Thursday, 5 December 2013
In the rarefied world of perfumery breaking new ground is difficult to achieve. Ingredients are limited and availability varies: most large companies err on the safe- side, not least in terms of commerciality, by following fashionable fads. I watched, therefore, with keen interest the development of new luxury fragrance brand, Union Fragrances, who had set themselves a near impossible task; a range celebrating the botany of the British Isles using ingredients from our somewhat challenged natural history. Perhaps it was the focussing brief, perhaps it was the skill of the perfumer, Anastasia Brozler, or the foresight of the brand’s creator, John O’Sullivan, but most probably it was the combination of all three; a trinity which has yielded one of the most interesting collections of late.
To my mind the olfactory match-made-in -heaven for Tweed Pig, would be without doubt; Quince, Mint and Moss. Fruity strands of ripe quince from Somerset speckled with purple-black juniper berries weave through a fabric of cool English garden mint and verdant moss scraped from a countryside churchyard wall.
Equally fresh; Holy Thistle bursts with the eponymous fresh, green accord from the Kinrara Estate in the Highlands. Blended elegantly with cool bay from Pembrokeshire, bracken from the Borders and underscored with rich Highland pine resin, this is a solitary hike through the hills, the wind blowing you along, the fleeting moment when man and nature merges.
Britain has been overwhelmed by Spanish Bluebells, leaving the indigenous variety protected and in very rare supply. Anastasia hand collects the flower heads of protected English variety (under license) to create this most extraordinary of perfumes. Violet leaf from Devon and ivy from Dorset add green-notes to Gothic Bluebell, a scent which is best described as a national treasure. I hesitate to allude to an overgrown folly, for this fragrance is far from that, instead a ruined chapel, mullion windows twisted with foliage, flower heads bursting through tumbledown stones.
Most extraordinary of the original four fragrances is Celtic Fire. Smoky peat from County Derry, fir balm and pine needles from Aberdeenshire, birch tar from Inverness-shire create a rich resinous amongst pagan scent, untamed and unashamed.
Hot on the tail of Celtic Fire, Gunpowder Rose, the newest release, is quite literally a cracker. Hard-to-obtain English Rose, from Lincolnshire and the Stour Valley, combines the lushness of the petals with the greenness of a newly cracked stem. Dramatically the fresh-floral notes are tinged with the flinty thunderstorm notes of gunpowder. Juicy Blackcurrant from Kent, adds to the excitement with a thrilling, energizing bite, whilst oak moss from Dorset and oak bark recall the smell of nature anticipating a storm; the tree beneath which you should not shelter. This is, however, one fragrance you should certainly spray.
Written by Lawrence Roullier White
Lawrence Roullier White is the owner of the Roullier White Perfumery.
Saturday, 30 November 2013
How exciting to live life in beige. The most subversive of the colours. The fashion crowd will try and persuade you it's a boring colour. I'll tell you something, their beloved black is a boring colour. And it's not even a colour. We're beige and proud.
Add that beige to knitwear and you're being almost revolutionary in your subversively conservative garb.
(Beige looks nice with black though.)
Here's a knitwear label you may want to seek out: William Lockie. Lockie is based—where else?—in Hawick, the knitwear capital of Scotland.
They do some nice cashmere and camel hair numbers. The Windsor Shawl Collar Jacket in 2-ply camel hair above is without doubt a timeless classic.
Ken Nordine - Serious Beigeness
Ken Nordine, the word-jazzer, got the measure of beige on his 1967 album Colors. [Amazon]
Each track on the album features a different colour, and Nordine has made word associations to give a story and personality to each. He charmingly delivers these stories in a smooth vocal over a free-form jazz soundtrack, the words as deep or as silly as you want to read into them.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Duffle Coat Elicits a Rare Exclamation
Wow! I don't use that expression lightly, but what else can you utter when you see this duffle coat from Nigel Cabourn? It has to be the finest duffle coat around right now, if ever.
That great British military heavyweight of the coat world, the duffle, has been reworked by Cabourn in cashmere (cloth by Cerutti). The integrity of the original military duffle is retained in length and shape, but the quality and detail has been taken up a level.
Made in England, the coat has a double storm front opening, proper wooden pegs and jute fastenings and patch pockets. The hood and cuffs have adjusters.
I have quite a crush on the rusty-coloured one above. Duffle heaven. I feel a little faint, I think I need a sit down.
Monday, 25 November 2013
Sheffield - Steel City
Sheffield still has an association with the steel industry. It was very close to becoming something Sheffield was famous for, but the industry didn't disappear entirely. And what has emerged in recent years is an industry that has found new vigour through innovation, technology and focus on quality. Made in Sheffield still means something, particularly in the manufacture of advanced materials for niche industries.
It's not all about producing metal sheeting for aircraft though. Some of the older skills remain, keeping Sheffield's cutlery heritage alive. You can still own a little bit of hand-made Sheffield steel.
Taylor's Eye Witness - The Blades
Taylor's Eye Witness was established in 1820 by John Taylor in Sheffield. The company is still based in Sheffield—and their Victorian cutlery works, built in 1852, is still in operation. Taylor's famous Eye Witness 'eye' trademark was granted in 1838.
Tweedy's Idea: Why don't they create a visitor centre in the works, with tea rooms and so on. I'd visit and so would you.
Taylor's Premier Collection range of pocket knives are made by hand in their Sheffield works. The presentation box of the knife is signed by the craftsman that made it. The knives are made in limited numbers and come with a lifetime guarantee.
That's a Lambsfoot with burr handle below. At the top we have Gentleman's Clip Point with ox horn handle. Add one to your collection, chaps.
Here's a video of the manufacturing process. Lot's of hammering to produce a Barlow knife.
Thinking of Visiting Sheffield?
If you're thinking of visiting Sheffield, why not visit the Bath Hotel? The pub is run by the our very good friends at Thornbridge Brewery.
Saturday, 23 November 2013
I was productively idle in Amsterdam recently, enjoying the city and allowing the experiences to be had in the city to fall like ripe apples about my head.
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach
What I'm trying to say by borrowing Andrew Marvell's words is that it's not hard to have a good time in Amsterdam, pleasures are easy and abundant—unlike some cities, where you really have to work hard to winkle them out.
So the exercise with the Condensed Amsterdam series is to try and distil the diversions into a manageable weekend-sized chunk.
Strolling Around the Negen Straatjes
Let's base ourselves within an area of the Centrum district of Amsterdam between De 9 Straatjes and the Rijksmuseum [walking]. We may venture out on occasion, but—as with Salamanca in Madrid—we have everything we need here.
De 9 Straatjes is a beautiful area of canalside houses, connected by bridges, with many independent shops and restaurants (and no plasticky American fast-food and fashion chains to offendeth thine eyes). The area is like stepping into a Vermeer painting, with the quiet from the lack of cars and the light from the canals reflecting onto the 17th century gabled canal houses. And who amongst us wouldn't enjoy that?
Take a look in at Sir Maxx who stock some of our favourites for shoes and accessories: Crockett and Jones, Alden and Swaine Adeney Brigg.
Elevenses at Hajenius
Assuming you'll be having late starts in Amsterdam, elevenses at Hajenius cigar emporium and lounge is a good way to kick-start your day and a decent base in which to plan walks around the city.
The recommendations for elevenses from the Hajenius staff are hard to argue with. The mornings I was there they matched a Macanudo Café with a vintage port from Grahams . Another day it was a Leon Jimenes Gran Corona from La Aurora with a coffee.
The Hajenius smoking lounge is a quiet refuge. The Dutch will tend to smoke pipes and enjoy a good book in there. Brits will be sitting in groups smoking cigars and throwing back bottles of wine.
When the lounge emptied, I had the opportunity to listen to Radio Dismuke through the WiFi. It made for quite the perfect moment.
Appointment at the Tailor's
Come, let's now stroll towards the Rijksmuseum. We've an appointment at the best tailor's in Amsterdam...
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Chain with Cigar Cutter
You know I sometimes carry a cigar cutter? The guillotine-style cutter dangles from an Edwardian silver watch chain — graduated links, individually hallmarked — I keep in the breast pocket. Unfortunately, this style of cigar cutter cannot pass through security at airports. And wearing the chain without something on the end seems a bit silly. Esse est percipi.
I'm a wristwatch not a pocket watch wearer, so the chain has tended to stay at home on short trips abroad. Poor old chain, it's missed some terrific adventures.
But try to hold back the tears chaps; there's a happy ending to this sorry tale...
The Future Revealed - Chain with Flash Drive
I was packing for my next trip abroad. I had a few film and music recommendations from readers to catch up on, and I'd loaded them on to a flash drive to plug in to the TV in my hotel room. But where to put the flash drive safely and keep it from being lost?
Then I hit on an idea. What better way of keeping my flash drive safe than attaching it to my chain? A click on the spring clasp and it was securely in the pocket. I had found a new purpose for my chain and my flash drive was safe.
The chain reinvented, gentlemen.
Cigar cutter anecdote: One time when I was in Split, Croatia, I bought some cigars from a tobacconists. The member of staff who served me asked how long I would be staying in the city. I said a couple of days. He then handed me a beautiful cigar cutter and asked me to bring it back before I left. Top marks to Split.
Monday, 18 November 2013
Wool School Winner
The Wool School Sweater - The New Wave Keeping to Tradition
What do you think of this sweater? Traditional yet contemporary, shall we say. I can see it having the sort of broad appeal where you can picture it under a Barbour wax jacket in the Scottish Highlands or on the back of a football hooligan in the Isle of Dogs.
The sweater, a limited edition, is based on the winning design for 'Wool School'—in a collaboration between Lyle & Scott and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design—organised by Campaign for Wool, whose patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.
The winning design is by Kate Annis—make a note of this name—whose brief was to consider the knitwear traditions of the British Isles. As Lyle & Scott say, its a 'contemporary take on traditional Scottish tartan and Argyle patterns'.
Lambswool from Z. Hinchcliffe
The sweater is made from lambswool in L & S's factory in Hawick, Scotland. The lambswool is sourced from Z. Hinchliffe and Sons who have been in the spinning business since 1766. I'm hoping to give a little more detail on Z. Hinchcliffe in a future article. 'Z' is for Zachhheus, by the way.
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Pipe and Slippers - Traditional Appeal
The second in our occasional Pipe and Slippers Man series. If the Porsche pipe was a bit too space-age for you, we've a more traditional offering from Blakemar this time round. A more traditional pairing. Not to say you can't build up a collection and mix and match as you see fit. No rules at The Tweed Pig.
Incidentally pipe lovers, I was in Amsterdam last week and popped into Hajenius, the cigar and pipe retailer and lounge, a couple of times. They have a serious collection of pipes. I'll try and do a Condensed Amsterdam (in the style of Condensed Madrid and Easy Weekend in London) soon and we'll delve into Hajenius a bit more.
Blakemar Vest Pocket Pipe
Hand-made in the UK, Blakemar's Vest Pocket is from the De Luxe range. Designed with portability in mind, you can twist the mouthpiece and pop it into your weskit pocket.
Tricker's Churchill Slipper
The version of Tricker's Churchill slipper you see here, perhaps surprisingly, was sold through asos—out of stock now. It's an Albert-style slipper, embroidered with gold thread, and has a velvet upper, leather sole and quilted lining. Tricker's do slippers with leather and quilted linings. You may find, as I do, that the quilted lining is better suited to home slipper-wear than leather lining. A handsome slipper indeed. I must look into slippers with a pig embroidered on the front.
Monday, 11 November 2013
Exciting New Series & New Guest Contributor
Welcome to the first of our exciting new series Great British Perfumes. The series has been put together by our special guest contributor Lawrence Roullier White of famed London emporium Roullier White.
What Lawrence doesn't know about perfume could be written on the label of a tiny scent bottle, and still leave room for the list of ingredients and barcode.
In this series Lawrence will describe Great British perfumes, with some firmly established classics and some destined to be. First up is Caldey Island Lavender Water.
A little ripple of applause please, gentlemen, as Lawrence takes to the lectern. Dim the lights please Mrs T.
Caldey Island Lavender Water
A traditional lavender water is an indispensible part of any fragrance wardrobe. The cool, cologne-like qualities are soothing after a shave, refreshing if you are rushing around and, given the calming properties of the plant, are ideal if you are winding down, trying to relax on a flight or hold it together in the board room. However, it is surprising that good lavenders are hard to find.
If we were to say that a fragrance described as the best of its kind in the world, by one of the most respected international perfume authorities, is made by Trappist monks on an island 2 miles off the coast of Tenby, you would be forgiven for thinking the Tweed Pig had lost the plot. As unlikely as it may sound the monks of Caldey Island, in Pembrokeshire, really do produce one of the most extraordinary lavender scents known to man, as ratified by Luca Turin, who waxes lyrical (‘It reminds me of Vermeer's use of the precious pigment ultramarine, made from lapis lazuli and traditionally reserved for the Virgin Mary's robe, on the apron of a servant pouring milk’) over the heavenly joys of Caldey Island Lavender Water in his book, with Tania Sanchez, Perfumes: A Guide.
As early as the 1950s the enterprising monks wanted to offer something to the many day-trippers to their island who invariably left clutching bunches of the sweet-smelling, herbaceous perennial which grows there. What could have turned into a cheap souvenir line was exalted to the extraordinary by the foresight, and acumen, the monks had to engage the services of a professional perfumer. After experimenting in the abbot’s kitchen, it was realised by the fathers that the flora available to them on the island alone could not create a scent with the lasting power they required. Flemish (the monks are from a Belgian order) nose Hugo Collumbien, set about creating a fragrance that reflected the botany of the island but which could be made in a scale that would satisfy the demands of the many visitors. Imported lavender compounds from Sault, in Southern France, are rendered more robust by the addition of the appropriately named exaltolide, a sweet musk once collected from the muskrat but now synthesised, and are blended by hand by monks in the Abbey perfumery.
Turin believes that every fragrance collection should include a lavender and he describes Caldey Island Lavender Water as ‘simply the best lavender soliflore on earth’. High praise indeed.
Lawrence's smelling notes: Caldey Island Lavender has the floral top notes one would expect, but clean and sharp rather than powdery and soapy. The middle is an icy, steely core which dries down to an skin-smelling softness. An elegant, timeless classic.
Looking for New Guest Contributors
Do you have a specialism that you'd like to write on that would help us swell the content of The Tweed Pig? if so, please get in touch. All that we ask is that you know your onions on a topic we cover regularly.
Sunday, 10 November 2013
Saturday, 2 November 2013
Paul Stuart - Nice Photoshoot
I think we can let the photos that accompany the Paul Stuart winter collection do the talking today. Bask in the Scottishness of the settings, showing off Stuart's impressively traditional clothes against an Edinburgh background. (The nicest city in Scotland, but don't tell Glasgow.) If they'd have said they were coming to Great Britain, I would have put the kettle on and invited them round for teacakes.
We have the bagpiper above. Below we have the Flying Scotsman and a man perfectly attired in brown trilby and covert coat for a British horse race meeting.
Here we see reflectiveness by a loch, followed by a snifter of whisky in a local hostelry. The man at the back of the pub looks decidedly dodgy.
Most of the Scottish 'boxes' ticked. Would have been nice to see haggis somewhere. I adore haggis (it cures hangovers). Haggis tip: splash a bit of whisky on as a condiment when your haggis is piping hot.
Paul Stuart - British Authenticity
Once again, our favourite Anglo-American retailer melds the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes in its sourcing of the finest British clothing to complement its collection.
The Shetland Wool Cable Knit Sweater in lovely heathery colours is made in Scotland:
The Woven Silk Tartan Plaid Tie (self-tipped) is made in England:
The Suede Double Monk Strap shoes are made in England:
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
Tweedy Pulls No Punches in Incendiary Interview for Tails Clothing
I was recently interviewed by the charming Natalie from Tails Clothing.
Take a gander and prepare to gasp as I slam the fashion industry and men who dress like Californian children. Learn how The Tweed Pig started and why Joan Crawford influences my tie choices. Discover why you need to put in an order for cashmere socks from Corgi Hosiery pronto.
You can read the hard-hitting interview here.
About Tails Clothing
Tails is a Welsh company, like Corgi, and is based in Penarth, Glamorgan. Tails source and sell men's clothing and accessories, niche items from around the world with provenance and pedigree — products that fit their concept of 'Place of Origin'.
The Tails concept incorporates British brands we know and love: Albert Thurston, Alfred Sargent, Christy's Hats, and, of course, Corgi. (Remember the Corgi Hosiery week?). Tails also stock reputed continental brands and items that you would have difficulty tracking down. The Moroccan Tassel Fez above, for example. Perfect for an end-of-day cigar.
And they sell own-brand clothes too. Take a look at the Tails Moleskin Trouser with fishtail back below.
Monday, 28 October 2013
Brass Buckle and Canvas Belt from Chapman
What to say about a belt? You slide it into your belt hoops and it keeps your trousers up. Big deal. Wrong. There's so much more to contend with.
We'll side-step the comparison of braces, belts, waist-adjusters and 'Daks tops' for bespoke and off-the-peg trousers. A vocal minority disagree, and it's a matter of personal taste, but trousers with belt hoops look fine to me. Even when switching to braces. I had a pair of trousers made once with belt hoops, brace buttons and side-adjusters — the youthful Tweedy wanted options. Without hoops, for certain you're not going to be able to wear a belt. And then you're missing out on some very fine accessories.
Some say the buckle of a belt should always be brass, never silver metal, and the strap in leather, boxcloth or cotton canvas depending on the level of formality required. A cotton woven belt with surcingle buckle won't be good with a chalkstripe suit, as you'll be aware.
If you're looking for something on the casual side, how about this fine Parachute Webbing Belt from new friends Chapman Bags? You won't get a more manly-sounding belt than one made from English belting leather and cotton parachute webbing. (Richard Francis Burton would find this sufficiently robust for one of his adventures.)
The belt has the traditional brass buckle, so you won't offend any belt purists. It's available in different colour combinations, but I'm very keen on the one in khaki with a red stripe.
The belt is hereby awarded a Tweed Pig rosette for being handmade in Chapman's workshops in Cumbria, England.
Saturday, 26 October 2013
Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe
If you're wondering about the title, it's in Gaelic. Can't speak a ruddy word of it? I can assure you that it won't get in the way of your enjoyment of the beautiful music of Julie Fowlis.
Julie was born on the Hebridean island of North Uist, a Gaelic-speaking part of the British Isles. Gaelic is a lyrical language, as is Welsh. If Anglo Saxon, then English, hadn't become the predominant language of these islands, how might the Anglosphere be different? President Obama addressing his nation in Gaelic. There's a thought.
Hand-Made Music from Harris Tweed Country
I first heard Julie singing at the Cambridge folk Festival in 2007. Or was it 2006? I'll go for 2007. No matter, her performance was terribly good. Mesmeric even. Like a bewitched seal, as soon as her performance ended I clapped with hands and feet for more. When no more came, this seal shuffled over to the trestle table where they were selling her recordings and bought Julie's debut album, Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe (As My Heart Is) [Amazon].
Music to Button a Lambswool Argyle Cardigan By (If You Can Find One)
It's been an embarrassingly long time since we added to our Music to Button a Cardigan By series. An Argyle cardigan probably works best with Julie. Sadly, it's hard to locate a classic Argyle-patterned cardigan right now. Let me know if you spot a belter.
Let's assume the cardigan situation is resolved and don our tweed breeks, pour ourselves a scotch, and sit back to hear Julie sing the wonderful Oganaich Uir a Rinn M'Fhagail or Oh, Noble Youth Who Has Left Me in sassenach. The title suggests a sad theme to the song, but it all sounds rather joyful to my monolingual ears.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Abraham Moon - Donegal Tweed Jacket by John Lewis
One of our Abraham Moon posts is very popular. Three years later, I still wear that jacket. Still indestructible. I deduce from this popularity that you chaps are fond of the cloth produced by Abraham Moon and Son. And you're fans of Dirty Harry.
How about this then:
It's a cloth of flecked Donegal tweed Moon has produced exclusively for a jacket by John Lewis — the JOHN LEWIS & Co. Abraham Moon Donegal Blazer. There's a lot of Donegal tweed around this winter. Not to worry. It's a classic. When it disappears from collections it doesn't matter. We shall continue to wear it.
Nice chambray lining.
Tweedy's Request: I still don't get enough correspondence from British Mills telling me about the wonderful cloths they produce. Come on. Speak to Tweedy.
Monday, 21 October 2013
The Jeep Coat
Not many British war heroes have cartoon strips written about them in The Victor.
Private White did. And what's more, he's been mentioned in The Tweed Pig on more than one occasion. At least the family-owned clothes manufacturer and retailer bearing his name has. This isn't mere heritage window-dressing and appropriation. The original Private White established a clothing factory in Manchester, England. And Private White's grandson, James Eden, runs the current incarnation of the business, which is still based in Manchester.
The military associations don't end there. Many of the menswear pieces they produce are influenced by the British military. Currently being made to order is the incredible Jeep Coat (above and below). Constructed of cotton drill made in their own Lancashire backyard, with a shearling fleece collar and lining. If you do your research, you can see how close it is to an original jeep coat.
I hereby declare the jeep coat as much of a timeless classic — with military background — as a duffle (duffel) coat (beloved of Welsh poets) or trench coat (beloved of mods, spies and gangsters).
Manchester is the Background
"Manchester is the background. The time is today." Well today as in 1959. So says the trailer to the Hammer-produced Hell is a City, based on the the novel by Maurice Procter.
Starring the brilliant Stanley Baker (or is it Morrissey?), it was filmed in the mean streets of Manchester. I pondered how to link this clip to the jeep coat. Frankly, it's impossible. But I didn't want to drop the clip. So I flimsily offer it here as an unreliable insight into the city that gave us Private White. Enjoy the accents.