Tuesday, 29 May 2012
The Little Things in Life
I popped over to some of my favourite London shops to pick up some grooming products to take on my forthcoming trip to Budapest and Vienna. As I've said before, I like to share my loyalty.
A few things to increase the pleasantness of the everyday. I like my own comforts and you never know what you'll find in hotel rooms. Traveling light, these products needed to be no bigger than that silly and pointlessly inconvenient 100ml-limit airport security rule. (I then broke that rule with the shampoo, misreading the label.)
All three products are made in the UK. Shown here resplendently against the background of their new home: the Daines & Hathaway Military Wet Pack.
#1 D. R. Harris Coconut Oil Cream Shampoo
D. R. Harris the pharmacists have been in London's St. James's street for over 200 years. They have a large selection of grooming products that reflect their heritage and location, serving gentleman's clubland through the years.
The Coconut Oil Cream shampoo is a convenient way to take shampoo when traveling. It works into a terrific lather. As it's a 150 ml tub, I'll be scooping some into a smaller container for the trip. Thanks authorities.
#2 Geo. F. Trumper Extract of Limes Skin Food
We've featured Trumper's skin food before. I went for the zesty Extract of Limes from their Duke of York street branch for this trip. You can apply before and after shaving. Smooth.
# 3 Truefitt and Hill Styling Paste
I took the opportunity to have my wig chopped in Truefitt's (1805) in St James's street. Gino is an excellent scissorman, and with skilled snipping he produced a perfect short-back-and-sides with side parting. Cutting very short with scissors is something a lot of barbers struggle with, they normally reach for the clippers. Clippers don't account for the contours and lumps and bumps of the head, so the result can look patchy and spiky. Gino worked his scissors like a maestro. Bravo.
He also recommended Truefitt's Styling Paste. I'm not a heavy user of products on the hair, but a dab of this really keeps the hair in good order and the parting unruffled through the day.
Monday, 28 May 2012
Slim Aarons is famous for his photographs of the jet set at play in the 50s-70s.
When the character Monte Beragon, from the 1945 film Mildred Pierce, is asked what he does, he replies, "I loaf in a decorative and highly charming manner."
Aarons captured the lives of such decorative and charming loafers. And, let's face it, loafing charmingly is a perfectly agreeable way to spend time.
Slim's photographs are collated in books such as Poolside with Slim Aarons [Amazon]and Slim Aarons: A Place in the Sun [Amazon].
Our favourite photograph has to be the one above of Palm Beach habitué Clifford Klenk and his wife found in A Privileged Life: Celebrating Wasp Style [Amazon]by Susanna Salk on Assouline.
Doing a Klenk
Zounds, that's a summer outfit. Worn with aplomb, sir. We Brits may not get the sunshine for a full-on 'Klenk' all summer long, but surely we owe it to ourselves and this proud nation of ours to have a little 'Klenk Kit' on standby ready to 'do a Klenk' when the sun does reveal itself?
Or if the clouds fail to part we could all just head to Palm Beach - temperatures never drop below 18.0 °C at any time of the year.
Tweedy's Confession: I can't find much (any) current information on Clifford Klenk. He's still knocking around Palm Beach and concerned with matters of dress. The Savile Row tailors Huntsman are mentioned against his name. I imagine his wardrobe could tell some tales.
We're all Wasps Now
And it's never been easier to do a Klenk than this year. Take a look at the offerings from Brooks Brothers and Hackett below to take a few ideas from. Grab a few pieces now before these bright colours drift away from the designers' palettes and Mr Klenk is taken down from their mood boards. And wait for that sun to shine.
Friday, 25 May 2012
Tea-Crazed Young Mods Cavort to St. Louis Union
The Cappuccino Kid may have been the moniker of the liner note writer for Paul Weller's Style Council albums (Paulo Hewitt?), but archival evidence suggests that mods should actually be drinking tea. Don't believe us? We have video evidence in the form of Manchester's short-lived 60s mod band St. Louis Union and their song English Tea. An incendiary statement, perhaps, but we don't shy away from controversy here at The Tweed Pig.
I had to blink at this video. It seems almost contemporary. That probably says something about my mindset and reference points. And look at that young mod giving his all at 1' 21". Fuelled by his cup of builder's brew, no doubt. You can't argue with video evidence.
Thursday, 24 May 2012
Linley - Classic British Design
Fantasy football teams have their place, but what about fantasy craftsmen? If you had the choice, who would you draft in to transform your home? There's a space at Tweed Towers that's crying out for a set of exquisite rosewood shelving. I can't escape a vision of Viscount Linley turning up in brown apron with a pencil behind his ear. Remember: he gets wood.
Not going to happen, of course. But it reminds me that Linley the design company gets British craftsmanship and style, creating pieces that will not lose relevance over time. Classics in other words, old chums. And we'd be happy to accommodate any of their fine pieces at Tweed Towers. Some would look very well on our fantasy Linley shelves.
Linley has crafted sixty Britannia Boxes to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, the number reflecting the years of the Queen's reign.
The boxes are handmade in Britain from walnut. The Union Flag on the lid is depicted using marquetry inlay in Bolivar veneers. The boxes are available to order as a jewellery box or a humidor. Or a bespoke interior of your fancy may be ordered instead.
The Sterling silver escutcheon and plaque on the inside of the lid bear the LINLEY hallmark and the hallmark of the year of the Diamond Jubilee, and can be engraved with personal messages or initials.
Long after the Union Flag penants and flags to celebrate the Jubilee and the Olympics have been furled, the Britannia Box can be enjoyed. Rule Britannia box.
Horse Guards Parade Desk - Possible World Exclusive
Let's consider this a Tweed Pig World Exclusive - a cursory search on Google didn't return a great deal - as we bring you details of Linley's Horse Guards Parade Desk, which continues the theme of celebration this year.
Linley is really going for gold with this design. The desk will be fashioned from walnut and Bombay rosewood and when completed will feature an architectural miniature of the Horse Guards’ Building in London, which was designed by William Kent in 1745. This is the building where the Queen’s official birthday is celebrated every year with the Trooping of the Colour. With this desk you could troop the colour in miniature using little toy soldiers. I like the sound of that.
As you can see from the sketch of the desk above, it sits on Doric column legs. Imagine gold plated beading and satinwood stringing housing six drawers, two of which will depict a mounted horse guard in marquetry inlay. Three secret drawers will be concealed within the desk. (Every desk worth its salt needs some secret drawers.)
On top of a leather writing surface, the Horse Guard’s Parade box will be made from walnut, burr walnut and sycamore, architectural features expressed in intricate marquetry inlay, hand turned finials. Compartments and more secret drawers lay within.
For several months a desk has been in construction in one of the finest workshops in Britain, so that it will be ready for the Jubilee celebrations.
We'll have to post the completed version on here when it's ready.
Horse Guards Parade and the Long Guard
I walked past Horse Guards Parade when I did the Jubilee Walkway in London recently. A nice walk, just follow the markers (as above).
Since 1755, Horse Guards Parade has been the home and headquarters of the Household Cavalry. It includes accommodation for 17 horses, the number required for the ‘Long Guard’ when The Queen is resident in London. Every day a new Queen’s Life Guard comes down from Hyde Park Barracks to take over the guard for the next 24 hours. This ritual has taken place since the restoration of Charles II (and the British gave the puritanical roundheads the old heave-ho).
This year, the Queen’s Birthday Parade will take place on Sunday 16th June, and the colour will be trooped by the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Avoiding the Glare - Ray-Ban Sunglasses for Brooks Brothers
How to combine three of your favourite things: trad Americana, Italian craft and your winsome face? It's obvious. With the new Brooks Brothers Ray-Ban sunglasses.
A contender for collaboration of the year, the refreshed Ray-Ban Wayfarer and Aviator styles have a concealed yellow (below) or burgundy (above) Brooks Brothers striped club tie design on the inside of the arms - the sort of tie Anglo-Americans call 'repp'.
Brooks Brothers are famous for their repp stripe ties, fashioned after British regimental or club ties. As you'll know, they reversed the British left-shoulder to right side convention to run the stripes American-style from right-shoulder to left side. A convention that divides us to this day.
The tie design may not be enough of a substitute for the real thing to get you into a club in Pall Mall, but adds a little formality to the course of sunglass wearing. No bad thing that touch of subversive conservatism.
Do I Need a Pair?
I'll be out on operations soon, a critical mission: Vienna for cake and Budapest for bathing. I'm also between Ray-Bans at the moment. Quod erat demonstrandum. I've always been a Wayfarers man, always solidly and dependably constructed, so I think I need (almost as if my life depended on it) to get hold of a pair of the Wayfarers in the brown tortoiseshell for my trip. I'll let you know how I get on.
Life Behind a Lens
The Ray-Ban frames and lenses are made in Italy. Both styles have the green tinged G-15 lens. B-15 lenses have a brown tinge.
The Ray-Ban brand is now part of the Italian Luxotica Group, but the company has been careful to maintain the integrity of the original classic American designs of Bausch & Lomb. The Aviator pilot sunglasses were originally developed as anti-glare goggles in the 30s for the US military.
150 Regent Street,
Monday, 21 May 2012
Design Your Own Cycle Ride
If organised traditionally-clad cycle rides such as the Tweed Run seem too much of a commitment - clashing with a leisurely breakfast or an afternoon nap, perhaps - why not set yourself up for a solo effort? Your time, your place, your pace.
All you need is a bike and a pair of trousers.
Design Your Own Cycling Trousers with Spencers
If you're designing a cycle ride with a traditional feel, you'll need the right trousers. This means eschewing anything in day-glo colours and lycra, which should always be eschewed, incidentally, and plumping for a pair of the 'pluses'. Plus fours and twos offer a suitably sporting length of trouser.
You'll want them in a good strong cloth, it would be silly pounding up and down on your saddle in a pair made from Scabal's Diamond Chip cloth.
The pair of plus twos you see here are made by our dear friends at Spencers Trousers. Mightily impressed with them. With plus twos the leg band fits into the dip below the knee, sitting on top of the socks for a guaranteed comfortable ride as the air whistles round your calves. (We mentioned the ordering process in an earlier post.) These have brace buttons and moleskin pockets. Plenty of room for a hip flask, another cycle ride essential, in those pockets.
Wonderfully constructed with a fabulous thick and robust herringbone tweed that I'd feel safe to climb Everest in. I have to get a full-length pair of trousers in this cloth.
Tweedy's Excuse: Ahem, as you can see, we chose a very moodily lit and teasingly blurred series of photos for the trousers. (It might be time to get young Mrs Tweed signed up for a photography primer at night school.)
Mad About the Tweed - Jan Urban
The herringbone tweed is by Jan Urban of Meltham, Huddersfield. Jan was a textile designer and started his own business as a fabric converter about 20 years ago. As a converter, he designed and commissioned the weaving and finishing of fabrics at mills in Huddersfield, England. Jan retired last year, but his business has been left in the capable hands of Jason Boyd - an experienced textile producer, previously of Mallalieu's of Delph - who is now trading as Urban Fabrics Limited.
Thursday, 17 May 2012
London Characters and Crooks by Henry Mayhew
If you don't find Charles Dickens too sentimental there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. But if you're interested in knowing more about the truly raw end of life in Victorian London, forget Dickens and try the work that influenced him with Henry Mayhew's London Characters and Crooks. The book is a compilation based on his ground-breaking documentary work London Labour and the London Poor.
Mayhew was the co-founder of Punch magazine (now closed) and habitué of Mayfair's clubland. His chronicling of London's poor grew from pieces written for magazines.
London Characters and Crooks is a highly detailed account and classification of London's Victorian poor, the people at the margins both workers and criminals and those that drifted precariously between both camps. Chapters on street-sellers, scavengers, beggars and underworld characters capture their culture in their own words and slang-filled language - transporting you to a world of bone grubbers, dancing dogs, park women, lucifer droppers and sneak thieves.
The Folio Society
The book is published by The Folio Society, printed at the Bath Press (now closed) on Balmoral Wove paper and bound in full buckram with a block print on the cover and spine. The book is illustrated with the photographs of John Thompson who originally presented these "true types of the London poor" for a monthly magazine called Street Life in London.
A beautiful thing. The only books that can survive the era of the electronic reader are books that are beautifully crafted from the best materials. The Folio Society in London was founded in 1947 with the explicit aim of creating books as "tactile and aesthetic objects".
I have to reproduce their fighting talk on maintaining standards:
"Our pleasure in reading is enhanced by the book itself, in which typography, illustration, paper, printing and binding all play a part in creating a harmonious whole. In a world of declining publishing standards, where most books are cheaply printed, and bound using low-grade materials, The Folio Society resolutely sets store by traditional values of excellence; for our designers and production personnel the term 'quite good' means 'no good': only the best is good enough."
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
We Like Small Ones
We may have lost some of the more famous and larger British heritage brands in recent years, but there's a growing number of plucky little Brit companies stepping in to their brogues and taking on the faceless conglomerates with a business model that combines the right combination of scale, authenticity, eccentricity and originality.
One such company is Holland Cooper, designing and making clothes entirely in the UK that give a fresh take on traditional country style.
Tweedy's Thought: For consumers there's an attractiveness in the exclusivity inherent in smaller companies. What you're buying is unlikely to be shipped around the world in the container-load to be worn on countless backs or sprayed on countless necks. Not that small companies shouldn't grow, but they should always remember the elements that allowed them to flourish in the first place - a Made in the UK label often being one of them.
About Holland Cooper - Tweed Lover
Holland Cooper was founded in 2008 by Suffolk-based designer Jade Holland Cooper through a love of classic British outdoor wear. Her clothing collections use traditional cloths, such as tweed, but also bring in contemporary references, brightness and colour. Jade set out to "defy the convention of heading east". The clothes are manufactured in the UK.
Holland Cooper tweeds are made from the wool of the Cheviot and Shetland breeds of sheep. With authenticity in mind, the Shetland tweeds are woven from Shetland wool on the Shetland Islands. Wool from each type of sheep is chosen for its differing qualities. Shetland wool has many natural colours, and the finest of Shetland wool can feel like silk. Cheviot wool is resilient and has a crisp feel.
Holland Cooper - The British Collection
You're getting quite the British package with Holland Cooper's British Collection. Take a look at the Morrison jacket (above) and Aviator gilet (below).
The gilet has herringbone tweed, with cotton tattersal and Union Jack lining. It's reinforced at the neck, pockets and cuffs with distressed leather. Maximum Brit Points.
It might be an idea to have one of those to hand through summer - you know what the weather's like.
Monday, 14 May 2012
Wear It, Don't Drink It
Juniper Sling sounds like a deliciously decadent cocktail, precisely what influenced Penhaligon's perfumer Olivier Cresp to create this homage to the Bright Young Things of London in the roaring twenties.
Cue photo of supreme Bright Young Thing Stephen Tennant taken by deceased friend of The Tweed Pig Cecil Beaton:
Penhaligon's Juniper Sling - Stephen Tennant Approves
Juniper Sling is inspired by London dry gin and is for men and women. Now bear with me as I struggle to describe this delicious scent (regular readers will know I find that this bit tricky.)
Young Mrs Tweed is sniggering in the background as I take exaggerated sniffs and waft my hands to draw in the scent. How else are you meant to do it? Initially, you certainly have a gin-and-tonic-y smell with the gin botanicals, such as juniper, coming to the fore. As it dries I'm getting a sort of herbal spice and clean soapiness. Very pleasant indeed.
Nice to wear. I can almost hear Stephen Tennant wittily approving of this scent in Art Deco fashion. It actually makes me fancy a gin and tonic as well. Nine in the morning is perhaps a tad early. I'll give it a couple of hours. Cheers.
Here's the official line on the scent, in case I'm not doing it justice:
Head Notes: Cinnamon, Orange Brandy, Angelica, Juniper Berry
Heart Notes: Cardamom, Leather, Black Pepper, Orris Wood
Base Notes: Brown Sugar, Black Cherry, Vetiver, Ambrox
Friday, 11 May 2012
Of Old Cravats and Damp Paperbacks
At a loose end with the Badminton Horse Trials being cancelled, the family Tweed visited a local vintage fair. Can any more fun be had than rummaging through old leather suitcases packed with cravats and dog-eared paperbacks looking for a new home?
A Very British Pig
The vintage fair was also a chance to welcome a new pig to the family. Tweedy's brand new bag, in fact. Part of the new range of British-inspired packaging from our friends at WBC, the pig bag is divided into 'cuts' representing cities in the UK (Leeds is mentioned twice?). Irresistible. Perfect for stuffing in old records, vintage china teacups and homemade chutneys as we did the rounds of the stalls.
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Tyrrell's Teams Up with Bookster for the Tweed Run
A force to be reckoned with, Team Tyrrell's represented Tyrrell's Crisps in the London Tweed Run (above). Resplendent in made-to-measure waistcoats and breaches, their quintessentially English outfits were created in Nevis tweed by the redoubtable tweed institution (and neighbours) Bookster Tweed of Ross-on-Wye.
You will have a chance to see these marvellous outfits again at the New York Tweed Run.
Old Tweed Run photos here and here.
The Bookster Story
The name of Bookster is uttered in reverent tones in tweedular circles. Its story began in the 70's when owner Peter King supplied the finest vintage clothing - including 40's and 50's leather pieces - to places in London like Antiquarius and Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die - the original Kings Road shop of the dear departed Malcolm McClaren.
Following a stint in the music business, Peter returned to dealing in vintage tweed because of his appreciation of the sheer quality and the chance to "handle some of the finest British tailoring ever made". The existing business has grown with the addition of Bookster-branded tailoring - creating suits, waistcoats, overcoats, hacking jackets and trousers to order in a growing selection of traditional British cloths. Bookster uses several English tailors, each with their own specialities.
If you're looking for a tweed jacket with full British provenance and not just a bogus appropriation of that heritage - Bookster may be just the place for you.
Tyrrell's the Tweed Runners and Chap Olympians
Herefordshire-based English crisp legends Tyrrell's unleashed their limited-edition English Summer Barbecue crisps at the Tweed Run. Naturally, these top-drawer crisps were served by crisp butlers sat astride Pashley bikes.
Bookster is local to Tyrrell's, so they could discuss their dress requirements. Note the colour of the new crisp packaging is reflected in the Tweed Run outfits. Attention to detail.
Tweedy's Question: What's the etiquette for tandems. Who goes at the front?
The Chap Olympiad Awash with Tyrrell's Crisps
As well as attending the Tweed Runs this year, Team Tyrrell's will also be present at that "celebration of athletic ineptitude and immaculate trouser creases" The Chap Olympiad in London on the 7th and 8th of July. We'll be following the progress of our adopted team. Let the crisps flow.
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Heather Stowell - Vintage Button Cufflinks
You don't seem the sort who would want cufflinks that are shaped like skulls or Wallace and Gromit (much as you might love the comic duo, as we do). There's nothing wrong with a bit of fun, but you're not a teenager or an oligarch, right? Might we recommend these subtle and delightfully sweet vintage button links from Heather Stowell?
A Love of Old Buttons
The cufflinks are designed and handmade in the UK. Heather, based in Ely, Cambridge, England, is attracted to the intrinsic beauty of vintage buttons in pearl, glass or enamel. As a jeweller, it struck her that she could recycle them to create something fresh by setting them in cufflinks, thereby preserving the workmanship and material of the original buttons.
The cufflinks are made from sterling silver. And each pair is unique because of the singular nature of the buttons.
Commission Your Own
Have a look in that tray of old buttons you've been keeping. If you find some beauties, you can commission Heather to create a pair of cufflinks with them.
The Diamond Jubilee Mark - This Year Only
The silver is stamped by the London Assay Office and this year will have the special Queen's Diamond Jubilee mark, featuring a profile of a young Queen wearing an oversized crown. All four UK assay offices are striking this hallmark in 2012.
Meet Heather in Person
Did you meet Heather at the Craft in Focus Exhibition at RHS Wisley over the bank holiday? If not, Heather will be presenting her work at the following places and events this summer. Why not pop along.
La Hogue Farm Shop and Deli
Craft Central - Clerkenwell Design Week Fringe
Tweedy's Thought: I've just had an idea for cufflinks in the shape of our arch-enemy the flip-flop. Done right, perhaps they would make a certain ironic statement. Maybe a brogue would be better? Maybe a cuffllink with footwear for each season...maybe this is akin to Wallace and Gromit...<ad nauseam>
Monday, 7 May 2012
Well done to all our Morris dancing readers in the UK who made the effort to welcome in the spring on May Day. Whether you were dancing astride the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset or celebrating outside Magdalen College Tower in Oxford, having heard the May Morning chorus, we at Tweed Towers appreciate the spectacle you bring and the ancient fertility rites you help to keep alive. Although we didn't quite manage to be up at dawn ourselves, to be quite honest.
Surely we’ll see some Morris dancers at the opening of the London Olympic Games?
Cerne Abbas Action
May Morning in Oxford
The Hurly Burly Whirly Earl-i in the Morning Band were out playing again as part of the Oxford celebration. Their rabble-rousing folk-medieval sound would put even the sleepiest druid in a party mood.
Tweedy's Thought: Maybe we should organise a 'talk' on Morris dancing for the pages of The Tweed Pig. Are you an authority on Morris dancing? Would you like to explain some of the history and dances to our curious readers in a small series of lectures? if so, please get in touch.
Friday, 4 May 2012
Whit Stillman's Metropolitan - Stillman Better than Mamet
A friend recommended watching the film version of David Mamet's American Buffalo recently. "You like dialogue-driven films, Tweedy", he said, "You're going to love this one." It didn't go down overly well at Tweed Towers, I have to say. The dialogue had a sort of writerly portentousness and opacity to it that failed to charm. Fairly put me off my plate of Viennese Whirls.
On the other hand, we'd be happy to have the films of Whit Stillman constantly looping all day at the Towers. We never tire of them. They support repeated watches because of the wit of the dialogue, which magnifies the humanity of the characters and the sentiment conveyed in the story. Very tea and cake-friendly too.
Metropolitan - Urban Retreat
Metropolitan is the 1990 directorial debut of 'prep auteur' Whit Stillman. The story concerns a group of wealthy Park Avenue teens in the 80s who draw a poor outsider, the "committed socialist" and "public transportation snob" Tom Townsend, played by Edward Clements, into their Yuletide cycle of soirées and debutante parties. Townsend's a sort of Fanny Price character from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.
We listen in on the conversations of this circle of "urban haute bourgeois" friends as they fixate on the seemingly inevitable "downward social mobility" that awaits them, delivering lines with equal measures of ironic detachment and deadpan earnestness.
Favourite character has to be the cynical and pompous Nick Smith, played wonderfully by Christopher Eigeman. He is acutely aware of the charade they're acting out and wonders whether the "more fortunate are really that terrific". Nonetheless, he is resolute in his determination to preserve the façade.
Knowing the voices of the characters and listening only to the audio of the film, as if it were a radio play, it still delights. A test of a good dialogue-driven narrative.
Metropolitan Attire - Brooks Brothers and A. T. Harris
Early on in the film Tom hires and later buys a second-hand tuxedo from A. T. Harris, the now defunct New York formalwear shop.
Nick, buttonholing Tom on appropriate attire, approves of Harris but also insists that they meet to shop at Brooks Brothers. Knowing the interior of the New York shop intimately, he suggests they meet on the "main floor, south west corner where the pyjamas intersect with the expensive shirts right across from the undershorts counter".
Nick is a stickler for correctness in matters of dress. As he says, "So many things that were better in the past have been abandoned for so-called convenience." On his removable shirt collar, he insists they look better and says, "It's a small thing but symbolically important." In some ways you could say that about such a timeless classic of a film being made on a tiny budget.
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
England Versus Italy
Hackett trades very much on the British image that original owner Jeremy Hackett cultivated in the early 80s. They're now owned by a Spanish investment company - it's a very popular brand in Spain - but you can still find many British classics and made in the UK products on the shelves at Hackett.
Fox Brothers at Hackett
On a recent visit I tried a navy cashmere jacket in a Loro Piana cloth and a grey and charcoal striped jacket in a Fox Brothers cloth. England won. I couldn't resist Fox Brothers.
The jacket is softly structured, with light padding on the shoulders. Inside it is faced with the same cloth and is 1/3 lined. A nice wear. The Fox Brothers cloth is beautifully soft and drapes wonderfully.
Some terribly lit photos that do the cloth no justice below. Not sure about the tie either. Hell to match.
Congratulations to Hackett for their Queen's Award for Enterprise International Trade 2012. The award is for recognition of Hackett taking their 'Essential British kit' to a global audience.