Suit fittings with Michael Caine, alterations for Adele and the story behind the “dress that broke the internet” – Ajay Mirpuri on dressing the crème de la crème
By Sophia Charalambous
“I heard you saved the day,” says longstanding client Isabel May as she enters the Mirpuri Bespoke showroom where founder Ajay Mirpuri and I are discussing all things sartorial.
At the risk of feeling like the friend left out of the joke, I politely ask what day she’s referring to.
“They fixed the dress …the dress that broke the internet,” says Isabel excitedly. The infamous dress was Meghan Markle’s Victoria Beckham blue pencil dress she wore to the annual Endeavour Fund Awards.
“It wasn’t that bad,” says Ajay.
“No, it was,” replies Isabel, who also happens to be godmother to Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
“I was in the area and we did it and (senior tailoring consultant) Beth came and sewed her into it,” says Ajay.
“That picture is so beautiful in the rain, but how close was that to not happening and wouldn’t have been as beautiful had she been in a black dress. It’s not her fault at all, but we were blessed enough to fix it, and help her.
“I stressed until we got back into the car because now it’s got my name on it.”
Ajay and I have already been chatting for the past half an hour about his business, which he started 17 years ago from his premises on New Bond Street – there is also a workshop in Hanover Square and another in North London where the tailors and their families live and work.
Specialising in both bespoke tailoring and alterations, Ajay is well known on the inside as the go-to man for quick turnarounds.
Hanging on a rail is a suit for Roman Griffin Davis, star of Jojo Rabbit – Ajay had three suits made for the star’s award appearances and this was the only one not needed. Beside the mini tux is a glitzy dress left over from London Fashion Week altered for supermodel Irina Shayk.
On the next hanger is a jacket lined with a collage of Sophia Loren photographs, designed by the client himself, and behind this is a bespoke coat made of Vicuna – one of the rarest and most expensive fibres in the world from the animal that roams the Peruvian Andes.
“That’s the beauty of bespoke – we can do anything,” says Ajay.
Beside the rack are swatch books containing the latest fabrics, there are also suit samples hanging in the open plan space where Ajay works alongside senior style and tailoring consultant Beth Gillings Pattison and tailoring consultant Francesca Phipps.
Francesca was in charge of the fittings and alterations on rapper Stormzy’s Brit Award-winning outfit earlier this year.
Isabel, who’s still with us, popped in for a fitting as she’s having two of her late father’s suits tailored to her size.
“It’s quite special, I’m quite emotional,” says Isabel. “I lost the watch my dad gave me so these suits are like having a hug – they’re these Saint Laurent suits from the 80s.
“I don’t want to buy anything new this year – I worked at Burberry before and I had all these dresses that didn’t fit and they (Mirpuri Bespoke) turned them into skirts for me and I’m still wearing them – I think that’s the future.”
Given sustainability is high on global agenda, Ajay, of course, agrees.
He explains: “We hold no stock, we don’t use anything that’s unnatural, we try our level best in terms of the processes to make things as climate friendly as possible.”
With showrooms in Zurich and Geneva, too, Mirpuri Bespoke is by no means a small operation but admits there is still lots to do to entice more women to experience bespoke.
Ajay says: “So many wonderful ladies wear sharp tailoring. We’ve just been through all the Autumn/Winter shows, and seen the Prince of Wales checks and it’s fantastic and it looks amazing on the models but for everyday ladies, it’s an option to have bespoke as you can accentuate or conceal what you like. Ladies are a lot more sensitive; not saying men aren’t, they are, but there are a lot of different body shapes.”
Isabel comes out in one of the YSL numbers, on-trend Khaki, looking like it was made for her.
“It’s a bit tight at the waist,” she says.
“No problem, we’ll release it,” says Ajay with no hesitation.
He really is the can-do man.
on memorable celebs he’s dressed
Joss was my first ever celebrity in the Cumberland Hotel, I didn’t know what I was doing. I remember standing outside the door. She was like, “Is he gay?” I guess that was because there were a lot of people changing in the room.
Not many people in their business get to meet a legend – that’s a pretty special feeling. We were blessed to make him some stuff. He would be the friendliest person in here. We try and have lunch afterwards.
We were doing an alteration for her world tour and at the last second were told to make a mic pack – the dress was delivered. I was in Vegas at the time at a Celine Dion concert showing my tailors on Facetime how to make it.