Meet The Tailor Who Dressed The Rolling Stones

May 2018Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher

Mr Tommy Nutter in his shop on Savile Row, London, 1969. Photograph by Jones/Getty Images

House Of Nutter by Mr Lance Richardson tells the story of Mr Tommy Nutter, the Savile Row tailor whose work in the 1970s and 1980s changed the way men dress. Mr Nutter used the language of tailoring to express new ideas and his outrageous designs are iconic. When The Beatles were photographed crossing Abbey Road in London for the 1969 album of the same name, three of them were wearing Tommy Nutter suits. When Mr John Lennon married Ms Yoko Ono, he wore a cream-coloured Tommy Nutter corduroy jacket. And when Sir Mick Jagger married Ms Bianca Macías in 1971, they both wore clothes made by Mr Nutter. At a time of societal upheaval, Mr Nutter created counter-cultural tailoring.

His genius seems to have appeared almost fully formed. Born during WWII and brought up in an unremarkable corner of northwest London, Mr Nutter and his older brother, Mr David Nutter, a successful rock photographer and a big part of the book, felt early on that they were destined for a more artistic life. Denied an art school education by his unimaginative father, Mr Nutter’s first job was as a tea boy in the civil service. However, he quickly switched to working at Donaldson, Williams & G Ward, a London tailoring house where he admired the craft, but not the conservatism, of Savile Row.

The young Mr Nutter was still at Donaldson, Williams & G Ward when he met Mr Edward Sexton, a young pattern cutter who could bring Mr Nutter’s flamboyant designs to life. The pair were encouraged by the popular new appetite for fashion in the late 1960s, as demonstrated by the successful boutiques in Soho, many of which were run by Mr John Stephen, a Glaswegian who came to be known as The King of Carnaby Street because of the string of shops he owned on the thoroughfare. With culturally influential backers in the form of Mr Peter Brown, a member of The Beatles management team, and singer Ms Cilla Black, Mr Nutter and Mr Sexton opened Nutters of Savile Row in 1969. Sir Paul McCartney was at the opening party and the client list quickly grew to include Mr Eric Clapton, Mr Peter Sellers, The Duke of Bedford, Mr David Hockney, Sir Elton John and Prince Rajsinh Rajpipla, the son of an Indian maharaja.