A Rose for all seasons

The inimitable Henry Rose at 34 Montagu Square

With his roots cultivated in Savile Row, the career of Henry Rose has blossomed, and he's now carefully nurturing Mason & Sons to flower. We are delighted that Henry is providing his unrivalled skills to manage our bespoke tailoring production and sharing his incredible depth of knowledge to assist in the development of our ready-to-wear collections. Born in Amhurst Road, Hackney in 1945, Henry has taken a path since then from London's gritty East End to rubbing shoulder pads with global superstars. In all, his is a fascinating story echoing the history of the very tailoring names he is helping us bring back to life.

The Regency Club, Amhurst Road (c1960)

Henry attended Upton House School in Hackney and, like many of his contemporaries, left at the age of 15 without any qualifications. It was not the most glamorous of backgrounds, yet the street where he was born and raised was also the location of a most unlikely glittering London nightspot; The Regency Club, operated under the protection of the notorious Kray twins and host to numerous celebrities and underworld criminals during the 1960s. Rumour has it that Lord Boothby also attended…perhaps Princess Margaret, too. 

Savile Row (1960)

Shortly after leaving school in 1960, Henry began work as a teenage apprentice at the venerable tailoring establishment Kilgour, French and Stanbury, and soon found himself working on suits for the likes of J.Paul Getty - then, the world's wealthiest man. Following his four-year apprenticeship, he set up his own workshop with a fellow Kilgour apprentice in Meard Street, Soho. His mother had to sign the lease on their premises. At the time, yet to reach 21, Henry was not legally old enough to have the “keys to the door”.   

Meard Street, Soho (1960s)

Soho was an exciting place for Henry to come of age. There was a clip-joint directly opposite his workshop, and he wondered in amazement as the punters left the premises with empty pockets and very little to show for it. Friday lunchtimes called for a visit to the Lyceum dancehall to gawp at girls dancing around their handbags, and then there was the daily exotic influence of Italianate coffee bars - including the local "Le Macabre" where the young Henry experienced his first taste of continental cuisine by bravely ordering a Spaghetti Carbonara.  

A Look at Life in London's Italianate Coffee Bars

During the salad days of Henry’s self-employment he was producing garments for a number of other tailoring houses, including work that was cut by a young Edward Sexton - who was about to join Tommy Nutter to launch Nutters of Savile Row. This provided Henry with the experience of creating a wide variety of styles (including ladies) which was to bear fruit in future life. However, life was not yet a bed of roses and, thinking that the grass was probably greener on the other side of the fence, he decided to work as an in-house coatmaker with Peter Moore. This pernickety taskmaster drilled Henry into a true craftsman that is now an innate part of his approach and pedigree.

Savile Row legend, Tommy Nutter

After several years working with Moore, Henry chose again to grasp the nettle and go it alone. On this occasion, without the need for his mother’s assistance, he took the lease on workshop premises in Newburgh Street. On turning this new leaf, the bright lights of Soho no longer proved to be the distraction they had once been, and Henry’s skills that had been honed by Peter Moore attracted the attention of the legendary tailor, Doug Hayward. This resulted in a relationship that endured until Hayward’s final days, and during that time they produced clothes for some of the world’s greatest stars, including Roger Moore and Michael Caine.

Moore & Caine tailored by Hayward & Henry

In 1995, Henry’s career took a dramatic turn when Doug Hayward told him that the esteemed American retail store, Sulka, was looking for an in-house, bespoke tailor. Doug considered Henry to be perfect for the role. Henry got the job, which was based in Sulka’s Bond Street store in London, and involved regular trips to Chicago. Among the wide range of clients was Mike Tyson. Sulka was part of the Richemont group, which decided to close the business in 2000 and install a sister concern, Alfred Dunhill, in the vacated Bond Street premises. Henry was asked to switch his position to Dunhill, which took him to Japan six times a year and saw him commissioned to produce a wedding suit for British film director, Guy Ritchie. In due course, Henry would end up making a tweed suit for Guy’s bride (a lady called Madonna, whom you may know). 

Madonna and Guy Ritchie at their wedding (2000)

Producing Guy Ritchie's wedding outfit was another turning point in Henry's life. He was asked to visit Ritchie's hotel to fit the kilt jacket. There he met Stella McCartney who was fitting Madonna with her wedding dress. They discussed tailoring, and within a year Henry was ensconced in the atelier above Stella's boutique in Bruton Street. While continuing to make suits for gentlemen (including Stella's father, Sir Paul) he further honed his skills as a master of ladies’ tailoring. His reputation was enhanced and public endorsed when the three-piece tweed shooting suit that he had made for Madonna was presented at "The London Cut" exhibition in Florence in 2007 that celebrated 200 years of Savile Row. 

Madonna in Henry Rose shooting suit

Henry went on to produce suits for both the men and the women at Stella McCartneys own wedding, and there followed a host of stars and celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirsten Dunst and Pamela Anderson. He produced a wonderful suit for Iman (which paid homage to the white three-piece ensemble designed by Tommy Nutter for Bianca Jagger in the 1970s) and also fitted her husband David Bowie in bespoke finery - which could only be described as a highlight in any tailors career.

David Bowie and Iman step out in style

Undoubtedly, the image that will forever remain a truly outstanding example of Henry's work it that of the white tailcoat worn by Kate Moss which featured on the cover of Esquire magazine in September, 2013. By this time, the business relationship with Stella McCartney had ended, Henry was embarking on yet another chapter of his story.

Kate Moss for Esquire Magazine (2013)

During Henry's time as the go-to man for ladies tailoring, he made a number of suits for a daughter of the Weston family - the Canadian retailers who owned the London department store, Selfridge's. Before long, Henry was approached by the company with an offer to open a bespoke section and introduce individually handcrafted clothes to the store's customers. The opportunity appeared too good to refuse, and an atelier complete with cherrywood tailoring board was installed in the Oxford Street premises.

Henry Rose at Selfridges (2013)

Henry drew a crowd to Selfridges, generating a blast of publicity. At the same time, the intimate level of personal service and detailed craftsmanship involved in each individual order was perhaps an unlikely offering for a high street retailer driven by the metrics of footfall, conversion rates and sales per square foot. The call that has been a feature of his life - being master of his own atelier - meant Henry ultimately returned to his natural habitat of a West End workshop and was able to focus with additional intent on the things that matter most to him; namely the quality of his work and the satisfaction of his customers. He now brings all this to the endeavours of Mason & Sons, which is honoured to have a true perennial of the British tailoring landscape as a key member of the Mason & Sons team.

Please Contact Us if you would like to book an appointment or learn more about our bespoke tailoring service.