Sunday, 26 February 2017

Duckers' in the Turl and Cumberbatch's Shoes

Duckers' in the Turl
It's very sad to report that Ducker & Son (Duckers') in the Turl in Oxford is closing. Number 6, The Turl, Oxford, has been a shoemakers and shoe shop since the 1860s. The current owners, Bob (top photo) and Isobel Avery, who wish to retire, were unable to find a buyer who could assure them that they would not betray the expectations of their loyal customers in terms of the quality associated with the name. This is a heroic decision considering the potential rewards for handing over such a ready-made legacy as shoemakers to the likes of Evelyn Waugh, Baron von Richthofen, J.R.R. Tolkien and Mr. Bean. If they weren't convinced the name wouldn't be hijacked for exploitation, it's frankly better for all of us that it goes down with the ship. Good show Averys.

On the negative side, the high street of Oxford becomes a greyer, less interesting place and the option of acquiring made-to-measure handsewn shoes evaporates from the consciousness of the passers-by. You don't miss what you never had.

Atonement Reference
I'm reminded of this poignant reference to Duckers' in Atonement by the Benedict Cumberbatch character Paul Marshall:
I like your shoes.
Duckers in the Turl. They make a wooden thing, shaped like your foot. Keep it forever.
Not any more, old boy. Not any more.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Linetti Brilliantine

Dearest chum Bertie of Melbourne convinced me to cover Linetti, the classic brilliantine range from Italy. His barber absolutely swears by it for the Alain Delon coif he has perfected.

Alain sported many different hair styles in his film career, but you generally see the Perry Boy meets Bryan Ferry side-parted tousle. Here he goes full-brilliantine:

Linetti Brilliantina was originally produced by Linetti Profumi of Venice in the 1950s, and is now produced by Perlier Kelemata of Turin who acquired the brand in 1981. The packaging has changed a little over time. The solid pomade-style brilliantine, lightly scented with lavender, used to be sold in a tin. I find the current but old-school packaging rather agreeable.

A little slide of the finger over the solida will help keep the hair shiny and provide a little hold. A couple of drops of the liquid brilliantine can be be vigorously rubbed into the hair to give it some vim. Being a blonde, I need to be careful if I don't want to look too greasy; but sometimes I actually do want to look fairly greasy.

In the futurist very early days of Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley certainly wasn't afraid of a tub of brilliantine. Tony's wearing the classic serge jacket from the British battledress of the Second World War in the first photo. There used to be a lot of those jackets in circulation. In the second picture, he's wearing a solid-looking leather overcoat, with map pocket, in the style of Fritz Lang's M.

A dab of brilliantine helps maintain the condition of the hair, protecting against the drying effects of the cold in winter and sun in summer.

How much brilliantine you use — if at all — and however way you use it, the important thing is that you don't leave your hair in an uncombed mess. People may think you have no self-respect. And if there's little to hold the locks in place, you might be tempted to carry on your person the 20T from Kent Brushes, a folding sawcut comb with pocket clip. (Yes, I am collecting their entire range of combs and brushes.)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Grey Fox - My Little Whangee

Fox (Umbrella) Cub
A warm welcome to the Fox Umbrellas (1868) 'cub' recently released into the wilds of Tweed Towers. I'm a full-lengther when it comes to umbrellas generally, but sometimes I'll drop a telescopic in the old briefcase to keep the other mitt free.

My last full-length Fox umbrella was a navy blue tube umbrella with whangee crook — the GT9 — which I brought into the pictures shown here. I didn't want him to feel left out.

Whangee is a terrific material for an umbrella handle. Being of the bamboo family, it's light but also head-wearing and weather resistant. The natural knobbles of the whangee help with grip in the wet.

Navy is a decent colour for an umbrella canopy, but grey is a very complementary colour. I have a black umbrella with a black gloss handle, but outside work hours it may be a bit formal.

What next? I see a full-length umbrella with a horn handle and maroon canopy joining the others in the umbrella stand. There's plenty of room yet. When a pig is introduced to Fox's Animal Head Handle range, perhaps one of those will join too. The amount of rainfall we get in the UK, you can never have too many umbrellas.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

DAKS in Henley

Suum Cuique
The video for the DAKS spring and summer collection was shot by Adam Whitehead at Fawley Court country club in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Due to its position, Fawley has become a favoured destination for the Regatta crowd in summer.

The delightful model in the video looks resplendent in the wonderful DAKS house check. (My gosh, I fall in love too easily.) The red-checked suit the chap is wearing in the clip holds my interest too, though the spring summer collection ventures a little too far off-piste in its Indian influence for my traditional western tastes. Suum cuique.

It's not what they're aiming for, clearly, but you wouldn't get into the Henley Regatta wearing most of the DAKS summer collection — dress code, don't you know. Glad to see that a tie or cravat is still required on Temple Island.

And since people seem to be forgetting how to dress respectfully for others, it appears that we need more dress codes out there to remind them. What's that? You'd like to see a rule introduced for the wearing of a shirt and tie to the supermarket? I'm glad you're taking a stand.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Oscar Winners Announced

Terrible Bore
What can we expect from the biggest night of self-congratulation on the Hollywood calendar — the Oscars? I won't be watching — too dull for words, but I hope Manchester by the Sea gets something.

Looking back at old clips, it appears that the Oscars was always a terrible bore no matter how deserving the awards. You do, however, see that full evening dress (white tie and tails) was being worn right into the 1960s by actors who had developed their own sense of style, rather than wearing outfits decided on by a retinue of stylists, marketeers and agents.

Here we see Rex Harrison wearing the full rig in 1965 to receive a deserved Oscar for My Fair Lady (a more coherent and heartfelt musical film than the rather forgettable La La Land).

With those classic barathea tailcoats with grosgrain lapels you might even see a buttonhole being worn. The award for best buttonhole must go to David Niven (below) with his classic carnation. Host of three Academy Awards, David would imbue any ceremony with wit and elegance.

Rehearsed or otherwise, Cary Grant looks sincerely pleased to be holding an Oscar here:

Cary only ever received an honorary Oscar, so too Peter O' Toole. For shame!

Another thing you notice from the old clips is that actors were too respectful of the audience sitting at home to hijack the ceremony to air personal grievances and make the event even more tedious to sit through. In dress and attitude, the old Oscars stayed classy.

Oscar Winners
If we were tasked with peeling Ryan Gosling out of one of his tight, coloured dinner suits, white tie might be a bridge too far. He might, however, be persuaded into something like this 1938 burgundy shawl collar dinner jacket in navy blue doeskin wool for a huge hit of old-school elegance and utter charm. How could one launch a tirade wearing this? Impossible.

Recently held in custody amongst other vintage British classics by Savvy Row, and hopefully now in appreciative hands, this delightful jacket is still doing what it was put in the world to do after almost eighty years. If it had attended the 10th Oscars in 1938, it would have seen Spencer Tracy win Best Actor for Kipling's Captains Courageous.

Another Oscar winner and something that should put in an equally long service, when properly cared for and considering its classic styling, is the Black Silk Velvet Evening Jacket by Huntsman (below). Made in England, this very lovely jacket is cut from silk velvet with a corded grey silk notch lapel and buttons. If the jacket has the same longevity as the 1938 jacket, we might see it being worn at the 2096 Oscars. By that time singularity may well have been reached and a robot — programmed to appreciate timeless style — could be wearing the jacket to the awards. Best Android?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Yorkshire Tweeds - Bucktrout Tailoring of Leeds

Trouser Department
Bucktrout Tailoring is a family business (the Bucktrouts, as it happens) based in Leeds, Yorkshire. Bucktrout makes heavy use of Harris and Yorkshire tweed in their designs. The clothes are made up in Portugal.

You'll be sticking with thicker trousers until the arrival of the swallows and chiffchaffs, no doubt, and tweed-ers will figure somewhere. Bucktrout has a few options in tweed that might satisfy your trouserly needs. You can find the matching top halves, the coats, jackets and weskits, but I thought we'd give some thought to your legs. We'll study a couple of examples below.

Obiter dictum: Leeds is a great city, but it might have too many bars and restaurants that follow the industrial design aesthetic of filament bulbs, recycled furniture and exposed building materials. Sometimes you want a change from sitting on an old school chair and drinking a cocktail from a jam jar. (See the interior of the Santo Mauro for an example of a winsome and tie-friendly alternative to this overarching in-a-factory-canteen aesthetic.)

The Bucktrout Mens Tweed Trousers - Mustard are made from hand-woven Harris tweed in a mustard herringbone pattern. The trousers are flat-front and half-lined, and would go very well indeed with a pair of brown boots.

I would encourage you into a pair of made-to-measure British-made Strap Jodhpur boots from our excellent chums at Horace Batten. If these princely boots don't quite go with what you're wearing, then the clothes are wrong — always.

The Bucktrout Mens Tweed Trousers - Blue (below) are made from Yorkshire tweed, and are again half-lined and flat-fronted.

I would be tempted with a black shoe in a non-city design with these trousers. Something like the Lakenheath Derby from our cherished fiends at Herring.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Swedish M1909 Field Coat - The Bane

Army Parka (The Bane)
I'm suddenly fascinated — this week at least — with the classic M1909 Swedish Army parka. For winter military coats, I think it takes one hell of a beating.

This dålig pojke was introduced in the 1930s, I believe. Sweden has a reputation for being a fairly pacific nation, but surely wearing this coat would summon the inner Viking in anyone. Its rugged good looks will add, at a guess, 20% to your masculinity gauge. It was, after all, the coat that inspired the one worn by the highly-talented Tom Hardy playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. If you put one on, you may feel tempted to overthrow and destroy a decadent metropolis yourself. Stranger things have happened.

The coat's warmth is its USP  — just look at the pile of cosy sheepskin hidden away beneath that unassuming heavy cotton drill. The coat length sensibly comes down to the knees. You also have that sheepskin collar to pull up and secure around your neck.

The coat has some nice practical touches too. The two billows pockets at the front are roomy enough for packing for a weekend away. The classic style of the coat would certainly not look out of place today. In fact, if you're a mod and thinking of heading down to Brighton in the cooler months before the May bank holidays, then this coat may be a suitable alternative to the fishtail parka.

I'm going to try and track down an original for next winter; or something similar inspired by this very post. The one you see here was landed by The Clothing Vault in the U.S.A. It's in the more common army green, but white versions were also produced for Arctic cover, as far as I can glean.

If any of our Swedish readers know anything more about this coat — or they have one spare in a 38" chest and tip-top condition — beans may be spilled below and received with much appreciation.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

St Valentine's Day with Langham Wine Estate

Girls Were Made to Love and Kiss
On St Valentine's Day, let every true lover salute his sweetheart. Reading about the history of marriage vows, I was amused to learn that a woman's vows included the promise to be 'bonny and buxom, in bed and board'. This was replaced by the rather more po-faced 'to love, honour and obey' in 1549 by decree of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. If you're getting married this year, perhaps you might think about resurrecting the original vow? If I'm understanding contemporary mores correctly, I'm sure it will go down very well.

Anyway, I think it's good to concentrate on the bonny and buxom for at least one day each year. After all, kisses are a better fate than wisdom. Champagne-flavoured kisses are even better. You may wish to consider the Blanc de Blanc 2011 multi-award winning English sparkling wine from Langham Wine Estate of Dorset this St Valentine's Day. With an aroma of 'brioche and toasted nut' and a 'fresh citrus acidity', it's a perfect pairing for your lover's lips.

The Pale Saints, the greatest of the shoegaze bands, can provide a little background music as you celebrate this day for lovers with their cover of Kinky Love from 1991. (It's hard to think that Nancy Sinatra originally sang this song in the 60s with such innocence.)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Scabal's Londoner Collection

Cloth for the Fast (and Slow) Lane
Scabal's Londoner Collection is a British-made, and rather large, collection of 83 suitings of Super 140s wool fabric in many shades. With 'exquisite handle and drape', and an 8oz weight, they say the cloth is built for the fast pace of urban living — and suitable for business, leisure and partying.

I'm sure those of us who live life in the slow lane will get along with it admirably too.

Finding a Perfect Match

Archivist Cigar Matches
The cards produced by Archivist Press are rather distinctive, with bold letterpress colours and compositions, and charming nostalgic touches. I always stock up when I spot them for sale. Archivist Press seem to produce the right image for every occasion.

Operating out of Oxfordshire, England, since 1994, husband and wife team Sarah and William Allardice remain committed to offering 'high quality letterpress products that never lose their sense of fun'. They believe that traditional letterpress printing — using a relief impression on blocks — produces the most pleasing results for their designs. The great thing about Archive Press is that they believe 'it’s only worth doing business if you’re going to be nice about it'. I decided to bold that statement. Apologies if that comes across as uncouth.  But it's an excellent philosophy, and one worth supporting wholeheartedly, chaps. And their waste not, want not attitude is wholly admirable too: Archivist use card and paper made from sustainable forests harvested in the Lake District.

I'm now picking up Archivist's matchboxes, like their square-boxed Cigar Matches (below) and the Matinee Idol matches (top). The matches are a good four inches long. I'm slowly building a pile jenga-style on the occasional table next to the modernist uranium glass Murano Sommerso ashtray.

As with the cards and stationery Archive Press produce, their matchboxes are lovely but functional objects. Go take a stickybeak at them. I'm sure one or two of you will be tempted to collect their whole range of matchboxes too — good show.

Let's support the nice people, our kind of people. Believe me, some of the people I've dealt with writing The Tweed Pig. You wonder how they stay in business. I can assure you the unpleasant ones never see the light of day on our pages.

Tip: Don't try and light your cigar and another chap's at the same time — it will give enough time for the enemy to fix your position. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Warmest Coat on Earth - The Snow Mantra

The Warmest Coat on Earth
A reader is soon to visit Nuuk in Greenland — Do we have any readers from Nuuk who can offer traveller tips? — the world's nothernmost capital (slightly above Reykjavík). He has asked for advice on a decent winter coat designed for optimal warmth. Assuming plenty of outdoor activity, I've discounted a mink-lined overcoat. After almost 60 years in production, the Snow Mantra parka by Canada Goose has to be a decent contender.

Canada Goose say that there is only one way to make a parka: 'carefully, painstakingly and with extreme attention to detail'. For the extreme weather conditions that their coats are intended for, it's no exaggeration to say that lives are at stake.

Like all Canada Goose coats, the Snow Mantra goes through thirteen production stages, and includes the all-important Made in Canada label that goes into each one — a significant USP in terms of heritage and provenance, and for customers wanting the 'real deal'. Canada Goose coats come with a lifetime warranty. Crucially, the company decided to keep manufacturing in Canada and focus on the quality of its products to stay competitive. The strategy has worked, with manufacturing facilities in Winnipeg and Scarborough busily producing the coats for which the company is famed.

Canada Goose was founded in 1957 by Sam Tick. A family member remains at the helm, but the company is now owned by Bain Capital, who are committed to keeping manufacturing in Canada and that crucial Made in Canada label.

The Snow Mantra was developed for work in the Canadian Arctic region. Its construction — 247 parts in all — has been tested out in the field at temperatures down to −70 °C.  The shell of the parka is made from Arctic Tech - a cotton blend with a water-repellent finish. The filling is made from goose down. The tunnel hood has a coyote fur ruff for warmth, with vertical and horizontal openings and a wire to keep it in place in high winds. The construction and materials used for the coat are finely honed for the conditions in which it will be worn.

If you're set to take off on a wintry adventure to Nuuk or above, this coat will make for a fine and indispensable accomplice. I think the polar bears will be impressed.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Robinson & Dapper Pocket Squares

Woolly Pocket Squares
Robinson & Dapper is a Scottish company based in Denmark, in attitude and use of materials at least. R&D have been designing and making gentlemen's accessories — ties, scarves, bow ties and pocket squares — since 2013.

Robinson & Dapper use only Scottish lambswool, tweed and twill fabrics in their designs. The wool pocket squares are particularly suited to jackets with a similar thickness of fabric and texture.

The squares have hand-rolled edges and are produced in size that anticipates the thickness of the cloth when accommodating them in a pocket.

A pocket square should complement a tie, but if you're not wearing a tie you're left with coordinating it with the next item up — or down? — the sweater or the shirt. A square with colours that complement all the surrounding items is a safe bet, though you don't want to look too coordinate — perceived more by heart than reason, it never quite works when you do that.

This One
Thinking of your more wintery outfits — the greys, browns and blue thereof — and reflecting both aspects of your personality, you might be tempted with these options: Heavy Rust and Gold Twill.

The Heavy Rust is a muted and elegant choice. You would wear this, I'd wager, with your bottle green corduroy slack jacket from J. Keydge whilst rummaging through old jazz records in an independent record shop.

The Gold Twill adds a bit Spring-like vitality when you want a little more attention. I see you flashing a little of this one in the pocket of your Wyvern Vale alpaca tweed jacket whilst enjoying kippers for breakfast at the incredible East Beach Cafe in Littlehampton, Sussex.

The Gold Twill puts me in mind of A. A. Milne's Daffodowndilly from When We Were Very Young.

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
'Winter is dead.'

You never forget the poems you learned at school. Not long till spring arrives.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Lady Vanishes Again

Life in a Bubble
It can be good to live life in a bubble, surrounded by the things you enjoy and can return to again and again without reality getting in the way of your comforting illusions; like shadows on the wall of Plato's cave.

Very welcome within my own bubble is Hitchcock's 1938 film production of The Lady Vanishes, a comedy-thriller set aboard a Balkan express train before the Second World War. Our heroine, Iris Henderson, is taken into the confidence of a kindly old English lady who vanishes and is replaced by someone else. We have to work out why. I've watched it countless times, even though I obviously found out why on the first viewing.

A pending inductee to my cherished bubble is the 2013 version of The Lady Vanishes [Amazon] — by BBC Worldwide and PBS Masterpiece with Tuppence Middleton and Tom Hughes. (What a delightful name she has.) Some say this new production lacks the spark of the original. I think it shouldn't be compared with the original, but with other productions from that year. In so doing, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. The period atmosphere is generally conveyed, with bonus points for the excellent wardrobe; and for prevailing attitudes and smoking habits not being updated too heavily. I'll watch it a couple of times more before deciding on whether it is fully embraced. I'm pretty sure it will make it into the vaults.

Nice Couple
Tuppence and Tom (top photo) certainly make for a very attractive couple in the new production. I could hear a sharp intake of breath from a certain someone each time Tom appeared on the screen. Decorum madam.

Cheshire lad Tom has modelled for Burberry amongst others in his spare time. Here's one of his modelling photos via s:management.

Silk Scarf as a Tie
As for me, the star of the show was the silk scarf used in the manner of a tie and held in place with a silver cravat ring by the character Sir Peveril, played by Julian Rhind-Tutt.

Shall you try this? I think you will.

I haven't done much research on scarf rings, but you might have to wait until Drake's London or Augustus Hare bring a nice one out. (We follow each other, so maybe someone will get the hint.) Otherwise, it seems like you'll need to go vintage if you want purpose-built, like this shell and gold number that looks like a little belt. Or you could even use your wedding ring.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Why You Should Use a Shaving Brush - Wilde & Harte

Code of The Gentleman
If I recall Gautier's commandments correctly, the ancient chivalric code stresses honour, loyalty and the possession of a really good shaving brush.

It is simply not possible to achieve a good shave (and shaving experience) without a shaving brush. A brush enables you to create a lather with your shaving soap or cream, whipping it to the requisite dense and stiff consistency. As you paint your face with the lather, working it in with a brush helps lift and soften the hair to be shaved, coating the area but allowing for enough traction to shave properly. Brushes won't work on those heavily marketed aerosol shaving creams or gels that are overloaded with silicates, which provide a surface that is way too slick to have a proper shave.

As an added bonus, a brush can be used to exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells. Before applying soap, use it to dry-brush your face and neck; then wash and use it wet to apply piping hot water to warm the skin and open the pores prior to shaving. Relaxing the skin with warm water helps prevent shaving rash.

Three-Pass Shave
A brush makes it easier to apply a two or three-pass shave as you can keep the lather on your brush handy for touch-ups. A first pass is in the direction the whiskers grow; a second pass is perpendicular to the growth; and a third is in the opposite direction to the beard growth (typically only in jaggy areas missed in the first passes).

Seductive Shaving Brush from Wilde & Harte
Remember the Osterley Safety Razor from Wilde & Harte? I'm still besotted. When I learnt that Wilde & Harte now produce shaving brushes in their famous men's grooming ranges, I thought it was time to do a little matchmaking.

Here's the Ostelerley Badger Hair Shaving Brush, gents:

A great idea was to make the brush ends detachable. You can unscrew the brush and replace with a new brush of best badger hair or synthetic fibre. The brush will last for years, but the handle — like the safety razor — will last forever. Obtaining a spare brush makes a lot of sense.

As with Wilde & Harte's razors, the brushes are engineered from stainless steel, then hand-finished and polished to a mirror finish. The handle feels good in the hand and the brush holds lather well.

Magnificent, eh? To match the razor, it had to be an Osterley — but the Art Deco-styled Eltham range is also staggeringly lovely.

A Wilde & Hart shaving brush will surely take pride of place on your ablutions tray. And you might consider a stand to hang it.

For men of noble habits, a good shaving brush is essential for a good shave.

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