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Interview The Macallan Meets Peter Johnston

With a joint appreciation for luxury and style The Macallan and Peter Johnston pair perfectly. From his three-storey Georgian town house in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, Peter Johnston offers a by-appointment bespoke tailoring and design consultancy business. We met with the man behind the designs to find out what inspires his creations and craftsmanship…

Tell us about your journey, how did Peter Johnston come to be?

While studying for an MA at The Royal College of Art, I was the first British entrant to win the coveted Italian tailoring and design competition, the ‘Aga D’Oro’ (Golden Needle). Things have grown from there, and I now preside over a business that sells bespoke tailoring and own label menswear and accessories in UK, Japan and America. Following Design Director positions at Kilgour, Chester Barrie and Dunhill, in 2002 I announced the creation of my own design consultancy, immediately securing a contract with the highly respected Onward Kashiyama, Japan. We now sell in eight Isetan Department stores across Japan. In 2004, I opened my first directly owned own-label outlet in the UK. The flagship store was opened in Edinburgh, Scotland, providing ‘by appointment’ tailoring and shirt making services as well as a range of luxury ready-to-wear accessories. Then in 2011, Saks Fifth Avenue, New York invited me to launch the Peter Johnston label in America through three carefully selected stores: New York, Chicago and Washington DC.

What inspired you to work in tailoring?

There wasn't a 'flash' moment, more of a natural gravitation. I have always liked creating things, building things. Creativity is something that comes from within you.

What is the style of Peter Johnston tailoring?

There is a signature Peter Johnston style. There’s a classic old school Hollywood sensibility reflecting the likes of Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. There’s an understated sensibility. I know there is a luxury and quality sensibility too. The thing is, they are all mixed up together so it’s all very natural. It’s easy to recognise someone who has become style-secure through wearing well-cut, personalised clothes, they appear both comfortable and undeniably elegant.

Whose style do you most admire and have they influenced you?

Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor. He instinctively knew what suited him and employed various tailors tricks, for example, setting his jacket waists high to elongate his silhouette. And he always purchased the finest quality. Those who wear their clothes unselfconsciously influence me. It usually means they feel comfortable in sophisticated well-fitting clothes.

Do you put a modern twist on classics?

Classics are non-fashion, which sums me up quite nicely. Classics offer enduring value as they are wearable year-after-year. What I like to do is to take that inherent merit and using luxurious fabrics and small details, create a well-cut quality product for a real person. We are all influenced constantly by our ever-changing life experiences so we are always putting modern twists on things to improve and adapt them, but the beauty of classics is their timelessness.

If you could work with other masters of their trade who would they be?

Jonathan Ive – The designer behind the iphone, the ipod and the ipad.

How does a person feel when they leave you with their very first tailored suit?

I’m not sure I am qualified to answer that – maybe you should ask them! I hope the answer will be that they feel confidently, discreetly well dressed and that they just ‘feel right’ – it’s a subtle thing.

What classic pieces of tailoring should a gentleman always have in his wardrobe?

White shirts, five seasonal suits including at least one navy, one or two sports jackets or blazer, a selection of seasonal go-anywhere trousers and a stylish dinner suit.

For more information and to shop online: www.peter-johnston.co.uk

To arrange an appointment: t: +44 (0) 131 225 4318 e: bespoke@peter-johnston.co.uk

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