❚ EXTRAVAGANT AND OVERSTATED could readily describe both the whole-body dance moves of Northern Soul fanatics, and the rock-and-roll men’s tailor Tommy Nutter, the Savile Row rebel who favoured gigantic hand-rolled lapels and Oxford bags. Last week the fashionistas attending a Café de Paris “runway” show during the London Collections for men certainly caught the uninhibited exuberance of the 1970s, as the videos here show.
An unexpected collaboration between high-street retailer Peter Werth and Nutters of Savile Row produced a show of two halves. It opened with regular jackety models in skinny pants who were upstaged by an explosion of casual soulboys in knitwear and baggies. The Café’s dancefloor suddenly became the fabled Wigan Casino, about 1975, climaxing with a jack-in-the-box dance-off to the stomping beats of Luther Ingram’s If It’s All The Same To You Babe.
All very sporty for AW13 with classy fabrics and jaunty tailoring bringing a gentlemanly vibe to the look, described by designer David Mason as “Studio 54 meets Wigan Casino” (which closed in 1981). The dancers in fact turned out to be from the cast of a debut feature film titled Northern Soul, written and directed by Elaine Constantine, about two lads swept up in the subculture when they discovered uptempo American soul music. Creating a wardrobe for the film forged the alliance between the two London design houses. The current incarnation of Nutters decided it had to reach out to a ready-to-wear audience, and Peter Werth, today owned by JD Sports, is strong on working-class savvy.
➢ Northern Soul, the film due for release this summer
➢ Britain’s got talcum – Guardian backgrounder on training up a generation to dance in the film
➢ Soulboy, the 2010 film directed by Shimmy Marcus
THE MAN WHO GLAMORISED SAVILE ROW
❏ Tommy Nutter, the charmer and dandy whose father ran a North London caff, would no doubt have voiced some self-deprecating witticism at today’s move to widen his market. The young Nutter wanted to work for the 60s designer Michael Fish and when he bumped into him said, “Can I do something with you?” Fish said, “Don’t be silly. You’ve got your own style. Do something yourself.” Nutter died in 1992 aged 49, having designed for Elton John, David Hockney, both the Jaggers, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie (Pinups), and for three of the Beatles who wear his outfits on the Abbey Road record sleeve, likewise Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Batman, the 1989 film. Nutter shook up Savile Row by injecting softer cuts and bold fabrics into the bespoke man’s suit while respecting classic tailoring. His was the first shop on the prestigious Row to design for women such as his backer, the pop singer Cilla Black.
Tailor Timothy Everest concludes: “Tommy’s was a brand that people wanted to buy into but within that you could be an individual and I think that’s a very modern approach. That’s what bespoke is all about.”