Tailoring Legend, Edward Sexton
By some glorious twist of fate, I’ve found myself working alongside one of the greatest and most influential Tailors of the 20th Century.
Edward Sexton is without doubt a legend — an East End boy who, through years of hard work combined lashings of talent and a certain rebellious streak, has lived quite an extraordinary life.
His story is the stuff of fairy tales — a 14 year old apprentice who, by the age of 27 had become one of the most sought after tailors in the world, making suits for the rich and famous and living a life of glamour and priviledge. Sexton’s renown continues to grow to this day and it is an honour to have spent the past 5 months working at his Knightsbridge studio.
Sexton shot to fame in the 1960s when he teamed up with fellow Tailor Tommy Nutter to open Nutters of Savile Row. The pair took the notoriously stuffy and old fashioned street of Tailors by storm and injected their trade with youthful flamboyance, energy and pazazz. They were an instant hit and rapidly accumulated a huge celebrity following, drawing in a new and fashionable crowd to the world of Bespoke Tailoring. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Twiggy were but a few of their high-profile clients.
Mick & Bianca Jagger on their wedding day in Sexton suits
Abbey Road Album: 3/4 Beatles wearing Sexton suits
And boy, does Edward have a few stories to tell. Whether it’s about moon-lighting whilst training on the Row, running off on his lunch-breaks to go dancing with his beautiful wife, Joanne, or hob-nobbing with the rich and famous, Edward’s life has been nothing less then extraordinary.
Today, rifling through his current client files (as I am wont to do, being official Mistress of Admin) I am constantly astounded by the continued list of house names who seek out Edward’s craft. From fashion icons, celebrities and designers to, dare I say it, a few big-wigs from rival tailoring houses, Edward’s skill as a tailor has a wide reach. Only yesterday we had an enquiry about arranging a suit for a certain Oscar winning actor and in the showroom this very minute sits a coat waiting to be collected by one of the most famous supermodels in the world… this place is seriously the tops.
And although the 7-day working weeks and wild parties have now been replaced by a tamer 5-day week, and a passion for his garden, Edward (now aged 72) is still working full-time as a Master Tailor and is still very much in charge of every bespoke suit made under his name. His day at the studio is fuelled by stonkingly strong coffee, piled high with sugar and accompanied by a packet or two of Marlboro Lights. He was not put on this earth to do anything by halves. Yet it is easy to forgive such indulgences, for the man is quite honestly a tailoring magician. 58 years of working in the trade, combined with a notorious eye for detail has quite rightly rendered Edward a National Treasure of the Tailoring world — a National Treasure who continues to be top of his game.
Edward’s day revolves around fittings with clients meets with the clients, takes their measurements and drafts and cuts each pattern by hand. He is one of the few Tailor’s able to use the ‘Rock of Eye’ method when drafting his patterns — a technique which eliminates the necessity of hefty mathematical formulas and which is testament to his incredible knowledge and experience in cutting suits.
Edward will then cut the cloth using shears that he has owned for over 50 years. And hulking great beasts they are, too. Astonishingly, he has never once sharpened their blades. Like many tailors, he keeps them cutting sweetly by running them through his hair a couple of times but as far as maintenance goes, this light touch of natural oils is all they get. And Edward knows if someone has been using his shears. Don’t ask me how, but he absolutely knows. It’s the only thing that rattles him… for a pair of shears is like a fine fountain pen which adopts the style of it’s owner and, once tampered with, can disrupt the flow and beauty of his work. Never borrow a tailor’s shears.
Once the cloth is cut, Edward passes his designs on to the Tailors who stitch everything together (albeit under his intense scrutiny). And I can assure you, he doesn’t miss a trick. Edward’s notoriously exacting standards, are no doubt part of the reason he remains one of the most sought after Bespoke Tailors in the world.
Unsurprisingly, given his perfectionist tendencies, Edward cuts quite a dash. In fact, he’s one of the most suave men I have ever met. Whether it be a tweed jacket, navy double breasted blazer or flannel suit (often accompanied by his signature trilby), Edward dresses immaculately. Every day. He lives his brand, a walking advert of the Sexton style: 1940s Hollywood glamour, sleek, sophisticated and elegant — and I can’t think of anyone wears it better.
Edward often tells me he has never worked a day in his life, such is his love for his craft. I believe him. And, you know, I have a feeling he never will.