Image: Brijesh Patel
September 30 2010
The best news of the autumn, who knows perhaps even the whole year, is the triumphant return of Terry Haste to the West End. Terry has been making clothes for me for the past couple of decades or so, and a few years into our professional partnership I started calling him Terry “25 years on The Row” Haste. At the time we first met he was running the bespoke department of Hackett (in fact he was the department), so the adjectival interpolation had the amusing effect of stirring up mild outrage from those who actually did work on Savile Row.
For a period of time at the beginning of the current century, he did wind up on The Row, where he ran Huntsman, which in tailoring terms is a bit like a banker getting to be global CEO and fattest of felines at Goldman Sachs. Huntsman in those days was like Athens in the time of Pericles; under his suzerainty the most august and patrician of Savile Row establishments witnessed a flowering of the sartorial arts. But nothing, not even Athens in the time of Pericles, lasts. Terry went into early retirement, bought himself a Range Rover and tried his hand at rural life.
But while you can take a world-class tailor out of the West End, you can’t take the West End out of the tailor; either that or he needed the money. So this summer he got together with John Kent, who is almost as much of a legend as Terry (Kent is tailor by appointment to the English Crown’s favourite Frenchman, Arnaud Bamberger) and opened up a small establishment on New Burlington Street, decorated with all the flair of a National Health Service waiting room. It is a couple of doors down from Sartoria, and above that most hallowed shrine to tweed, W Bill. If you have never been to W Bill, you are missing one of the great experiences that civilised life has to offer. This troglodytic warren of cellars, stretching almost to Regent’s Park in the north and the Thames to the south, is stuffed with mile upon mile of rare vintage tweed.
Of course with the passage of time Terry can now revel in the fact that he has become Terry “40 years on The Row” Haste. And to celebrate his return to the West End I am about to bespeak a coat in the most virulent check W Bill can supply. The wonderful thing is that I am not the only person cheered by the news that Haste has been lured out of retirement: I saw a pair of very nice trousers belonging to Lord March and a string of natty dinner jackets in make for the about-to-be-knighted-for-his-services-to-the-fashion-industry Harold Tillman. And when I bumped into that connoisseur of the cloth Charlie Watts and informed him where he could find the new Haste HQ, a grin cleaved his features from ear to ear.
It is nice to see how the nation rallies round to celebrate and support true British craftsmanship; although only open for few weeks, the firm has already received its first Royal Warrant, from the Duke of Edinburgh. Indeed, so quick off the mark was His Royal Highness that the first batch of labels had not even been made, with the result that this Royal Warrant can now take its rightful place inside the right in-breast pocket of every Terry-tailored coat – including mine.