Saturday, 28 December 2013

Best of British

Greetings to our world wide multi denominational readership! Wherever you may be and in whomsoever your faith is placed, we hope this finds you as bright and crisp as the blue skies over London today. These few days are the waiting room between seasonal festivities where we flick through the magazine of the past year before being called into the next with some nervous anticipation.

Some people are wading through the next few days, awaiting with nervous anticipation the next wave of weather. Months ago, the hot summer delivered unto us quite respectably sized olives on the little trees of Bedlam and they have clung on in defiance of this week's storms that shook them roughly. We hope the year was kind to you and yours, that you weathered all inc. inclement squalls, and that this finds you replete from the fruits (and nuts) of your table.

We chose the rejected runt Christmas tree at the back of the yard that nobody else wanted, with a bent top that gave it a questioning air and allowed our fairy to list drunkenly:

One of the best gifts we could have wished for came wrapped in newspaper on December 9th, when the righteous Daily Mail chose six companies to represent the "Best of British" - the criteria being that you have to be making in Britain using British suppliers. We found ourselves proudly filling a sandwich between John Smedley
and John Lobb
two long revered institutions of distinguished dressing.

Makers of fine, in all senses, knitwear, John Smedley was established in 1784 in Derbyshire where they still produce today. They are a Royal Warrant holder, as is John Lobb, the company that bears the name of the lame Cornish farm boy who walked to London to learn the trade of bootmaking. He cashed in during the Australian gold rush by making boots with hollow heels for stashing nuggets and returned to London to open his shop in 1866 from whence the company has shod assorted Kings and maestros ever since.

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, has the second highest readership in the UK and the most online IN THE WORLD, thanks to the siren lure of the "sidebar of shame" - made up disgustingly largely, or shockingly skinnily, of celebs in bikinis - that scrolls down and yet downer to Hell. Here's the link:

And for those who still prefer inky fingers, here's the paper:

So what company to keep, and we are most grateful to Liz Jones and her researcher Dawn. The article was intended as a riposte to Jeremy Hackett's comments in The Times that his company can't get their clothes made in Britain due to the textile industry being "decimated".
The first point to make would be that it isn't Jeremy's company any more, he is but an amiable figurehead. We have enjoyed his personal company on many occasions, he is a style standard bearer for South London, and we hope we betray no confidence when we say his eye glistened - or was it the candlelight? - when we told him we do indeed make everything here. He professed the wish that he still had the authority in the company that bears his name to buy a factory here. Well, we are but microscopic and not so flush, but had we the resources available to Hackett the corporation, and a mere six week lead time, we could ask Huddersfield Fine Worsted to weave anything we liked that was not in their available stock; we could commandeer the Cooper Stollbrand factory in Manchester to roll out ready-to-wear for us; and we would have busted a gut to stop James Grove buttons going bust and be helping the saint who is trying to re-establish them:

Many thanks also to Madame Sasha Slater, doyenne of class, who had our scarves elevated to Harper's Bazaar's Christmas gift guide, in the luxury section in between the Aston Martin hamper and a Mulberry dress:

A cause of much shrieking celebration was the milestone of the Millennial Bedlamite - Nick Johannessen was the 1000th person to "like" our page on Facebook! We know he is a man of taste from his blog and to his credit he can now add the Duffle Bag we are sending to Norway as a prize :

If you haven't yet made your own mark of approval, then help roll us on and upwards here:

Remember, that's the place to catch up with creations and commissions on a daily basis while postings here have slipped to monthly editions. Below is a gallery of the winter season's clients - a better bunch we could not wish for, and many, many thanks to all who climbed the stairs to Bedlam this year.

My brain is getting fatigued, the body having to work so hard to get through surfeit calories that the mind is sluggish. I had wanted to write a well considered round up of the year as digestif but perhaps these recent pictures will do it better. While we still hope in time to make a widely accessible branch of Bedlam, the joy of creating clothes for wildly diverse, fabulously interesting, individual characters that we have the privilege of getting to know, is so hugely rewarding that we only hope some of the satisfaction transmits.

Simon's purple velvet party jacket with silk lining custom printed by Dan & Louise Hatley with Bedlam's signature handcuffs

A cape for the castle ramparts in John G. Hardy "Alsport" tweed with scarlet silk crepe lining and secret zippy pocket just visible

Jamie Poulton in the "Dolf" jacket from the Hell for Leather Autumn / Winter 2013 collection

Moritz at the first fitting for his wool / mohair suit

We really do love our clients

Cool Cat Jake in his "Joat", made from John G. Hardy "Alsport" tweed

Steve's three-piece suit in Holland & Sherry "Peacock" tweed with mussel shell buttons 

Steve, monumentally magnificent in his suit.

We were proud to make Robert Peel's winter wedding suit (below). He has become a dear friend, a client who came with us from the old shop. No greater compliment can a man pay his tailor. His great great (great?) grandpappy, whose name he bears, introduced, amongst other things while holding office as one of our better Home Secretaries and Prime Ministers, the modern police force - put the raggle taggle key stone vigilantes in a smart uniform and gave them an identity: "The Peelers" or "Bobbies"!

Robert was an early adopter of Bedlam, from the old shop. He paid us the highest compliment by asking us to make his winter wedding suit. CONGRATULATIONS!!

Robert chose a 100% wool John G. Hardy Worsted Alsport in a charcoal grey with joyful flecks of colour and a silver lining. We went for mussel shell buttons - one set of cuff buttons will have the rough side out, the other arm will present the smooth. For such is married life!
On one cuff the mussel shell buttons are rough side out, the other smooth, for such is married life!

And the last bit of sewing we shall share for now, the party hats we made for our Shareholders' Agreements, a document prepared for our Founding Fathers and Mothers. As the year closed we added one more to their number, my friend the legend, Nile Rodgers, and we are honoured by his faith, as we are by the continuing support of our other scaffolders, and everyone that entrusts us with getting them best dressed and, not least, anyone who gives this chattering blog their attention in times of myriad options and calls on such.
Thank you all.
Our very best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014,
Caroline & Mark

Wishing you health & happiness - waheyyy!!!