31 July 2011

Freedom Is In Peril


masque mortuaire de Chopin

30 July 2011

Bateman on Style

"Now, John, you have to wear clothes in proportion to your physique. There are definite dos and don'ts, good buddy, of wearing a bold striped shirt. A bold striped shirt calls for solid colored or discreetly patterned suits and ties."

American Psycho (2000)

29 July 2011

Peter Beard at Montauk

Hendrick's: Afternoon Gin

28 July 2011

Royall Rugby

You might have the impression my medicine chest is beginning to resemble a drinks cabinet. You would not be far off. I should probably bring in the contractors to build an extension. Or, I could just convert Frisby's room into a cocktail-and-fragrances den. The thing is, I enjoy trying on new scents. The Royall line is one of my favourites, and, as you know, I am already a firm fan of Royall Musk and Royall Lyme. I find the packaging itself has a satisfyingly vintage, old-fashioned feel to it. Now there is a new one: Royall Rugby. A Brooks Brothers exclusive. I fail to see how I missed it when it was first introduced. I vaguely remember seeing a bottle in a Brooks Brothers store, but it was not until quite recently that I decided to take the plunge. The description reads:

A truly masculine fragrance that opens with a refreshing and aromatic touch of exotic dry wood. Geranium leaves and black currant unveil an earthy voyage with rugged notes of patchouli and vetiver which fuse with warm under laying nuances of incense suede.

Masculine, woody, rugged, warm, incensed: these are all perfectly apt descriptions of yours truly. Royall Rugby has quickly become my daily go-to scent, beating out even my collection of Creed, including Royal English Leather. Which is really saying something. Stay tuned.

Duke of Windsor in the Bahamas

27 July 2011

Adèle Blanc-Sec

British East Africa

Funtime (Iggy Pop)

26 July 2011

Tennis Trousers

Hey baby we like your pants
One sometimes finds the oddest things in the boot of one's Benz motor car. Take, for instance, a charming pair of tennis racquet motif trousers from Brooks Brothers (at port). I must have picked them up two or three years ago and completely forgotten about them during the chaos of the subsequent immolations (at which I have hinted elsewhere). Roughly the same colour as the interior of the compartment, the trousers had been folded into a small package and stuffed into a nook where they lay under tennis and squash racquets, an old duffle bag, and a rare Persian rug that I was supposed to have delivered for repair last year (oops!). Until this morning, that is, when I decided at last to restore order. Like most chaps I don't mind a bit of junk in the trunk, but now and again it should submit to a cleansing purge. Do you wear clothing items with a motif on them? I certainly do, but not to the orifice.

City Stockbrokers

Note the knowing smiles and moderate sideburns

25 July 2011


24 July 2011


A View of the Altar

The Beginnings (Kipling)

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy -- willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddently bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

The Beginnings, Rudyard Kipling

23 July 2011

Teutonic Order 1260

The Old Limey (H.W. Crocker)

22 July 2011

Hackett Summer Kit

© Garda Tano


"I have observed, that in Comedy, the best actor plays the part of the droll, while some scrub rogue is made the hero, or fine gentleman. So, in this Farce of Life, wise men pass their time in mirth, whilst fools only are serious."

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (1678-1751)

Take The World (She Wants Revenge)

21 July 2011

Geo. F. Trumper Extract of West Indian Limes

When trusted colleagues tell me I smell like a G&T, it is usually because I injested a dozen of the bloody things the night before. Now I have an entirely different excuse.

At the suggestion of some Interweb colleagues, and that of my good friend Sefton who knows about these things, I recently took receipt from a New York City establishment of a bottle of Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes fragrance. Pictured (above) is the same bottle together with a pair of Brooks Brothers bathing shorts in Harbour Island Blue and Palm Beach Green.

Note the charming pink colour of the Trumper box. Here is the story:

The story behind the famous 'PINK LABEL'

It has been asked so often, "why does Trumpers Extract of Limes have a pink label, surely it should be green?"

We have to relate that once it was but during the Great War (1914-1918) supplies of the correct paper dried up and the only alternative available to Trumpers was pink, so pink it became and has remained so ever since. When a tradition stretches back so far it seems a pity to change it so when we decided to introduce a bath soap perfume with Extract of Limes we had no hesitation concerning the colour of the carton--pink.

I lack the language to describe fragrances, so I will leave it to Trumper themselves. The advertising copy proceeds thus:

Bright green bursts of life-force charge from the tangy sharpness of tropical Limes, while vibrant citrus flashes allow a gentleman's mind to surge with the majesty of life. And as every pore is infused with the zing and zest of freshly squeezed West Indian Limes, so an exhilarating thrill is marvelously bestowed.

Extract of Limes, first introduced in 1880, is a pleasant enough scent, cool and refreshing, ideal for breezy summer conditions. It does indeed smell of limes, as you would expect. However, you may also notice that it simply does not persist long enough on the skin. Like an orgasm, the initial burst of explosive pleasure is over in mere seconds.

City Break

The Final Curtsey (Margaret Rhodes)

"My father, the 16th Baron Elphinstone, was born in 1869. He travelled all over the world, big game hunting and exploring. His philosophy seemed to be ‘have gun, will travel’. He potted grizzly bears in Alaska and Canada and I grew up with a stuffed 8ft-high grizzly standing on its hind legs in the hall at Carberry.

I have his game book from three big game-hunting trips in 1895 and 1896 in the foothills of the Himalayas, Bengal and Assam, in which he precisely recorded for the three visits a bag of 13 tigers, three leopards, 21 rhino, 39 buffalo, ten bison, three python and many deer, pig, quail and peacock.

When he wasn’t doing that he was shooting pheasant, partridge and grouse in Scotland and England. How the Animal Liberation Front would have loved him. After he settled down, he became Governor of the Bank of Scotland and Captain-General of the Royal Company of Archers, the Sovereign’s bodyguard north of the border.

As Captain-General he marched behind the coffin at the funeral of King George V in 1936. There was a strong wind and my father thought the long eagles’ feathers in his cap were going to blow away. He lifted his arms to secure them and his braces snapped. He had to walk four-and-a-half miles desperately holding his trousers up with his elbows."

The Final Curtsey, Margaret Rhodes (2011)

20 July 2011

Yachting Days

Let's drag a black ship down to the sacred sea, select a crew, load oxen on for sacrifice, and Chryseis, that fair-complexioned girl. Let's have as leader some wise counselor—Idomeneus, Ajax, godlike Odysseus, or you, Peleus's son, most eminent of all, so that with sacrifice we may appease the god who shoots from far away.

The Iliad, Bk. I

Do you mess about in boats? I do on occasion. I grew up around boats in New York and Connecticut and am at home on, in, and under the water. Come to think of it, I've spent the vast majority of my life near a coast of some kind. I'm a particularly strong swimmer and enjoy spearfishing, angling, and surfing. I rowed at university. I love spending time in the water, whether it's skindiving off Kauai, hunting grouper in the Bahamas, or showering with a couple of young brunette surf hotties back at my place.

But sailing? I've never had a particular interest in sailing as a calling or way of life. It's just something one does. I'm afraid I find it rather boring. Some sailors go on about sailing the same way wine enthusiasts talk about wine. No reason to get pedantic about it. It's highly irritating. Ruins the mood. But that's just me. I prefer motor boats. Thames launches and Adirondack wooden boats are more my thing. I am, however, still able to admire as objects of beauty the sweeping lines and majestic configurations of classic yachts.

I'm surrounded by classic yachts. Southern California, as you well know, is a sailor's paradise. For several years my late father owned a sailboat, a 47' beauty stabled in Newport Beach and La Paz, Baja. He couldn't sail, at least not very well, so he hired a crew to handle the sailing side of things. With friends he accompanied it down to Baja and up the coast to the San Juan islands in Washington. When he died, an event I wrote about here two years ago, the boat more or less disappeared. The case is ongoing.

I belong to a yacht club. Which reminds me: I need to cancel my membership. The other members are an awfully nice crowd, don't get me wrong, but they drink cocktails at levels that provoke my competitive drive. That's not a good thing when my goal is to unwind. And anyway, I don't need to belong to a yacht club in order to enjoy some cocktails and chase tail. If you still want to run in yachting circles, you would do well to befriend generous chaps who own yachts and love to party. Why buy the yacht when you can get the Veuve Clicquot and girls for free?

English Summer


19 July 2011

18 July 2011

Space Pirate Captain Harlock: Believe In Our Tomorrow

"This is the Voice of Free Arcadia. The sun sets, and rises again. The future does not come to those who don't believe in it. All who believe have endured for long, and will someday meet up with you. Someday we will combine our forces and live the future with you. No matter how small a flame there may be, do not let it go out. Believe in our tomorrow..."

Captain Harlock, Arcadia Of My Youth (1982)

WASPs: People of Plenty

For more than two centuries, Americans were a people of plenty. They cast off the corruption of the Old World for a future of boundless abundance. That future is now receding into the past. The American Dream is fast becoming an air-conditioned nightmare complete with power outages. The long boom is over, America is browning, and the long emergency is unfolding. Dazed, disoriented, and increasingly despondent, homo Americanus now represents the senile face of defeat and decay. Americans who trace their bloodlines back to Britain now walk with the living dead, stranded in an alien nation far removed from their ancestral homeland.

The power and prestige once attached to old-stock Americans as the founding race of the Constitutional Republic ebbed away, leaving behind little more than an acronym conceived in acrimony, then sugar-coated and dressed as an empty Brooks Brothers suit--the WASP. Coined sometime in the 1950s as a snide epithet aimed at the patrician products of Ivy League colleges, the term can be stretched to include anyone anywhere descended from the indigenous peoples of Britain. As a collective noun, WASP refers to a mechanical aggregation of individuals rather than an organic social whole; ethnic solidarity is all but unknown among WASPs, especially those safely ensconced in the upper reaches of the mangerial-professional class. Not even the most highly-educated WASPs care that their own children remain ignorant of Anglo-Saxon ethnohistory. At best, the epigonal snobbery sustains the infant ethnoancestry industry tracking Y-chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA back to the British Isles and beyond. Upper-class WASPs in America have presided "over the dissolution of their own dominion," leaving their less priviliged co-ethnics to face a future of public denigration and deliberate degredation. The language and institutions of the merely middle class WASP--his biocultural capital, indeed, the whole set of what a biologist might call his extended phenotype, a patriot his country, or a priest his faith--was socialized, commercialized and not infrequently vandalized by free riders of all colors and creeds.

The WASP Question: An Essay on the Biocultural Evolution, Present Predicament, and Future Prospects of the Invisible Race, Andrew Fraser (2011)

17 July 2011

16 July 2011

Editions Of You

15 July 2011

Piccadilly Dutchman: PK van der Byl

Pieter Kenyon Fleming-Voltelyn van der Byl (1923-1999)
a.k.a. 'Tripod'

14 July 2011

Dieu Le Roi

Les opérations du 2ème REP (French Foreign Legion)

Old Palm Springs

I was drinking cocktails and organising my Roxy Music LP collection the other day when the realisation struck: I haven't yet remarked upon my recent Palm Springs holiday trip. I suppose I ought to do so at once before my memory fades even further. Nightly gin and valium take a toll, you know. What is there to say? Plenty, but I shall keep it brief.

To start with, it's hot. Very, very hot. The temperature hit 117 degrees the first day I was there. One begins not to notice after 100; what's another 10 degrees if it's already 110 outside? Palm Springs is after all in the desert. Lawrence of Arabia said he liked the desert because it is clean. I agree. It is also very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that I could have sworn I could hear the tiny nocturnal geckos that lurked in the crevices of the hotel buildings panting in the heat. Silence fosters peace and serenity. And that is the point of a weekend away at a desert resort.

I was the honoured guest of a trendy boutique hotel establishment in the Old Palm Springs neighbourhood dubbed 'The Movie Colony,' which, as the publicity literature explains, "has the identity of glory and splendor of old Hollywood, as many of the stars owned homes in the neighborhood." Today it is known as a getaway retreat for those in the movie industry. The hotel was a veritable oasis: classic Spanish Colonial buildings of white stucco and red tiled roofs surrounding a lush courtyard dominated by a fountain, garden paths, croquet lawn, lounge area, pool, and award-winning restaurant. One might say, an oasis within an oasis.

The hotel has a curious past. Although for many decades a fashionable resort for the Hollywood smart-set, it actually began life in the 1930s as a mob-run speakeasy and brothel. I half-expected to hear at night the ghostly moans of orgies past. But all I could hear was soothing ambient trip-hop playing in the lounge. And the only stars I saw were the numberless ones in the clear desert night sky. Absolute bliss.

I should mention the food. Breakfast, as you know, is my favourite meal and eggs benedict my usual fare, though an omelette will do in a pinch. The EB dish at the hotel was exquisite, I can report, as were the roast beef sandwich, cheese platter, steak, and several other dishes of which I can not recall names. In town I visited Sherman's, the well-known Jewish deli, for some eggs and corned-beef hash. Utterly, fantastically delicious.

About my fellow guests, what can I say?

Self-absorbed Spanish boyfriends.

Young, sulky professionals from Los Angeles desperately trying to look cool.

Chubby English from Essex.

Hipsters from Santa Monica.

Bewildered-looking Eastern European couples.

It was a friendly, calm, laid-back crowd. Prep style amongst guests and residents was very much in evidence: Lacoste and Polo polo shirts with popped collars, boat shoes, tote bags, Wayfarers, Vilebrequin swim suits, John Cheever book; there was even a copy of Take Ivy in the hotel lobby.

To say I spent most of the weekend in the pool drinking cocktails would not be an overstatement. What else could one do, apart from seek refuge in air-conditioned room? That way lay submission and defeat. One does not venture into the desert to hide in a hotel room. So there I soaked in the water in full sun-light, with other thirsty hotel guests, all of us lined up at side of pool with upturned face and open mouth, like a gang of hungry fledglings, clamouring for the attentions of the cocktail waitress.

I was quite impressed with Palm Springs. It was not my first trip there, but somehow it struck me differently this time. It's a clean, organised, well-managed place. The town itself seems of a much higher class than, for example, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. This is partly due, I think, to the immense wealth, as well as its status as a winter resort home for wealthy foreigners, Midwesterners, and Easterners.

I shall be back.

Guards Officer Kit

"Circa 1960, Patrick O'Higgins, a former British infantry
captain in the Irish Guards, strikes a pose before his
complete all-season wardrobe in his New York apartment"
© Slim Aarons

13 July 2011

On Spread Collars

For as long as I can remember I have excluded from my shirt collection anything betraying even the minutest hint of a forward point, club, or tab collar. This means, I suspect, some imperfectly angled spread collared shirts have been avoided. If so, so be it. I simply can not tolerate anything but genuine spread or button-down styles. I mostly wear the former during the balance of the week, and the latter only on Fridays and weekends. For me there is no alternative. It is the collar style that most suits my neck and face. Above is pictured one of my custom-made Hemrajani dress shirts with a wide spread collar, referred to as an English cut-away collar. I recommend Hemrajani, although, unlike certain Interweb columnists, I have no commercial intere$t in doing so. This specific shirt is in the colour cream, which, according to Jeremy Hackett, "has almost disappeared off the radar as far as men's shirts are concerned." Not in my wardrobe it hasn't!

The spread collar (often called an English collar since it was first popularised in England in the 1930s by the Duke of Windsor to accommodate the larger knotted kneckties he favoured--and that bear his name) is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the button-downs. If the button-down is consciously casual and cavalier, the spread collar is purposefully elegant and dressy. It is happiest with the larger knot of the full- or half-Windsor with which it was originally paired and with suits of impeccable shape and cut. It is meant to be serious and perhaps a bit autocratic, and its sangfroid is completely destroyed by a bow tie.

Elegance, G. Bruce Boyer (1985)



12 July 2011

11 July 2011

Doorway in Zanzibar

Fornication (The King's Speech)

Chalk it up to infantile, private schoolboy humour, but this scene never fails to crack me up. It's from one of my new favourite films, The King's Speech. In it The Duke of York's speech therapist attempts to loosen him up by encouraging him to impart some repressed, pent-up curse words. In response The Duke ejaculates impassionedly all over the place. I find it utterly hilarious. Are you offended by swearing? I'm not. Not in the least. It is only the insecure middle class, I find, given to outdated bourgeois Judeo-Christian mores, that is opposed to cursing. In my experience both the upper and working classes in Britain curse as if there is no tomorrow. And think nothing of it. Of course it is a direct violation of conventional middle class values. And that's what I love about it. Liberation--"...and tits." Indeed.

10 July 2011

Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia (Max Egremont)

+   We have not forgotten   +


08 July 2011

Imperial Closets: Studied Oldness (3)

'For the Bush inner circle of advisers, men such as Budget Director Richard Darman, Treasury Secretary Nick Brady and White House Counsel Boyden Gray, the look is Studied Oldness. This is the "This-sportcoat-was-handed-down-to-me-by-my-grandfather-when-I-was-at-Harvard" crew. The model here is Claiborne Pell, the blue-blooded Rhode Island senator who, at age 71, still wears suits that once belonged to his father. As Jim Pinkerton, an official in the White House domestic-policy office, describes the noblesse-oblige approach to dressing, "The trick is to wear an originally good-quality shirt until it falls off you and the sweat stains become like tree rings. You might even use a length of rope from your yacht as a belt. None of this upwardly mobile thing for you. You come from ten generations  of money, and now you're doing a little public service. You don't give a damn."'

'Read My Hips', GQ, August 1990

Fashion at Royal Ascot: Three Centuries of Thoroughbred Style (James Sherwood)

07 July 2011

Imperial Closets: A Tall, Fit, Very American Kind of Build (2)

'President John Kennedy once joked that Washington is a city of northern charm and southern efficiency. The stereotypical image of the capital is that of the old, fat southern senator wearing his ice-cream suit on a hot summer day and fanning himself with a straw hat. Washington was built on a swamp, and there's still more seersucker here than anyplace outside Calcutta. The Dixie influence can also be observed among presidential aides at play, wearing their Alabama State or University of Virginia sweaters tucked into their sharply creased jeans.

But George Bush, who boasts a tall, fit, very American kind of build, wears the clothes of his class--and well. In an essay in The New Republic, Alessandra Stanley dubbed Bush's administration the Ralph Lauren Presidency, claiming Bush's imagemakers had exploited the value of a large and attractive Connecticut clan brimming with the WASP aesthetics and pseudo-English gentility that Lauren has been selling to middle-class Americans for over a decade. Crested blazers, polo shirts, tennis sweaters, faded natural fibres. "The Bushes came by their subdued fashion sense the old-fashioned way," Stanley wrote. "They inherited it."

So while the president scorns fashionable duds--he still picks up running suits at Sears--he does have a classic eastern-Establishment look that suits the office he holds. Bush picked up a snappier look during his 1988 run for the White House. Desperately trying to shake his elitist-preppy-wimp label, he shed his buttondown collars, half-rimmed glasses and striped watchband. Now he favours shirts of solid blue or of blue vertical stripes with white spread collars, and shops for himself at J.Press and, until recently, at Arthur A. Adler. (It is a frightening thought that, since J.Press is owned by Kashiyama, a Japanese manufacturing-and-distributing company, even the president of the United States has been taken over by the Japanese.)

With the exception of a certain pair of lime green golfing pants, the president looks his best when he sports Abercrombie & Fitch-style rugged wear. It's hard sometimes to tell which he likes best, the fishing and the hunting or the costumes that such hobbies require. The president never looks happier than when quail hunting in Beeville, Texas, as he does every Christmas, wearing snake-resistant boots, camouflage pants and a baseball cap from the local dog kennel, and toting a shotgun. This look appeals to his "kick-a-little-ass" self-image, the same side that likes beef jerky and pork rinds slathered in Tabasco sauce.

It must have been Bush's flair for colorful layering that inspired the look of a photo spread of the Bush family at Kennebunkport in the March issue of Paris Match, "le plus populaire de Presidents." In a shot in the living room, Bush is wearing black cowboy boots, cuffed gray trousers, a red T-shirt, a green polo shirt and a gray tweed sport coat with a burgundy stripe. In a shot in the kitchen, where he is helping Paula Rendon, the cook, make "un gâteau traditional," the president has changed to a blue-striped work shirt and a gray herringbone jacket over a red turtleneck. In a third shot, on his speedboat, the Ralph Lauren president is wearing a rust-colored polo shirt and a white Nike pullover with dark-green chinos.'

'Read My Hips', GQ, August 1990

Mau Mau Manhunt

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

06 July 2011

Imperial Closets: Washington Sartorial Standards (1)

Power Preps
'Washington, D.C., knows a lot about power but very little about clothes. Dedicated to the conservative business of politics and devoid of any bohemian quarter to provide inspiration otherwise, the capital breeds conformity. Year after year, decade after decade, the uniform for men remains basically the same: a gray or navy single-breasted three-button suit, a white buttondown shirt and a red tie. The mainstream here is J.Press, Brooks Brothers and Garfinckel's. Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner & Marx are getting out on the edge. Flusser, Armani and Boss are still considered the domain of gigolos and New York investment bankers.

"Anyone who shows any individuality is deemed a fop, eccentric or dangerous," says John Buckley, a Republican political consultant. "The Brooks Brothers dress code that wouldn't be to the minimum standards of Wall Street is the outer envelope of what they wear in Washington. There are entire categories of buttons for buttondown shirts earmarked just for the Washington market. Pleats didn't hit this town until 1987.

Roger Stone may be the only man in Washington with enough chutzpah to mix politics with high fashion. The political consultant, an aficianado of double-breasted suits and an investor in the pricey new Alan Flusser made-to-measure boutique in the District, takes a harsh view of Washington sartorial standards: "We're talking high-water pants, too tight in the crotch, black socks down around the ankles with a lot of skin showing, jacket sleeves that come down and almost cover the knuckles--the sort of look that's big with Chinese leaders."

Designer Flusser, who's based in New York and who franchised the shop in Washington, defines the difference between the two cities more diplomatically. While New York and Washington are both in the Eastern Corridor, he says, New York has been influenced by the international trends and Washington by the "Virginia Ivy League" look. Just as the women wear what one wag calls "contrived Virginia"--outfits from Neiman Marcus, patent-leather flats with bows, gold Chanel jewelry, black velvet headbands and  Hermès scarves--so the men who work in the capital lean toward a Dixie interpretation of the preppy look. "In the southern influence, there is a bit more of the Fifties idea of traditional business garb,' Flusser says, adding compassionately, "I would have to call Washington a single-vented town."'

'Read My Hips', GQ, August 1990

In Praise of Auberon Waugh

05 July 2011

The Savoy Cocktail Book

04 July 2011

Rip It Up and Start Again

'Mostly, I was impressed that the British political system, both formal and informal, seems basically to work. In the US we can't agree on anything except ways to go deeper into debt. People in rival tribes barely talk to each other. But Britain seems to have a normal political culture--not Athenian democracy but basically functional. In this day and age, that's a wonder of the world.

People in London seemed less despairing than people in Washington, less obsessed with the prospect of national decline (maybe you got over that a few decades ago). I left rethinking my position on the American Revolution. Maybe not such a good idea. Maybe we let things get a little out of hand.'

David Brooks, Diary, The Spectator, 4 June 2011

Monday Morning Mimosa

'Real men wear pink'