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YOUR LIFE, YOUR STYLE


your relationship with clients. People will tell you a lot of things about their problems and what’s going on in their lives. You get to know people on a very personal level. “But a good tailor has always got to maintain the


heart of a loyal servant. My job is to fulfil a commission; to fulfil someone’s wishes. My job is not to knock something up and say ‘here, come buy this, I’m sure it’ll look quite good’. My job is to turn wishes and dreams into reality. It sounds dramatic because it is. It is really a special, magical process.” And it’s old magic too. The company story begins


in the 1800s, when the Cutler family – originally from the English Midlands – emigrated to Australia. Joseph Handel Cutler, an engineer by trade, found work in Ballarat during the time of the Victorian Gold Rush. At that time his eldest son, also named Joseph


Handel Cutler, was six years old. He had sat at the feet of his mother, a very accomplished dressmaker who had her own business in the UK prior to travelling to Australia, who taught him much about design and cutting garments. He received no other training before, at 16, he sailed to Sydney from Melbourne to take up his passion: bespoke tailoring. It proved an inspired decision. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when J.H. Cutler


began making clothes for society’s elite, but by the 1930s, Australia’s leading identities including governors-general, prime ministers and overseas dignitaries were finding their way to J. H. Cutler’s. Talk to those who own clothing made for them


by J. H. Cutler and without doubt they will confirm that once you have experienced the luxury of bespoke tailoring and shirt-making, you will never settle for anything less again.


A $50,000 overcoat


The experience and process at J.H. Cutler’s can be so profound that you could write a book about it. And Meg Lukens Noonan has. The Coat Route: craft, luxury and obsession, on the trail of a $50,000 coat traces the people, things and places that went into an overcoat John created for an international businessman’s North American sojourns.


The coat, says John, is made from the gossamer fleece of the vicuna, a small llama-like creature found high in the Andes. Vicuna is the world’s most expensive fabric, and is softer, lighter and warmer than any other wool. The buttons are made from buffalo horn, the chest piece from horsehair, the lining cut from the best pure silk satin available.


The team of craftsmen trusted with the creation of the ultimate vicuna overcoat were: Ö John Handel Lawson Cutler Ö Leng Ngo, a refuge from Cambodia via Vietnam, is a tailor of exceptional skill and is J.H. Cutler’s workroom foreman.


Ö Genaro Scura, jacket-maker, is from Cosenza close to the southern tip of Italy.


Ö John W. Thompson, master hand engraver, was the last ever apprentice in his craft taken on anywhere in England, serving his five-year apprenticeship at William Day Engravers at the Angel, Islington, England.


94 FAMILY OFFICE: THE FUTURE


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