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House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row by Lance Richardson

House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row by Lance Richardson
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Tommy Nutter, the subject of Lance Richardson’s biography, was a celebrated tailor in 1960s and 1970s London, known as much for his glamorous lifestyle as his eponymous Savile Row shop. His suits, with their tight chests, flared trousers and “lapels as wide as bowling alleys”, were highly prized by the era’s celebrities, said Anthony Quinn in The Guardian. A “louche clientele” of pop stars, models and gangsters flocked to him: regulars included Mick Jagger, Elton John and The Beatles (three of whom wore Nutter suits on the cover of Abbey Road). Nutter was part of a new generation of working-class people who made good in the “class crucible of Sixties London”, said Anna Murphy in The Times. It was a time when “the alchemy of taste, of cool, of sheer force of personality” was transforming lives in previously unimaginable ways. With his “matinee idol” looks, Nutter was in a position to capitalise. In his pomp in the early 1970s, he was, according to the actress Carol Drinkwater, the “coolest man you have ever seen”.

Nutter combined the skills of tailor and designer in a way that anticipated the likes of Armani and Paul Smith, said Mark C. O’Flaherty in the Financial Times. But his success was short-lived: with a “slender grasp” of business realities, he was forced out of his own shop in 1976 and was “left virtually penniless”, while the company continued to trade under his name. Subsequent ventures proved less successful and Nutter, who was gay, died of Aids-related complications, aged only 49, in 1992. To tell his story, Richardson draws on the recollection of Nutter’s brother, David, who became a celebrated music photographer in New York. The result is an engaging, affecting story of class, fashion and gay liberation, which “plays out like a binge-worthy Netflix series”.