31 January 2011

English Shoemakers (WSJ)

14 January 2011

Stepping Into the Sole of Luxury

From Oxford brogues to Derby loafers, English shoemakers still lead the way in bespoke footwear

by William Lyons

Tony Gaziano loves shoes. Which is a good thing, since he has spent his entire career making them—first, in the Northampton, England, workshops of Edward Green, before moving on to learn the art of handmade shoes at neighbors George Cleverley & Co., and finally setting up his own bespoke and made-to-measure shoe business in Kettering, with his partner Dean Girling.

To speak with him is to shine a light into a little bit of British manufacturing history that has survived. The U.K.'s reputation for making the finest cars, building the most luxurious ocean liners and running the greatest leading hotels may have waned, but in the county of Northamptonshire, which lies between London and Birmingham, workshops still produce what are regarded by many as the finest gentlemen's shoes in the world.

From Oxford brogues to Derby loafers, opinion formers and captains of industry have flocked to London's Jermyn Street to frequent the boutiques of shoemakers such as Church & Co., John Lobb Ltd. and Tricker's. Former British prime ministers Tony Blair and Sir Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire all bought and wore English shoes.

"Obviously, I'm biased," says Mr. Gaziano, speaking from his workshop in Kettering, "as I spend so much of my time looking at people's shoes that I have become an atrocious shoe snob. But there is something special in an English shoe. First, there is the longevity; they are built to last. The sole is thicker, more durable and weighty. Then there is the upper. The calf leather is tougher; overall, it is a heavier-looking shoe. All this is balanced with a more refined, delicate look."



©2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc

30 January 2011

Rising of the North: Pilgrimage of Grace

ne jamais oublier !

29 January 2011

Ian Fleming in the City

'Whenever I saw Ian towards the end of his time in the City,' says Cyril Connolly, 'he gave the impression of being a playboy business man with all the money and all the friends he could possibly want. I met him once in Brook Street. He was wearing a blue suit and an Eton Ramblers tie and his appearance was so absolutely correct that it made me think of someone out of a Wodehouse novel.'

The Life of Ian Fleming, John Pearson (1966)

28 January 2011

Alas Crockett & Jones

If I had my way I would abolish the concept of 'casual Friday' and the people who take advantage of it in the same way the Romans dealt with the problem of Carthage. But we have to play with the marbles we are given, so it is to be tolerated with grim thin-lipped determination if not actually accepted. Still, it is a chance to don the occasional pair of brown shoes, in this case (at left) the Westbourne model from Crockett & Jones. Note the sleek chisel toe. As you can see in the picture, I have lifted the port trouser leg a bit to reveal new socks by Cougarella. I am wearing cashmere trousers from Brooks Brothers with a 1.75" cuff. No matter how many times I demand a 2" cuff, my tailors ultimately extend a mere 1.75", probably just to irritate me. But this is no time to succumb to vexation. Friday afternoons are an opportunity to sit in the sun sipping tropical iced tea, making sure passersby can see your new brogues from Crockett & Jones, secure behind your Persol 2720-S sunglasses.

27 January 2011

Tweed of My Ancestors: Some Thoughts on Vintage Clothing

I may wear the clothes of a dead man, but I feel like a chap with a new lease on life. Do you understand? I am an advocate of dead man's clothes: vintage clothing, or classic used clothing, in other words the kind of smelly Tweed, musty flannel, and mouldy brogue that remind one of one's wonderful London youth. Invigorating!

As previously disclosed, I used to visit Kensington Market and Camden Town in the 1980s on a quite frequent basis, where I picked up old Tweed jackets and battered brogues from Lobb, amongst other things. There's nothing quite like the spectacle of a skinny, floppy-haired 17-year old boy trying to look 77. What was I thinking?

We often paired our Tweed and brogues with old Levi 501s, probably inspired by Nick Kamen adverts, which somewhat lessened the fogey chic aspect and added a certain street edge. My chums were interested in used 501s, invariably torn and frayed in strategic locations, but stained denim was for me a step too far. In New York we would troll vintage shops downtown, where the selection was comparatively poor, and where old army greatcoats and punk hairstyles briefly became the rage, but eventually my passion for hunting rare books eclipsed my interest in old clothes.

The market for vintage clothing is still going strong. In the present economic environment vintage makes sense. I do discern a reluctance on the part of some, borne, I think, of middle class snobbishness or hygiene concerns. It should not matter, but it does. More for the aficionados, I suppose. The online marketplace eBay, if you have not heard of it, is a wonderful source for vintage items, as are specialists such as Hornets of Kensington and Savvy Row, both of whom have websites with lip-smacking photos of Tweed, chalk stripe, and evening wear. David Saxby's Old Hat is another gem. If you know of others, please do let me know at once.

We live in a system where clothing--and ultimately human beings themselves--are dispensable, replaceable, and interchangeable. Nothing has lasting value, and nothing is valuable in and of itself, worthy of preservation. After all, we can always buy more cheap consumer shit from China, or import more "Americans" and "Europeans" from the third world. It's an unsustainable arrangement. Buying vintage classic clothing not only reduces waste, but in a small way, I think, it also pays tribute to the craftsmanship and values of our people, those who came before us, our ancestors. And who knows? Perhaps one day our own national-domestic industries will be revived, and we can walk hand-in-hand together again, in our own land, through glorious fields of Tweed.

Photograph: © Hornets

Gieves & Hawkes

26 January 2011

Les bonnes manières (Baronne Hargitay-Gran)

Comment formuler un courrier sans craindre de heurter son interlocuteur ? Comment se comporter lors d'une première rencontre ? Quel cadeau offrir à une personne que l'on connaît peu ? Ce guide offre des conseils simples, applicables au quotidien, pour se sentir à l'aise en toute situation en adoptant une attitude à la fois chic et naturelle. Une réponse pour chaque situation. Communication écrite ou orale, art de recevoir et d'être reçu, voyage, déjeuner ou dîner au restaurant... Ce livre aborde chaque domaine sous tous ses aspects, permettant à chacun d'y trouver la description d'une situation potentiellement embarrassante, ainsi que les règles de bienséance et conseils correspondants. Un guide concret. Appuyée sur des exemples précis et illustrée si nécessaire, chaque règle est décrite de manière claire et simple. Ainsi, aucune subtilité ne vous échappera ! Un ouvrage actuel. Les règles de bienséance ont beaucoup évolué ces dernières décennies... Si certaines se sont imposées alors que ce sont de " faux amis ", d'autres sont tombées en désuétude. Ce guide, qui traite aussi de la communication à l'ère d'Internet, est ancré dans le monde contemporain.

Editions Vigot

25 January 2011

The King's Speech (Official Trailer)

Hoorah Henries

During the war Sir E Codrington is said to have put out an order which ran: -

The Coldstream Guards, in future, will shout 'Hoorah' and not 'Hooray!' when forming a redoubt.

Many Hooray Henries must have looked at each other sadly.

- From a letter to Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire from Patrick Leigh Fermor, 1969, Mani, in Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor (2008)

City Suit

24 January 2011

Cleverley Shoes

George Cleverley Shoes from Mike Saunders on Vimeo.

Sartorial Geniuses

"This week, while the Italian menswear shows have been running, I've made up my mind that this has everything to do with age - the age of male models, the age I'm at - and the fact that credibility is stretched to snapping point when designers ask us to believe that young men would dress that way, all pomaded and lipsticked. The poor things cannot help looking daft in older men's suits, but even when it goes faux-schoolboy - in a supposedly generationally appropriate way - it's best described, as I can hear my 20-year-old son softly hissing, as "Sheesh!"

The Italians should just leave it to their granddaddies. From the photographic evidence coming out of Florence and Milan this week, an Italian man only approaches his full power and confidence in dressing in his fifties. At 60-plus, he may qualify as a sartorial genius whose idiosyncratic taste and ineffable confidence in mixing old and new clothes, and mismatching patterns and colours, completely outclasses younger men's gaucher attempts at "fashion". In Italy, until you can grow a full face of white whiskers, put on a checked suit, paisley waistcoat, striped shirt, spotted tie, pink pocket handkerchief, herringbone overcoat, top it with an old fedora and aviators, and come out looking as if it had just somehow "happened", you've not qualified for the full respect of seniority."

- Sarah Mower, The sartorial geniuses - aged 60-plus, The Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2011

23 January 2011

Hope and Glory (1987)

Gentlemen Take Polaroids (Japan)


22 January 2011

Persol: tra noi e il sole

21 January 2011

City Chalk Stripes

© Savvy Row

20 January 2011

Polo Mint Originals

Ziggy may have played for time, but did he play for Polo mints? Somehow I doubt it. I, on the other hand, would whore myself out like a drillbit pimp for a pawful of Polo mints. So it's a good thing then that I have discovered a consistent supply from a local source close to my thawed-out heart. On the spectrum of savoury and sweet, I stand firmly in the territory of the former in my sleek Stubbs & Wootton house shoes. Most people have a sweet tooth; I have a salty finger. Sweets for the most part simply do not interest me. And candy bores me--unless of course we're talking about arm candy with a soft centre oozing hot love. For Polo mints I do make exception. And while it is true I am, as they say, already sweet enough (if it can be believed), occasional excess can not be ruled out. When it's time for me to keep my rendezvous with Tweed, I imagine there will be a roll of Polo mints at the end of it.

The Only Rule

“The only rule is don't be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.”

Paris Hilton, American Heiress

Cable Car Clothiers (San Francisco)

Pumped Up Kicks (Foster The People)

19 January 2011

Tea for the End Times

As you know, astrology is not my strong point. But when Jupiter enters Aries and Mercury squares the retrograde station of Saturn, even I start worrying. And that's saying something. With that in mind I ask you to consider a project undertaken a few months ago in response to public events of a most distressing nature. The gut-felt prospect of impending emergencies, otherwise known as when the SHTF, has encouraged me to increase my tea supplies as back-up in the event of logistical disruptions. I have taken the tea ritual since I was a younger chap, as I have explained elsewhere, and a daily gallon or two of brown joy keeps the motor running, as they say, in Tweed, with a Polo mint chaser. It's practically indispensable. An army marches on its stomach; a betweeded fogey relies on his tea. Today, the ancient tea cellars at Schloss von AC are positively bursting with barrels of Twining's and old casks of vintage PG Tips. Just in case. So fear not. The celestial tea gardens radiate an unwavering light of beauty, goodness, and truth, glowing deep within our spirit, to guide us home. Have you made the necessary preparations?

18 January 2011

17 January 2011

Zulu (1964)

14 January 2011

Flannel Fantasies and Chalk Stripe Dreams

Have you ever seen a dream walking? I have not, but I often see them lounging about in old photos, films, and magazine style spreads. I am referring of course to the flannel chalk stripe suit. It is, for me, the crème de la crème, or the Holy Grail if you will, of personal sartorialism. I have lusted after it for years. Chalk stripe cloth has a martial or regimental association, in much the same way, I suspect, as 'bengal stripe' English dress shirts were derived from the off-duty kit of the Bengal Lancers in India. Chalk stripe is also redolent of Pall Mall clubs, wood-panelled libraries, leather Chestertons, Tweed Bellocs, cigar smoke, glasses of Scotch, and scrums of slick-haired old bankers gossiping and discussing the latest deals. It is enough to make this handsome young fogey's snout drool. As you know, I have two flannel chalk stripe suits (both featured in previous columns): a light grey undarted Brooks Brothers number with a 3/2 roll that I do not wear very often, and a 2-button undarted Southwick suit in 14oz. navy cloth that I acquired more than a decade ago from Van Driver in Greenwich, where my salesman was a very nice Ecuadorian gentleman, a white-haired, blue-eyed, and bespectacled chap whose beautiful niece I once dated. The Southwick suit over the years suffered from a number of butterfly bites and is currently undergoing intricate repairs in a local body shop, and, although it is expected to recover fully, the prospect of being without a flannel chalk stripe suit fills me with anxiety for which the only solution naturally is more chalk stripe. So, I am in the market for an additional suit. I like the examples at Hackett and Polo Purple Label (pictured above), and both Brooks Brothers and Pakeman Catto & Carter feature delicious-looking chalk stripe suits in a DB model. But I will probably be compelled to go bespoke. For the problem with most flannel, I think, is that it is not very practical for the Southern California climate, and really is wearable only two or three months out of the year here. A lighter weight cloth is required. I will let you know what I find. Peace out.

Tomorrow (Ladytron)

13 January 2011

Angel in Pinstripes

Duke of Windsor in Crombie

12 January 2011

Henry de Winter aus Berlin und Bobby

Violent Sensation Descends (Violens)

Confessions of a Beach Banker

After a decade in private banking in New York I moved to Southern California and submerged myself in show-coast society.

Martin was one of my first big clients. He was 86, tall and lanky, almost totally bald, with soupy blue eyes and a long nose half of which had been replaced with synthetic material due to intense sun damage sustained in his youth. His scalp and face were marked with sun-scars.

He originated from an old New York family of Dutch and German extraction; in fact his people were among the earliest settlers. He had attended Princeton University, a college in New Jersey, and was expected by his family to go into law.

After graduation, however, looking around at the small, stagnant, narrow-minded people among whom he was expected to spend the rest of his life, Martin left home one day and hopped aboard a passenger train bound for the West. He told me stories of opening the door of the rear car and pissing out the back as the train flew west through the Eastern states, a gesture of which I could tell he was most proud.

He landed in Southern California--in Orange County, to be exact, when it was little more than ranchland and a growing colony for the rich and famous of Los Angeles and the East Coast. In time Martin found work as a land agent, and, later, as a commercial real estate developer and investor. He married and had four children, two of whom entered the aerospace industry. Three of his grandchildren entered the real estate business and are currently very successful.

When I first met Martin he owned several large office buildings, in addition to his residential holdings. He owned houses in Honolulu, Newport Beach, Palm Springs, and New York and belonged to the best club in each city. His habitual outfit included a khaki linen jacket, blue or green checked shirt, khakis, and boat shoes. We bonded almost immediately. I complimented him on his "skinhead" haircut, which always made him laugh; he told me he had no choice in the matter. We traded stock ideas, though he was much more of a stock-trader than I ever was. His wealth, like that of most rich men in Southern California, had been built on real estate.

We regularly met for lunch at a small Middle Eastern restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar. Sometimes his fourth wife, a friendly German lady twenty years his junior, would join us. He would invariably launch into his reminscences. A constant theme was his disappointment with the quality of modern people; I could sympathise.

"Our people flew to the stars and landed on the moon," he would say, and then, gesturing to the people around us, including small exotic foreigners chattering in excited and unintelligible tones, "All they can do is line up at the welfare office".

In time I left the bank and joined a hedge fund concern. We met several times after that; but then, despite attempts to meet, lost touch.

Viking Sweater

11 January 2011

Eduard Meier

10 January 2011

Coward on Tea

"Wouldn't it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn't have tea?"

09 January 2011

Der alte Fritz (Old Fritz)

Downton Abbey

08 January 2011


Playgirl (Ladytron)

07 January 2011

Edward Green: Royal Albert Black Velvet House Shoes

Do you have an evening routine? I do. After a night patrolling the cocktail receptions that I am expected to attend, and where I shower grace and charm on fellow attendees like the U.S. government grants bail-outs to investment banks, I look forward to coming home and settling in with a cup of Earl Grey tea, Tweed jacket, Flashman novel, and Royal Albert house shoes in black velvet from Edward Green. The actual shoes are shown at left; note scarlet lining, chisel toe, and, to commemorate my current abode, a bespoke design on vamp featuring a pair of rampant California cougars engaged in a cat-fight. Rawwrrr! A word of warning: if you decide to wear these, do make sure to trim the nails on your toes lest they puncture the delicate lining from the inside. If you are a gentleman you will have already trimmed them like a good boy. But if you are not a gentleman (like me) you will have been forced to apply the shears only at the angry insistence of your hot Italian girlfriend or mistress whose skin you have badly scratched after a session of aggressive love-making, during which the expensive bedsheets were also probably torn to shreds. So make certain you are well-groomed: not just for the sake of your current love affair, but more importantly for the health and longevity of your Edward Green Royal Albert black velvet house shoes.

06 January 2011

Auberon Waugh in Tweed

05 January 2011

Face the Sun

How odd to talk like this in the midst of such abundance! For the past eighteen months I have been living in and out of tune, a wanderer at the edge of the apocalypse. I have spent the hours in contemplative detachment gradually paring away boredom and despair and sculpting a new consciousness, in this, the final act of the Kali Yuga. As you know, I had a foreboding of the storms of the last three years and accordingly made the necessary financial arrangements, avoiding the devastating economic effects that befell some of my comrades. But there were other events occurring at oblique angles and coming in fast, for which I confess I was unprepared, knocking me sideways to the edge. I plunged my face into the chasm to see if I could determine depth, only to pull away with transformed conviction and renewed strength. Even the gods themselves would countenance the course of action upon which I then decided and which remains unrealised here, the Apollonian cults notwithstanding. Louis-Ferdinand Céline said being alone is preparation for death. Perhaps he overstated it a bit, but surely he had a point. As we move towards certain truths we become spiritually isolated from our fellows and by doing so achieve a ‘living death’. But we must look at it from a different perspective. Is it not a release? Is it not a kind of freedom, to penetrate the boundaries and go beyond? We become cyber-hoplites scouting along the frontier, pathfinders at the borders of the world. We press on. Death could come at any moment. There is no reason to be afraid. Stand up. Face the sun. Pick a fight!

Comme c'est étrange de parler comme ça dans le milieu de l'abondance telle! Pour les mois à dix-huit derniers que j'ai vécu dans et hors de hauteur, un vagabond au bord de l'apocalypse. J'ai passé des heures dans le détachement contemplatif progressivement rognage ennui et le désespoir et la sculpture d'une nouvelle conscience, à cet égard, l'acte final du Kali Yuga. Comme vous le savez, j'ai eu un pressentiment de la tempête des trois dernières années et, par conséquent pris les dispositions financières nécessaires, en évitant les effets dévastateurs économique qui a frappé certains de mes camarades. Mais il y avait d'autres événements à angle oblique et à venir dans le rapide, pour lequel je l'avoue, je ne m'attendais pas, me frapper sur le côté du bord. Je plongeai mon visage dans l'abîme pour voir si je pouvais déterminer la profondeur, pour se détacher avec conviction transformé. Même les dieux eux-mêmes le visage du plan d'action sur lequel je décide et qui reste inexploitée ici, malgré les cultes apollinien. Louis-Ferdinand Céline a déclaré être seul est une préparation à la mort. Peut-être qu'il exagéré un peu, mais sûrement, il avait un point. Comme nous nous dirigeons vers certaines vérités, nous devenons spirituellement isolé de ses semblables et, ce faisant parvenir à une «mort vivant ». Mais nous devons regarder les choses d'un point de vue différent. N'est-il pas un communiqué? N'est-il pas une sorte de liberté, de pénétrer dans les limites et aller au-delà? Nous devenons cyber-hoplites dépistage long de la frontière, les pionniers à la frontière du monde. Nous appuyez sur. La mort peut survenir à tout moment. Il n'ya aucune raison d'avoir peur. Levez-vous. Face au soleil. Choisissez un combat!

Wie seltsam, wie diese in der Mitte einer solchen Fülle reden! Für den letzten achtzehn Monaten habe ich das Leben in und out of tune, ein Wanderer am Rande der Apokalypse. Ich habe die Stunden in kontemplative Distanz verbrachte allmählich Schnitzel weg Langeweile und Verzweiflung und Bildhauerei ein neues Bewusstsein, in diesem, dem letzten Akt des Kali Yuga. Wie Sie wissen, hatte ich eine Ahnung von den Stürmen der letzten drei Jahre und dementsprechend die notwendigen finanziellen Vorkehrungen, die Vermeidung der verheerenden wirtschaftlichen Folgen, dass einige meiner Kameraden widerfuhr. Aber es gab andere Ereignisse in schiefen Winkeln und kommen in schnell, für die ich gestehe, ich war unvorbereitet, klopft mir seitlich an den Rand. Ich stürzte mich mein Gesicht in den Abgrund zu sehen, ob ich konnte feststellen Tiefe, nur um wegzuziehen mit transformierten Überzeugung. Selbst die Götter selbst den Verlauf der Aktion, auf die ich dann beschlossen, und die bleibt hier, nicht realisierte der apollinischen Kulte trotz Antlitz würde. Louis-Ferdinand Céline sagte, allein ist die Vorbereitung auf den Tod. Vielleicht hat er es ein wenig übertrieben, aber sicherlich hatte er einen Punkt. Wie bewegen wir uns auf bestimmte Wahrheiten, die wir geistig von unseren Mitmenschen isoliert werden und dadurch eine 'lebendige Tod'. Aber wir müssen sie aus einer anderen Perspektive betrachten. Ist es nicht eine Freigabe? Ist es nicht eine Art von Freiheit, die Grenzen zu durchdringen und darüber hinausgehen? Wir werden Cyber-Hopliten Scouting entlang der Grenze, Pfadfinder an den Grenzen der Welt. Wir drücken auf. Tod kann jeden Moment kommen. Es gibt keinen Grund Angst zu haben. Steh auf. Face der Sonne. Wählen Sie ein Kampf!

Che strano parlare così in mezzo a tanta abbondanza! Per un anno e mezzo ho vissuto dentro e fuori sintonia, un vagabondo sul bordo dell'apocalisse. Ho trascorso le ore in distacco contemplativo gradualmente paring via la noia e disperazione e scolpire una nuova coscienza, in questo, l'atto finale del Kali Yuga. Come sapete, ho avuto un presentimento delle tempeste degli ultimi tre anni e di conseguenza adottato le necessarie disposizioni finanziarie, evitando gli effetti devastanti economica che ha colpito alcuni dei miei compagni. Ma ci sono stati altri eventi che si verificano ad angoli obliqui e in arrivo veloce, per il quale confesso ero impreparato, mi bussa lateralmente al bordo. Mi tuffai la mia faccia nella voragine per vedere se riuscivo a determinare la profondità, solo per tirare via con convinzione trasformata. Anche gli dèi si sarebbe volto il corso di azione su cui poi ho deciso e che resta qui non realizzate, nonostante i culti apollineo. Louis-Ferdinand Céline ha detto di essere soli è preparazione alla morte. Forse ha esagerato un po ', ma sicuramente aveva un punto. Mentre ci muoviamo verso alcune verità diventiamo spiritualmente isolato dai nostri compagni e, così facendo realizzare una 'morte vivente'. Ma dobbiamo guardare da una prospettiva diversa. Non è una liberazione? Non è un tipo di libertà, di penetrare i confini e andare oltre? Diventiamo cyber-opliti scouting lungo la frontiera, pionieri ai confini del mondo. Siamo avanti. La morte poteva arrivare in qualsiasi momento. Non c'è ragione di avere paura. Stand up. Affrontare il sole. Scegli una lotta!

04 January 2011

Duke of York in Crombie

Tartan Tuesday: Highland Style

03 January 2011


02 January 2011

Concierto de Aranjuez (Joaquín Rodrigo)

Tea in the Rain


01 January 2011