We talk Bond, Bespoke and Nutters
There’s something deeply attractive about David Mason, the man responsible for reviving Anthony Sinclair, the original James Bond tailor. His stitch-perfect suits, his sharper than sharper business mind, his come hither eyes. The man’s got undeniable allure. And he’s genuinely nice, too. But he’s busy. In fact, he doesn’t stop. So much so, that we have to catch up with him mid Atlantic, on a flight to New York, to learn a little more.
Mason began his career as a shirt-maker in his hometown of Manchester, and moved to London in the hope of extending his repertoire. It was there that he started working alongside Richard W Paine, former apprentice to Anthony Sinclair, the tailor who created all Sean Connery’s Bond suits. Back in the 60s, Bond spent more time with his clothes on, than off – not that we’re complaining, Daniel Craig – and Connery certainly knew how to wear a suit well.
“The three piece Prince of Wales suit Connery wore in Goldfinger was a magnificent piece. A killer suit,” enthuses Mason. Indeed. Mason loved it so much he reproduced one for himself – a black and white version with check jacket and trousers, and co-ordinating houndstooth waistcoat – and one for his dog.
“It was designed for a Sunday Times shoot, solely for the publicity opportunity. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever use it again, but I ended up wearing it to death.”
It was a savvy move. Earlier this year, Mason and Paine relaunched the Anthony Sinclair brand to coincide with the Golden Anniversary of the 007 film franchise. It has been so well received, an exhibition of Bond suits are now on a three-year tour, clients are lining up to commission their bespoke Bond suits from the firm (at $5,000 a pop), and Savile Row dream team are planning to launch a sister company, Cyril Castle, in 2013.
Castle, who Paine also apprenticed in the 60s, made outfits for Roger Moore to wear in his on-screen roles in The Saint, The Persuaders and for his first three outings as 007. “The look has more fun and flamboyance than Sinclair’s,” explains Mason, “and we are anticipating much excitement when we reintroduce the Castle name to the market.”
On the subject of flamboyant tailoring, Mason has just completed the design of a ready-to-wear collection for a third brand, Nutters of Savile Row. We said he was busy. Founded in 1969 by Tommy Nutter, Nutters dressed everyone from the Beatles and the Stones, to Lord and Lady Harlech, Sir Elton John, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. We anticipate cheers of encore when the AW13 range is showcased at the London Collections Men in January.
But until then, what should we be wearing? Mason believes every messieur should own at least one “good” suit, “it will serve someone better than several of inferior quality… Sharkskin is one of my favourite fabrics for suiting,” he continues. “Sharkskin?” we splutter. “It’s a semi-plain design that can be worn with anything,” he reassures, but “what a great name … it’s like Jensen calling their car the Interceptor, you want it before you’ve seen it with a name like that.”
Of course style doesn’t come from just wearing a good suit, it’s about how you wear it. “Terence Stamp, Charlie Watts and David Gandy wear suits well. They understand clothing they know how to put things together and are obsessed with detail.” So where does that leave us?
“Keep it simple,” he explains, “think about function of price versus quality of cloth, construction, style and fit when choosing a suit, and go for something versatile, like a plain dark navy 10oz worsted classic two-piece. It takes you almost anywhere, anytime, co-ordinates easily with shirts and ties, and can be split to allow the jacket to be worn as a blazer if you are travelling light.”
He knows what he’s talking about. This is a man that never travels without his tape measure, and says he feels totally naked without wearing a shirt and tie. And, before it’s time to go, just one more piece of advice, “Never have a good suit cleaned.” Never? “No, never. Just sponge and press.” Well, if you say so Msr Mason. And, who are we to argue? The man is a genius.