Made to measure: Inside the wonderful world of tailoring
March 18, 2022
Kiki was brought up in London’s East End, the epicentre of the UK’s silk weaving industry between the 1600s and 1800s. “I’ve always loved clothes,” says Kiki. “When I wore a new outfit in my teens, a few weeks later my friends would copy my style. I’ve always admired tailors, especially the quality of Huntsman and Scabal on London’s Savile Row.” Honing his craft since the age of 17, Kiki founded his tailoring business in 1984, and has since dressed politicians and sporting personalities, measuring VIP clients in the privacy of their homes or hotels.
Deriving from the French word tailler, ‘to cut’, tailoring originated in Europe during medieval times, when soldiers’ armour was lined with tunics, and developed into a skilled artform during the Renaissance. One of the UK’s earliest tailors, Gieves & Hawkes, was founded in 1771 in a former lord’s townhouse on Savile Row in Mayfair. While it originally designed military uniforms – including for Admiral Lord Nelson – later clients included Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin, and today Gieves & Hawkes holds a Royal Warrant for dressing the royal household. By the 1800s, Savile Row was the tailoring capital of the world.
Brides and grooms
In addition to suiting the who’s who of Ascot, the wedding season is one of Kiki’s busiest times of the year, with wedding dresses taking over a week to complete. “The most memorable gown I’ve ever made was a silk wedding dress with a pink trim,” says Kiki. “The groom’s suit was grey with subtle pink button holes and a pink shirt. My client told me later that there wasn’t a person in the room that didn’t ask where he had his suit made.” With many of Kiki’s clients attending weddings at Coworth Park, a well-tailored gathering is assured.
A royal gathering
Spring heralds the start of the racing season, with Royal Ascot and Henley Royal Regatta in Berkshire leading the way in the UK’s social calendar. Both events have a strict dress code, with morning dress mandatory in the royal enclosure at Royal Ascot. “Traditionally, the lining should match the jacket, so a grey suit tends to have a grey lining,” Kiki explains. “However, you can always recognise my suits at Ascot as their lining is bright red, yellow or patterned – one client requested something outrageous and thought my lining featuring female models was fantastic.”
Kiki’s favourite spots in Ascot
Royal Ascot Golf Club, which Kiki visits with clients, is at the top of his recommendations. Founded by Queen Victoria in 1887, the 18-hole course is an 11-minute drive from Coworth Park. The club’s general manager, Stephen Nicholson, welcomes guests for a one-off round or for lunch. Kiki also recommends Englemere Pond Nature Reserve nearby, which is part of a former royal hunting ground. The 68-acre sanctuary has a viewing platform over a lake and walking trails that loop around reed beds and through a forest of oak, willow and silver birch, which come spring flourishes with heather.
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