Thursday, 3 September 2015

An Elegant Shave from Wilde & Harte

Taking Eagerly to the Osterley
Remember my eye being taken with The Osterley from Wilde & Harte? Its shiny allure was impossible to resist. I now find myself gently caressing its beautiful, elegant contours each morning — whether or not I intend to shave.

When you first see the Osterley safety razor nestled in its presentation box you are desperate to pluck the thing out — it is profoundly tactile thanks to the faultless hand-polishing. But don't let the classic beauty distract you from its purpose. This traditional three-piece safety razor is a carefully engineered tool — proudly made in the UK — and when you unscrew the pieces to drop in a blade you hear the smooth and reassuring sound of well-engineered metal.

Shaves Like a Dream
There is no denying it looks great and makes the right noises, but behind those matinée idol good looks does the Osterley pass muster on the shaving front? I put on some shaving music and positioned my badger hair brush, shaving cream and hot towels. I was ready to begin my trial.

The moment you hold the Osterley in your shaving hand it feels right. It has a wonderfully balanced size and weight. The shape of the handle invites the fingers to form a natural grip like a good club for a golfer. It handled the straights and curves around my strangely angular Anglo Saxon face superbly. The weight of the razor helps to do the work, and the size and shape of the razor helps you to position your hand at the right angle for an effortless scrape.

The Osterley almost urges you to up your game. You don't want to let it down with poor technique. I hope I didn't, old chum, I hope I didn't. If you are looking for a classic wet shave, you should consider putting an Osterley safety razor on your team. Wilde & Harte are seeing increasing demand for this grown-up style of razor, with customers citing economic and environmental advantages. I don't know about that. I just know it looks damn good and shaves bloody well.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Back to Work

Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
Surround yourself with nice things for the first day back to work after your summer break. It will be a long one.

The Graf von Faber-Castell box of twelve fluted cedar wood pencils with silver end caps (above) positively implores you to start writing things down. Make a list. It's always good to start with a list. You will make lots of mistakes, so brush away the rubbed-out debris from your paper with the bristle pencil broom, also from Graf.

It pays not to stand out from the crowd at work. Blend into your surroundings elegantly with a conservatively tailored three-piece suit in 13oz Fox Brothers Chalk Stripe Flannel.

If the company is looking to 'shed resources', they'll get rid of that chap who wears those comedy T-shirts and hiking sandals to work. It's a shame, but you have to protect your own interests. You have next year's holiday to pay for.

Church's Maltby is a good work shoe. It is a classic Oxford made from soft burnished Betis calfskin (possibly from Ilcea — needs confirmation) with a traditional rounded toe. Fully-leather lined and goodyear-welted, these shoes will see you past any number of redundancy rounds right up to retirement.

For those welcome work-breaks, a silver Victorian hip flask and cigarette case might be useful — otherwise known as the gentleman's lunch box.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

September's Here Again

The Conformist
Empty gin bottles (containing peculiar messages) bob silently upon the waves of the Adriatic; the only traces of those hazy days of sun-soaked indolence. The summer has passed — back to England, back to the rain and dark skies, to the contenance angloise. It's time to put the bowler hat on the head and become reacquainted with the cultural norms of these sodden Isles.

As we learned from Bertolucci's flawlessly beautiful masterpiece The Conformist (costumes by Tirelli) — a still of the famous 'leaf scene' is shown above — adverse cultural norms can develop within a society as easily as the beneficial.

How far we are willing to go to 'fit in' and sublimate our own thoughts and impulses to the group? Give up on ties and pocket squares? Never.

Let's see if we can suggest some heretical accessories that express the Autumnal mood of the Bertolucci leaves. 

Autumn Leaves from Marwood

The All Fall In x Marwood Mesh Lace Tie tie from Marwood has a bold enough design to express your counter-cultural principles. The tie is made in England following a collaboration with graphic artist Sam Kerr who specialises in the process of creating mathematically true tessellations. I'm not quite sure what that means, but it sounds damn tricky and creative. The tie has two layers: a Viennese Leaf tessellation hand-printed in ecru and black onto English lace sits on top, with black silk on the bottom layer. The layers create a very interesting texture for the tie.

Mulberry Leaf Print Pocket Square
Mulberry has scaled back its men's operation to accessories and bags in recent years — handbags getting all the attention — but the limited men's collections that they bring out are always worthy of consideration. Below is a nice silk pocket square that continues the Autumn leaves theme in a less windswept fashion.

The pocket square is made in Italy and features a regimented mulberry leaf print similar to the classic polka dot design we know and love to see on pocket squares, ties and scarves.

The Sound of Autumn Leaves from the Bill Evans Trio

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Tweed Pig Break

Doing Nothing
They say doing nothing brings great benefits. In order to get the most from those benefits The Tweed Pig is shutting up shop for a healthy duration — August.

Time to mix a seaweed martini, recline on the House of Hackney Palmeral Edwardian Deck Chair with Footstool you see below and rest these weary hands tired from all the two-finger typing. The deckchair is made in England from hardwood and has an Art Deco-inspired 30s-style palm print.

If it's boiling hot in the coming weeks, I'll be living outside on my deck chair in the Derek Rose Amalfi pyjamas in batiste cotton you see here with Madras scarf. They're exceedingly comfortable. I can understand entirely why Hugh Hefner lived in pyjamas.

Have a languorously lovely summer — and I hope you get a chance at properly doing nothing.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Sounds of Summer

Worker drones up and down the land are packing their swim shorts, cigar cutters and unlined horse-bit loafers in anticipation of their annual summer break.

Music will always get you in the mood, so here we suggest summer mood music for the demob-happy (including us).

We're building up our sounds of summer from previous years with another triple-bill. I had to cut this list down a lot. Shirley Horn was in the running, so too Washed Out and Bill Evans, but the axe had to fall somewhere.

The brief is simple: the music has to be the perfect accompaniment to gin and tonic ice cream.

Durutti Column - Sketch for Summer

A classic from Vini Reilly's Mancunian band, Sketch for Summer is the first track on the 1979 album The Return of the Durutti Column, produced by Factory Records legend Martin Hannett. Reilly's delicate and chiming guitar playing offers a reflection on the wondrousness (and unlikelihood) of an English summer — perhaps. The album was originally released in a sandpaper sleeve, such was the situationist bent of Factory at the time.

Keith Mansfield - Before Summer Ends

Put your hand to your chest and feel your heart rate plummet as British composer Keith Mansfield's intro to Before Summer Ends takes you into 'ice jazz' territory. This tune will cool you from the summer heat. Ideally, you want to be floating in a swimming pool to this one.

Durutti Shores - Lemonade

More Durutti, Tweedy? I can assure you, dear reader, that there's no subtext to discover. We make no claim to depth at Tweed Towers. The Brooklyn-based band — where else? — Lemonade merely used the name in the title of this song from their album Minus Tide. That's singer Callan Clendenin in the picture at the top.

A summer sound and a summer visual for Durutti Shores from director Oscar Boyson in the accompanying video (below), which was shot in our dear Venice and its Lido. (Don't get any ideas about bum bags from the clip, okay?)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Isle of Capri with Greta Keller and Emilio Pucci

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

Day at the Seaside

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

Summer Book Club - Colonel Sun by Robert Markham

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 Collins' Summer Yacht Party

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 Revisited Often

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.

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

Sunshine in Soho

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

The Story of the Savile Row Teba

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.

The story:

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

Persol 714

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.

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