First female master tailor opens Savile Row shop

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Media captionKathryn Sargent: Savile Row's first female master tailor

Kathryn Sargent has become the first female master tailor to open a shop on London's historic Savile Row.

The 41 year old is the first female in the street's 213-year history to have her name 'above the door'.

She said just 20 years ago it was "very unusual" to see a woman working on Savile Row.

But she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme women are now "actively welcomed" into the business.

She said: "As a tailor it has been a long-held ambition of mine. I am thrilled to be making history, although for me being a woman is incidental - I am a tailor first and foremost."

Image copyright Katheryn Sargent
Image caption Kathryn Sargent has become the first female master tailor to open a shop on Savile Row

Savile Row

The road was developed in 1695 on land owned by the Earl of Burlington, with Savile Street named after the Earl's wife Dorothy Savile.

The street was built up on one side with a row of terraced houses and the opposite side was left for gardens.

The neat row of identical houses would, from 1810, give the street its new name, Savile Row.

Henry Poole, a name which still has a presence on the street, is commonly cited as being the founder of tailoring on Savile Row in 1846.

However, tailors had been based in the area as far back as 1785 and their numbers grew continuously until the early part of the 20th century.

The Japanese word for suit - sebiro - is believed to be a corruption of 'Savile Row'

Lord Nelson, Muhammad Ali and Winston Churchill have all worn Savile Row suits

The Beatles HQ was at No. 3 Savile Row, where they played a rooftop gig on 30 January 1969

Image copyright Sian Davies
Image caption Kathryn Sargent was the first woman in Savile Row history to hold the position of head cutter

After completing a fashion design degree, Sargent began an apprenticeship at Gieves & Hawkes, becoming head cutter in 2009 - the first woman in Savile Row history to hold the position.

"I went to Savile Row and knocked on a few doors and walked up and down the street and was so enchanted by what I saw. I had never seen anything like it," she said.

"It was very unusual, some 20 years ago when I started, for me to be in the cutting room and for me to be training.

"I have been very welcomed; Savile Row is very much a community."

Ms Sargent's shop joins Gormley & Gamble, founded by tailor Phoebe Gormley, which caters only for women and opened on the famous street six months ago.

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