There’s something akin to bliss when I slip into a phenomenal pair of shoes. The way the foot is embraced by a snug, but not tight, grasp of enfolding Italian leather. Toes happy in the proper wiggle room of the toe box, make you dream of tap-dancing up the wall, across the ceiling and out the window into the radiant beam of a Brooklyn full moon. This is how unapologetically pleased I am, slipping into a favored pair of chukkas by designers Christian Kimber and Antonio K. Ciongoli. The designers brief but brilliant collaboration which lasted three seasons, produced some of the finest treads in the men’s sportswear and footwear department. The pair I’m very much in love with, are the hue of fresh grasshopper, softly Green suede, with a tender, furry nap, like velvet. Accented by British waxed canvas piping shoelaces and the definitely kinetic commando soul in Black.
Suede is an incredibly robust material suitable for all seasons and, I enjoy wearing it year round. Once smitten, you may never look at your conventional shiny leather footwear with the same eyes. And though it doesn’t wear or scuff easily, these you just don’t kick off into the tumble of shoes on the floor of your closet. Just a gentle brushing up of the suede nap with a baby hair brush will do the trick. And, these puppies do require a proper shoe tree. Try Christian’s own.
Every new shoe has its own special character: its true beauty will not appear to its best advantage unless it is worn with appropriate clothing and on appropriate occasions.
Vertically dense, Hong Kong remains a financial hub of global impact. Adventure abounds in its history: Kowloon Bay teems with great tales as one takes in the panorama of vessels afloat. It’s skyline is an amazing cobble of sleek glass towers, colonial British structures, beautiful pagodas and other traditional structures.
Which is all well and good. But Hong Kong is also one of the world’s greatest food cities and, I have come on an adventure, into the magnitude of Cantonese culinary bounty. I come for goose, precisely spiced, crispy skinned, luxuriously fatted, and the succulent dark tender flesh within. On this, my premier excursion to Hong Kong, a dear friend living here had sworn by the roasted goose at Yue Kee, one of the few restaurants since the 50s, still using charcoal ovens to cook their goose. No pun intended. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into some of this famously juicy meat.
I touched down in Hong Kong and I was salivating like a cartoon coyote. I boarded the airport express, and was on my way, taking in the bustling sceneries, and vibrancy of this energetic city embraced by the surrounding beautiful emerald-green mountains. Once settled into Yue Kee, we started the evening’s pleasure over a soothing cup of Maofeng tea of the Yellow mountains, followed by a nice fruity white from the riesling collection, a fine one to encourage the appetite to acts of bravado. Yue Kee’s customer base is a great mix of locals and enthusiastic world travelers. The decor was a template for many familiar restaurants in San Francisco, Flushing Queens and others throughout the globe. I had only eyes and the palate for goose. Ok, we’ll do the deep-fried squid with spiced salt and soy sauce goose intestines. Tasty, I know. And, yes a little palate balancing with something green. One came steamed to a verdant perfection, the other had spent but a blink of an eye tossed in a sheer veil of roasted sesame oil. All this accompanied by steamed white mountains of fluffy rice, which was to me the epitome of Cantonese snacking. And one of the best meals I ever had.
In the evening we took a drive. The sun had eased behind those lush green mountains, but the heat and frenetic bustle buzzed on. Driving towards Victoria Peak, we were soothed by fresher, cooler air, as we made our way up along the winding roads. Once atop the glorious Victoria Peak, the view over-looking the entire city, stretching to infinity and beyond simply takes the breath away.
Hats are marks of distinction; they can add an element of character of the wearer. Think Indians Jones and his hat. They’d be no hero there without the hat. The hero is always the one with the hat, riding up in the nick of time. Bear in mind, a good position is everything. Therefore you should rock it at an angle. Whether your face is long, square, round, or a combination, when properly angled, the shadows compliment your better features.
Which hat style looks best on you? Is it a Tribly or porkpie style? This style tends to have a sharp, moderately sized crown, with narrow brim, hense the term stingy-brim, which looks great on a man with a small face and narrow shoulders, say like Sinatra.? Or are you the Homburg or fedora type, which by virtue of their generous brim, add balance for a man with a more medium to wide jaw, full face and broad shouldered. Which ever you choose remember, hats are very visible, and you don’t want your hat to be wearing you. Therefore you should wear it in your correct size; width of hat’s crown should match width of your face. Brim’s width should stay within confines of your shoulders, and rest 3/4 inch above your brow, and no better than 1/4 inch above your ears is the proper fit. And remember to pull it down slightly in the back, to allow your handsome face to be seen.
The beautiful time honored craft of bespoke tailoring rests eternally within the heart of Naples’ enduring cobbled medieval passageways.
O’MAST is a documentary about the strong, passionate life force of tailoring held in the Neapolitan former Kingdom. From the anecdotes spoken humbly by some of Naples’ master tailors, director Gianluca Migliarotti stitches together a story of spirit de corps, heritage and sartorial distinction.
From the opening panorama of the Bay of Naples as seen from a 16th century balcony, the soundtrack, an aging, jazzy, sinuous bit, Magliarotti wraps the audience and plants them in an atelier of the tailor Beppe Modenese and Marchese Giancarlo. Terrifically seamless editing-masterfully executed. When Antonio Panico spoke of his clientele spanning three generations, the perspective of commitment to a craft on an instinctive level becomes so clear. All those wonderful, rarified bolts of luxurious fabrics, seducing at decorum’s distance my willing heart.
Naples’ noble empire of bespoke craft reminds us of the day when attention to detail and passionate approach to one’s craft was not taken as a trend, a whim of branding. O’MAST is one for my collection, a permanent place among the other cineaste gems.
Suede shoes make anything worn with them appear nonchalantly stylish; once shod in these beauties, smitten by the suede’s beautiful buff to a fine nap, aficionados only reluctantly return to the usual hard shine shoe world. The suede shoe in brown shows up well in every season, contrasting warmly against lightly hued spring colors, like crocuses peering over rich brown loam. And soft and comforting, a natural refinement accompanying winter-weight wools, worsted and flannels, for the freezing zones.
The suede shoe quite possibly made its American debut at the 1924 Meadowbrook Country Club in Long Island New York. There was a Polo match, naturally international in scope, hosted there. The invitees, crème de la crème of society’s crop all gathered. The Prince of Wales, the personification of English qualities, and a great source of inspiration, made the scene decked in a pair of brown buckskin suede casual lace-ups, another one of his unique sartorial pivots, under a double-breasted chalk-striped flannel suit with long rolled lapels, no doubt woven in his namesake pattern. The Man Who Would Be King’s avant-garde sense of style caused many waggish comments. On both shores of the Atlantic, there were those aghast and caustic. Some decried his choice as “a mark of great effeminacy”, others went as far as calling the footwear “brothel creepers.” Men of the era rejecting the Reverse Calf as suede was called, in favor of the traditional high polish smooth shoe leather, thinking the effect as breaching good taste, delicate and unmanly!
Haberdashers and other retailers of the time found them an awkward thing to sell. In that the hides usually came in natural shades of brown, clothier salesmen fussed about convincing their clientele on what they should wear with seemingly informal shoes. It seems the dandy won out. The social set, the style savvy, found them a refreshing, comfortable novelty. The next decade saw the novelty wear off and suede shoes found widespread acceptance with the masses, post-depression. Now came a plethora of shoe styles to accommodate the interest; cap-toes on town lasts-a predecessor to the wingtip Oxford preferred by businessmen, captains of industry, etc; rubber-soled Bluchers for motoring to the country and puttering about once there, and the ankle-high desert boot, now called the Chukka, which was originally designed with two eyelet laced and used for spectator sportswear.
Meanwhile the buckskin shoe had become such a favorite within the upper crust English club circles, that one respectable pair was all the well-dressed man needed in his wardrobe to consider his weekend dress complete. Here in America, the club set at Meadowbrook and Piping Rock adopted the informal look of a tweed hacking-jacket with Grey flannel trousers, nudging his argyle-socked feet into a favored pair and head off to motor through the North Fork with his lady-love by his side.
The Enduring Paisley: An exotic reminder of antiquity; of kingdoms, sacred empires, dynasty & revolutions, a unique gentleman’s accessory, usually subtle in hue and tone. Notable in its elegance. Grab any psychedelic paisley and give a distinct flair to a venture capitalist or a menswear novice; a classic navy blazer with brass buttons, a simple shirt of choice; The paisley tie, no tie-bar, a perfectly washed pair of jeans; solid over-the-calf wool socks, finished off with a handsome pair of chukkas in dusty brown.
Adapted as print for men’s neckwear at the end of the 1920, paisley as a design has the unique distinction of remaining intact and true to its origins through millennia. From pre-Islam Persia, the pear or swirling pine-cone pattern image laid out, overlayed or intertwined with embellishments, found its way as a template in the weaving centers of the Silk Road, sacred places like Samarkand. Silk & cotton weavers took note in the early Chola dynasties existing in W. India and Tamil, their terrorities throughout Indonesia in the 12th century.
Coming into Kashmiri kingdoms, the native goats offered the luxury of letting their coats be woven. The effect was warm yet featherweight, an ideal partnership for fending off the chill of evenings spent abroad sumptuous summer houseboats on the mountain rimmed lake Kashmir. This featherweight, beautifully woven, jewel-toned fabric fashioned into generously sized shawls soon found favor with the colonials on post during the British Raj. Empire building fostered, timely enough, a wave of technology advancing rapidly in north England and Scotland, paisley. The industrial revolution gave this intriguing design a more manageable name than those it endured over the ages. The tradition remains, the function altered to modernity.
Bros, brahs, buds & dudes, a gentleman always carries a handkerchief for incidentals. Just don’t offer a lady friend the same one you blow out loogie.
I give you the handkerchief, also known as the handkercher, hanky, the hank, the pocket hank, the Pocket square, the square. A contemporary reduction in size, maybe on average 5 – 8 inches square, from the elaborate swatch of fine linen or silk heavenly flowered in non-stitched lace of many descriptions. The pocket square, now in its more conservative size, is adaptable to many origami-like transformations of debonair. Color, texture, weight.
I like subtly with an edge. Like a dusty tan linen shirt, hard white lightly shred Levis, a natural flax-tone silk-linen single button or DB and, stuffed into a casual three-point flop in the breast pocket, a hanky by Christian Kimber. A recent design addition to the menswear world. A square which celebrates the London Gherkin structure, which structurally rather resembles the Graf Zeppelin of the first Led Zeppelin album cover. As you play around to get it just so, the feel of the pliant silk is sumptuous and the graphic pattern grid has endless artful possibilities of lines and planes, meridians and longitude perspectives which DeChirico could find amusing. Another eye-catcher for the well-dressed, is the Federation bandana. A Journey into a mushroom Taupe space, gridded by abstract white larger slashes. The designer’s iconic spaniel sits in attention in mild color frill.
Take a look through Christian Kimber’s Look-book. The footwear is also superb with Spanish and Italian craftsmanship on display.
I see that Leo DiCaprio, auctioned his watch to a fellow swell, in the name of Earth’s
redemption. An admirable thing but, I wonder if he really enjoyed wearing his timepiece, treasuring each minute’s movement, confident in knowing precisely the date, should an unexpectedly serious moment blitz the short-term memory suddenly. Did he privately caress the burnished black fine grain leather of the classic gold buckle wristband-something ultimately genteel and suave, that might be glimpsed under a french-cuffed, gleaming white linen shirt, worn say, by 007’s adversary? Would he pause to buff the crystal gently and reflect into the matte obsidian watch face and consider the simple pleasures of being a swell fellow?
This is a pleasure, owning and experiencing my Larsson & Jennings gentleman’s timepiece.