Paul Gorman is…

“Serious tailoring”: Derek Morten

Derek Morton, Paul Smith Japan A/W2011

//Paul Smith Collection, A/W 2011.//

Thanks to Julian Morey for alerting me to these splendid photographs of Paul Smith designer Derek Morten in clothes from the company’s autumn/winter 2011 collection.

Morten has worked with Smith since the mid-70s and is currently head of the label’s menswear division for Japan.

Derek Morton Paul Smith Japan A/W 2011.

//Paul Smith Collection, A/W 2011.//

A thoroughly nice chap, Morten is also self-deprecating and reserved, as I discovered when I interviewed him recently for the Tommy Roberts book (he designed menswear for Roberts’ extraordinary Covent Garden outlet City Lights Studio).

Morten’s “serious tailoring” produced such key garments as the box-jacketed suit made famous by David Bowie on the sleeve of his 1973 covers album Pin Ups.

//Detail, insert, Pin Ups, David Bowie, 1973. Suit by Derek Morton for City Lights Studio. Photo: Mick Rock.//

This and other tailored City Lights designs at the start of Morten’s career found consistency within his collaboration with Paul Smith over the past four decades. His designs are replete with unexpected details and imaginative leaps which free the clothes from traditional constraints, all the while conforming to standards of excellence.

Discussing the 40s influence on the City Lights aesthetic, Morten told me: “We took from the wide-shouldered ‘V’ shape of the past but the detailing was more about fantasy, which felt right for the time.”

//Photograph (c) Keith Roberts.//

The approach is apparent in this 1973 single-button blue City Lights suit jacket; note the darted jacket pockets revealing the red lining and the way in which the lapel tips are tucked out of sight.

See the Paul Smith Japan A/W 2011 collection here. The photographs were taken at London’s Eccentric Club, which opened in 1781.

Thanks to Lloyd Johnson for the loan of the City Lights suit.

MR FREEDOM Tommy Roberts: British Design Hero was published by Adelita in June 2012.

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Author: / Published: Dec 3rd, 2011 / Category: Design, Tailoring / Comments: 2

2 Responses to ““Serious tailoring”: Derek Morten”


  1. Matt
    on Dec 1st, 2017
    @ 1:47 pm

    Hi Paul. I work with Derek and his second name is actually spelt ‘Morten’ for your future reference.


  2. Paul Gorman
    on Dec 1st, 2017
    @ 2:09 pm

    Thank you Matt. Have corrected and will ensure it is spelt correctly in the future.

    BTW will you be coming to Willoughby House next Weds? If you are make sure you say hi.

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