I was thrilled recently to speak alongside a representative from the global brand Jaeger about women’s tailoring. We were both making a contribution to the Victoria & Albert Museum’s continuing series of lectures on fashion which has involved iconic figures such as Zandra Rhodes and Twiggy.
Jaeger is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary. It is an iconic brand which has always specialized in the use of natural fibres, including the so-called noble fibres such as angora, vicuna and alpaca; it was also the first company to use camel hair. Clients have included Vivienne Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, and even George Bernard Shaw who was particularly fond of a one piece structured ‘jump suit’ which allowed complete freedom of movement. Nowadays Jaeger is at the forefront of high quality manufacturing using state-of-the-art machines that simulate the sewing actions of a live craftsman.
My part in the event was to fulfil a contrasting role. I expounded upon the art of bespoke for women, its history and its processes. From the initial measurements, drafting of the paper pattern, preparation of the fittings and internal structures through to the final finishing and pressing.
Working on this presentation reminded me about how the relationship with one’s client is both intimate and integral to the process. Mark Twain talked of “Clothes making the man” (or woman!), and we know that this is very much evident on the high streets today. Hand crafted garments however give the opportunity for a client to give full and uninterrupted rein to their desires, and the opportunities for personal expression are much more subtle. The quality of the rapport between client and tailor therefore cannot be underestimated.
At the reception after the presentations we had the opportunity to talk one-to-one with audience members and show in greater detail some of the intricacies of our practice.