London. First meeting with Francis Paley, 23-year-old cutter for the world famous tailoring house Chittleborough & Morgan, for my new series The Young Elite. Sitting at Maison Assouline on 196A Piccadilly, I thought to myself: Would it not be great if everybody was as passionate about their work as Francis is?
A long and winding path
From very early on, Francis was sure that his future lay in the world of fashion. A TV documentary about Savile Row refined that wish and set his path when he was only 14 years old. However, becoming a tailor on the Golden Mile of Tailoring is not as easy as it may sound to some readers. School holidays were reserved for Paley to apply to tailoring houses in order to gain experience and make his dream a reality.
Unfortunately most answers were “No” – Francis Paley
While others applicants might have considered giving up, Francis (fortunately) did not take ‘No’ for an answer. He applied to Newham College and, after two years of picking up the basic skills needed, he found a way. Joe Morgan of Chittleborough & Morgan gave Francis the chance he was looking for and allowed him to work at his establishment at 12 Savile Row twice a week. After Francis had finished his studies, his mentor asked if he was willing to stay on as an apprentice. The answer was obviously a resounding Yes.
Passion is key
Francis has now been working for Chittleborough & Morgan for more than five years and his enthusiasm for beautifully tailored and timeless suits is boundless. Full of excitement, he explains how the house is constantly doing their utmost to improve on everything they do.
Every other house is working on its quality – also the luxurious ready-to-wear brands. We want to stay ahead of the game! – Francis Paley
The finishing details of a Chittleborough & Morgan suit are truly exceptional. He further explains that the level of perfection achieved would be impossible to attain if even one member of the team lacked the necessary dedication to the job.
What you do defines you
Quoting from one of my favourite films The Dark Knight, I would like to underline what I appreciate so much about Francis: It is what you do that defines you. I do not want to be overly dramatic, but Francis does not simply talk about tailoring, he lives it. I recall one occasion recently when we were having a chat about our respective bespoke projects, the passion with which he speaks and which has allowed him to make his dreams a reality is truly starling.
First, as already mentioned in my first article about Chittleborough & Morgan the house style is very intriguing. If you have the chance, I can only recommend a visit. Second, Francis’ suit fabric is a covert coating fabric by Vitale Barberis Canonico. MM/DC