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A Horse of a Different Color... and Pattern, in Tweed

Many relevant questions could be asked about a custom tweed suit for a horse, which, in this case, is a retired racehorse named Morestead. 

Veteran racehorse Morestead models the world’s first authentic Harris Tweed suit designed for a racing horse. (Photo by Tim Anderson / Taylor Herring)

Someone dressed a horse in a designer tweed suit — so we asked Tim Gunn to weigh in...

Magnificent photos of a horse in a bespoke suit, shirt, tie and flatcap were revealed Monday, and they quickly won Internet glory. The three-piece suit — billed as the “world’s first Harris Tweed suit designed specifically for a race horse” by the bookmaker that commissioned it ahead of a major racing event in England — was made by a former apprentice to the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

The ensemble took four weeks to finish and required nearly 20 yards of tweed shipped in from Scotland, according to William Hill, the betting firm. Designer Emma Sandham-King pronounced it “one of the biggest challenges that I have faced in my career.”

Many relevant questions could be asked about a tweed suit for a horse, which, in this case, is a retired racehorse named Morestead. Does a horse need a suit? Does a horse like to wear a suit? Does the horse know that tweed is the fabric of choice at the Cheltenham Festival, which began Tuesday?

But here, we will concern ourselves with just one question: Is it a well-designed horse suit? For answers, we turned to fashion guru, animal rights activist and dapper suit-wearer Tim Gunn.

“I think it’s very brilliantly done,” Gunn said of the horse couture in an interview on Tuesday. “The silhouette and the proportions and the fit are all outstanding.”

It helps that the assignment was menswear, he said, because horse womenswear “could just end up being a big, voluminous mess.”

Retired jockey Sir Anthony McCoy astraddle Morestead. (Tim Anderson/Taylor Herring)

Gunn is a former faculty member at Parsons the New School for Design in New York, and so he threw in some fashion education. Suit tailoring was born in the United Kingdom and popularized in contemporary times by 19th-century fashion arbiter Beau Brummell, said Gunn, who added that he has “the greatest respect for Harris Tweed; it’s a venerable textile with a very distinguished history.” (The fabric is handwoven by residents of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands.)

But Morestead and the retired jockey who posed with him, Sir Anthony McCoy, deserve as much praise as the equine’s suit, Gunn said.

“The horse looks more at ease and confident and believable than most women on the runway at awards shows. He doesn’t look like a joke. He really looks noble and regal and believable,” Gunn said. McCoy, he said, “looks smart and English countryside and enviable.”

The world’s first tweed suit designed for a race horse

Champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy unveils the world's first authentic Harris Tweed suit designed for a racing horse, which has been specially commissioned to celebrate the opening of this year's Cheltenham Festival. (Taylor Herring)

Gunn has some animal clothing-design cred, having mentored “Project Runway”contestants as they created pieces for dogs. But don’t expect a horse challenge on the show any time soon.

“I don’t think we could do any better than this,” he said.

Fashion guru Tim Gunn joins design experts for a forum on first ladies and fashion at the National Archives in Washington in 2014. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)


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