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Dominic Sebag-Montefiore

Hollywood Top Trousers

By | Journal, Romancing

Wearing the trousers: Edward Sexton Hollywood Tops

 Aleks Cvetkovic goes talks you through our new Hollywood top trousers

If you’re at all interested in the sartorial world, the phrase ‘Hollywood tops’ may well have crossed your radar at some point in the past year. This fabled style of trouser has become a cult hit among sharp dressers, thanks in no small part to Edward Sexton.

The house starting cutting them around 18 months ago for bespoke customers and I was lucky enough to be among the first curious recipients. Historically, I’ve always worn tailored trousers with braces, but my dress sense has relaxed over the past year and now I wear a lot of knitwear under tailoring. Heavy box-cloth braces tend to rub and pill merino knits, so I needed an alternative solution.

Quite apart from the fact that you don’t need braces, the strength of Hollywood top trousers is two-fold. Firstly, the lack of a waistband makes them very comfortable, and secondly, the addition of a belt (woven leather belts work best) adds a modern, relaxed edge to a tailored look that’s easy to dress up or down. Hollywood tops are quirky, but they’re not tricky to wear. A pair in mid-weight flannel suits anything from a washed denim shirt and suede blouson, to a matching suit coat, pin-collar shirt and tussah silk tie. Essentially, they’re just a different, design-led take on a go-to flannel trouser.

Of course, Hollywood tops go back quite a lot further than 2016. They belong to a family of trousers called ‘whole tops’ – trousers cut without a waistband. Instead, the waistband is ‘grown on’ and forms a part of the trouser itself. This means that the trouser is formed simply from two front panels and two back panels, all cut with an extended top edge. Whole top trousers were the first kind of trouser to catch-on at the turn of the 20th century, following the Victorian preference for fall-fronted trousers. At a time when men exclusively used braces to keep their trousers up, there was no need for a waistband. The top of the trouser was always supported by braces and hidden beneath a waistcoat.

As dress codes relaxed during the 1910s and ‘20s, men started to experiment with their whole-tops, affixing dropped belt loops rather than brace buttons, and so the Hollywood trouser was born. Its name comes from a long-standing association with the wardrobe departments of the big American movie studios. Attaching the waistband to a trouser is one of the lengthier parts of the making process, so costume seamstresses used to skip that bit and turn-out batches of whole tops instead. The name stuck. Spend some time watching old silent movies or black and white ‘talkies’ and you’ll see a fair amount of whole top or Hollywood trousers on show.

That’s the back-story, but in Sexton’s hands, Hollywood tops have come a long way. The house cuts its trews with two deep forward-facing pleats and signature jet-slant pockets that sit flush against the hips and don’t gape. Because the trousers are band-less, the pleats have to be pressed and turned into the top of the trouser, hiding beneath the internal lining. Not only is this technically tricky to get right, it has to be done in such a way that the folded fabric of each pleat doesn’t show on the inside of the trouser. Then, the house delicately top-stitches the impression of a waistband around the trouser, before belt-loops are sewn-on. It’s a lot more work than is involved in conventional trouser-making, but that’s what makes them special.

Edward and Dominic prefer a generous, flowing leg that compliments the trouser’s higher rise, but if you’d like something more fashion-forward, Dominic has been experimenting with crisp mohair trousers cut to the ankle with a sharply tapered leg. These look great dressed-down with a pair of suede sneakers or slippers. Of course, that’s one of Sexton’s strengths – the house has a distinct look – but Edward and Dominic are always open to playing with proportions if that means their clothes stay relevant.

Hollywood tops are not like any other trouser I’ve tried. They’re relaxed for a tailored trouser but make a subtle statement. Given the Sexton treatment they have a nostalgic quality to them, but they also feel like a relevant choice for today’s fast-moving world. They’re easy to wear, feel soft on the waist and hips and make for a distinguished look. I’ve not gone back to conventional trousers since I tried that first pair last year, and I doubt you will either.

They’re available for bespoke and offshore-bespoke customers, but the house is also offering a capsule collection of sophisticated ready-to-wear Hollywood tops, cut in Italian woollen flannel with all the signature Sexton trimmings. These are a great way to plug gaps in your trouser wardrobe, when commissioning something isn’t practical.

A Sense of the Sixties; Collaborating with SIBLING at London Collections: Men

By | Design, Journal, News, Tailoring

Its not every day that the worlds of high fashion and bespoke tailoring combine; often, the bespoke community can be a little reticent when it comes to pushing fashionable boundaries.

This is not the case at Edward Sexton; Edward opened Nutter’s of Savile Row in an era when the worlds of fashion and tailoring were inextricably interlinked – the peacock revolution of the late 60s meant that for the first time, young, dynamic and successful men wanted bold, statement suits to paint the town in – Edward and Tommy Nutter made that happen. With this heritage behind us, today the house embraces the opportunity to prove that bespoke tailoring can not only be effortlessly stylish, but progressive too. As a result, when we were asked by ultra-fashionable designer brand SIBLING to cut some suits for their LC:M catwalk show, we couldn’t help but jump at the chance.

SIBLING’s vibrant and irreverent SS16 collection screams colour and energy – with confident outfits cut in revealing shapes, inspired by the social optimism and new freedoms of the sixties. This British influence is coupled with American influenced sportswear silhouettes – the sixties also being a golden era for the modern American sports scene. Convinced that no homage to the era would be complete without some swinging mod-suiting, the design team at SIBLING asked us to cut them two sharp mod-suits with which to open their show, knowing full-well that Edward Sexton understands 1960s style better than any other tailor alive today.

Archive Images of Edward Sexton wearing Mod suits in the 1960s

Images from the SIBLING show

Revisiting the mod look, glossy blue and cool moss green summer mohair cloths from William Halstead were cut into unusually lose, boxy jackets, finished with slim lapels, nipped pocket flaps and short five inch rear vents – accurately representing the mod-look and lending these suits plenty of attitude. Signature Sexton strong roped shoulders combined with the jackets’ boxy proportions to lend each ensemble a real sense of drama on the catwalk. SIBLING’s influences included some subtle knitwear piping along the lapels, bold printed silk linings and extra panelling on the shoulder reflecting the shoulder pads used in American football. Complemented by slim, flat-fronted trousers, skinny ties and bright socks, these suits perfectly evoked the modern, clean and tongue-in-cheek approach to tailoring practiced by the rebellious youth of the 1960s, capturing some brash American ’60s optimism in the process. Says the New York Times: They were greeted with audible gasps. And then, inevitably, innumerable iPhone photos. Which is, at fashion week, as sure a sign of success as any. It was an exciting opportunity for Edward to revisit the decade which made him as a young, talented tailor and for the house as a whole to try something different.

The Woolmark Company also collaborated with SIBLING, and generously took the time to interview Edward and produce a short film exploring the inspiration behind our SIBLING suits. The film is available to view bellow.

Edward Sexton at London Collections: Men SS16

By | Journal

Another LC:M has come and gone in a flurry of catwalks, canapés and sophisticated conversation. Although commonly associated with the rather outré realm of high-fashion, the world of fine tailoring also has a significant presence at London Collections, representing British bespoke at its finest, and this season we at Edward Sexton were fortunate enough to be involved in a number of exclusive projects, including a unique collaboration with a rather original designer fashion brand and the ever-impressive showcase of the Savile Row Bespoke Association.

 

Even so, before work began, there was a little fun to be had. The Rake magazine’s celebration at Claridge’s always opens LC:M on the evening before the catwalks kick-off and celebrates the creativity of the British fashion scene, bringing the magazine’s favourite artisans and designers together to celebrate the continued renaissance of luxury style and craftsmanship that is currently gathering pace. As such, the soirée provides a rare opportunity to catch-up with colleagues and fellow craftsmen en masse, share a glass or two of champagne and generally get into the fashionable swing of things. Edward and Dominic attended the party, having cut a lightweight checked three piece suit for The Rake’s Founder & Editor-in-Chief Wei Koh, which he wore on the evening.

 

A thoroughly glamorous evening, as one expects of The Rake, notable guests included Savile Row Bespoke Chairman Pierre Lagrange, the creative team from Gieves & Hawkes, Parisian tailors Cifonelli and Camps de Luca as well as menswear journalist Simon Crompton, for whom we also recently cut one of our signature double-breasted grey merino flannel suits. You can read his thoughts on the project here (Permanent Style) . Sexton also collaborated with Permanent Style and The Rake magazine at an exclusive bespoke tailoring symposium which took place at Pitti Uomo in Florence the week after, more on that is to come. Edward also ran into former protégé Davide Taub at The Rake’s party, who worked at Edward Sexton for two years between 2008-2010. Now the talented Head Cutter at Gieves & Hawkes, the architectural quality and sharp lines of Davide’s work are extremely impressive and not dissimilar from our own.

With festivities concluded, the first of the events we were involved in took place, namely the Savile Row Bespoke Association showcase – ‘Savile Row Inside Out’ an an artful exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, put on in partnership with The Woolmark Company. Savile Row Bespoke is an organisation of which Edward Sexton is proud to be a member, founded to protect Savile Row’s unique identity and promote the bespoke community’s superior craft and working practices.

 

To this end, tailors were given individual plinths on which to display basted and finished garments, emphasising the remarkable and lengthy transformation a bespoke suit makes from its conception to completion. Displaying partially finished garments also gave attendees the opportunity to explore how different tailors treat and construct their canvasses and coat internals. We supplied both a basted and finished double-breasted charcoal flannel coat for the display, styled by us with one of our signature raw silk reppe stripe ties and a crisp white Edward Sexton tab-collar shirt. Menswear Stylist and long-time customer Tom Stubbs visited the exhibition wearing a soft brown double-breasted chalkstripe suit cut by Edward Sexton, naturally. The exhibition was a pleasure to take part in and thanks must go to both Savile Row Bespoke and Woolmark for organising it.

We had one more collaboration still to come with Woolmark over the course of London Collections: Men, one which was rather more fashion focused, but it rather warrants an entry all of its own… stay tuned.

Hanky folded like a shell

Ways To Fold Hankies

By | Romancing

A handkerchief’s importance is not to be dismissed. Despite modest proportions, it has led to the ubiquitous addition of a welt pocket to all coats. And its positioning close to the eyeline marks the necessity in choosing the right one.

The Sexton approach to this choice relies on our modus operandi of “romancing the look”. Our line of pocket squares will allow for this through a play on both hues and textures. Ranging from woollen blends to silks, polkadots to paisleys; our collection will accompany all palettes through an adjunction of colours, and all seasons through choice of fibre.

To “romance”, perfuse well combined contrasting tones to expand the palette, or opt for a more delicate fold to include a touch of femininity.

This process remains essential in finishing off the labours of our craftsmanship.

Tri-fold
Laying your pocket square flat, pleat three times and fold over perpendicular to pleats.

Shell
Pleat in same manner as tri-fold, including more gathers along the length of the square. Fold over and bulge out when placing it in welt.

Lily
Create dimple in center of handkerchief and twist to maintain at base. Lift one corner out and place in welt.

The five point
Gather all four corners of square , arrange opposite side into a point, fold in half and arrange in pocket.

 
 
 
 
Edward-Sexton-material-selection

Making the Right Choices

By | Journal, Thoughts

When a new client books their first appointment with Edward Sexton, we appreciate that it can be a daunting, or at the very least unknown experience. The world of bespoke tailoring and couture design is complex and commissioning bespoke clothes involves a wealth of different choices relating to cloth, colour, pattern, cut, style and shape.

Quality of design and an uncompromising service are ideals central to Edward Sexton. We like to ensure that customers make the right choices, and at the start of the Sexton process we take time to listen to every customer and determine exactly what it is that appeals to their sense of style, their lifestyle, social necessities and the requirements for their clothes – we call it our Design Consultation.

This consultation ensures that the customer is listened to, and that we can share ideas and design-suggestions – using our considerable experience in bespoke and couture design to produce designs that not only fulfil the customer’s initial request, but which also perform well functionally and make for elegant, trouble-free and satisfying clothes to wear.

Edward-Sexton-Bespoke-05.
Edward-Sexton-Bespoke-9

Irish Donegal Business suits will require a fundamentally different cut, cloth and tone to lounge suits or garments designed for formal wear or evening dress. A business suit must be durable; it is worn day-in, day-out. It must bear an element of professional understatement; cut in a classic, yet hardwearing worsted, or with a traditionally sartorial chalkstripe to add a touch of authority. Lounge suiting can be more luxurious, cut in rich flannels or glossy, delicate worsteds and the styling details can afford to make a little more of a statement. Weekend jackets can be softer and at their
best feel easy-to-wear. Some cloths will be better suited to travelling than others and some will perform well in certain temperatures, seasons or particular environments. Understanding these differences and working with a customer to make the right design decisions is of paramount importance to Edward Sexton.

This level of expert knowledge, combined with a measured, design-driven process to creating all our clothes ensures that customers approaching us for new garments (whether it be the first or fifteenth time to visit), can come to a tailoring house that truly takes pride in understanding its customers, and crafts clothes for customers that they can trust-in.