On the subject of why it took until 2016 for a woman to wear trousers in Ascot’s Royal Enclosure, Daisy Knatchbull sighs and says: “I guess rules are rules.” Yet Knatchbull is the woman who first bucked the tradition and wore a morning suit to the Queen’s favourite horse race. “The reaction from women was extraordinary; they clapped and cheered,” says the former communications director of Huntsman, the Savile Row tailor that created her statement-making bespoke ensemble. “I quickly realised there was a demand for high-quality women’s tailoring.”
Thus, with what Knatchbull refers to as a “genetic predisposition for rebellion” (her great-grandmother Edwina Mountbatten, the last vicereine of India, liked to wear both ballgowns and military uniform), she created a new company called The Deck, making made-to-measure suits exclusively for women. “Our clients range from professionals to celebrities. We ask the right questions about what women want, what they don’t want and how they live their lives, so we can make exactly the right suit for them.”
The Deck offers four suit styles (from £2,000): jackets can be single- or double-breasted and there’s a double-patched safari style; trousers are flared, straight, wide or cigarette-slim. The made-to-measure process involves up to three fittings – always with Knatchbull and her female tailor (whose own mother worked on Savile Row). Fabrics come from the likes of Loro Piana and Holland & Sherry, ranging from patterned linen and cotton to wool and velvet, and the suits are handmade at a Portuguese atelier before being delivered to the client in four to six weeks.
“A suit is powerful, almost like armour, yet elegant and comfortable,” concludes Knatchbull. “Women can own the suit as much as men; I want them to look and feel great in our beautifully made investment pieces.”