What to wear to spend an evening with Huntsman? That was the question that Simon Crompton, the men’s style journalist behind the Permanent Style blog, posed to his readers back in December, when he asked them to submit pictures of their ideal evening wear ensemble.
The prize for the ten outfits he judged the most “stylish, interesting, and original,” was an invitation to attend a dinner hosted at Huntsman’s Savile Row headquarters, to brighten up the otherwise lacklustre month of January.
The dinner, which Crompton hosted together with Huntsman’s owner and chairman Pierre Lagrange, took place at Huntsman last week. There, ten readers of Permanent Style – who had flown in from far-flung locales including New York; Munich; San Antonio, Texas; and San Francisco, California – chatted about all manner of sartorial matters, from what formal wear means today to the unrivalled appeal of a bespoke suit. Addressing the table ahead of the dinner, Lagrange spoke of the luxury of having a bespoke suit made: “Once you’ve crossed that Rubicon, there’s no looking back,” he said. “It makes us feel comfortable, powerful, sexy, all of the above. It’s a great thing.”
The evening’s menu was created by Matthew Ryle, chef at Notting Hill’s Casa Cruz, and the soon-to-be opened Isabel by Casa Cruz in Mayfair. Among the globally-inspired dishes were sea bass carpaccio, burrata and roasted tomatoes, grilled fillet steak, and blackened chicken, with poached pear tart and chocolate gateau for pudding.
As for what the guests wore, their inventive outfits included a Prince Charlie coatee and kilt, worn by Edmund Schenecker of San Antonio; an Ede and Ravenscroft blue velvet jacket, worn by Londoner Leslie Cuthbert; and a high-collared achkan jacket, sported by Meekal Hashmi.
“What I really like, is that gathered around the table this evening is we have lots of different reflections of [formalwear],” said Crompton during the evening. “We have very classic evening wear, we have dinner jackets, we have velvet jackets…but we also have suits, we have tweed as well.” He also opined on how the “rules” of formal wear are ever-evolving. “Formality means very different things to different people these days…for some people, wearing any jacket at all is a very formal event,” he said. “It seems fairly predictable that at some point in the future, a worsted suit would be the thing you wear in the evening.”
And to make the most of the sheer variety of formal wear on display, after dinner guests took to the main floor of Huntsman, where they posed motionless for the viral social media phenomenon, Mannequin Challenge. Head to Huntsman’s Instagram page to see the results, with the guests’ sartorial flair captured as if frozen in time.
Watch the dinner unfold as well as Simon and Pierre’s thoughts on the evolution of formalwear in the video below.