Treasures from Chatsworth

Conceived and produced by Sotheby’s and presented by Huntsman, ‘Treasures from Chatsworth’ celebrates the Cavendish family’s centuries-long passion for art and collecting.

The Devonshire Collection at historic Chatsworth House, seat of the Cavendish family for generations, is rich with thousands of objects spanning four centuries. Be part of this extraordinary world in ‘Treasures from Chatsworth, Presented by Huntsman,’ an original video series produced by Sotheby’s. In Episode 1 which premiered on 28 November on sothebys.com, discover the portrait of a duchess that caused a stir in British society.

The seat of the 12th Duke of Devonshire and home to the Cavendish family since 1549, Chatsworth is where the past and present co-exist, with a collection at once steeped in history and forward looking. At Chatsworth, visitors encounter works by Da Vinci and Damien Hirst, breath-taking monumental sculpture, cutting-edge portraiture and remarkable design pieces. The legacy of commissioning inspiring contemporary pieces lives on, with emphasis on how to respond to the collecting legacy represented at the House.

Sotheby’s 13-part series, presented by Huntsman and produced by Chrome Productions, explores the diverse works of art in the Chatsworth collection with insight into their history and significance from the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, curators, keepers and contemporary artists such as Michael Craig-Martin and Jacob van der Beugel. Each work of art tells a very human story, revealing the ongoing inspiration and legacy that lives on at Chatsworth.

In regards to the partnership between Huntsman and the Sotheby’s series, Pierre Lagrange, owner of Huntsman commented, “The Treasures from Chatsworth strikes a chord with the heritage that Huntsman represents and I’m delighted to be supporting the series. As custodian of Huntsman and its unique approach to the craft of bespoke clothing since 1849, I appreciate and am full of admiration for the patronage of great artists through 16 generations at Chatsworth House. The creative process between patron and craftsman in our atelier, and the way in which contemporary designs are influenced by those of previous generations of craftsmen resonates with the stories that Sotheby’s has woven through this series of films.”

Episode 1: Lucian Freud’s 'Woman in a White Shirt'

Words By Emma Lawson

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A Shared Eye: Dressing Lucian Freud

“I work from the people that interest me, and that I care about, in rooms that I live in and know.” For an artist who worked from life, it’s perhaps no surprise that Lucian Freud chose to have his own clothes tailor made, from fittings taken in his own studio. From these meetings would come an elegant cashmere overcoat offering warmth without weight, and classic English suits in soft flannel, wool and worsteds, all made for him by Huntsman, bespoke tailors since 1849.

Climbing the stairs to the studio, taking in a work in progress, noticing “the wall beside the easel, thick with daubs of paint where he’d wipe his pallet knife”, it was a memorable experience for Huntsman’s co-Head Cutter Dario Carnera. And one that had an unexpected overlap with his own craft.

“Mr Freud had an interest in the real body, not a manufactured view of it. He interpreted what real people look like. We see real bodies every day and each one is different,” says Carnera. “We treat everyone as an individual. Like Mr Freud, we don’t make people look like something they’re not, instead we work to accentuate the positives.”

The studio was where Freud felt most comfortable, where he could relax. And that’s what Carnera needed. Famously, the artist would spend hours there observing his sitters, telling the stories behind their gestures in increasingly physical, tactile portraits. Likewise, the cutter would read the artist’s movements, watching the way he held himself, scrutinising Freud as closely as the artist would his sitters.

“It’s very important that clothes are cut for your true posture,” says Carnera, “so that when you’re moving around you look your best.” And as with every Huntsman client, Dario would be looking for and noting down the differences between left- and right-hand side, the slope of the shoulder, the balance front to back. “I’ve never met one customer who’s exactly symmetrical,” he says. “We all favour one side and you have to take that into account when you watch someone’s movements.”

Together, the artist and cutter would go through pattern books, Freud drawn by texture, the feel and flow of the cloth, how it would hang. Questions about where and when he would wear the garment would be answered, with comfort and practicality coming high on his list. So high in fact, that Carnera would occasionally find paint smears on the artist’s suits: “I think sometimes he would suddenly be inspired, and just wanted to get an idea down on canvas.”

Returning to Savile Row, Carnera would use the measurements as coordinates, then go by what his eyes told him, converting the paper pattern from two dimensions to three.

This close attention to the cut would make the first fitting easier. And Freud’s chosen fabrics helped the process too, malleable in the tailor’s hands to being shaped to the body’s nuances. With the occasional splodge of paint – the artist’s own.

Episode 2: When a Suit Becomes a Work of Art

Words By Emma Lawson

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Each Huntsman piece is as unique as its wearer. But none more so than six jackets created by the tailor in 2016.

Each is made from a different fabric and to a different cut, of course. But within lies their secret: each of the six jackets is lined with a silk print of one of Ed Ruscha’s iconic acrylic paintings from the eighties, Boy Meets Girl. As Huntsman chairman Pierre Lagrange remarks, “This is a subject forever.”

The idea was born of a conversation between Lagrange and Anthony Peck, son of Huntsman regular Gregory Peck. Seeing the tailor’s printed silk linings of works by Magritte and Francis Bacon, Peck suggested approaching Ed Ruscha to collaborate on a jacket that could be auctioned to benefit America’s Alzheimer’s Association.

While Ruscha had worked directly on to silk in the past, the concept of lending a work to the lining of a suit was a first. “I like the idea of a concealed secret,” Ruscha says. “When someone wears a great jacket, there is a private luxury that only the wearer can experience.”

First he chose the work: words seemingly etched in neon, hovering over a grid of night-time Los Angeles. The painting just happens to be owned by another Huntsman customer, actress and model Lauren Hutton, who’d won it from the artist on a bet in the seventies. “It’s like all that early hope,‘’ she’s said about Boy Meets Girl. ‘’When love is young, you can change, you can get excited about different things.‘’

This was certainly an exciting project. But it was demanding, too. Graphic, with a limited palette, the challenge would be to accurately recreate the painting, and to a standard that Ruscha would be proud of. As Carol Pierce, general manager at Hunstman, notes, “Technically this was quite a task to take on, and there was a lot of communication around it, because this is Ed’s work: it had to be spot on.”

First, Huntsman produced five treatments for the positioning of the piece within the jacket. Ruscha’s choice dictated where the joins and repeats would be between the lining’s panels.

A printer was found who had the right inks and quality of print. Then there was the process of getting the most out of 30 metres of silk. Sufficient fabric was needed above and below the lettering so it could be placed correctly inside the jacket, with enough background print for left- and right-hand panel and sleeves. The artist approved every stage of the process, which, in all, took around a year.

For Ruscha it was the first time he’d had a bespoke suit made. Slipping the jacket on at 11 Savile Row, he was asked what it felt like. Gesturing to the lining, he said, “You know that you wear the jacket and clothing like this but then there’s this surprise, almost like you’re flashing.”

From this collaboration came five artist’s proofs. Jackets for the artist, his son Eddie and friend Lauren Hutton, as well as for art dealer, Larry Gagosian, and Huntsman chairman Lagrange. The one jacket available to the public was then auctioned on 25 October 2106, raising $26,000 for Alzheimer’s. We can only guess what experiences the words within the jacket will bring to the winning bidder, as we understand a very elegant lady!

Episode 3: The Art of a Bespoke Suit

Words by Emma Lawson

“Commissioning a bespoke suit is an act of faith,” says Huntsman chairman Pierre Lagrange. Get to the heart of the creative process with a look at the many stages that go into making garments that will last for decades – an extraordinary process that, according to Lagrange, is not dissimilar to the act of commissioning a work of art.

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Episode 4: The Lewinski Photo Archive

Words by Emma Lawson

Forever in Vouge: Timeless Tweeds
Squint and you’ll see it doesn’t take much to recognise Scotland in its tweeds. The ochre, green and blazing orange of an autumn hillside. The purple, pink and grey of a granite moor misty with heather. Handy when you’re hunting the elusive stag or skittish grouse. Stories are still told of the laird who sent his gillies into the hills dressed in different coloured tweeds, watching through his binoculars to see who would blend into his surroundings best.

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The ledger of Bespoke Huntsman Tweeds dates back to the 1970s
Tweed didn’t just work as camouflage, it offered warmth and protection against the elements. As Campbell Carey, Creative Director of Huntsman notes, “The cloth that used to be made could weigh as much as 24 ounces. It was also very tightly woven to make it waterproof. The woollen fibres swelled up to give water resistance, keeping the rain out naturally.”

These are not the qualities that now make tweed Huntsman’s most popular cloth. In fact it’s quite the opposite: customers are drawn to the bold checks and striking colours woven into the tailor’s signature tweeds. And from only 30 up to 60 metres available of each design, that’s quite an exclusive club to be in.

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Tweeds were chosen by marking favourites in chalk
While Huntsman tweed is much lighter these days – around 13 ounces – it’s still made from Shetland wool, which gives the cloth its character: versatile, robust and hard-wearing. “These are sheep that are grazing in the Outer Hebrides,” says Carey, “their wool has to protect them. Compare that to merino wool from Australia, which is much finer because it’s keeping the sheep cool in the heat, and warm in the cold.”

The yarn is spun in Yorkshire (a dying art, along with many other skills associated with the textile trade) then taken up to the Isle of Islay in Scotland and one of the world’s oldest mills. Its owners, Gordon and Sheila Covell, work with Huntsman to develop a signature collection of bespoke tweeds every one or two years. In the past the mill would make up a 20-foot blanket of all the tweeds under consideration. It was then unrolled on the floor of the Savile Row shop, with customers and staff marking their favourites in chalk. These days new designs are quickly mocked up on computer, although Carey is considering bringing the blanket back; it is still often used as a way of selecting the best colour option.

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Customers are increasingly choosing vibrant colours for their overchecks
While there are a limited number of checks to choose from, including Prince of Wales, Houndstooth and Barleycorn, the introduction of an overcheck brings a wealth of options. And you can always play with the width of the check as well. For his own suits, Carey likes the intrigue of a dark cloth with a subtle pattern that reveals its secrets as you get closer to it. But he also gets a kick out of seeing “a relatively drab base, where someone really goes for it in the colour of the overcheck. Some customers have four, six or even eight woven into it.”

A recent commission came from a customer who added three colours to the overcheck, one for himself and two for his sons. It’s this chance to make something special – and unique – that customers really enjoy. Huntsman took the idea a stage further when they opened a pied à terre in New York, a few blocks down from Carnegie Hall. Discovering that there was a Carnegie estate tweed (Prince of Wales with an overcheck), they decided to mark the occasion by commissioning new colour schemes, inspired by the estate tweed, from three American customers well-known for their taste: Picasso scholar John Richardson, interior designer Robert Couturier and architect Leo A Daly III.

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A test roll of John Richardson’s Carnegie tweed design
Inspiration isn’t hard to find, as Carey has realised. Huntsman still has its ledger showing every piece of cloth commissioned since the 1970s. And customers often bring in vintage garments dating back as far as the 1920s and 30s. The colours may have faded but just lift the lapel and you see the original cloth in all its glory.

Words by Emma Lawson

Episode 5: The Needlework of Elizabethan Chatsworth

Words by Emma Lawson

Embroidering the Threads of History
When David Oyelowo was nominated for Best Actor at the Critic’s Choice Awards in 2015, he found he had another reason to celebrate. The ceremony was to be held on 15 January: the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, the man he’d played in Selma to such great acclaim.

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David Oyelowo at the 2015 Critic’s Choice Awards
King’s message of compassion, equality and justice remains as relevant today as it was in the south of the fifties and sixties. And Oyelowo was keen to make the most of the coincidence. With Huntsman he came up with the idea of using his clothes as a talking point.

From the outside, Oyelowo’s suit for the ceremony is sombre and elegant. Inside, it is exquisite. Cream silk stitches curl through the black silk lining, as though the needle has been dipped in ink.

Read them, and you’ll discover the words of Martin Luther King’s favourite song Take My Hand, Precious Lord. Inspired by Psalm 139, the gospel classic was written by the Reverend Thomas A Dorsey in 1932 and has long been dear to congregations throughout the United States. As the civil rights movement gained strength, Martin Luther King asked that it be sung at gatherings, understanding that its words offered hope and encouragement in the face of violence and discrimination.

When the darkness appears and the night draws near And the day is past and gone, At the river I stand, Guide my feet, hold my hand.

The hymn was most notably interpreted by the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson. And it fell to her to sing it once again at King’s funeral, on 9 April 1968. Selma pays tribute to that friendship and the significance of the song in one of its many powerful scenes.

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The jacket worn by David Oyelowo at the 2015 Critic’s Choice Awards
Getting the jacket ready in time meant working quickly. Tied to a busy schedule, Oyelowo could only commit to one fitting, leaving just over a month for the suit to be made. “That was a feat in itself,” says Carol Pierce, Huntsman general manager. “We looked at the words of the song and worked out how they could be positioned in the jacket. We wanted to vary the letter size so it looked like a real piece of craft, then we had to get the scale right, so that the seams would allow the embroidery to flow.”

On top of the 80 hours that went into making the suit, Huntsman’s embroiderer added another 20, painstakingly forming each letter from hundreds of tiny stitches. “It just shows what you can do,” says Carol, “but I wouldn’t want to have that every week!”

It was worth it. When David Oyelowo opened his jacket on the red carpet, photographs were seen around the world. He may not have walked away with the Best Actor award, but he took something else with him instead: the knowledge that he’d reminded a far wider audience of what the movie Selma was all about.

Episode 6: Jan Van Der Vaardt’s Trompe l’Oeil Violin

Words by Emma Lawson

Dressing the Distinguished for Generations
From kings and queens to Hollywood royalty, Huntsman has a long list of distinguished and celebrated clients. The secrets to the exceptional Huntsman look are passed down from master to apprentice, just as the garments are passed down from generation to generation. As owner Pierre Lagrange explains, it’s a look that customers from all walks of life know will remain stylish forever.

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Episode 7: The Landscape as a Work of Art

Words By Emma Lawson

Country Life with a Modern Twist
Huntsman has come a long way since it held the royal warrant of Leather Breeches Maker to Queen Victoria’s son, later Edward VII. But its connections with the outdoor life are still strong. Known more for the slim, structured silhouette of its bespoke suits, these are often made in signature tweeds that adapt to the demands of town and country. As chairman, Pierre Lagrange notes, “The versatility of the tweed shows how Huntsman is about more than the clothes, it’s about a lifestyle.”

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The Vintage Huntsman Airstream in Hampshire
For Lagrange, a keen sportsman, that includes time spent hosting shooting parties at his home in Hampshire. And it was when he was looking to create more room for guests that an idea came to him that would pay tribute to Huntsman’s heritage, and give it a modern twist.

He knew he wouldn’t get permission to extend the house, living in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So he decided to take the indoors outside – to the orchard in fact, where two vintage Airstreams glimmer and glint in the sun.

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Wood, Metal and Fabric have been carefully chosen to complement each other
Lagrange has long been drawn to these iconic trailers, having experienced their charms on a road trip through California, camping at Big Sur and in Yosemite. “They’re a little like log cabins on wheels,” he says. A couple were found for sale, dating back to the 1960s and in bad condition. Working with professional restorers, Lagrange had the trailers stripped of their original fittings then recreated using a wealth of natural materials to evoke the sensations of the shoot.

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Reflections curl across the polished aluminium ceiling
At the heart of each Land Yacht, as they’re affectionately known, is a Huntsman tweed. “For one we chose a purple check to suggest the heather moorlands of Scotland. And the other is a more sandy hue to match the earth of the local partridge fields.” Tweed lines the walls and is enhanced by richly grained woods, antlers, copper and iron. The colours are earthy and warm, the textures sensual and rewarding. Some of the original aluminium has also been kept and polished to a high sheen, rippling with the light that streams in through the windows.

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Following on from this success, Lagrange has had his vintage Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake covered in tweed too – a stony grey check to match the silver exterior. Driving to Scotland, Devon or Yorkshire he has found the old adage to be true: “You never get too warm or too cold in a tweed”.

Episode 8: The Changing Face of Portraiture

Words by Emma Lawson

In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow
When Pierre Lagrange bought Huntsman in 2013 he was intrigued to discover that the tailor had customer records dating back decades. Spreadsheets had replaced a paper card system, which in turn had taken the place of vast ledgers, so heavy it’s a strain to pick them up. In there he found the names of actors, musicians, politicians, writers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, aristocrats and royalty.

But there were plenty more names of course, those of little-known men and women whose details had been faithfully recorded by their tailor at the time. Each might have a note added when their title or rank changed, a newspaper clipping stuck to the page, a comment made about payment. These were stories in miniature, evidence of the personal relationship between customer and tailor, passing through the years.

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The Poppies on display in Huntsman window
At the centenary of Britain’s first involvement in the First World War, Lagrange invited historian Niall Ferguson to examine the archive, and see what light could be shed on those years at the tailors. As Ferguson turned page after page of customer records, the evidence accumulated. Killed in action. Killed in action. Killed in action. The tailors had noted the promotions of their customers, and their end.

“It’s quite emotional, when you look at our ledgers,” says Huntsman general manager Carol Pierce. “You see the beautiful handwriting, the detail of how everything was recorded and you realise the time it must have taken to keep those books completely up to date.” The final list of losses came to 133.

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The Tailors had carefully recorded the fate of their customer
Lagrange felt compelled to honour this sacrifice in some way. That year, artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, marking British fatalities in the war, had planted nearly 900,000 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. “It was so simple, so perfect, so proud,” says Lagrange. When the poppies were then sold to raise money for service charities, he bought 133.

In November 2015, he arranged his own tribute at 11 Savile Row. Flowing from the floor above came a cascade of poppies, sweeping past the window as though caught in the wind, before passing through the glass, to rest beside a single British Warm coat, inspired by the great coat worn by officers in the First World War. Etched on the glass was the Huntsman Roll of Honour: the name of each customer who’d given his life to his country.

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Huntsman window in November 2015
The window drew considerable attention from passers-by and the media alike. Many people felt compelled to come into the shop, find out more about its history and share their own family stories. The archive told a further story too. The tailor hadn’t followed up on any outstanding bills for those who’d fallen. What had happened to the staff at Huntsman during those years, no one yet knows.

Given the number of documents that remain to be read, their details may still be found. What we do know is that many of the men of Savile Row volunteered in the Great War, and only some returned. When they did, they found their jobs waiting for them. We can only assume the same happened at Huntsman too.

Episode 9: Design Through the Ages

Words by Emma Lawson

When function defines beauty
Step into 11 Savile Row and wherever you look, the past catches your eye. Those stag heads above the fireplace, left behind when a customer popped out for lunch in the 1920s, still waiting to be picked up. The paper patterns hanging from ceiling and hook, ‘Miss Katherine Hepburn’, ‘G Peck’ and ‘P Sellers’ lightly inscribed on them in pencil. Yet nothing quite so intrigues as the saddled chair standing quietly beside the rolls of bespoke tweed in the centre of the shop.

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The stags heads, left behind by a customer in 1921
While it looks like it belongs in a gymnasium, the clue to the chair’s purpose is to be found in the leather breeches encased in glass near the front door. Made and worn by the original Henry Huntsman in the mid-1800s, they’re a rare survival from a time when the tailor dressed Europe’s aristocracy for all their equestrian pursuits.

Accurately measuring and fitting a riding outfit meant understanding the rider’s bearing – impossible to do if they’re standing. So Huntsman used a horse fitting chair instead. The tailor still has photographs of customers sitting in the saddle, chest forward, arms raised as though holding a horse’s reins. Another chair, mounted with a lady’s side saddle, is also to be found in the shop.

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Huntsman horse fitting chair, with saddle and livery
It’s these subtleties of posture that led to the creation of the hacking jacket. Close fitting, high waisted, with a skirt that flares to accommodate the saddle, the jacket includes half an inch or so of fullness at the shoulder and is cut high and close to the arm, making it easy to move. Many of the early hacking jackets were made of heavy tweed and had the sleeves pitched far forward as well, elbows bent, to guarantee that the wearer looked good and felt comfortable in the saddle. As in many men’s clothes, the function defined the beauty.

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The paper patterns of well-known customers hang around the store
This is the style that formed the basis of Huntsman’s iconic cut: high armhole, waisted silhouette and longer flared skirt. Further refined by legendary head cutter Colin Hammick in the 1950s, these features mean the jacket is tight through the chest, tapers into the waist and pulls back with a little kick to create a tall, slim line. “It’s very flattering,” says Huntsman’s creative director Campbell Carey. “It makes you feel taller when you put the jacket on. You walk with a straighter back. That’s what people fall in love with: they get it as soon as they put it on.”

Legendary cutter Colin Hammick fits a Huntsman customer
While the fitting chair hasn’t been used for some years, Huntsman’s equestrian connections are going strong. In recent years the brand has sponsored several polo initiatives including a team led by HRH Prince Harry, designing both the players’ kit and liveries for ponies and grooms.

The Iconic Huntsman silhouette: slim line, single button, slight waist
They also now have stables in Berkshire, offering livery spaces and training, as well as importing warmblood horses from Germany, PREs from Spain and Lusitanos from Portugal. As chairman Pierre Lagrange has it, “Huntsman heritage is in the equestrian world, and that lifestyle is as relevant as ever.”

Episode 10: The Mortlake Tapestries

Words By Emma Lawson

Opening the button box
Each of these Huntsman stories represent a link that Huntsman holds with each episode in the 13 part original series, ‘Treasures from Chatsworth’, presented by Huntsman and produced by Sotheby’s, allowing you to delve deeper into the rich history and heritage Huntsman has held since 1849.

In a safety deposit box somewhere in London rests a small but heavy treasure trove of glistening silver, naturally tarnished brass, iridescent mother of pearl and moulded horn buttons. The collection has been assembled over many years by Leo A. Daly III, Chairman and CEO of one of the world’s top design firms, LEO A DALY. Some have made their way on to his bespoke Huntsman suits. Many more lie in wait, their material, history or skill having caught the architect’s eye on his travels to Paris, London, Dublin, New York – cities with a tradition of tailoring. We took a dive into this world of wonderful miniatures with Mr. Daly.

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A background in architecture has given Leo Daly a keen eye for detail, and an appreciation of the role that different components play in construction. Each has a purpose: you have to be particular about every single one. It’s the same with vintage buttons. They have a function and a decorative value. And their materials are a key part of their appeal.

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“I really became interested when I met the two ladies at Tender Buttons. We’d sit, have lunch and go through all their rare finds.” The store – a New York institution – was opened on a whim by encyclopaedia editor Diana Epstein in 1964. A week later antique restorer Millicent Safro dropped in for a button, helped to tidy up and ended up a partner. It’s still open, on East 62nd Street.

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“My favourites are silver, brass, the ones that are individually carved, or have a story behind them. I feel like I’m wearing history.” The clues are on the button. Ducks for shooting jackets. Initials representing a golf club (the oldest in the world: Royal Blackheath). Hunting club insignia. Silver hallmarks, giving their age away.

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“The market is very different now. But years ago people probably had a button jar, if one came loose they’d throw it in, then get rid of them all together. The ladies at Tender Buttons would go through thousands and thousands to get a set. It was their life.”

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Constantly travelling for work, Mr Daly has bought antique buttons in England, the US, India, France and Ireland. Although military buttons are the most available, there are still rarities to find. Like this set from the French Foreign Legion, which ‘took 10 years to gather’.

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“I like to keep the original patina on the brass, it’s part of their history. But we do polish the silver and keep them crisp.” At the end of a fitting session, when his garment is ready to be buttoned, Mr Daly will discuss with the cutter which is best for the outfit, considering the cloth, the button’s material and its practicality.

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There’s a balance between function and show with many buttons, as Carol Pierce, Huntsman’s general manager explains. “Often it’s about belonging to a club. The hunt buttons are a good example. They’re passed down through generations but we do get people asking for them. And they’re much harder to find. Now you have to track down the specialist company that holds the die for that club, to stamp the button out.”

Episode 11: The Devonshire Parure

Words by Emma Lawson

Classic Creations: Exploring Huntsman’s archive
It’s a highlight of working at Huntsman that the past regularly walks in through the door. The tailors see vintage garments returned for new buttons and linings, for resizing for younger family members or even for converting into new outfits. It’s a chance to be reacquainted with the choices of decades past: identical or different cloth, cuts and styles. The shop is also home to a growing archive of wonderful pieces, some donated, others bought at auction, and a few newer prototypes. Here, the team introduce a few of their personal favourites from the collection.

“This full-length mink coat is from the 1930s I think. It’s so glamorous. The sleeves are very full and the rolling collar runs right down to the bottom of the coat. I love the long A-line skirt. You could wear it today without looking out of place. I wish it could talk, as it was made for Wallis Simpson’s lawyer’s wife!“ – Annette Akselberg, Cutter

“The general idea of what we do is comfort with elegance. What we make should make you look fantastic. And if you’ve got an extensive wardrobe there’s more scope to experiment. Our jackets are head turners.” – Dario Carnera, Co-Head Cutter

“We made this driving suit for Marc Newson, when he was driving a vintage Ferrari in the Mille Miglia. Everything’s thought about: pockets for his mobile, sunglasses, a map, some coins for when he stops for an espresso. It’s really comfortable: big curves in the sleeves, a ridiculously long leg, so he’s got room to move in that little cockpit.” – Campbell Carey, Creative Director

“This jacket belonged to a Lieutenant Colonel in the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queens Bays), a cavalry regiment. It’s a close fit, like a second skin. It’s so heavy it must’ve been very uncomfortable. But I’m told the warmth of the wool could keep soldiers alive if they fell injured.” – Carol Pierce, General Manager

“I had an idea to do a ladies’ version of the smoking jacket. The velvet is pure cotton; it’s edged with satin and lined with silk, so it feels wonderful. I’d wear it with a plain little dress, a slip or perhaps with trousers. There’s far more opportunity to mix things up these days.” – Annette Akselberg, Cutter

“You have to see this on – it’s stunning. A gorgeous line, right down to the floor, darts, a high waist, and so much fabric in the skirt, it moves beautifully. It’s 1920s or 30s. The silk’s a little worn in places but the barleycorn check is like new. Daisy (Huntsman’s PR and Marketing Manager) wore it at a party recently, everybody thought it was contemporary Gucci” – Campbell Carey, Creative Director

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“They really are special garments. Having the privilege of wearing some myself, people notice. You can’t help standing to attention in our jackets.” – Annette Akselberg, Cutter

Episode 12: The Queen Zenobia Ball Gown

Words by Emma Lawson

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire: An outdoor life
“Earth and water, trees and buildings, their shapes, colours and smells, and the ways of the humans and animals with whom you share your plot mould you and your outlook.” Duchess Deborah (‘Debo’), was born into the famously eccentric Mitford family in 1920. The youngest of seven, and initially a disappointing sixth girl, she became her father’s favourite through a shared love of the outdoors.

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Debo driving her donkey, Tonks, in 1934, with Cecilia Hay at Swinbrook © Devonshire Collection. Reproduced by permission of the Mitford Archive

David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale taught Debo to catch trout in the River Windrush at the bottom of the garden at Asthall Manor, in the Cotswolds. And as a little girl, she shadowed him as he went around his estate. Her best friend in these years was the family’s old groom Hooper: “the human end of the horses.”

Debo had her own flock of hens, making a little pocket money by adding her eggs to those from her mother’s flock. During the war, she even found herself milking the family’s three cows: “The best part is burying your head into the warm and comforting flank.”

From these experiences came a deep, informed connection to the land and its wildlife. This stood her in good stead when her husband, Lord Andrew Cavendish, unexpectedly became Duke of Devonshire in 1950. The title came with seven houses, thousands of acres and huge death duties. Undeterred by the enormity of the task, Debo played a major role in transforming the “dark, cold and dirty “ building – Chatsworth – into one of the UK’s favourite stately homes.

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L-R: Harold Macmillan, Deborah Devonshire, Lord Hartington (now 12th Duke) in Huntsman and guest at Bolton Abbey for the grouse shooting in August 1960. © Devonshire Collection. Reproduced by permission of the Mitford Archive

The estate brought many pleasures. Aged thirty, she bought her first gun and practised alongside the head gamekeeper before joining the family shoots. Over the years, grouse shooting filled the month of August, followed by pheasant shooting in winter, often dressed in Huntsman attire. “I loved all that went with a shoot: the reunion of friends, seeing a new bit of country or finding the same patch of dying leaves beneath my feet.”

Debo became a regular at livestock shows too. The estate had long been home to cattle and sheep – Mule, Masham, Swaledale, Grey Face and the once-rare Jacob. Duchess Deborah was one of a handful of owners who saw the potential in this small, piebald breed, enthusiastically supporting Araminta Aldington in setting up the Jacob Sheep Society. She also established a stud from three of her mother’s Shetland ponies, achieving considerable success in the show ring.

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The Duchess with two of her prized Shetland ponies. © Devonshire Collection. Reproduced by permission of the Mitford Archive

Ever aware of changes in the public mood, the Duchess Deborah opened the farming and forestry exhibition, now the farmyard and advertnure playground to visitors in 1973, “the time when The Environment was being invented.” Children could see cows and goats being milked, visit the pig pens and watch a broody hen with her chicks. Her passion for hens had remained strong since her childhood and a flock of Buff Cochins – plumage down to their feet – brought life and humour to the garden at Chatsworth. Duchess Deborah expanded her flock in later years, and the collecting of eggs became known amongst her grandchildren as ‘The Granny Show’.

This knowledge and passion was recognised in 1995 when Duchess Deborah was made president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England – an appointment that amazed her but no one else.

Episode 13: Masterworks in Silver

Words by Emma Lawson

Updating a Classic Timepiece
A watch is about so much more than timekeeping. It’s an expression of taste, lifestyle, history even. The more iconic the make and model, the more likely it is to become inextricably linked with renowned individuals. Take the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. First designed for racing drivers in 1963, its combination of chronograph and tachymeter mean you can measure average speeds up to 400 miles/km per hour. You can also keep track of ticking seconds, as well as lapsed hours and minutes on the counters in the centre. It was for these reasons that Joanne Woodward gave her husband Paul Newman a rare version of the watch in 1972, the year the actor first took part in a professional event as a racer.

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The Huntsman Rolex, with the tailor’s distinctive claret branding

Newman continued to compete into his eighties, mainly driving Datsuns in the road racing TransAm series in the US. He also, apparently, was never seen without his Rolex Daytona. As his ownership of the watch became more widely known, the details of his specific model became more popular. These were most notably its distinctive counters, with their bold numbers and block markers. Over the years, the Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ has become one of the most sought-after watches in the world.

The rarity and cache of this classic model has in turn inspired another development in the Daytona’s history. When George Bamford realised that the model he’d longed for (vintage, steel black dial, Rolex Daytona Zenith movement, with inverted 6 9 sub dial) was being worn by many of his acquaintances he started to think how he could make it special again. Working with a materials engineer at the family’s business, JCB, he discovered how to apply coatings to existing Rolexes using a process from the mining industry. This opened up a whole new world of customisation: of colours, finishes and other features.

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The Huntsman Rolex pictured with Huntsman Tweed

Such was the demand for these personalised pieces, Bamford turned his idea into a business. One of Bamford Watch Department’s earliest customers was financier, Pierre Lagrange. “I bought one of the first black Rolexes George Bamford ever made, maybe 13 years ago. It’s part of the gentleman’s lifestyle, to have a precious watch. And for that piece to be so unique makes it even more special.”

Fast forward ten years. Lagrange becomes the chairman of the bespoke tailors, Huntsman, and discovers that Paul Newman had long been a customer. The connection was too significant to go unmarked. He decided to pay homage to the legendary actor with a new version of the Daytona.

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A Huntsman pattern used to create a suit for Paul Newman

Working together with Bamford, he wanted to create something very simple and discreet: “A little like a Huntsman coat, beautiful and balanced.” The end result brings Huntsman red claret into the traditional Daytona dial, and the tailor’s logo is there too – unassuming yet present. “I want people to recognise it as a ‘Paul Newman’ but then see that it’s subtly different.”

For Lagrange, the exercise has been one more for pleasure than anything else. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the number of Huntsman Rolexes that will be available on a bespoke basis: “Eleven, for 11 Savile Row.”