Fit the best

Ralph Fiennes, as M, in Timothy Everest outfit.
Ralph Fiennes, as M, in Timothy Everest outfit.
  • As he prepares to show his ready-to-wear collection in Leeds, Spectre designer Timothy Everest tells Stephanie Smith about celebrity and style.
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A bespoke tailor who takes on tradition and gives it a subverted twist – in a quintessentially British way. Timothy Everest is the perfect designer for James Bond.

He first created outfits for Ralph Fiennes and his new incarnation as M in Skyfall. Now he designs for him again for the newly released Spectre, as well as dressing Henry Cavill in this year’s spoof spy movie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He also tailored Tom Cruise on the first two Mission: Impossible films, and created costumes for Atonement, Mamma Mia and Eyes Wide Shut. Clients have ranged from David Cameron to the Kaiser Chiefs – and he made David Beckham’s wedding suit.

Bond villain Dave Bautista in Everest tailoring on the set of Spectre.

Bond villain Dave Bautista in Everest tailoring on the set of Spectre.

His chief aim and concern in dressing a man, he says, is to help them discover their individuality. “I’ve never wanted to be anyone else but myself. That’s what I like about tailoring. When I grew up, there weren’t as many fashion brands as there are now. You kind of had to make your own look up. I try to help people work out who they are and what clothes work for them.”

Everest has just launched his ready-to-wear menswear collection which is being sold at independent designer emporium Lambert’s Yard on Lower Briggate in Leeds, the only outlet beyond his own stores in east London and Mayfair. At Lambert’s earlier this month, he explained the range had emerged from adapting to an emerging market of well-dressed but less formal customers. A key piece is the parka, which he developed as “the most opposite thing to a suit”, giving it a tailor’s eye, adding contrasting lining and corduroy in the pocket. “So the collection is really everyday tailoring for most people – celebrating things that most guys wear but trying to add a little bit of a tailoring touch, a little more detail,” he says. The parka is his own favourite outfit of choice, worn with his light blue buttoned-up shirt, “with Harris Tweed waistcoat and pleated pants with the pocket square in the lower pocket worn rolled up with my handmade Oxford boots”.

His designs will feature on the runway show launching the Leeds Fashion Initiative, which aims to regenerate industry through collaboration, on November 25 at Leeds City Museum. Everest knows Leeds well from his training at Hepworth’s in Clay Pit Lane when he was 17. To this day he uses cloth from Yorkshire mills. “The first time I travelled up to Leeds on the train, my boss at the time, Mr Kelly, gave me £5 and told me to make sure I got a taxi to the hotel as ‘they’re all a bit strange up there’. On arriving, I got into a cab and the driver (male) went ‘Alright love’, and I thought ‘gosh, they are a bit strange up here’. When I asked to be taken to the Griffin Hotel, the driver said he couldn’t and when I asked why, he explained ‘because it’s just over there’.”

Legendary tailor Tommy Nutter took him on when he first went to London, answering to the advert “Boy wanted in Savile Row”. “He said: ‘Do you know anything about me?’ and I said: ‘Yes, of course I do’, and he said: ‘No, you don’t’, and pulled out this portfolio, and the first thing I saw was the Abbey Road album, and he said: “Well, I dressed them. George Harrison is wearing denim – he was always a tricky bugger.’ And I thought wow, this guy is into tailoring and he’s quite fashionable.”

Everest worked with Nutter for nearly five years, styling Elton John’s world tour when he was 20. “Tommy was a mentor in that I didn’t go to university so he taught me the difference between art deco and art nouveau, which sounds really silly, but when you’re young, you don’t necessarily know those sorts of things. And like how to put pattern and colour together in a way they shouldn’t – so how to break rules.”

This year Everest celebrate 25 years in business, but still remembers the first piece he made under his own name. “A bottle-green, Venetian wool, slim, three-buttoned jacket, very shallow pleat, narrow cropped trousers, with a Tana Lawn paisley lining from Liberty,” he says. “That’s when everyone was wearing that Armani-esque oversized matinee idol thing. I was just looking back to a lot of the ‘60s films like The Thomas Crown Affair, which I was very inspired by.”

As for designers he admires, he muses, “I suppose Yves Saint Laurent would be one of my favourites, particularly his use of colour. And his understanding of tailoring, I mean, that famous Helmut Newton shot of Le Smoking makes a wonderful expression of very sexy men’s tailoring for women, which is quite a hard line to do. It’s so masculine, it’s ultimately super feminine. I also like Comme des Garcons – Rei’s approach to tailoring and deconstruction, the Japanese aesthetic.”

Celebrity culture, he says, has had an effect on fashion, not always for the best. “When I used to go clubbing, there were not so many paparazzi around. People were much more interesting. It’s really weird now with people like the Kardashians – being famous for being famous, and people are buying the product because they want to be like the Kardashians. Are they actually buying the product because they like the product? I don’t think they are. I think it’s a shame.”

Although his office is in Shoreditch, he lives near Richmond Park, which is great for cycling and conveniently near Heathrow and Gatwick. Following a successful 12-year collaboration with M&S, he is currently working with Superdry. His own brand has a good presence abroad, particularly in Japan and Asia, but he would like to expand more internationally, including to America, and within the UK too. “It would be lovely to have a shop in Leeds – I’ve been taking pics of Lambert’s Yard, where they plan to extend.”

He believes tailoring is strong in the UK. “People like customised products – you know, you customise your iPhone with different music. Looking at the younger generation, they’re looking at conservative things but a little bit sharper and neater. I think that’s why it’s important to explore the more casual side.

“It’s not purely about how you look. My old boss used to get upset with people who were all about a ‘top-show’ veneer. And that’s important. As you walk in a room it’s all about how you look, but it’s very disappointing when you find out a person’s not very interesting. Style is about being yourself.”

• Timothy Everest’s ready-to-wear collection is available at Lambert’s Yard, Lower Briggate, Leeds. For information about the Leeds Fashion Initiative and the official launch at Leeds City Museum on November 25, see www.lambertsyard.com.