A tailoring legend whose clients included world heavyweight boxing champion David Haye and Sherlock and The Hobbit star Martin Freeman and DJ Robert Elms has died suddenly.
George Dyer, whose premises were at 187a Walworth Road, Walworth was found dead at home at 11am on Monday of last week.
He had been unwell for only a matter of hours and took the day off and went up to bed.
His wife Colline found him unresponsive and neither a neighbour nurse nor paramedics could revive him.
They met as neighbours when they were children – he would go and knock on her door, asking her to come out and play. Then in their teens, they started courting.
George, who had come to live in Peckham from Jamaica aged four, was inspired into tailoring in the Swinging Sixties when “mod” styles ruled fashion – shiny suits with narrow lapels and even narrower legs.
Paul Weller of The Jam and Kelly Jones of The Stereophonics both beat a path to his door in recent years to see if he could still “cut it”.
But George, who lived in Crofton Park, could turn his hand to any style.
He attended London College of Fashion and was soon working for the big tailoring names in shops all over London.
His longest stint before his own shop was at a tailor’s in Peckham but he soon wanted his own place and rented the Walworth shop.
Bespoke tailoring is not a big money spinner, but in the last 20 years, he had hopeful clients making a pilgrimage to his shop from as far as Australia, Japan, Sweden and America.
He would send their new suits back to them by post.
George did struggle in the early years of this century because passing trade along the Walworth Road dwindled
But a client for more than 20 years, Mark Baxter, who worked in PR, offered to create a website for him – and brought some of his celebrity contacts to the shop.
Mark, who had worked as an administrator for the Press Association, said: “Trade was tapering off and I said I had started in social media and run websites. He said ‘I’m never going to learn that.’
“I ran his page for a few years for no money to keep him going and over the years his business built up again. If you ever needed a tailor, you checked him out. He became a real celebrity locally.”
Mark had met him 20 years before. “I wanted a suit like Jimmy in Quadrophenia and went in the premises,” Mark recalled.
“This Greek guy said ‘I’m not doing that – it’s old fashioned. A week later I went back. But this time, there was George, who had bought the shop days before. He said ‘I’ll make you anything you want.
“We spoke the same language and sounded similar – which was funny because he was born in Jamaica.
“He was like an older brother to me but he also knew his history and his craft. No one ever had a bad suit off him.
“Paul Weller coming down the Walworth Road and Martin Freeman coming into the shop caused quite a stir.
“I told George ‘I couldn’t sell you if you couldn’t do it’. It was a very easy sell – because I knew every customer would get a good suit’.”
“It is very sad. He has been as busy as ever right up to now. But there is no one to hand the business over to.
“When David Haye came in, his dog urinated on the carpet. I said to George ‘You tell him – I’m not telling the world champion off. That’s never going
George’s daughter Deniece, a speech therapist, said: “He just fell asleep and didn’t wake up. Everyone tried their best to bring him back – I cannot thank the paramedics and the neighbour – they really tried to save him. There were three ambulances here for an hour. But I guess it was just his time.
“He was my best friend, really – we used to speak three times a day. So it will be a big change for us.
“He had a cold on the Saturday and needed a rest. But he was still chatting and joking. He did always put other people before himself. He didn’t like people to make a fuss.
“The business will have to be closed down. It will be hard sending the suits to clients.
“When he and mum were both seven or eight, dad would cycle over to her house and knock on the door asking for her.
“Mum never would go out to play. But then they started courting.
“In later years, he was 100 per cent there for her. He unconditionally loved her. They took the good, but they were also able to take the bad. Mum will be very lost without him.”
The cause of death is yet to be determined. He is survived by a wife Colline, daughter Deniece and three sisters.
The funeral is expected in May in St Hilda’s Church, Crofton Park.
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