First Festival Dinner: A League of Extraordinarily Sartorial Gentlemen
Independent family-owned Dugdale Bros & Co, the luxury fabric suppliers recently invited our Rake photographer at large Luke Carby to the Bespoke Tailor’s Benevolent Association’s ‘First Festival Dinner’ at Merchant Tailor’s Hall. Prominent invitees included Huntsman’s youngest head cutter and now newest bespoke tailoring house owner Richard Anderson and the irascible British writer and critic, A. A. Gill.
“There’s not a dictator anywhere in the world that hasn’t gone to Savile Row and said: “I want to look like a really good bastard”. And, there hasn’t been a tailor who hasn’t replied: “Sir, here we have dressed all of the best bastards in the world.” – A. A. Gill
Adrian Anthony Gill, better known by his byline A. A. Gill, is a long time client of Anderson & Sheppard. Not one to mince words, A. A. entertained the league of extraordinarily sartorial gentlemen with his wit and cutting insight during his turn as guest speaker. The prolific columnist was himself a one time sales assistant at a men’s store during his formative years and he wasted no time in taking the piss at Savile Row’s finest, making barbs at Colin Hammick’s “slim-line” Huntsman house style with a quip about not being able to pack yourself on the back while wearing a Henry Huntsman & Sons jacket and how The Row had probably set back the cause of human rights by taking money from dictators with the evening’s most memorable monologue, ”There’s not a dictator anywhere in the world that hasn’t gone to Savile Row and said: “I want to look like a really good bastard”. And, there hasn’t been a tailor who hasn’t replied: “Sir, here we have dressed all of the best bastards in the world.”
The Bespoke Tailors’ Benevolent Association (BTBA) is a charity designed to support tailors who have fallen upon hard times. It is the new guise of the amalgamated Merchant Tailors’ Benevolent Association (MTBA) and Bespoke Tailors’ Institute (BTI) when they officially merged back in 2012.
Adam Smith once wrote in ‘The Wealth of Nations’ that tailors were the “lowest order of artificers” and their wages “scarcely equal those of common labour” and though things have changed for the industry, it isn’t abnormal for a tailor, through ill health or other assorted reasons to be unable to work. This is where the BTBA steps in to provide some assistance.
The Festival Ball is designed to raise money for the charity through the sale of tickets, raffling prizes, and auctioning off items. It is also one of the few times that you’ll see all of the tailoring fraternity in one place.
Let’s welcome Luke Carby to the fold of regular Rake contributors. He contributed writing and bloody good photography to this article.