Film by Mr Matthew Donaldson | Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher
Mr Nick Hart, the man behind London tailoring brand Spencer Hart, has spent the past decade refining his vision of masculine elegance. Influenced by the timeless style of America's legendary Rat Pack, but informed by the spirit of modernism, Spencer Hart is a contemporary expression of classic style. In Mr Hart's own words, "Spencer Hart is about the perfect black suit and the perfect white shirt." The designer recently told MR PORTER about the music that inspires him, a childhood spent in the fashion business, the best colour for a dinner jacket and which 19th-century poet his ideal customer likes best.
How did you first become involved with the menswear business?
When I was 13 my Dad told me I had to get a holiday job, so I went to work for a tailor in my local town. By the time I was 17 I was going to knitwear fairs in Milan twice a year - I'd sleep on the train to Milan, meet the companies and travel to the factories. It was always on a wing and a prayer.
How did you get from that to running your own brand?
I spent most of my career as a middle man, I built up a marketing and distribution company for lots of different brands and then I became fascinated by the idea of taking a British tailor and putting it into the luxury goods market.
How do you describe the Spencer Hart look?
It's all about the viewer not being able to put their finger on why the wearer looks as sharp as they do. Everything is very tailored, even down to the way the shirt fits. It's about a lot of little things coming together, it's about texture, detail and understatement.
Talking of detail, what's the difference between a black suit and a midnight blue one?
The Duke of Windsor was one of the vainest men ever to exist and he discovered that if you photograph midnight blue at night it looks blacker than black. That goes to the root of Spencer Hart because it's about being photographed, being out, and having people look at you. It's equally good for daytime and it's better for the evening.
Where is the ideal Spencer Hart holiday destination?
Palm Springs. The Rat Pack [hung out] there, its modernist buildings are still extraordinary today, it's two hours from LA because the movie stars weren't allowed to be [further away] from Hollywood because they were on call. So they created this playground in the desert, it's the most romantic, cool place.
Who would you like to make a suit for?
I'd love to make a suit for Nelson Mandela. And I'd like to make something for Morgan Freeman. He's an unbelievable actor and an unbelievable character. He's quite flamboyant, but I think we could make something that he'd love.
What kind of man do you have in mind when you're designing?
He's a bit foppish, he goes to a bit of trouble to put himself together, and no one can quite put their finger on why he looks so good. He's well read, he's heard Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan singing about drinking and racecourses. He can dance, and he might recite a bit of Keats at you. He's a bit naughty, a rascal, but he's getting away with it, and winning for the rest of us.