Savile Row in Herts? Muddy talks style with Alexandra Wood
Alexandra Wood was one of the first female tailors on Savile Row. She learned her craft at the London School of Fashion and then gained experience in design and retailing at Shanghai Tang before setting up her own business. Last year, in addition to her Savile Row premises, she set up shop in to one of the oldest buildings in Bishop’s Stortford, at 10 High Street. It was right and fitting: the building used to be home to Tissimans, a family of tailors that had been in business in Bishops’s Stortford for over 400 years. Tissimans was one of the oldest menswear shops in the world and Henry Moore and Samuel Johnson were customers.
Alexandra has won all kinds of glittering accolades for her bespoke suits, and some of her clients continue to pop up on GQ’s Best Dressed list. She probably hates to name drop, but for the sake of the Muddy readers, I’d like to mention Rory Bremner, Chuka Umuna and Tony Parsons among her regular clients. Now with another shop in Shoreditch, Alexandra has never been busier. I catch up with her in Bishop’s Stortford.
Alexandra, have you always loved clothes?
As long as I can remember I have always loved clothes: the way they fit and enhance people.
Can you remember the first suit you designed?
The first suit I made when I started my own business was for a QC at his home in St.Albans and he is still my customer 10 years on.
Are you able to describe your own design style? Would we recognise an Alexandra Wood suit?
My AW style is chic, classic and flattering. You’ll notice a curve into the back which is renowned for a bespoke suit, tapered trousers and a classic width lapel of 3.1/4”. Our suits are timeless and classic.
How about your own personal style?
My own personal style is also fairly classic. I love blazers with smart jeans; pencil skirts with well cut shirts, and then I’ll have quirky accessories to make it pop, i.e. a bright orange Furla bag or a bright slick of lippy.
Flats or stilettos?
I would love to wear stilettos but at 6ft 1 inch it’s not needed, so kitten heels.
What are your favourite materials?
You can’t beat a super 120s merino wool from Australia. it’s super soft and so elegant. I also love flannel as it drapes beautifully!
In addition to the clients I’ve mentioned, is there an Alexandra Wood customer?
Our customers are very nice people, they love what we do and are fun with an eye for detail, so we don’t like to let them down.
Do you design suits for women as well as men?
We specialise in designing for men, so we don’t do ladieswear.
I’ve visited your shop in Bishop’s Stortford, and it’s very special. Can you describe it for the Muddy readers?
Our Bishop’s Stortford shop is 400 years old and is the oldest menswear store in the UK and possibly the world. Apart from a very short stint as a solicitors, it has always been a tailor’s outlet so it feels amazing to keep the history going. You will find wooden beams, three enormous open fireplaces and Chesterfield sofas where our customers come and drink coffee, talk style and relax. It’s a very warm, home like shop which I’m really proud of.
For men, is the relationship with their tailor a bit like a relationship with a hairdresser or therapist?
For men they won’t tell you the ins and outs of their lives (well, some will) but they trust me to know what suits them (pardon the pun) and that’s why they tend to be long-term customers. If something’s not right they know I’ll fix it, no questions asked. I’ll find them what they need and ensure that they always look sharp and that goes for every one of my staff members. There is a great deal of care and attention that is given to every customer.
Now that you’ve got three shops, your work life must be pretty full on. What do you do to relax?
Relax? Whats that?! I like to go to a spa, or a cocktail bar usually makes me very happy.
For some of us, when we see or hear ‘bespoke’ we quake with fear. Do you do any ready-to-wear clothes?
I have recently started to design a range of ready-to-wear tailoring, which has proven to be very popular. The price is less extreme, but the quality still remains. We will be introducing new ranges every three months to keep things fresh and exciting.
Where are the most stylish men? Italy? London? Hertfordshire?
I would honestly say that Hertfordshire has some seriously stylish men and they are ones to watch!
Is the colour pop here to stay? And is it still all about pocket squares?
A colour pop is ideal for those that can’t quite brave a wild coloured suit, so a pocket square is always ideal.
As for Christmas, is there anything in your shops that would make a good gift (obviously in addition to a voucher for a bespoke suit).
For Christmas we have a lot of brilliant gift options including: roll neck sweaters, chunky knits, pocket squares, leather holdalls, gift vouchers, shirts, cufflinks and scarves.
Alexandra Wood Bespoke 10 High Street, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 2LT