Tuesday, 28 July 2015
British Pathé never fail us. Look, they're inviting us to take a trip to the Isle of Capri with the incomparable Greta Keller.
We'll return to Greta Keller at a later date. In the meantime, if you're spending some time with her on Capri, best take some Orlebar Brown shorts in an appropriate Pucci print with the colours of the grotta azzura.
Monday, 27 July 2015
Unbelievable I know, but it's time for our annual daytrip to the seaside. You are invited again, of course, but try not to have so many breakfast cocktails this time, eh? You will be pleased to know that we're travelling in a Bedford OB Coach in Southdown livery this year.
Now be careful with your ice lolly melting on these trousers.
Fan Optics - Ida Black and Tortoiseshell Sunglasses (Made in the UK)
Andy & Tuly of Jermyn Street - Silk Cravat
Corneliani - Classic Polo Shirt (Made In Italy)
N. Peal - Sheridan 2-Ply Cashmere Sweater with Elbow Patches
Huntsman - Cotton & Silk Trousers
Edward Green - Rangoon Fossil Alligator, Edwardian Antique Calf (Made in the UK)
Lyons Maid Brandy Alexander Ice Lolly (Defunct)
Song for the Bus (Sung here by Sherlock Holmes)
Saturday, 25 July 2015
Bond by Amis
After the outstanding success of the Summer Book Club last year, which featured the English Rambo, we're continuing this year with another single slim novel to take on your hols.
Our summer picks aren't too taxing — you can leave Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century till winter (or not read it at all like most others who bought it) — but this year's is intriguing none the less. Colonel Sun [Amazon] is a James Bond novel written by Kingsley Amis. The book was published in 1968 under the pen name Robert Markham.
The novel has a comfortingly familiar Bond story arc: M has been kidnapped and it is up to Bond to rescue him. The villain behind the kidnapping is the dastardly Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Colonel Sun is intent on instigating a worldwide conflict. Much of the novel is set in the Aegean, so we get murder and mayhem in the sun — a prefect holiday read.
If you manage to get around to reading it, feel free to drop a comment below.
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Joan's Famous Porto Cervo Party
Joan Collins has invited you to a party aboard her yacht moored at Port Cervo. It looks like boxer Alan Minter will be there too.
It's very kind of her to invite you. She doesn't really know you, and you might be trouble for all she can tell. It's therefore essential for you to make the right impression with what you wear and what you choose as a gift. Play it well and you'll be hopping aboard yachts around the Med all summer long.
What to Wear
You need a strategy with the clothes. The party is starting with cocktails on the deck when it will still be hot and sunny. You need to be comfortable in the heat. Given the circumstances, shorts will be acceptable.
Crombie - Hopsack Blazer with Mother of Pearl Buttons
Paul Stuart - Jumping Marlins Bow Tie
Turnbull & Asser - Button Down Shirt
Dashing Tweeds - Seersucker Shorts
J. M. Weston - Le Mocassin in Bordeaux
What to Take
You want to send the right message with Joan's gift. Why not some lingerie from Kiki de Montparnasse?
Monday, 20 July 2015
Brideshead is 70
Brideshead Revisited — or to give it its full title, Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder — celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Evelyn Waugh's wonderful novel spawned the greatest TV series ever made (just pipping Passion for Angling, the second greatest and quietest) — perhaps more enjoyable than the book itself, which has been described as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.
Series Triggers a Fop Epidemic in the UK
The TV series was produced by Granada Television in 1981. When it was first broadcast it triggered a fop epidemic in the UK, coinciding nicely with the New Romantic movement. You couldn't move for side-swept partings and biscuit-coloured hopsack.
Will we see a prime-time TV re-run on a Saturday evening? Unlikely. That doesn't have to prevent us from seeing it. We have Tweed TV.
Since we cancelled the TV license for Tweed Towers a couple of years ago — you get a refund! — we haven't needed to sit out the grim scheduling until something of merit appeared.
Ensconced as Director General of Tweed TV, I control the scheduling, using on-demand streaming services and recordings to create our own effulgent, carefully edited schedule.
The schedule has a world view that seldom strays from my narrow self interest. Brideshead Revisited and Passion for Angling are in constant rotation on Tweed TV. (What outside world?)
Any recommendations for the Tweed TV schedules very welcome. You'll know what we'd like.
The Series Itself
The series sticks faithfully to the novel's plot, Waugh being credited as co-writer. Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons), an army officer, looks back at his earlier life before the onset of the Second World War.
As our narrator, Ryder recalls the innocent days, now lost, when he was studying at Oxford and falls in with an aesthetic crowd that includes Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews). They become good friends and Charles spends time at Flyte's ancestral home, Brideshead in Wiltshire. We there follow Charles' elegiac recollections of the family's entanglements and eventual disintegration.
The production of the series is second-to-none, with the finest retinue of actors ever brought together for the small screen, great locations and costumes, and a perfectly fitting score by Geoffrey Burgon that sums up the sense of loss, both societal and personal, that the story conveys.
It can be argued that the inter-war period depicted in Brideshead marks the peak in English civilised life. Current events might tell us civilisation doesn't come easy, and barbarity is only ever in remission as we descend the curve ever further. We have to continually fight for the right of a chap to trot around Oxford clutching a teddy bear dishing out plover's eggs to all and sundry.
The series is available as a remastered box set [Amazon], which was released for its 30th anniversary. Why not throw your TV licence in the bin and add it to your own schedule?
Sunday, 19 July 2015
Mild West End
We have a shimmering little summertime clip from the BFI below that gives a potted (1956) history of London's Soho district. At that time it seemed to be a well-ordered and relatively unpeopled part of London to stroll around. One can imagine sitting in Soho Square licking an ice cream and nodding to the smartly-uniformed gardener (above) whilst thinking where to stroll to next.
Interesting Fact: Piccadilly Circus, our narrator tells us, was named after the lace collars (or piccadills) popular in the Stuart period. Do we have any other districts or towns named after items of clothing?
Friday, 17 July 2015
Classic Spanish Meets Classic English
Francisco — our Spanish correspondent and Teba expert — has forwarded on some pictures to share of a Teba jacket he had made on Savile Row.
Francisco wanted to try a fully bespoke Teba from Savile Row. He contacted Joshua Byrne, a cutter at Henry Poole at the time, to see if he could help. Francisco sent over one of his Tebas to see if Joshua could create a version. Joshua, who is now running Byrne & Burge tailors of Mayfair, happily obliged.
The Teba has hand-stitched collar, lapels and buttonholes (with polished horn buttons), and has the Teba's traditional blousy shirt-cuff sleeves and 'skirt' at the back. Francisco is thrilled.
Here's Francisco wearing it with a bespoke shirt from Turnbull & Asser, trousers from Slowear's Incotex and some (Pre-Prada) Church's shoes in Cordovan leather.
Do you have a beloved item or outfit to share amongst our select readership? By all means send a pic or two to Mrs T.
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Per il Sole
Persol's 714 model of sunglasses — textbook timeless classic — was introduced in the 1960s with an innovative hinged bridge and arms so that they could be packed away compactly.
Persol was formed in 1917 by Giuseppe Ratti, taking the name from per il sole (for the sun). Positioned as a practical brand for work and sports, Ratti's glasses with their distinctive arrow symbol became well-known for their durability and protectiveness.
The 714 model was created for the streetcar drivers of Turin, but its popularity outgrew its original market. Steve McQueen added some to his growing Persol collection and helped popularize them by wearing a pair in The Thomas Crown Affair.
About the 714
Model 714 is produced in cotton-derived acetate with crystal lenses and has over 40 stages of production.
The acetate is created in one piece and then cut where the joins need to be. The frame is filed and polished by hand, then the hinges and lenses are hand-fitted.
O Sole Mio
Luxottica (who bought the Persol brand in 1995) has honoured Steve McQueen's association with the 714 by including his name on the recent reboot of the model, which is available in various frame/lens colour and size options, though Steve's signature model was 'light Havana with shaded blue polarized lenses'.
I went for the larger frame (54) in a brown lens, which you can see in the photos here.
I've evoked the poetic symbolism of the water lily below, opening and closing when the sun appears and disappears just like my Persol sunglasses. Or something like that.
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
To commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, a 13-metre long embroidery of the Magna Carta Wikipedia page was created by Cornelia Parker.
The exquisite crown for the embroidery (shown in progress above) was created in goldwork by the Royal School of Needlework using 'applied cloth of gold fabric; satin stitch in silk floss thread to create the crown’s pearls, jewels and orb and silk shading to replicate the luxurious velvet. Fine gold threads such as pearl purl, cutwork chips in bright and dull check were used to create the gold crown.'
The embroidery was recently on display at the British Library (exhibit link). I'm not sure if it's going to tour the country or find a permanent home, but you can see a 'making of' video below.
Monday, 13 July 2015
Lazy Weekend on the Spanish Coast
I asked the helpful lady at the Spanish tobacconists for cigars that would work well as a post-prandial puff with brandy and coffee whilst sitting at the poolside before my afternoon nap. This was a brief window of opportunity, so they had to last less than twenty minutes. They also had to be hand-rolled, but not necessarily Cuban. And they had to be an easy draw (laziness) and induce a contented reverie where all appeared to be well with the world.
It wasn't a simple brief, but she came up with three suitable options in no time. All happened to be Cuban by happenstance.
We have the mild Rafael Gonzalez Cuban Petit Corona (seen below with Chucs dog-patterned swimming shorts), which burned well and had a nice honey flavour that went well with the brandy, my chlorine-stained notes tell me. Rafael Gonzalez is a pre-revolution cigar brand established in the roaring '20s for the British market.
Next up was a Petit Figurado from a post-revolution brand, Vegueros. Vegueros was established in 1961 and exported in the '90s. Filled entirely with leaves from the Vuelta Abajo, the best tobacco-growing region of Cuba, this is a spicy medium-strength cigar. Very nice and with an attractive brand label. Nice shape too, Freud fans.
Finally, we have the Quinteras Favorito - the dominant fat robusto-style cigar in the top picture. Quinteras cigars are all made with tripa corta or short filler. This can be the cigar equivalent of a tea bag hiding poor quality tea dust and sweepings that don't make the grade as loose leaf tea. But it wasn't half bad and — so the lady told me — it's very popular in Spain.
Saturday, 11 July 2015
Keep Cool in Ice Twist
It can get a bit puthery in Japan. But being Japan they have worked out how to stay smart without succumbing to the heat (or descending into the dishevelled Western indecency of flip flops and vests).
Ring Jacket (1954) of Osaka, Japan, are particularly on the case with their suits and jackets. For some they use a loose tropical weave woollen cloth (sometimes with silk) called Ice Twist. Breathable and cool, wearing Ice Twist makes you feel like a smartly-dressed piece of cucumber floating in a chilled glass of Pimms.
The quarter-lined grey suit you see here is in Ice Twist. This high-tech cloth is of Japanese manufacture, I believe, but does anyone have more gen on it?
If your local gent's outfitters or tailor can't help on Ice Twist front — the name alone seems to knock the ambient temperature down a degree or two as I type it — wander over to The Armoury, based in Honkers and New York, to see if they have anything in a tropical cloth by Ring Jacket that will fit you.
Note that The Armoury stocks an excellent selection of suits and jackets in British cloths too, as well as many of the classic names we know and love.
Refreshing Summer Tweed
With Ring Jacket you can also consider tweed in high summer. The Armoury regards the Ring Jacket sports coat below as a 'summer tweed'. Made from an open weave cloth blending wool, silk and linen, the jacket is fully-canvassed and quarter-lined.
Whatever happens promise me you won't take the vest and flip flop route if the temperature keeps heading up?
Thursday, 9 July 2015
Like the ancient ouroborus my fizzog presents itself in a recurring cycle that follows beard to moustache to clean-shaven. This mystical cycle follows weather and seasonal patterns to add to the general air of hocus-pocus.
Moustache Transition Phase Initiated
As the weather has us all wilting right now — and complaining, by gad! — I've transitioned to (ginger) moustache before the fully clean-shaven phase in August. Then it's back to the beard when the leaves start falling (with lashings of the excellent First Olympian Beard Oil).
Paying more attention to my shaving ritual at this part of the cycle, my eye has been drawn to the safety razors produced by Wilde and Harte of London — the elegant Osterley (above and below) in particular.
This weighty three-piece razor is crafted from British stainless steel to a mirror finish in the UK. You could imagine Poirot's chum Arthur Hastings packing an Osterley in his sponge bag.
Wilde & Harte — founded a couple of years back — say their classic designs are inspired by 'the architecture, styles and the splendour of iconic London houses and palaces'. The collection is certainly receiving approved nods from the razorati.
The name? Director Paul Thompson says it comes from the names of two London 'drinkers' used in business discussions - The White Harte in Drury Lane and the Oscar Wilde bar at the Café Royal, Mayfair.
Wednesday, 8 July 2015
Batting for The Ashes
Good luck to England at the start of The Ashes in Cardiff today.
Should they go a man short, they may well turn to you. Do you have what it takes to step out in the middle for your country? If not, make sure you look the part and have a really, really good bat.
Bat-wise you might want to arm yourself with the Millchamp & Hall International above. Hand made in Taunton — at the M & H workshops at the Somerset County Cricket Ground, in fact — from traditional willow, the bat will virtually thwack the sixes for you.
The bat promises excellent balance, 'maximising performance in all conditions and formats of the game'.
Try it with a couple of hook shots off the front and back foot to begin with to get the crowd on your side, then you can settle and start swatting the ball all around the ground.
Out in the Middle
Before you step out in the middle, let The Duckworth Lewis Method remind us that the crease is the great leveller. As you tap the bat on the ground and look the bowler in the eye, attitude is all.
Out in the Middle [Amazon] is a laid-back summery-tinged track from TDLM's cricket-themed album Sticky Wickets.
Monday, 6 July 2015
Isle of Man Things
I think this might be our first post about something from the Isle of Man, and it's one that combines your favourites: brogues and tweed. A little nonseasonal perhaps, but one of the pieces we're discussing has a limited production run, so you might want to tuck it away for a few weeks.
And it's Isle of Man tweed, gents — not something you read much about.
Isle of Man Tweed
Windsor & Wales is based in Douglas, Isle of Man. The company sources and creates an all-British line-up of men's and women's clothing.
The Wren tweed jacket (above and below) has a production run of just five (so be quick if you can't live without it). Made in London from Isle of Man tweed produced at the Laxey Woollen Mills using traditional hand-weaving methods.
The jacket has horn buttons and is lined in silk with a hand-drawn peacock design.
Isle of Man Wool
The Windsor & Wales bods amplify the Isle of Man tweed angle with the pleasing provenance of their Peregrine Loaghtan tweed brogue.
The tweed is produced from had-spun wool from the six-horned Loaghtan sheep (bottom), which is native to the Isle of Man.
The goodyear-welted shoes are produced in Northamptonshire, and have a nice little hunting dog print on the insole.
Our first piece on the Isle of Man and I didn't mention the TT Races.
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