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Tailor dubbed “the wizard with the scissors” Edward Sexton dies

Tom Bottomley
27 July 2023

Tailor to the stars Edward Sexton, who only returned to Savile Row in 2022 with a new store at number 35, passed away on 23 July, aged 80.

Famous for twisting conventional Savile Row suit making, which is how he learnt his trade at the likes of Kilgour, French & Stanbury, in favour of more flamboyant styles for clients including The Beatles, Twiggy and Elton John, in partnership with his fellow “rebel tailor”, Tommy Nutter, Sexton helped to change perceptions of “the Row”.

Born in Dagenham on 9 November 1942, according to Savile Row Magazine Sexton first “entered the workroom” in 1957 (aged 15) – making riding coats for Harry Hall in the day while taking tailoring classes at Barrett Street Technical College by night.

It was in the early 1960s that Sexton served an apprenticeship at Savile Row’s Kilgour, French & Stanbury, before becoming a military cutter for Welsh & Jefferies.

Then, in 1966, he became the new cutter at Donaldson, Williams & Ward in Burlington Arcade. Faced with a very conservative approach to suit construction, it was there he met the charismatic Tommy Nutter - who was working front-of-house and was in with the movers and shakers of ‘Swinging London’.

With a flair for design and an eye for something a bit different, Nutter shared Sexton’s disenchantment with the staid approach to tailoring, and the two set out to do something about it.

Savile Row Magazine says that it was thanks to the financial backing of Beatles manager Peter Brown and Cilla Black among others, that Sexton, then 26, and Nutter, then 25, opened the doors of their tailoring house at 35a Savile Row on Valentine’s Day 1969, with a guest list that included Paul McCartney and Twiggy. Nutters of Savile Row was the first new company to be established on the street for 100 years.

The “Sexton look” was tightly-waisted and accentuated on the shoulders, with a wide lapel that was very unusual for the time. Three of the four Beatles wore Sexton suits on the Abbey Road album cover, while Elton John would apparently order 20 suits at a time. Eric Clapton, Peter Sellers and David Hockney were also fans, and Sexton made the white outfits worn by Mick and Bianca Jagger for their 1971 wedding.

A tailoring legend, who in more modern times dressed the likes of Harry Styles, Sexton will be sorely missed but fondly remembered.

Image: @edwardsexton Instagram

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