In 1865, the famed Savile Row tailor Henry Poole made a then-revolutionary short smoking or "dinner" jacket for the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to wear on evenings at home. The Prince's houseguest James Potter of Tuxedo Park, New York later had Poole make him a similar garment, which became an immediate sensation upon Potter's return. And that, in a nutshell, is the origin of the tuxedo.
Over the years Poole also made clothing for everyone from Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill to J.P. Morgan and William Randolph Hearst, and the firm is still owned by the founding family to this day.
U.K. publisher Thames & Hudson has just brought out a beautiful homage to the legendary house, Savile Row's oldest and most prestigious, in the form of a coffee table book by noted bespoke clothing expert James Sherwood, Henry Poole & Co.: The First Tailor of Savile Row, now available on Amazon.
It's an essential addition to the library of any gentleman of style or sartorial enthusiast. Long recognized as the apex of elegance, Poole paved the way for the other tailors who flocked to Savile Row including the likes of Huntsman which in turn helped inspire the Kingsman movies.
Having dressed presidents, prime ministers, generals, and celebrities, "the firm has endured wars, revolutions, and financial crises to emerge as the tailor for the tech giants and hedge fund billionaires who rule the world in the 21st century," Sherwood notes.
The book was a decade in the making and covers sixty of the great names in Poole’s history. It's illustrated with historic images and contemporary photography, and Sherwood had exclusive access to the firm's archives.
He highlights the personal connections between the company, its customers, and the world at large, not only "painting a captivating portrait" of Henry Poole & Co. but demonstrating the continued relevance and desirability of garments that are made painstakingly by hand with few concessions to modernity, and which remain the hallmark of the world's best dressed men.