Fitzrovia’s Last Remaining Bespoke Tailor

Fitzrovia, a small neighbourhood nestled in the heart of London, has been my home for a number of years. As someone hailing from a small town, I have found that living in Fitzrovia feels familiar. Unlike other bustling areas of London, Fitzrovia has maintained a sense of community. The abundance of local businesses and the ease with which one can get to know their neighbours make it a pleasure to walk through the streets and engage with the people around you.

However, even as Fitzrovia feels like a haven of warmth and familiarity, it is still subject to the changes that occur in any rapidly-evolving metropolis. Over the past few years, many local icons have disappeared, and it has become increasingly apparent that this neighbourhood is in a state of perpetual transformation. The Spanish clubs at the end of Tottenham Court Road, Vera sandwich bar, Mr. Cappuccino, and the Middlesex Hospital are just a few examples of businesses that have closed their doors. Yet, as much as it is tempting to cling to the past, the changes in Fitzrovia are an opportunity to document our time and preserve the memories of those who came before us.

In 2012, I approached Paul, one of the best bespoke tailors in Fitzrovia, and asked him to help me create a photographic project. Paul has been in London for over forty years and is based at 66 Cleveland Street. His workshop is a multicultural creative environment, a crossroad of people and stories that deserve to be told. Most importantly, Paul’s garments are of sublime craftsmanship, and his workshop is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a true bespoke suit.


Through this photographic project, we hope to preserve the memories of Fitzrovia’s past and present for future generations. As the neighbourhood continues to evolve, we must embrace the changes and find ways to celebrate the community that makes Fitzrovia a unique and special place.

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19 thoughts on “Fitzrovia’s Last Remaining Bespoke Tailor”

  1. Hi Guilio,

    what a nice reportage series? It must have been a pretty wide angle lens. And very nice, muted colours! Can you tell us about the gear and film?


    1. This one here is done with a 15mm Voigtlander on a beaten Leica M8, without the IR filter, hence the crazy colour, vignetting and very wide angle. the focusing is also quite close at 0.3m minimum. I originally intended these to be BW but 10 years have passed and in the end the weird colours made it more meaningful to me.

  2. Thanks for this interesting piece
    I have spent years in Fitzrovia – I first went to the UCL college in 94 and have been drinking and shopping there ever since.
    Even before that TCR was a bustling street full of Hifi and electronic shops

    1. I know, so many changes. I used to shoot film and have hundreds of shots of this area, with snow, at eh Easter procession, shops and people that are not there any longer, a lot of nostalgia 😉 Very different these days! All electronic shops, perhaps 90% of them, have gone, even the furniture shops are slowly moving away. Paul incredibly endures, he is an icon and deserves a visit if you are up for a high end garment or simply wish to support local business 😉

    1. thank you for kind words, it was a great subject and theme, if I went back I would try a slight different approach, Paul and his colleagues were really nice with me letting to get in the way on a regular basis, I used to live few doors down the road so was in their atelier every day 😉

        1. I think the opportunity was to capture more the environment and perhaps more than one person at a time. I went super close with the 15mm but maybe a more considerate framing could have given some more.

  3. There are many things I like about this piece Giulio. I like the intimacy of the shots; the relationship between photographer and subject brought on by close proximity and empathetic cooperation.

    I also like the technical aspects – I did not notice the colours as odd; rather I noticed the blur and distortion that we might have seen in the pre-digital days when ISOs were capped and lenses shot wide open out of necessity. I assumed it was shot on film but an M8 and 15 makes perfect sense due to crop factor and available ISO.

    So it had a timeless quality in sympathy with the subject and the documentary nature. Than you for a lovely piece.

    1. thanks, indeed M8 = ISO 160… and hoping for the best. Also, the studio was lit with fluorescent light using magnetic ballast and there was a lot of flicker, I did not notice as you would these days on a phone or on a EVF but in some of the images you could see the differential in colour/exposure through the shot. lastly, the lens suffers from the typical colour error on the edge of the frame, even for the crop of the smaller sensor. but having said all of this, it was fun and with the camera I could go inside of the workstations, between the fabric being cut, I do not think you can get much closer than this without risking to become a piece of the garment 😉

  4. A truly excellent piece Giulio and exactly what photography does best, create a lasting record, whatever the subject, but especially one as important as this. I would love to see some environmental/street examples too. I thought I knew London quite well, but not Fitzrovia it appears.
    And the photos aren’t terrible, very engaging indeed.

    1. Spot on. That was the idea, the story started with me living on the flat above another tailor, and then them leaving due to rent increases. It felt a sign of change. Then more changes occurred. At that point I decided to engage with Paul and take some pictures. BTW, he is still there and these days the studio looks very smart which is a good sign.

  5. Nice pics! I never could make it as a tailor – they didn’t like my “measure once, cut twice” approach.

  6. Castelli Daniel

    Wonderful. Sad. The tone of our times. Well thought out, shot & edited. If you wander the North End of Boston, there are little old school shops that have three things prominently displayed: a figurine of Jesus or St. Mary, a photo of John Kennedy, and a picture of the pope. Just like Jesus standing next to the electrical outlet in one of your shots.
    Our daughter had an interaction with Bruce back when she was a undergrad art student. She was in the Met in NYC, carrying her Bessa R camera. Bruce asked her where she got it. “My dad bought it for me.” Bruce: “Good fuckin’ camera, kid. What does he use?” Kate: “A M2.” Bruce: “Smart dad.”
    That’s the subtle and gracious BG.

    1. Thank you. Maybe you have a nice opportunity there to work on some reportage.
      Regarding Bruce… he can be really nice, but as a teacher is quite brutal.
      Criticism is destructive until you get the point, and then, it is just mildly constructive 😉
      But, as painful as it is, this is an effective way to push students to improve, if they survive…

  7. Simon Cygielski

    Very nice series. The only thing is say is the pictures where you kept the wide angle distortion under control are significantly better than the ones there it becomes the central feature. I see you studied under Bruce Gilden – one of the worst photographers of any note, both in terms of technique and approach to people. The only thing his work has going for it is shock value, which is a very thin veneer for the emptiness behind it. IMO you would do well to unlearn anything the man ever taught you. Luckily you seem well on the way – this series is better than anything I’ve ever seen from Gilden himself.

    1. W i d e … and close… never enough: agree it can be a gimmick and an easy thrill. But so is bokeh, etc. I suppose when one starts all these things are the main arsenal at hand. I confess my sins. 😉
      About Bruce… not an easy character for sure, I really had a hard time there. But I like his early pictures a lot and he has a lot to give in term of teaching, within of course a very different delivery method, which could be off-putting for some. In the end I would be happy to have a fraction of his talent… But it is all subjective, we all have preferences. All the best! G.

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