Will Smith, newly installed as head cutter at Hayward, recalls the illustrious cinematic creations of founder Douglas Hayward.
Douglas Hayward was a tailor sometimes more renowned for his friendships with film stars than for the suits he cut. Starting out in his career at the same time as Terence Stamp and Michael Caine, both of whom were personal friends, meant that he was well placed to make the most of the burgeoning British film industry, and his suits were soon seen gracing the silver screen, protecting the modesty of some of the hippest sixties swingers in town.
Hayward’s actual film credits are fairly sparse. A credit is usually a reward, or rather an incentive, for producing the goods for free – anathema to most tradesmen. His accredited work includes suits for Terence Stamp in Modesty Blaise (1966), Laurence Harvey in The Spy With The Cold Nose (1966) and Peter Lawford in Salt and Pepper (1968). The latter also stars Sammy Davis Jr, who, although his clothes were not credited, was also a customer. Hayward created both Michael Caine’s and Noel Coward’s suits in The Italian Job (1969) but did not receive a credit.
Those actors, along with Rex Harrison, Roger Moore, David Niven and Anthony Quinn, were all Hayward’s clients anyway, so it is a fair bet that in at least some of their films they are wearing a Hayward suit.
None more so than Michael Caine, whose style in the sixties (and further) shaped the style of the characters he played, from Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, to Alfie (Caine is said to have based his portrayal of the character on Hayward) and Jack Carter.
Douglas’ style was halfway between an Italian cut and the London one. He also favoured a matching jacket and waistcoat with separate trouser, as can be seen on Mr. Lawford in Salt and Pepper. Hayward was credited with putting James Bond back into three-piece, with the suits he cut for Roger Moore in his three 1980s Bond outings. This was fitting, as Douglas had been partnered at the beginning of his career by George Lazenby’s tailor Dimitri “Dimi” Major. Thankfully, Hayward was not the man responsible for Bond’s flared Safari suits!
Hayward was costume designer on The Reckoning (1969), a hard hitting revenge film regarded by some as a grittier, and indeed earlier, Get Carter. He also created two of the most iconic suits in film history: the three-piece Prince-of-Wales suit worn by Steve McQueen in the Thomas Crown Affair (1968, covered elsewhere in this journal) and the suits worn by Caine in Get Carter (1971).The latter are fine examples of the swinging look.
Although Get Carter was made in 1971, the suits still have a distinctly 1960s feel about them. The first suit Carter is seen wearing, as he travels up north on the train, is a double-breasted, mid grey affair. It has a classic ‘two show three’, button placement with conventional width lapels for such a garment.
The jacket has a deep centre vent and slanted cross pockets with flaps, both of which are details rarely seen on double-breasteds – a typical example of Hayward ignoring what was deemed to be ‘correct’. The trousers are straight legged and fully fitted with a narrower tapered hem.
Arguably the real star of the film is the suit that Carter changes into and then wears for the rest of the film, a navy blue Tonik 3 ply Mohair. The cloth was created by Dormeuil (who even get a name check in Alfie) and was considered the height of chic in 1960s London. The Tonik cloth was woven with two different colours, along the warp and weft, which gives a shimmering appearance, aided by the yarn’s natural reflective qualities.
The suit jacket is cut single breasted, with a high placed two-button front. The top button sits above the slightly-higher-than-natural waistline, an Italian look. It is very fitted and, when we see Caine putting the jacket on, it almost wears him. The buttons are closely spaced and the fronts are slightly cut away, elegantly falling from the top button, which would make the second one almost impossible to do up. Accentuating the high waist, the jacket has a slight flare over the hips and deep slant pockets, which create more length. The collar sits low on the neck, allowing for a good inch or more of the shirt collar to be visible – another Italian look.
The sleeves, in keeping with the fit of the suit, are by no means full and end with the classic four-button cuff. He wears them slightly short, showing off a good ¾-inch of pressed cuff and occasionally a flash of gaudy cufflink.
The waistcoat has six buttons and no ‘show’ button at the bottom, meaning that all the buttons are to be fastened. This may come as a shock to some readers, but there really are single-breasted weskits where you don’t leave the bottom button undone. There are no lapels on the waistcoat, which gives the overall look of the suit a much cleaner finish; there is also nothing to distract the eye from the sheer majesty of the cut of the chest and lapels. When the jacket is off, we see that there are four welt pockets, the traditional and most correct placement; however, this was not the trend at the time, and is simply another opportunity for Douglas to flip the proverbial V-sign at convention.
The trousers are flat fronted and have belt loops, a flash of buckle being seen every now and then, they are straight legged and fully fitted with what looks to be around 16 ½-inch plain bottoms, with just the merest hint of a break at the shoe. The trouser pockets are cross, sometimes referred to as ‘western’ or ‘frog mouth’ and the strides feature no hip pocket which show off the fit of the seat.
Caine as Carter teams the ensemble with a powder blue shirt and navy tie, all of which gives the impression that he is not messing around, that he is a man of business.
And business is what he gets. As did Douglas Hayward when the film was a huge hit.