Who is the king of London style?

One takes five baths a day, the other describes himself as the ‘John Cleese of fashion’. But with both Tom Ford and Sir Paul Smith launching London megastores last year, which is the capital’s don of dapperness?



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Personal style

Tom Ford...

Like Karl Lagerfeld, US designer Tom Ford has cultivated a uniform of sorts – perfect black suit, buttoned up, and perfect white shirt, often undone to reveal the merest glimpse of perfect chest. At home in his west London pad, the god-like designer lets it all hang loose, preferring the stark (no doubt perfect) bollock-naked look.

Paul Smith...

If the silver-haired, gently eccentric Brit style veteran was ever in a film, John Hurt might play him. He’s the king of smart-casual, and is known for toning down a custom-made twopiece suit with trainers or denim – but never a T-shirt: ‘Guys need to have a collar around their neck for height,’ he once explained. No tie? Suits us.

Personal grooming

Tom Ford...

Don’t let the whisper of stubble fool you – Ford’s disconcertingly ageless face is no accident. As well as wearing enough cologne to burn nose hairs, Mr Ford has a rigorous skincare regime, takes up to five baths a day and applies foundation from his own make-up line with a precision brush. So not a wash-and-goer like us grotty Londoners, then.

Paul Smith...

Sir Paul has embraced ageing. There are precious few products in his bathroom cabinet, and he retains a shaggy hairstyle that would have a lesser designer feverishly reaching for the serum. In his own words, he’s the ‘John Cleese of fashion’. But to a Londoner, there’s nothing cooler – or more attractive – than a man who doesn’t care too much.

London affiliation

Tom Ford...

A proud Anglophile, Ford has a house in London where he is based, and his headquarters are in Victoria. This year, he upped stilettos and moved his very-big-deal catwalk show from Milan to London Fashion Week. In short, he loves us long time. Ford also opened his first UK flagship on Sloane Street earlier this summer.

Paul Smith...

A loyal Londoner. He’s opened a petite new shop in Soho, as well as a stonking great Paul Smith superstore on Albemarle Street. His own brand of rakish good taste with a wink of British oddness chimes perfectly with London’s own sartorial eccentricity. The Design Museum celebrated his work in November 2013 with their biggest exhibition of the year, ‘Hello, my name is Paul Smith’.

Extra-curricular activities

Tom Ford...

Ford made his screenwriting and directorial debut in 2009 with ‘A Single Man’ starring Colin Firth. It was a critical hit in London and in 90 minutes did more to make specs look cool than Gok Wan has managed in his entire life.

Paul Smith...

Despite a teen biking accident that hospitalised him, Smith remains a big cycling fan and pedals around the capital on his Mercian racer. He also enjoys filling his Covent Garden HQ with tat – his wife describes his chronic hoarding as ‘a disease’.

Celebrity fans

Tom Ford...

Ford’s very name is a watchword for luxury and good taste – meaning it gets dropped like it’s very very hot, a lot. Jay Z named a song after him; Justin Timberlake wore him for the ‘Suit & Tie’ video and his London catwalk show pulls in the fashion crème de la crème for the front row.

Paul Smith...

Well, Smith has dressed top Brits including Manchester United (in formal, not footie kit); Alexa Chung has worn his dresses and Gary Oldman has posed in a Smith suit. But his label is one that people tend to wear quietly, rather than show off about being able to afford.

The verdict?

We’re probably biased because he’s a Brit, but with his monster Design Museum show Paul Smith is the current reigning monarch. Tom Ford is president, though. President Ford. But what do you think? Enter our poll below by voting for your favourite fashionista.

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