Behind the Scenes of Bespoke

behind the scenes of bespoke

Bespoke…a love story or a personality thing?

When you think about bespoke, many of you will think about a suit made to order. Others will think about luxury in its most exclusive form.

Bespoke is a word that brought a new way of thinking into the luxury world, a new form of craftsmanship, and also a new way of consuming.

Luxury, more often than not, means exclusivity. The luxury consumer has a bold personality. Knowing what they want, they look for a deeply personalized service. Their very own bespoke creations. And not just in the form of a suit. But rather in all shapes, sizes, and functions imaginable.

Going back in time, the first references to the word bespoke come from the mid-1700s. The verb bespeak is even older, dating back to before 900. Coming from the Old English word bespecan, the verb speak and the prefix be-, used to create verbs, form the word.

In the 17th century, tailors kept all their tailoring materials on the premises of their shops or in their homes. Customers would walk in and ask for a suit made to fit their proportions. They would literally point at the fabric they wanted to use, quickly popularizing the term “spoken for”.

By definition, bespoke means something made based on the specifications of the person ordering it, like a bespoke suit. Additionally, the word can describe a person or company, as in bespoke tailor.

Historically most often associated with custom-made clothing, today, the term is also used to describe any made-to-order products, such as jewelry, cars, interior design, perfumes, and other very particular objects or technological tools.

Bespoke often conjures up an air of old-fashioned charm. Perhaps even one of the main reasons the word has become trendy. But, like any word transforming through time, the term bespoke is often misused. For example, being applied to any customized or personalized products to make them sound more unique. Additionally, the term is used as a marketing word similar to vintage and craft. However, it is essential to note that customizing color and size, or even form, does not mean it is bespoke.

Luxury is being bespoke, but not everything sold as bespoke, is luxury. True bespoke design is a love story between the maker and the customer—an ultimate luxury.

Since the world of bespoke began with fashion, it seems only fitting to dive into the world of haute couture as the first example of authentic bespoke design. 

“The cliché line ‘The way you make me feel’ has become more than just words uttered by a lover or sung by an artist. It is the only way I know how to express the emotions brought out in me when simple things such as gold thread, black lace, and passion come together to create an object of desire.”

Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2006/07 collection during Paris Fashion Week in the Chanel Workshop, Paris (Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images)
Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2006/07 collection in the making during Paris Fashion Week in the Chanel Workshop, Paris (Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images)

KOKET’s founder and CEO Janet Morais wrote these words in a letter to the Portuguese fashion designer João Rôlo with whom she had the honor of a bespoke haute couture experience. Janet asked João to create a dress inspired by a favorite pair of Giuseppe Zanotti heels featuring loong, the legendary Chinese dragon. The result—a stunning bespoke gown you can see more about at Lh online.

For another glorious example of bespoke couture, take a peak at the cover of Lh Mag Vol. 6, or onward to his later feature, to see Rami Al Ali. The Syrian-born, Dubai-based fashion designer creates ready-to-wear, haute couture runways and offers bespoke to those who wish. Spreading the glorious feeling of owning bespoke beyond just those who commission him, Rami also provides a unique e-commerce feature through which customers can add a touch of bespoke to his ready-to-wear designs when ordering online.

Next, let’s look at our second favorite world of bespoke—interior design and decor.

Alongside our clothing choices, our homes are the next best showcase of our individual personalities. Bespoke design is immensely popular in the world of interior design today. Decorating a house or a space is a very personalized activity. That is what makes a house, home, or company a brand. When you select, you make a choice. And when a designer works with a client to create their perfect home, bespoke magic happens. 

In addition to individualized interiors, home decor products themselves are often personalized. And in some of the most fabulous examples of design creativity, completely new bespoke interior decor is created by a designer for their client. This exclusivity is what we call true luxury. A design that radiates so much you, it is close to impossible to imitate.

Bespoke furniture by KOKET
Bespoke home decor by KOKET

With bespoke services by brands like our publisher, the luxury home decor brand KOKET, consumers can easily bring their furniture and lighting dreams to life. Fluent in stunning craftsmanship and design sensibility, the brand loves working with anyone looking to design their very own bespoke piece of furniture. On a mission to empower through design, KOKET’s bespoke service just might be the ultimate form of empowering design.

For those who love rarity, many small local jewelers and top haute joaillerie houses offer services for creating unique designs and specially-commissioned pieces, each a reflection of their commissioners’ personalities, tastes, and styles blended with that of the artist.

Cartier has a long history of highly-visible bespoke orders. In particular, the French brand created countless sentimentally-charged bespoke jewels for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor throughout their 40-year love. In 1952, an exquisite and undeniably iconic piece of jewelry entered society on the wrist of Miss Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. The platinum, diamond, and onyx panther bracelet with piercing marquise-shaped emerald eyes was commissioned by Louis Cartier himself and co-designed by the Duchess with jeweler Jeanne Toussaint. 

Miss Wallis Simpson's iconic bespoke panther bracelet design by Cartier at Sotheby's Auction House 2010 (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Miss Wallis Simpson’s iconic bespoke panther bracelet design by Cartier at Sotheby’s Auction House 2010 (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

In 1987, after the Duchess’ death, a collection of her jewels, including this panther bracelet, were auctioned through Sotheby’s, where Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al Fayed purchased it for $1.4 million. Twenty-six years later, the iconic bracelet returned to Sotheby’s, where four telephone bidders raised its price to over $7 million before it was finally purchased by an anonymous buyer. This bespoke jewelry classic is sure to live on for many generations to come!

Also, in the special scene of unique jewels made specifically for someone, Tiffany & Co is a brand to note. In 1862, in commemoration of his election the previous year, American President Abraham Lincoln commissioned Tiffany & Co. to create a seed pearl parure for his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. This work of art contributed to popularizing seed pearl jewelry for special moments and commemorations. 

“Creating rare, bespoke jewelry pieces attests to Tiffany & Co.’s excellence in craftsmanship, design, gemstone sourcing, and a commitment to providing superior customer service. It also provides us with opportunities to maintain and enhance the relationships we have with our most esteemed clients,” said Melvyn Kirtley, Tiffany & Co.’s Chief Gemologist to Forbes.

Every woman who appreciates jewelry will also seek the most personalized perfume.

Here is where Pierre-Francçois Guerlain, the father of French perfumery, comes in. Founded in 1828, the Guerlain brand rose to fame in 1852 when the founder created a bespoke scent for Empress Eugenie’s wedding to French Emperor Napoleon III. Bees, a symbol of the empire, decorated the first bottle. 

The Guerlain Bee Bottle
Guerlain Eau de Parfum fragrance in the iconic Bee bottle (Photo Courtesy of Guerlain)

Today tradition carries on, and you can still order a personalized Bee bottle. While you may not be able to put your own royal symbol on it. You can pick the bottle’s color and choose the engraving’s style on the label. And if you are in Paris, at the Guerlain shop in Passy, you can get a fragrance designed just for you.

Two hundred years and untold aromas later, personalized fragrances are making a transformative comeback in the form of niche brands and customized or semi-customized perfumes. In addition, numerous top perfume houses are happy to create signature scents for their clients, making bespoke perfumes an unforgettable experience.

In another important luxury cluster, cars, a Rolls-Royce is seen by its maker as a work of art.

This fairy tale car can be hand-made to order exclusively for the client by the brand’s exquisite craftspeople and designers. According to the Rolls-Royce communication website, the brand can bring clients’ unique vision to life with Rolls-Royce Bespoke.

Or perhaps you would like a bespoke yacht? Or maybe customized skin care blended up just for your personal needs?

Bespoke is more than a luxury attitude. We have all experienced that special feeling with something personalized and specially made just for us. In this sense, bespoke is a love story.

Also, an adjective and the past tense of the verb bespeak. When you have a bespoke item, you know you can’t be copied. And this, of course, often comes with a price.

When you own a bespoke product made especially for you, the item brings a whole different kind of joy. An air of importance and individuality. Or the simple expression “one in a million”.

Bespoke is something made just for you.

Words by Maria Inês Romba
Feature Image: Fashion Sketch by Sofia de Sousa; Wood carving tools and sand cast brass hands by KOKET; Guerlain Eau de Parfum fragrance in the iconic Bee bottle, Photo Courtesy Of; Fashion detail Elie Saab Fall 2016
Behind the Scenes of Bespoke Originally Appeared in Love Happens Volume 6
Explore More of ‘Embracing Individuality & Authenticity’ Edition

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