Never Understated

World-renowned stylist David Thomas reflects on meeting our eponymous co-founder and how a camouflage suit allowed him to combine formality and personality in one look.

I remember the first time I met Richard very clearly. It was at the launch party of a new fashion magazine called Riva in 1988, where I was fashion assistant. Richard introduced himself with such amazing respect and grace, and we've been friends ever since.

When the Richard James shop opened on Savile Row in 1992, it was very different from anything else on the Row. With the exception of Tommy Nutter, it was quite new to see so many bright colours, bold patterns and unconventional fabrics being used in tailoring.

The first time I went to Richard's show in Paris in the early 1990s, I actually cried at the end because it was such a magical experience for me. I ended up buying a lot of clothes from that collection, including a teddy bear coat; an amazing navy blue knitted Argyll sweater with matching knitted joggers; a black, velvet button-down shirt that had snowflake embroidery on it; and, of course, a camouflage suit.

Savile Row has a history of making military uniforms, and I liked Richard's playful twist on Savile Row's military heritage. This suit was one of my favorite pieces, as when I became the fashion editor of British Esquire in 1991, aged 24, suddenly I had to wear a suit for work and events, but I was still more into streetwear. In the camouflage suit, on one hand I was conforming to the notion that I should wear a suit, but I was still expressing my personal style.

When I got invited to meet King Charles, the then Prince of Wales, at St James's Palace in 2001 (pictured), I thought it was the perfect outfit to wear. Indeed, when I met the King, the first thing he said was, 'Oh, I love your suit!'

David Thomas and King Charles




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