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After hunting with the famous Scarteen Hounds in the village of Hospital in County Limerick, Ireland recently I decided to visit the workshop of William Frazer to take some photographs. Little did I know that they were to be the last images taken of these famous tailors, as four days later the shop was destroyed by fire. Not only did Michael and Elsie Frazer loose all their precious stock of bolts of melton cloth for hunting jackets, cavalry twill material for riding britches, material for waistcoats but also a collection of hunt buttons of packs all around the world of foxhunting. Suits and casual jackets were also part of the Frazer collection as well as ladies skirts and slacks.

Their precious black book (although totally confidential) must have read like a who’s, who of clients that featured some of the best known horsemen and women in the world: Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, Prince Johannes Lobkowicz, Lord Daresbury, Captain Ronnie Wallace and the Earl and Countess Harrington and many more. Aidan O’Connell was another who had his hunt cutaway tails, which featured a Prussian collar and Prince of Wales cuffs, specially tailored by Frazer. Amongst the many photographs on the walls from around the foxhunting world was a photograph of O’Connell and Dr. Martin Fleming hunting with the Blue Ridge Hounds in Virginia, with both gentlemen in tailored cutaway tails, waistcoats and britches all tailored by Frazers. The black book also contained measurements of famous clients that bore discreet descriptions like PB, that could mean either prominent bottom or bosom, or and VPB, or very prominent bottom or bosom. They also lost all their clients telephone numbers and addresses. Fortunately the word is spreading slowly and the expansive list of Frazer clients have been contacting Michael and Elsie which has allowed them to begin to recreate their client list.

The Frazer tailoring business was started in the 1930’s by Michael’s father William who served his time in the same workshop then known as Ryan’s the Tailor. It earned its international reputation when Lord Daresbury took over the County Limerick Foxhounds, Evan Williams the Tipperary Foxhounds, Michael Dempsey the Galway Blazers, and Thady Ryan hunted the Scarteen Hounds as visitors from many parts of the globe made it their life’s ambition to hunt with these exceptional masters of hounds.

Hunting in a Frazer hunting jacket or britches is special, as the quality of the cloth kept one totally insulated from the weather, and the jacket came off best when it came in contact with thorns, wire or bushes. People got so attached to their Frazer tailored hunt wear that a significant part of the business was repair work on clothes that hunt followers often had worn for 20 years!

Michael and Elsie are in the process of salvaging what they can from the fire, and as soon as they can acquire a temporary workshop and get delivery of cloth they will be up in business again.

They can be contacted at +353 61 383118 or Email frazertailor@eircom.net


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