London's art, design and fashion world descended on Hauser & Wirth gallery earlier this month to celebrate an inspired collaboration between Wallpaper*, architect Annabelle Selldorf and three of Savile Row's top tailors. The event was perfectly timed to be a part of London Collections: Men – the British Fashion Council's biannual initiative, now in it's second year, which gives London menswear it's own dedicated slot in the Men's fashion week calendar.
When Selldorf, the art world's go-to architect for beautifully-designed exhibition spaces, told us about her long-held ambition to create the perfect outfit, we jumped at the chance to broker a commission, tasking her to create the perfect ensemble for our Design Awards issue. With her particular interest in the cut and thrust of the Savile Row suit, we saw a perfect fit in Hardy Amies, Spencer Hart and Richard James.
'About a decade ago I had this obsession with the idea of creating a set of perfect clothing that could work in any situation,' mused Selldorf. From there it was a natural leap to Savile Row, the heart of British tailoring, which is in a sense its own sort of soft architecture. 'It felt very much like my own work - having an idea in mind and then working with craftspeople and designers to get the best out of their skills and the materials'.
Since establishing her architecture practice in 1988, Selldorf has designed elegant spaces for many of the art world's super dealers such as David Zwirner, Haunch of Venison, and, of course, Hauser & Wirth. It only seemed appropriate to host the gathering in the latter's Selldorf-designed Savile Row space, where guests - including the likes of Sir Paul Smith, David Adjaye and Jay Osgerby - came together amongst the striking totemic columns, pedestal works and collages of contemporary artist Isa Genzken.
Any remnants of December party fatigue were quickly left at the door. Vodka virtuosos Ketel One provided a steady stream of ambrosial cocktails and catering by the always-dapper Cellar Society boys elevated the party a cut above the rest.
More about our Savile Row collaborators…
Richard James was Selldorf's first port of call for 'the ultimate pair of trousers', an exercise in super-clean, precision modernism. Where most people might opt for more obviously luxurious super-soft cashmere, Selldorf wanted a fabric with structure and so chose a midnight blue, high-twist worsted from Huddersfield with an open weave. The 'go anywhere, anytime' brief was answered with a low-rise, flat-fronted pair of trousers with a one-inch turn-up, a more refined take on the norm.
For the jacket, Selldorf opted for an open-weave mohair hopsack fabric by William Halford. Unstructured, unlined and single-breasted, the jacket is atypically soft on the shoulder and short in the body, fitted through the waist with a narrow, high-notch lapel. 'It was an interesting piece to make because you can't just tweak how you tailor for men,' said Spencer Hart founder, Nick Hart, 'And women like Annabelle tend to want tailored garments that are decidedly modern like this one and not something that makes them look liked they've stepped out of a costume drama.'
Hardy Amies was set the challenge of making Selldorf an overcoat in a grey wool herringbone. Selldorf selected a three-button, single-breasted, knee-length style, with the middle-button at the waist, two flap pockets and a high-notch lapel. The personality of the piece is in the idiosyncratic detailing: a teal green lining, concealed cuffs, a collar lined in the same cloth as the coat rather than felt, and a traditional men's fastening. According to Stuart Lamprell, head cutter at Hardy Amies, 'The details are also an expression of the craft in bespoke, and that's where the value lies, hidden behind the lining.'