks and pins.
“Young Harry’s open to suggestions. He’s got a touch of the Mick Jaggers about him, and he’s seen the Stones wearing our stuff in the 60s. He likes the fit super-close and he’s got the ideal body to do that. He’s young and slim, which makes things easier. Other clients want to look like that, but I can’t perform miracles. Illusion is my thing.”