Stephen Williams has dressed some of the world’s most stylish and celebrated men. From David Beckham to Benedict Cumberbatch and Ralph Fiennes, his bespoke suits have earned an envious fanbase of customers, and it’s easy to see why. Born into a fashion and textile family in Manchester, Williams has been making suits for over 30 years, including stints at Giorgio Armani, Paul Costelloe, and William Hunt on Savile Row. He now runs his eponymous label, Stephen Williams London from Shoreditch in East London.
Those who know Stephen also know that his love for dogs knows no bounds. His current squeeze is a ‘pre-loved’ Dacshund called Hope (he is her third owner), who goes everywhere with him. When she’s not trotting around the streets of Mayfair or dining in the dog friendly restaurants of Soho, this stylish little Sausage dog is also the inspiration for Williams’ new bespoke dog print suit linings. Devoted and discerning dogs owners can now have their pup’s silhouette printed into the lining of his fabulous garments, and there’s plans for many more dog-inspired products too.
We caught up with Stephen and Hope to get the lowdown on these bespoke doggie designs, their favourite pet friendly hangouts and why smuggling your dog into the theatre might not end the way you imagined!
What led you to choose a career in tailoring?
I joined fashion retailer Next in 1985 that had taken over a men’s tailoring chain called Hepworth & Sons. Hepworth’s wanted someone to learn the art of tailoring. I decided to volunteer to be a step ahead of everybody else.
How would you describe your style?
Contemporary tailoring with unique attention to detail such as sharp fitted jackets with playful printed linings, cut away cuffs, and exclusive high-end fabrics.
How did your Dacshund Hope come into your life?
My dog had just died and I wanted to give a home to a new dog. Hope came into my life when I found her on website ‘Preloved.co.uk’. I am her third owner and got her when she was 3.5 years.
We love the concept for your new personalised dog linings. How did the idea come about?
I have a tattoo on my arm that says ‘Don’t Lose Hope’, and wanted to show the fun side of tailoring, that you can have your dog with you the whole time. I already offered photographic linings so the illustrated lining was a natural progression.
Hope is your brand mascot – has she got herself into some funny situations?
Many! My friend surprised my with tickets to watch The Naked Magicians in the West End but I didn’t have time to find a dog nanny. Hope being the size she is comes everywhere with me, so I decided to smuggle her into the theatre in my oversized bag. Once inside I put her on my lap. During the first half I started getting odd looks from a couple of audience members. A few moments later, an usher approached me and said that I have to leave as there have been complaints that I was, how can I say, ‘pleasuring myself’. I was mortified. I had to own up to having smuggled by dog into the theatre, much to the relief of everyone around!
She also once escaped from my bag during a lunch at The Ritz and was spotted wandering across the dining room by a waiter!
Do you have plans for more dog-inspired designs?
Absolutely! We have boxer dog, pug, and labrador linings planned. I have also launched a leather holdall sporting my signature crest that features Hope in the design.
QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS WITH HOPE
Describe yourself in 3 words
Fun, feisty, and plump (sometimes). I love my food!
What’s the best thing about being the dog of a tailor?
I get to go to all the best places, am adored by everyone I meet, and have been immortalised on beautiful garments, accessories, and artwork. What’s not to like!
Have you been stroked by some famous clients?
Yes, many! Barbara Windsor is my biggest fan.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
The one and only, Lassie!
Let us in on your favourite dog friendly places? (pubs, restaurants, hotels etc)
L’Escargot at 48 Greek Street in London. They always bring me a gold bowl with water on arrival. Fine dining at its best!
Stephen Williams London Bespoke Jacket with custom pet lining from £725 + £150 (for illustrated pet lining). Bespoke Two-Piece Suit with custom pet lining from £975 + £150 (for illustrated pet lining) and Leather Crest Holdall – £695. See more at www.stephenwilliams.london.