Jeremy Hackett on the books that changed his life

The legendary fashion designer gives us his curated library of the books which have most inspired him...

There are few gentlemen who better embody the quintessential style and eccentricity of London than Jeremy Hackett. The son of a seamstress, Hackett, 66, grew up surrounded by fabric swatches and paper patterns, and made his first suit aged seven.

His sartorial heritage and natural proficiency saw him rise through fashion’s ranks from selling shirts at a stall on Portobello Road, to later founding his eponymous luxury menswear label.

Today, he continues to build an empire founded on classic tailoring and the essential rules of style, finding time to publish a book and write a regular column for a national newspaper. Here, the legendary designer and indefatigable gentleman shares the books that have had the greatest influence on him.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

toad of toad hall

A book I read as a youngster because I played Ratty in my school’s production of Toad of Toad Hall. Ratty is described in the book as everyone’s favourite uncle — helpful, sympathetic, and ever courteous: a truly gentle beast. The part could have been written for me! foliosociety.com, £39.95

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

in cold blood

I have always enjoyed reading Truman Capote but this is probably my favourite. He wrote as he spoke: elegantly and languidly, but always with a sting in the tail. penguin.co.uk, £8.99

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

travels with charley

This was a thoughtful gift from a friend. The book follows Steinbeck’s travels across America with his dog Charley. I once owned a Sussex Spaniel called Charley and I’ve often thought I could do a trip around the British Isles with my dogs. penguin.co.uk, £9.99

More Dashing by Patrick Leigh Fermor

patrick leigh fermor

Whenever I am travelling on a long-haul flight I often pick up travel and this one is a real treasure — Fermor is a travel writer and this is a collection of his letters from his journeys over the years. bloomsbury.com, £30

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

oxford dictionary of quotations

This book was given to me by my mother, who had realised that I wrote a little bit. The advice was that if you drop the occasional quote into your writing, people will assume that you are better read than you really are, and I quote… oup.com, £30

Clothes and the Man by Sydney D Barney

clothes and the man

Being in the rag trade I wanted to include this as it is a charming book on what to wear and when. I was particularly amused by the following: “When one is on a cruise it is bad form to wear a tuxedo until you have past Port Said.” Out of print.

The Impatient Pen by Nicky Haslam

The Impatient Pen by Nicky Haslam

Nicky, whom I have known for more than 30 years, is someone who has so many wonderful stories to tell that I am not surprised he has written this book. Although I am yet to start it, I am sure it will be a cracking read. zuleika.london, £18.99

This feature was originally published in the June/July issue of Gentleman’s Journal. Get your copy here…

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