How We Met: Nicky Haslam & Tony Glenville

'I know the name of every leading lady from the talkies on, which turned into this silly game'

Tony Glenville, 66

After training as a fashion designer, Glenville (right in picture) went on to write extensively for fashion publications including 'Vogue' and 'Harper's Bazaar', before becoming creative director at the London College of Fashion in 2008. He lives in London.

Nicky came to the couture shows in Paris when I was covering a season about six to seven years ago. We'd both gone to a Valentino show, in the very glamorous Place Vendôme, and someone took a photo showing that we'd turned up in strikingly similar outfits – almost the same shirt and a sash. It could have gone either way: we might have said, "How awful, we're never going to speak again over the embarrassment." But we made a joke about how we both have such impeccable taste.

We met at another event back in London, where Nicky said, "We must do supper at the Wolseley." I was resolved to take him, but he'd planned on taking me and he insisted on paying.

Our friendship started when we discovered a shared love of cinema and old movies. I know the name of every leading lady from the talkies onwards, which turned into this silly game of one-upmanship, messaging each other and signing off with a variety of obscure actors from the past. The other day I signed off saying, "Speak soon, Kay Kendall (I'm feeling rather chic today)."

We're both chatterboxes, which is always good, as there are no pauses, let alone awkward ones, as one of us is always ready with the next anecdote.

Nicky walks a tightrope when it comes to knowing when to try a new style and when to ditch it. And even if I've not always liked what he's worn, it's OK, as he's making an effort. I admire how he's embraced the way fashion is always moving, from the Oasis look he sported in the 1990s, to his move away from jeans and dinner jackets back to classic menswear. I, on the other hand, haven't changed my look since the 1980s, and it usually involves tailoring as I look dreadful in casualwear; I'm always the most overdressed person in the pub.

He's been surrounded by famous people for so long that it now ceases to be his raison d'être. He's done terrifically well, so now it's famous people who attach themselves to him.

I'm always looking at his interiors work in magazines: he has a signature look, which he's updated from the 1980s to 1990s; it's opulent and not minimalist, but he knows how far to push it.

Nicky Haslam, 73

Since he first started working in interior design in 1972, the founder of NH Design has gained a huge following thanks to his lavish styling for the rich and famous, with clients including Mick Jagger and Charles Saatchi. He lives in London.

Tony looks a lot like a 19th-century French Proustian with an amused face: he's always been more of a dandy than me. I'd seen him around at various shows and gatherings over the years but we first started talking after a Valentino fashion show, about seven years ago. We met properly at his friend [fashion illustrator] David Downton's show shortly after. We had dinner and he made me howl with laughter – and a friendship was born.

Tony is an entertainer and loves to play games linked with memory and the past. We often message one another and sign off with the names of forgotten female stars. He loves black-and-white movies like I do; we only watch 1940s films such as Mildred Pierce, as modern movies are too long, have horrible colours and loud dialogue. We love Cabaret, too: he's a mine of information on classics such as songs by Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. We ought to sing together some time – I'll back him up.

He does makes me gabble away, though, and often encourages me to re-tell anecdotes and by doing so he re-opens several cans of worms!

He's very much like some of the people I knew in the past, such as [the debonair couturier] Bunny Roger: a throwback, but with a modern outlook.

I'm impressed with how he knows the names of forgotten designers such as Jacques Fath. People in the know always used to say the rich shopped at Dior and the smart at Jacques. Tony is eminent in the fashion world because he has that depth of knowledge and a discerning eye, and that's because he's familiar with how well those old designers cut cloth.

We talk a lot about past fashions – particularly the 1950s, when I started going to my first fashion shows, with Dior – so I'm sure he's appalled by how I look now. While his style is timeless, I tend to change my style all the time. I see him as a much more vivid character than me; larger than life and sporting the sort of handlebar moustache that's so rare these days. It shows bravery, too, as it's not the sort of thing one carries lightly.

'New Icons of Fashion Illustration', by Tony Glenville (£30, Laurence King), is out on 21 March

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