A Crazy Week: Costume Production in Hollywood

In the spring of 2013, we were working on the clothing for three movies: Winter's Tale, The Wolf of Wall Street, and RoboCop.

Samuel L. Jackson in RoboCop. Blazer fabric is 100% Cashmere, woven by Holland & Sherry in England. 

Samuel L. Jackson in RoboCop. Blazer fabric is 100% Cashmere, woven by Holland & Sherry in England. 

Because of Hurricane Sandy, the filming of Noah had halted for a week and so the filming of Winter's Tale was a week behind schedule as well–because Russell Crowe was starring in both films. Delays are not taken lightly in the film business, so needless to say, everyone involved in the movie was rushing like crazy. On one Thursday afternoon, we were told last minute that they needed 3 suits for filming on that coming Tuesday. At that point, we had not even started to make them–but we were up for the task. To make matters more complicated, that same day we were told that Leonardo DiCaprio had ripped his trousers on the set of The Wolf of Wall Street, after being tackled by a couple of fake FBI agents. They needed new ones as soon as possible as they obviously couldn't re-shoot any scenes with ripped knees.

We had our work cut out for us. Metaphorically, at least. 

The result: (see the knee)

 

Here's what we did: 

 

THURSDAY

Two hours after we received word from the movie people, Leonard Sr. had cut out the pieces of fabric for the first Winter’s Tale suit, and given them to Leonard Jr., who took them on the next flight to London to deliver to one of our jacket-makers on Savile Row.

Meanwhile, Leonard Sr. was busy cutting out the new trousers for The Wolf of Wall Street, and the second/third suits for Winter's Tale. He did DiCaprio’s trousers first, as they needed to film with them on the next morning. Caesar, one of our trouser-makers, stayed the night in the workshop with Sr. to sew together DiCaprio’s trousers.

The fabric pieces of the second jacket were in the mail for overnight delivery to another one of our jacket-makers in Florida.

 

FRIDAY

First thing in the morning, Leo DiCaprio was on set wearing his new trousers.

Leonard Jr. arrived in London and made his delivery to the jacket maker. He was back on a plane that same morning for an event in Boston the next day.

Simon, our main jacket-maker, began working on the third jacket.

Leo's new trousers

Leo's new trousers

SATURDAY

Simon and Leonard Sr. worked all day making the third suit.

Our jacket-maker in London was working diligently from the other side of the Atlantic.

Our jacket-maker in Florida was doing the same.

SUNDAY

Simon and Leonard Sr. were finishing up the second suit.

Leonard Jr. was back on a plane to London to collect the finished jacket from Savile Row.

MONDAY

That morning, Leonard Jr. had arrived in London to collect the jacket and was on his way back to America on the next available flight.

Our jacket-maker in Florida had mailed his jacket for early morning delivery the next day.

TUESDAY

Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell were both filming in their new suits on the set of Winter's Tale in Brooklyn.

THE FOLLOWING MONDAY AFTERNOON

Leonard Sr. was on the set of Winter's Tale in Brooklyn, when the producer told him, last minute, that they needed a particular suit for filming the next day. At that moment, the jacket was being made by our jacket-maker in Florida and we hadn’t even started making the trousers yet.

So, Leonard Jr. was on the next plane to Florida to pick up the jacket. The jacket-maker met him at the airport and he was on another plane back to New York 45 minutes later.

Leonard Sr. immediately cut out the trouser fabric when he got back from Brooklyn to his shop.

Leonard Jr. arrived back at Newark at 11pm with the unfinished jacket.

Leonard Sr., Ceasar (the trouser-maker), and Mariana (she finishes the jackets and hand-sews the buttonholes) worked through the night. Caesar and Leonard Sr. had each put in over 23 consecutive hours of work before going home the next day.

TUESDAY

Russell Crowe looked fantastic.

The Loudest Blazer Ever

We make more plain navy and gray suits than any other garment. However, some clients prefer to dress more on the flashy side. 

This customer wanted a summer blazer. He selected a light-weight linen & cotton blend, woven by Ariston Mill in Italy (75% linen % 25% cotton). For the lining, he chose a couple of silk scarves from Hermes on Madison Avenue. 

Chalking out his paper pattern:

Ready to be cut: 

Mid-production:

The lining:

The finished garment:

Not a Traditional English Shooting Vest

A man named Guy Bignell runs Griffin & Howe, which is a retailer of very high-end firearms. He's a friend and we've done business together for years. He wanted a new shooting vest, and said that he was open to any fabric/design. So we had some fun with it. 

Here he is, in a shooting cape we made for him: 

And here he is, in a photo that he did not know existed: 

We decided to custom-print a special lining for his new vest, so we gave the above images to our graphic designer. This is what he came up with: 

Hot pink seemed appropriate. 

For the vest fabric, we used a lightweight tweed, woven by Porter & Harding in Scotland. To make it more unique, we put a shawl collar on it:

The lining:

There was some left over lining material, so we made him boxer shorts as well:

The finished product: 

Not sure if he's wearing the boxers......

Possibly the Most Ridiculous Thing to Ever Happen in one of our Suits:

There's usually no way of knowing what happens in our garments once they go out the door. However, the following occurred on live television at the Oscars. 

In 2012 we worked with costume designer Jeffrey Kurland to make many of the garments for the movie The Dictator

The clothes we made were, of course, very different from what we usually do. 

We were given sketches by the movie people to use as design templates for the costumes. 

He almost always personally tries on clients' garments, mimicking their posture, to make sure that the balance is right. 

It even involved making some bespoke suits for a child actor. 

To promote the movie, Sacha Baron Cohen appeared, in character, on various talk shows and public events. 

Interviewing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Interviewing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

All of his appearances were controversial at best, but this one, at the 2012 Academy Awards, takes the cake: 

Jim Carrey's "Green Screen Suit"

In 2011, Jim Carrey was asked to host the MTV Movie Awards and he wanted to make a memorable entrance. He remembered us from when we made clothes for him for Mr. Popper's Penguins and so he reached out with an idea.

Carrey on the set of Mr. Popper's Penguins in NYC

Carrey on the set of Mr. Popper's Penguins in NYC

Tux fabric woven by Dougdale Bros. in England 

Tux fabric woven by Dougdale Bros. in England 

His goal was to turn his body into a television projector screen. The news referred to it as “the latest in nanotechnology,” but it was really just green fabric, a projector and bespoke tailoring.

Carrey needed the suit to be ready in one week, which was no problem, as we already had his paper pattern on file. 

So, after brainstorming, we got to work.

He alluded to his idea before the event:

“This is something I’ve created myself; I’m kind of a Bruce Wayne in that kinda way. I have a lot of interesting and very cutting edge technology that I work with and I want to unveil it at the Awards.”

“Traditionally, entertainers not unlike myself have tried to grab people’s attention by being outrageous, flashy or even rude for the sake of shock value.” Says Carrey from the stage as two dogs hump on his green-screen chest. “They might even go so far as to come on stage wearing a suit that is the cutting edge of chromakey technology just to show you their ‘Boing!’”

Regarding the style details: we intentionally left out the pocket flaps and lapel buttonhole on the jacket, for as little distraction as possible from the images on the screen that was his torso.

The buttonholes on his sleeve were, of course, hand-sewn and functional:

Here’s a clip of the suit in action (no sound, unfortunately):

Making A Unique Sport Coat

The future owner of this sport coat selected his fabric and asked us to buy silk Hermes scarves for the lining. 

So we walked ten blocks up Madison Avenue to the Hermes store and selected a scarf.  We bought two of them as one is not enough to fully line a jacket. 

The jacket fabric is a lightweight wool & cashmere blend, woven by Ariston in Italy. 

Day 1

Day 1

Day 1 

Day 1 

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

Day 3

Day 3

Day 3

Day 3

Day 3

Day 3

Day 4

Day 4

After a final fitting, we'll finish the garment and hand-sew buttonholes in the sleeves, front and lapel. 

From Savile Row to Midtown

Circa 1971-Leonard still uses those same cutting shears today. 

Circa 1971-Leonard still uses those same cutting shears today. 

I finished my traditional schooling at age 15. For the next three years I attended a trade school for tailoring, Shoreditch College for the Clothing Industry. 

In the Summer of 1968 I took my first job with Thresher & Glenny, which I held for 6 months. From there I moved to Maurice Sedwells and stayed for 6 months. This was followed by another 1/2 year at Bernard Weatherill's. After that I worked for 18 months at Welsh & Jeffries. 

In December of 1971 I left Welsh & Jeffries and started my own business and have been self-employed ever since. 

 

 

THE START: CARNABY STREET, London

My early days saw me doing alterations to make ends meet. I worked from a 4th floor hovel above a boutique at 47A Carnaby Street, at the time a Mecca for fashionable London. 

From there, with an initial base of only 2 clients, I was able to build a strong UK following on top of making 5 or 6 trips each year to Brussels, Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris. 

 

 

 

THE MOVE TO "THE GOLDEN MILE" OF SAVILE ROW

After about seven years in Carnaby Street, business grew to a point that it was time for our firm to "grow up." 

We took lodgings in the premises of Denman & Goddard on Sackville Street. The transition was terrifying. The move, however, allowed us to continue to create the same quality suits we made on Carnaby Street AND also be seen as "established."

In fact, we went on to own Denman & Goddard, Carr, Son & Woor and Hicks & Sons, three of the oldest and most established tailoring houses within the Golden Mile of Savile Row. 

 

 

THE BIG APPLE 

In the spring of 1991, my wife and I sold everything we owned and moved to the states. When we arrived in JFK, all we possessed was our daughter, our baby on the way and the 4 suitcases sitting by our side. 

After 5 more years of trials and transitions, I moved to 9 East 53rd Street, our current location. It was a perfect setup - big picture windows at the front for selling and an unobstructed view at the back for my tailors. 

As I became more established in the USA, I branched out to add a specialization in hunting attire to my portfolio. I have also become the go-to person for the movies when an actor needs to be dressed in a pure bespoke suit. 

But no man works alone. The team around him can make or break a business. It would be wrong of me not to acknowledge my team. I have been blessed by the friendship and expertise of those I work with today. They have helped make me a better person and a better tailor. 

fabric: sturdy English wool, woven by Hardy Minis 

fabric: sturdy English wool, woven by Hardy Minis