Each month Fal Blake introduces us to one of the many fascinating people to come through flamboyant tailor Gresham Blake’s front doors…
With love very much still in our thoughts this month, I thought it would only be appropriate for me to introduce a client that we have indeed made a wedding suit for. Who I have chosen needs very little introduction – meet Mr Peter James.
James is one of the UK’s most treasured crime and thriller novelists. His Roy Grace detective novels have sold over 17 million copies worldwide and the series has now been translated into 36 languages. Peter first came across Gresham Blake around 10 years ago; he says that it was our eye-catching window that drew him to our shop.
Imagine my excitement measuring his inside leg! I happened to be reading one of the novels from the Roy Grace Series. If you haven’t yet indulged in this series of books – do so straight away. Talk about a series of books that are unputdownable. It ticks every box for me – crime, suspense, murder mystery – based in and around Brighton – with lots of familiar characters playing cameo roles.
We’ve even been lucky to have been included. In one of the books a piece of cloth belonging to the murder victim was found in a chicken run. Roy Grace asked Gresham to identify the type of material the cloth was made out of. We decided to turn this chapter into a lining fabric – and manufactured a special collection of coats with it. So when Peter announced his engagement to the very special Lara Lovey and asked us to make his wedding suit we were thrilled.
Black is Peter’s signature colour, as he feels it’s practical especially when travelling, yet also portrays a professional and appropriate look for authors of crime novels. Of course there is no such thing as just black and in the end we settled for a medium weight, super 100 black wool, Dormeuil cloth.
The lining of the suit was particularly special – Peter commissioned us to design and create a bespoke lining. We also added some very personal touches to suit – my favourite, a set of handcuffs, the Roy Grace symbol – embroidered underneath the top collar. In terms of the design, there’s a hint of 60s mod feel to the cut of the suit; slim fit, double breasted lapels, tapered trousers and an ever-so-slightly shorter jacket.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE WEDDING?
How did you meet? Was it love at first sight?
We met in a ski lift in Courcheval. I was skiing with my mate, Rob Kempson, and Lara was on a week’s skiing with two friends, one of whom was her ex-boyfriend, although I didn’t realize he was her ex at the time. They clambered into the eight-seater gondola and sat down opposite us.
Lara looked at me and said ‘nice helmet’. (I do have a very fancy ski helmet all leather and chrome). I said ‘How can you see?!’ We got on instantly, and totally connected, and it was a while before we realized we were both from Sussex. I assumed Lara was with her boyfriend and we were all just mates meeting a few times over the next few days. Some months later, we decided to have a get together. Lara turned up minus her boyfriend, and I’d never seen her without a ski helmet on before… the rest, as they say is history.
Tell us about Lara’s dress
Lara wore two different dresses as we had three wedding events. The first part was the official wedding ceremony, held at Jeremy’s Restaurant in beautiful Borde Hill. For this Lara had a custom made dress by Roxy Goldstein who owns ‘Atelier Gold’ in Ship Street, Brighton. It was short with long sleeves, a scoop neck at the front and a deep V at the back.
We had our dogs, Oscar and Spook to this event and they were dressed up too in very smart red neckerchiefs. We then had a blessing in the south of France, and for that Lara wore a long dress by the designer Sophia Tolli from ‘Couture and Tiaras’ in Burgess Hill. She had it cleaned and wore it again for the big wedding party in September at our house.
How many bridesmaids did you have?
We had four bridesmaids; Helen Hodge, Georgie Maclean, Sharon Pavoni and Dem Saltmarsh, and three flowergirls, Lara’s lovely nieces… Laura and Becky Adams, and Edith Duncton.
Was it difficult picking the bridesmaids?
Not at all. Lara is very close to each of her bridesmaids and sees them all the time. They are very mischievous when they get together and I adore them all, so they were the perfect matches for my four good-men.
Why did you decide you wanted to go bespoke?
I needed an outfit that would cover all three events. I guess I have a strong fashion sense, coming from my upbringing with my mother as the Queen’s glove maker. Also, I don’t like wearing a tie and I tend to wear mostly black, or black with a white shirt.
As the wedding was taking place in summer I thought that a black suit and white shirt would be elegant and with my four good men all being different sizes and shapes, I felt it important that they all wore the same suits and accessories. And of course they all had to wear red socks as I never wear any other colour. Even our amazing Reverend, Ish Smale wore red socks.
Did Lara have any influence over what you wore?
Yes, I wanted her approval and input. We had a consultation early on at Gresham Blake’s, because it was essential that I and my good men would be comfortable in the heat, but I wanted material that wouldn’t crease. We had a Mexican Day of the Dead theme to our wedding and we thought it would be fun for the linings to reflect that.
You had not one, not two, not even three – but four ‘good men’?!
I had a real problem with the notion of a Best Man, because it was impossible to choose between four mates whom I’m deeply fond of. The best man is supposed to get you to the wedding on time. Rob Kempson I’ve known the longest, since 1972, but he’s so immaculate and always takes so long to get ready, he’d still be at home waxing his chest hairs and deciding what cologne to spray on.
Next I considered Tony Mulliken, who I’ve known since 1981, but as he’s my publicist I feared we’d arrive to find the place decked out with advertising slogans: HAVE A DEAD GOOD WEDDING! Then there’s James Simpson who’s been a very close friend since 1994. But him get me to the wedding on time? A few years ago he got arrested in Los Angeles after driving off in someone else’s rental car outside a restaurant. Hardly a man to rely upon for transport.
So then it was possibly David Gaylor who I’ve known since 1996. But the first time I went to his house as he directed me into the drive of his house in a way that caused me to demolish his front wall. So I thought there was too much risk of an embarrassing arrival. Instead I decided that if I had all four, they might between them sort themselves out – and me!
How did the speeches go?
The speeches were great. The only person who had a repeated ding at me, although very good-naturedly, was my new father-in-law Colin who liked to remind everyone that I wasn’t that much younger than him.
How many people at your wedding actually have made appearances in your book?
Quite a number and there were quite a number of police officers past and present who have helped me in my research and become close friends.
Did you have a wedding planner?
Lara and good-man David Gaylor were the wedding planners, and they had weekly meetings and many many lists.
How on earth did you organise three weddings?
Lara and I were adamant that it would be enjoyable rather than stressful as so many people seem to get stressed over organizing their weddings, and that takes the fun out of it. We had a brilliant time coming up with ideas, gathering decorations, planning layouts, tasting wine, choosing music, booking fireworks and stilt-walkers etc, and we met some great people along the way.
The cake was made by a local lady called Yolande Robinson who owns a wonderful tea shop called ‘The Old Bake House’ in West Sussex. She made delicious cupcakes and a huge naked sponge cake decorated with berries and dripping jam. Lara’s good friend Alison Howe did the flowers. Ali has a florists called ‘Mad Lilies’ in Banstead, and she and her team came up with some really innovative ideas for our theme, and the flowers were stunning.
Did you design your own invitations? How did you come up with the design?
Partly they were designed by a lady called Lily Dunlop along with Lara. They worked up a brilliant Day of the Dead design which looked really striking. The invites for our big party were individually made by my PA’s daughter, Helene Carter. Each one was creatively torn and glued and decorated until her poor hands were sore! The design was taken from the Gresham Blake lining of my jacket so it all tied together really well. We loved them.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We stayed on in the South of France before driving over on the amazing coastal roads to Portofino in Italy. We stayed there for 10 days then drove up to the Italian Lakes for a couple of days. Then headed back through Switzerland and France over a day or so.
How would you define true love?
Somebody once said ‘true love is not staring into each other’s eyes, it is looking in the same direction together’. I think there is a lot of truth in that. True love is about not just wanting to be with that other person but wanting to share all of lives experiences with them.
What are you currently working on now?
I have just submitted the latest draft of Roy Grace number 12, called ‘Love You Dead’. This will be out on May 19. I have the stage play of my novella, ‘The Perfect Murder’, back on tour after two hugely successful nationwide tours already. I’m just about to start writing Roy Grace 13, and I also have a non-fiction book out in July which will be announced shortly.
Highlighting a few of Peter’s achievements in this past year
- The 11th novel in the Roy Grace series You Are Dead, was published in 2015 and went straight to Number One in both hardback and paperback. It spent six weeks at Number One and 19 weeks in the Top Ten.
- The House On Cold Hill, Peter’s first full-length ghost story in over 20 years was published 2015 and went straight into the top ten bestseller list
- The play of Peter’s novella The Perfect Murder is back on tour in 2016 starring Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, www.theperfectmurder.co.uk
- 2015 Dead Good Readers Dr Lecter Award for Scariest Villain winner: You Are Dead
- 2015 Sainsburys eBook of the year winner: Want You Dead
- 2015 Voted by WH Smith readers The Best Crime Author of All Time
- 2016 Awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s highest honour: the CWA Diamond Dagger.
- Falling in love and getting hitched
Congratulations to a very well suited couple – Mr & Mrs James xxx