Celebrate the scent of Savile Row: Richard James’ fragrance returns

With his autumn collection about to be unveiled at London Collections: Men, we caught up with Savile Row tailor, Richard James, to talk about the return of his signature scent – aptly titled Savile Row – which hits Fenwick Bond Street this week, and the lengths some men will go to to buy it.

Richard James Portrait

How did men react when they heard the fragrance would be discontinued?

We had forlorn customers coming in to the store, calling us, tweeting us. One guy called from New York saying he’d heard, goodness knows how, that we had found a few small sample bottles. He wanted to buy six of them, but we couldn’t send them because of the restrictions on posting flammable liquids. So he flew over. I went over to the shop to say hello when he came in, but he said he couldn’t chat because he had to get back to Heathrow. Didn’t even stay for a cup of tea! I liked the ‘Looking for Richard James’ thread on the Basenotes fragrance site with the picture of Rick James too.

Why did you discontinue it?

We originally decided to produce a limited amount of the fragrance so, in keeping with the ethos of the business and our clothing, it retained an element of individuality. We didn’t want it to be overly exclusive, but we didn’t want to flood the market, so to speak. Anyway, on the back of the rave reviews we got, the producers sensed a big seller and upped their minimums, which simply didn’t work for us. But now it’s back, and in numbers and places - such as Fenwick Bond Street - that we’re very happy about!

Is the new fragrance any different from the original?

No. Same ingredients, same formula. That said, fragrance does change slightly with time and exposure to light and oxygen and so too does the potency of certain ingredients. The time of year that you pick it affects the scent too - it’s a complex business!

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Why is it important for Savile Row to be represented at LC:M?

Savile Row was where men’s fashion started. It’s the home of classic tailoring, but people forget that it has always been a centre of innovation too. And, of course, no one cuts like a Savile Row tailor.

Who would be on your ultimate front row?

Elton John, who sometimes is. And it would be nice to see David Bowie there! And Mark Ronson, who’s a customer and friend and who wears our clothing perfectly; I think he’s just got the right attitude.

Who have you dressed for LC:M?

Samuel L Jackson. He’s his own man and he loves colour. And he’s charming, which is always a very stylish attribute. 

What do you think a man should smell like?

Like a man! But not too sporty. We introduced Savile Row at a time when men’s fragrances tended to be a bit energetic, shall we say, and we really wanted to get away from that and introduce something that was masculine, yet subtly seductive. 

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What are you most excited about showing at London Collections: Men this season?

I particularly like our storm-buttoning Pioneer jacket in teal Merino birdseye. Our AW15 casual wear is all about intrepidness, in body and spirit.

What is the theme of the show? Can you give us a taste of any highlights?

That will be revealed at the show - think mountains and you will be on the right track! Bit of a clue or two there!

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Why are Englishmen the best dressed in the world?

Because they’re individual. Because they’ve got the guts to do their own thing. No other country in the world encourages and celebrates individuality like this one.

What are the big trends in men’s tailoring for spring?

Layering, texture and rich colour.

What is the secret to being well-dressed?

It’s a secret for a reason, you know… Frankly, it comes from within. It comes with confidence.

Are there any style rules that it’s ok to break?

Pretty much all of them. Please don’t mention ‘brown in town’. The only one I really adhere to is that your belt should match the colour of your shoes. That’s if you’re wearing a belt, of course, which I don’t recommend that you do with a suit, as it can cut you in half. One should always look at a suit as a single piece of clothing, not a jacket and a pair of trousers.

What small tweak could a man make today to update his look?

I’ve always liked how a spot of colour in the form of a pair of socks or a pocket square or a scarf or tie can reflect your mood as well as transforming your appearance. Colour is an extremely sensual, evocative thing, which is why we’ve always loved working with it. Looking good really does have a lot to do with feeling good.

Richard James Savile Row is available in Fenwick Bond Street.

By Claire Brayford