Fashion and Textile Museum, London 20 May – 22 October 2011
Tommy Nutter: Rebel on the Row is an informative biographical exhibition that situates Nutter’s career and output within the contexts of traditional Savile Row tailoring, the ‘youthquake’ of 1960s Britain, and celebrity costuming.
Tommy Nutter iconoclastically opened an inviting and eccentric tailor’s shop on Savile Row on Valentine’s Day 1969, after having been a sales assistant and then design collaborator at some of the great bespoke tailoring establishments on the Row.
The Nutter style was whimsical, bombastic and young, but founded upon the standards of quality in workmanship that Savile Row is famous for.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, and until his death in 1992, Nutter dressed celebrities and personalitites such as Elton John, Mick Jagger, Twiggy and Neil Sedaka, as well as lesser known but equally as discerning members of the public. Perhaps Nutter’s most famous suits are those worn by the Beatles on the cover of Abbey Road (disappointingly not in the exhibition). Nutter also designed Jack Nicholson’s purple suit as the Joker in Batman (1989).
The exhibition is cleverly designed and well laid out, tracing Nutter’s career in timelines, images, and examples of his designs loaned in mot cases by the original wearer. The sense of devotion among Nutter’s clients is made apparent by curator Dennis Nothdruft’s selection of ensembles and quotes by his illustrious clientele.
Photographs of Nutter with his circle as well as order books, sketches and presss clippings give a sense of the designer in his heyday as well as the legacy of the Nutter look in popular entertainment culture, and as part of the tradition of British bespoke tailoring.