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Edward Sexton, the “Coolest Tailor Alive,” has Died
Edward Sexton, noted Savile Row tailor, has died at the age of 80.
“A suit is about so much more than dressing a person. It’s about romance, and presenting an image” – Edward Sexton
Edward Sexton, the man British Vogue once called “the coolest tailor alive,” has died at the age of 80.
The tailor to rock and roll legends, celebrities, and fellow tailors alike, Edward Sexton counted as clients Mick and Bianca Jagger, Elton John, The Beatles, Andy Warhol, Harry Styles, Sir Hardy Amies, Bruce Oldfield, Manolo Blahnik, and many others.
Edward Sexton was a fashion rebel in every sense of the word. He is after all the one, along with his business partner Tommy Nutter, introduced the iconic long, lean menswear suiting look of the 1970s with its signature wide lapels that “caused shockwaves” when it first came out. Full of rebellious, cheerful spirit, Sexton eschewed trends even when setting them; he kept his business purposefully small and smart, focusing on core craftsmanship and creative ideas over money and going “big” in fashion.
Never one to hide in the shadows, Sexton brought a flamboyant, avant-garde style to his designs and was fiercely loyal to his core customers. In the 1970s, Nutter’s was the first Savile Row tailoring shop to take an “open window” approach, putting the shop’s eclectic but messy interior on full display. More recently, in 2022, he opened a new Edward Sexton flagship designed by Daniel Hopwood in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic just to be closer to his bespoke clients.
Sexton once told The Rake that his approach to tailoring was “[t]remendously elegant – edgy but elegant … sophisticated, but totally revolutionary.” Once in the 1970s, Andy Warhol came to Nutter’s with his manager, Fred Hughes, to get tuxedos. As Sexton told The Financial Times, he knew instantly what to do, “I know when someone wants drama. Andy and Fred definitely wanted it, so I accentuated the silhouette. I can turn it up or down.”
Born in Dagenham, UK in 1942, Sexton was the son of a public health inspector and a cleaner at the BBC. Many people in his family worked as tailors and seamstresses so he learned to sew at an early age, taking holiday jobs in his cousin’s trouser-making workshop. At the age of 15, Sexton left school in order to work with Lew Rose in the East End of London and eventually learned to make bespoke garments under the tutelage of legendary equestrian tailor Harry Hall. Sexton eventually took a position at Kilgour, French and Stanbury in 1962, working with celebrity tailor Fred Stanbury, known for the introduction of lightweight continental tailoring to Savile Row.
Sexton moved to Donaldson, Williams & G. Ward in 1966, which is where he first met his business partner, Tommy Nutter. In 1969, on Valentine’s Day, Sexton and Nutter opened Nutter’s of Savile Row, with Edward as Head Cutter. Their suits were an instant hit, the “culmination of everything modern,” according to Lance Richardson in his book House of Nutter. Their styles represented “everything mod, smashing, subversive, Continental American, queer and camp—combined with a keen fidelity to old-school Savile Row craftsmanship.”
At Nutter’s, Sexton served as managing director until 1976, when he finally bought out his friend. He then rebranded the company as Edward Sexton and continued to bring his innovative approach to men’s and women’s tailoring over the decades.
In addition to generally being credited as revolutionizing the world of British bespoke tailoring, as his own website notes, “When compared with Edward, no tailor has achieved so much, nor captured such an extraordinary sense of the avant-garde in his work: of sex appeal, glamour, style or verve.”
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