Timothy Everest

Fashion Minds: Pushing boundaries

Designer Profile

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Bringing tradition into the contemporary realm is par for the course for Timothy Everest. Simultaneously embracing timelessness and the avant garde, the British tailor has long used his work to challenge perceptions. In collaborating on the all-wool Hemisphere collection with The Woolmark Company, Everest stays faithful to his pioneering spirit.

 

EVEREST RISES

Timothy Everest is one of those people who has long been fond of pushing buttons and boundaries. His entré into the world of tailoring began where so many others dream of eventually ending up: on Savile Row. As apprentice to the legendary Tommy Nutter—the man whose humour and innovation shook up British tailoring in the 1960s, attracting hip clientele like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones—Everest immersed himself in the peerless technical aspects of bespoke craftsmanship and honed his instinct for the perfect cut. He also learned the joy of theatrics and bucking the establishment. So while his appreciation for the craft flourished, Savile Row remained too conservative to hold him.

Looking to the creative quarter of Spitalfields in London’s East End, the Welsh-born designer found his place, literally and figuratively. Setting up an atelier in the former residence of British painter Mark Gertler, Everest built a headquarters where he could harness his creative drive. It was here that Everest became a driving force behind the New Bespoke Movement of the 1990s. Alongside fellow tearaway tailors Richard James and Ozwald Boateng, Everest was instrumental in bringing British tailoring into the consciousness of a new generation of men who had long since dismissed Savile Row as a relic more suited, so to speak, to their fathers and grandfathers. The New Bespoke Movement retained the exemplary cuts and finishes of the old guard, but brought a modern fashion sensibility to proceedings.

Ironically, the movement turned Everest into as integral a part of the British tailoring establishment as the very Savile Row institutions he rebelled against. His garments were sought after by everyone from Mick Jagger to David Beckham to Tom Cruise, seen on the red carpet at the Oscars and on the big screen in Atonement, Mission Impossible and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The British Olympic team ushered in a new millennium at the Sydney 2000 games in Everest-designed uniforms and, in 2010, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on him an MBE for services to tailoring.

 

CHALLENGING DESIGN

More than twenty years after swapping Savile Row for Spitalfields, Everest has not tired of breaking out of the ordinary, still seeking ways to challenge the way others think. Only today, with the Hemisphere collection, it’s not the English menswear fraternity in his sights.

“The aim of the collection was actually to demystify the preconceptions of wool and take it to a younger, more contemporary audience,” Everest says. “Working with some innovative wool designs and weaves, we wanted an urban consumer and a tailored casual look. We’re trying to utilise fabric in a different way, whether it’s an outerwear fabric used as a pullover or bonded mesh fabrics that have a technical angle to them but put into a tailored piece. Again, it’s that juxtaposition between tradition and contemporary, getting people to be a little bit surprised about what you do with wool and how you can actually wear it.”

“I’ve always liked working with wool, it’s an integral part of tailoring.

The collection draws on the creative energy of life in Spitalfields and features seven looks for men and three for women, each exploring a fresh, urban expression that draws wool away from its more traditional incarnations. The Hemisphere project, in collaboration with The Woolmark Company, presented an opportunity for Everest to discover new ways of designing with a familiar fibre.

“I’ve always liked working with wool, it’s an integral part of tailoring. You can manipulate it to get shape and form. It’s also incredibly timeless and yet a very modern fabric to work with,” he says. “In this collection everything is wool-based, even the shirting. It naturally flows and drapes over the body which is really good for some of the shapes that we’ve been developing.”

Boiled wools, technical finishes, jerseys and even a pure wool fur all feature in the Hemisphere collection. Although conceptual, the designer deliberately created pieces with a timeless appeal; “clothes for real people living a real life” as he puts it.

“There’s a lot of detail in the cut and the fit and in some of the finishing we’ve used tailoring details,” he explains. “The clothes are very simple at first glance, but they are cut ergonomically for performance and also have little details, you know, if you’ve got your mp3 player there are iPod loops.”

The attention to detail through the range even goes so far as to use the way the fibre ages over time to maximum advantage.

“One of the things I’ve always liked about working with wool and tailoring is that the pieces you invest in get better over time the more you wear them, the more you use them. That’s very important to me in this collection,” Everest says.

Everest built a unique colour story for the Hemisphere collection, selected by experts Pantone to be part of their seasonal colour report. “The palette is very simple; basically navy, greys - very cosmopolitan urban in that sense - with highlight colours of burgundy and a pop yellow,” he says.

 

SHEAR INSPIRATION

Before putting pen to paper, Everest travelled to Australia to get up close and personal with Merino wool. While he conceived the collection for an urban audience, the designer drew on the fleece’s rural heritage during his visit and cleverly reinterpreted it for an international audience.

“One of the highlight fabrics for me is the wool denim that we’ve used in the one-piece suit,” Everest reveals. “When I was up at the sheep station in Ferndale it was really interesting because that was what the sheep shearers were actually wearing. It was stretch denim in a very, very cool cut, so we took that as inspiration. It’s very practical. As the shearers pointed out, in cotton you would have damp trousers all day long if you were handling the sheep when it was raining, whereas wool wicks away the water.”

Everest’s Australian excursion also revealed the extent of textile innovation which goes all the way back to the farm, where growers ensure their sheep provide precisely the right micron of wool to suit the designer’s end product.

“I worked with a technologist there who brought out six boxes of ‘mistakes’ which was quite funny because a lot of them were really interesting,” Everest says. “One of the fabrics was woven and it had properties of being impervious to water because it had shrunk the micron of wool in the weaving process. There was the wool fur, and there were wonderful over-dyeing techniques and printing on wool - a lot of fabrics I didn’t think you could get from wool, which actually don’t look like wool but perform like wool.”

As he has done throughout his career, where others see one thing, Everest sees something very different. What wool technologists considered mistakes, the designer looked at as experimentation and opportunity, incorporating some of the unusual textiles into Hemisphere, where they fit within a collection created around contradictions. There’s that suit, rendered as a one piece; minimalist shapes concealing utilitarian features; a restrained palette punctuated by a flash of vibrant colour under a collar.

At every turn, the Hemisphere collection takes the viewer to somewhere familiar before surprising and challenging them with the unexpected. Within every stitch are the hallmarks of a true pioneer.

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