Styling The Man

Curtiss

PlaneGlenn Hammonds Curtiss was one of the most influential figures in American History that you’ve never heard of. He made the first long distance flight in America in 1902, from Albany to New York City. His lifelong fascination with speed made him one of the great pioneers of human flight.

In 1878, in a small village sitting on the southern end of Keuka Lake, known as Hammondsport, Glenn Hammonds Curtiss was born to parents Lua Andrews and Frank Richmond Curtiss. At a young age, Glenn became fascinated with bicycles and how fast he could make them go, and would ride the bicycle his grandmother bought him-up and down the mountain roads in his neighborhood. Like those other pioneers, the Wright Brothers, Curtiss designed, built and repaired bicycles. Being the constant innovator that he was, he soon begin to experiment, adding combustible engines to his bicycles and started racing them. In 1903, Curtiss set a motorcycle record, riding at 64 miles per hour. Four years later in Ormond Beach, Florida, he rode the world’s first V8 motorcycle he designed and built-at a whopping speed of 136 miles per hour. That same year he built the handlebar throttle. The Media of his time nicknamed him “fastest man in the world”.

In 1907, Curtiss joined Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association (AEA). The next three years, he snagged the Scientific American Trophy with planes built by Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association. In 1909, at the first International Aviation Competition Meeting held in France, Curtiss narrowly beat France’s own Louis Bleriot in the main event to take the gold cup. But, his greatest triumph came on May 29, 1910, when he completed the first witnessed cross-country flight in the United States. With hundreds of thousands of people lined up on the Hudson just to get a glance of their local hero, Curtiss flew 150 miles from Albany to New York City. Thirty-four years after his death, Curtiss was enshrined into the The National Aviation Hall Of Fame.

The Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY is a spectacular way to discover and experience the wonders of aviation and invention. The moment I entered the Museum, I felt like a kid in a candy store, I didn’t know where to begin my exploration. The Museum offers a remarkable insight into the life of one of America’s most significant figures, with a precious collections of artifacts, dating all the way back. From vintage motorcycles, bicycles, cars, period furniture, antique guns used in combat by the U.S. Military, to guided tours, interactive exhibits, and get this, a movie theater that sits up to 75 people. There are even restoration shops, with people actually restoring old airplanes, vintage cars, bicycles.

Even though the story of aviation may begin with the Wright Brothers, Glenn H. Curtis made many noteworthy contributions that led to sweeping changes in aviation.

Small style details

Double Knot Cufflinks and Longines Wrist watch

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Hold on loosely, but don’t let go

Old Is New Again –  While tie bars add a certain something to one’s overall style, it should be simple and understated. You don’t want this accessory to dominate as you walk into a room. You want the crowd to take in the entirety of you, and the care you’ve taken to put your ensemble out there.

The current nostalgic interest in the classic well-tailored look for men, also features the perennial keeping it all together accessory: The tie holder also known as  tie clasp, tie clip,  tie-bar, once referred to as tie slide – an often unassuming functionary offered in many choices. From stylish ornaments of precious metal to sets with even more precious stones fit for a Rajah’s entrance. Then for the creatives, the tie clip is a more personal statement. This is where great granddad’s Art Deco clip, the antiques and flea market find, your college buddy artisan’s flair for steampunk all come to the fore. Or should we say, front and almost center?

The most flattering position for your tie holder is between the third and fourth button of the dress shirt, not to be aligned with pocket-square moment. A slight downward twist can add some character of the wearer. If you’re wearing a vested suit, then you technically shouldn’t need a tie holder, as one of the functions of a vest as with a tie bar, is to affix the tie to the shirt’s front, keeping the tie on a neat, taut tether, which helps to maintain the tie’s arch in the neckband.

Remember the rudiments; how ever or what ever you call it, the accessory should never be wider than the tie itself.

tie clip too highperfect placement

Happy Birthday, Ralph.

Ralph Lauren The genius of Ralph Lauren has always been his expansive imagination, which fills his inspirational passion and spirit for design.

I remember when the doors swung open to Ralph Lauren’s inaugural venture into Soho, the focus of a dynamic stronghold of the art scene downtown. The concept was to bring the customer closer to the designer’s working process of his vision. The design studio hybrid boutique melded the various lifestyles, drawing creative royalty from around the globe. The product looked fresh and inviting, it was luxury done to perfection and, everyone wanted to get their hands on some.

Soho was the place to be, it had an energy like no other neighborhood. The aroma of fresh perfume always filled the air, as events were bountiful. From captivating art exhibits, and nightly parties at Peter Beard and Peter Tunney’s gallery, to various social gatherings, there was always excitement to be had on any given night. Fashion, art, creativity, socialites, models all found a place to socialize.  Fridays heralded a jam session at 357 Magnum, a chic spot two doors down from Kenn’s Broom street bar, where live drummers added a third dimension to the DJ spinning vinyl. You might just dance into Lenny Kravitz or Lou Diamond Phillips, or even the peripatetic Mick Jagger with the fabulous legginess of Jerry Hall in tow, on a usual evening.  Conveniently across from our store was Cipriani Downtown, a favorite of our work crew, where we frequently kicked back after a long day’s work, sipping on delicious Bellinis, while munching on freshly, crisp baked bread sticks.  Sunday nights around the corner on Prince street, you found Boom Cafe, where a cool mix of Euro and locals all gathered, in the name of fun, the energy was sexy and not too overly sophisticated. Maximiliano, one of the owners who managed the weekends, drew a crowd of the cool and fascinating. There was always a D.J. ensconced in the dimness, rocking exotic mixes. It was the mid 90s, and we as a freshly assembled staff we enjoying the benefits of a booming economy, and basking in the radiance of the new arrival of a true Icon.

One of my fondest memories of those times was the occasion of Ralph Lauren’s 66th Birthday, when our then-store manager decided we should collectively get Ralph a present-as one could only imagine, what a tall challenge this posed. What do you get a man with such incredible taste, for his birthday-a radiant being, who has everything? Well after days of meandering around possibilities and fizzling ideas, our then-vintage buyer Bob Melet came to the rescue. He found an American flag, made entirely of vintage denim, dating back to the early 1900s. Since Ralph is clearly a fan of true denim and, passionate about the American flag-it was a perfect match for a life icon.

Gentleman that he is-we received the most genuine thank you note.

What I do is about living. It’s about living the best life you can and enjoying the fullness of the life around you-from what you wear, to the way you live, to the way you love.

 

The mightiest of senses

The charming little perfume shop Le Labo, on Elizabeth St, is a delightful olfactory experience.

After being at Le Lebo I felt I’d walked into the world of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, from the book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. My sense of smell was awakened and it was as though I was seeing the world from a whole new perspective. Everywhere I went, I noticed the subtle smells, making me more aware of how and why I was perceiving my environment.

While I was there at Le Labo talking to their extremely helpful staff, and taking these pictures for my blog piece, in walked a gentleman asking for a fragrance to help cheer him up from his winter depression. Such a testament to the power, smell has over us! Smell is a sense we tend not to think much about. It is largely ignored in comparison to taste or sound and especially sight. Fragrances are only really considered when purchasing a luxury perfume, when we have to put up with a bad one. But smell taps into our deepest, most abstract emotions, dreams and memories; it is inexpressible, intangible, ephemeral. In Patrick Süskind’s book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the omnipotence of smell is demonstrated by the unveiling of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s final perfume – those who smelled it experienced God!

So it makes sense that this surreptitious little sensation of ours has power over who we are attracted to; we are much more likely to fall in love with someone who smells wonderful than someone who looks wonderful. Moreover, fragrances can make us feel emotionally and physically connected (or disconnected) to those around us. Le Labo also has scented candles, which are a subtle, but powerful way to create an enchanting atmosphere in your home or the bedroom.

The FAQ section of their website is quirky and very informative about the processes of creating, selecting, storing and using perfumes. Here is just one example:

Q: Are there erotic perfumes?

A: Here we go… “Well literally not, at least on in the sense of direct-action aphrodisiac. Pheromones in fine fragrances are a myth. Nevertheless, some raw materials reproducing notes of an animal musky nature, and which somehow may unconsciously stir our ancient memory of sex attracted pheromones expelled… At Le Labo, we love animalistic/sensual notes, not only for the sensuality, the long-lastingness and the very special signature that they bring to our perfumes, but also because they bring back the animal within us! All perfumes are created keeping this in mind: don’t forget fine fragrance is about seduction, and seduction is ultimately about sex”.

The other thing that’s really unique about Le Labo is that they mix the essential oils and alcohol together only once you purchase the fragrance. This ensures the fragrance’s longevity and they even put your name and date of purchase on the label. I only wish I could include the experience of smell to this blog post, but the images will have to do for now. I highly encourage you to go into Le Labo to smell the beauty for yourselves.

Happy Birthday, Billie!

LADY DAY born Eleanora Harris in Baltimore Maryland, Billie Holiday was one of the greatest Jazz vocalist of her time and a legend whose music has aged timelessly, long after her death.

Billie and Ella were the women whose music my parents played constantly on their stereo and I still listen to them this very day. When I was a young teenager, Billie Holiday’s voice, was like nothing I’d ever heard before, and the lady, when in top form, was incomparable. I remember seeing her picture for the first time on the LP jacket of Lady Sings The Blues and how smitten a 13-year-old I was. Billie had the most striking face with a gorgeous set of round eyes and soft cheekbones that made me melt.

Inside Billie, stired profound sensitivity and pain, and beneath the pain, she showed a toughness that made her so unbelievably attractive. Even as a teenager I somehow understood the magnitude of the pain this brave women’s heart felt, as her music expressed an incredible depth of emotion that spoke of hard times and injustice as well as triumph. Billie’s career cooled somewhat in the later 1940s due in to personal problems including her mother’s death, alcohol abuse and a heroin addiction, that saw her loose her cabaret license to perform in New York.

With no licenses to perform in New York City nightclubs or on stage, for the majority of the 1950s, Billie traveled to other states throughout the U.S. performing. As a result, her audience and popularity grew even larger than before and she became a hit with the critics. Year after year, they crowned her the greatest vocalist in America. After the death of her dear friend, legendary saxophonist Lester Young in 1959, feeling as though she had nothing to live for, Billie died at the young age of forty-four.

Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, Billie Holiday bestowed upon this world a body of music as great as any vocalist.

Billie Holiday

Shoes

A man’s shoes are the details of his soul. The benefits of maintaining a pair of shoes are reaped by the subtle public approbation of doormen, restaurant maitre d’s. And others who hold your possible future in their first overall glance.

Mr.IGNACIO650

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My Santorini

The story of Greece is written in its landscape, its art, its architecture!  When I visited Santorini for the very first time, back in 2008 and it came time to leave, I couldn’t tear myself away so easily.
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That summer, I spent five exciting months in Greece, soaking up the culture and exploring this beautiful country-one summer day, at a time. A few days a week, I documented (photographed) show jumpers for one of Athens’ oldest riding clubs, and on other days, I would explore back alleyways throughout the city, or drive up through the mountains, admiring the sights and smell of the olive GROOVES. Daily life in the inner city of Kifissia, had a constant pulse. The streets pounded with activity- Greek citizens prosted in frustration with its  government’s handling of the economy, and proposed budget cuts. It was a powerful, collective voice that echoed beyond the historic walls of this ancient city, all the way around the world. As Greece’s economy continued to tank, rising unemployment rates became the tipping point. To citizens, the future looked bleak, and an immediate change in leadership, was long overdue. The protest took a feverish turn, when one of Greece’s special force police, shot and killed Alexandros Grigoropoulos-an unarmed 16-year old boy, who was among the many thousand protesters. With tension already in the atmosphere, temperatures ran even higher. As nights worked their way towards dawn, protesters became more enraged, more dangerous, more volatile, hurling rocks and petrol bombs at police. It was somewhere between one of the fire bombs landing next to me and a baton swinging close to my head, when I decided it was time for this “foreigner” to escape hot Kifissia, in search of blue horizons and island life. I remember slowly pulling into Santorini’s port and thinking what a pleasure this is going to be. The ferry’s approach to the port was very calm, passengers stood quietly, when suddenly on the ferry’s left side, our eyes were drawn upwards, to the crown of these majestic mountains-obscuring the light. That is an experience that never gets old, and one of the small wonders of traveling to the Greek islands by sea.

Santorini is an exotic little island that beckons adventurers and vacationers from all over the globe, to come and discover its many secrets. The population is 10,000 – 12,000 inhabitants, and they all identify as Santorinians, though it is technically a Greek island. To get to Santorini, you have two choices, you can take a direct flight to Santorini National Airport during peak travel season, (which is late April through early October) or you can ride the ferry from the Piraeus, the ancient port where all the major ships depart and arrive year round. Santorini’s surreal beauty is paralyzing in person. When you’re there, you don’t have to search aimlessly for its past-you immediately feel transformed into another time and space! I was in Mediterranean bliss, seduced by the island’s volcanic cliffs and domed shaped village homes and churches as white as salt cliffs. The local cuisine was memorable, my palate experienced many little pleasing adventures within adventures, which was all the motivation I need, to daily work up a Mediterranean appetite. To try the fried ‘red mullet’, served with greens, sprinkled with lemon juice and, chased with a glass of Grappa, is to enjoy a slice of life. And in Greece, a ‘Greek’ salad really tastes like a ‘Greek’ salad, everything was freshly prepared, colorful, and tasted more vivid than anything I had ever eaten.

Black sandy beach in Santorini

Red rock beach in SantoriniSantorini can only be described as a mixture of the deserted and the beautiful-a place where you’re consoled by its quiet nature, and where the soft breeze whispers in your ear to, “slow down” and enjoy your surroundings. My natural curiosity took me beyond its picturesque landscape with neo classical architecture homes, where I discovered a rugged side of the island that seemed under developed and uncharted, lending it an air of mystery. In some areas, patches of nature had gone wild as far as the eye could see.  In others, hauntingly beautiful, large life-like rock formations, firmly forged into the soil, stretched all the way to the edge of the rigid cliffs overlooking the deep blue sea. Meanwhile the wonderfully aromatic scent of oregano clung to my clothes. Many of the landscapes I ventured unto, (even though felt deserted), possessed emanations of wisdom. The further out I rode my scooter (armed with a 6 pack in the back cooler), things became even more interesting. I arrived at this one small town and parked, it was quiet, not a single soul in sight. That moment I felt as if I had walked onto the set of an old western film, where the entire cast and crew had already gone for the day. An occasional tumbleweed even blew across the road. Swinging doors, and severely broken windows on old broken down deserted homes, stood as a vivid reminder of the seriousness of Greece’s financial crisis, that spared none of the islands.

One of my favorite adventure was walking up Fira-a little town which is built on the Caldera cliffs on the west coast of the island, fitted with cobble stone roads, rich red earth and a clear view of those memorable sunsets, which btw, always left me in absolute awe.  And if you too, would like that exceptionally beautiful sunset experience, just head to Fira, where you can spend the afternoon at leisure in the delightful little town of ios and have a romantic dinner right on the waterfront’s edge, at any of the local restaurants or cafes. There is where you feel closest to nature as the sun sets over the volcano, blanketing the sky with wonderful hues and fantastic shades of burnt orange. My impromptu trip in mid-October happened to be when most of the summer vacationers with large families had already left for home and locals were leisurely returning to their daily way of life. Transportation was easily accessible, I rented a scooter from one of the local bike shops for only a few bucks a day, which allowed me to explore much of this charming, mythical island. If you have a taste for the unforgettable, Santorini is a place to remember.

Three different ferries can take you to Santorini. The normal ferry costs $33 and takes almost 10 hours to arrive.The Blue-Star ferry costs $38 and takes seven hours to arrive. The fastest option is the high-speed ferry, which costs $55 and takes five hours to get to Santorini from Athens.

The small elements that collectively constitute a work of art

DETAIL

KIND OF BLUE

kin of blue recording session Aug 17th of 2013 marked the 54th anniversary of ‘Kind Of Blue’, one of the most influential Jazz albums ever recorded and Miles Davis, who grew up a soft-spoken and shy young man in East St Louis, Illinois, was the leading force behind this epic recording.  Miles and a few of his legendary friends got together and created a masterpiece that to this day, still occupies a sentimental spot, in the hearts of many, many Jazz fans, across America and Europe. Yes we can all agree that Miles Davis was one of the most enigmatic men of our time and we probably wouldn’t want our daughters to bring him home, but what ever people may say about him, he believed in his heart of hearts, that quality has no substitute.

Miles Davis bent for no one and wasn’t afraid to let you know how he felt. He attended the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York City, but received the most important of his musical training playing with legends Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at the 3 Deuces down on 52nd street, which may explain his insatiable, innovative spirit. Said Miles of the whole experience, “…in a matter of seconds I had more schooling down there, than I had in my whole life, musically.” Miles was never a passive onlooker at new music as it was created, he instead was a natural explorer, embracing a wide variety of music-all of which remained permanently in his musical palette. Though firmly rooted in blues, his remarkable oeuvre incorporates pop, flamenco, classical, rock, as well as Arab and Indian music. Like most innovators, Miles knew talent and chemistry. And even though his quintet underwent frequent personnel changes, never once was this rich music’s quality or integrity ever compromised. It remained fresh and extremely potent. Many greats such as Tony Williams, Shirley Horn, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Jimmy Cobb, who all passed through the ranks and have moved on to innovations of their own, always speak most highly of this ICON and the way he elevated their performance.

I remember as a teenager reading about Miles Davis and being fascinated by the degree of influence he had on so many musicians from all genres of music and every-day people from all walks of life-young and old. I read that he admired the work of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, whose music interestingly, is known for its stylistic diversity. Miles was truly one of the greatest musicians and music innovators of the 20th century-a social mover who stood proudly at the forefront of several important musical paradigm shifts in America.  Along with legends Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Miles helped pioneered a musical revolution known as Bebop, a style more melodically and more rhythmically complex than traditional jazz, and more obscure.

During the decade of the 1950, Miles collaborated with composer and arranger Gil Evans, creating yet another new sound-a sound representing a more breezy, subdued mood that made the big-band arrangements seem easy-even at its most complex. This came to be known today as Birth Of The Cool, (a defining, pivotal moment in jazz) which was a reaction to Bebop’s urgency. This new music was an important time for Miles, in that he was not only trying to shake the reputation of a heroin addict, but he was also beginning to create his own unique style, different from that of his own Hard-bop days and Bebop’s frantic tempo, created mostly by Charlie Parker. Miles’ compulsive need to constantly change and develop new music seemed less out of a desire to change because of boredom. It had more to do with the fact that when it came to music, he was so deeply perceptive, that the music in turn dictated to him in which direction it needed to go.

In 1959 over at Columbia’s 30th street studio in midtown Manhattan, something monumental and special took place, that forever changed the face of music in America. At the peak of their careers, Miles Davis and his sextet, made up of heavy-hitters like drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, recorded Kind Of Blue, one of the most supremely lyrical albums ever produced. I remember the first time I listened to Kind Of Blue and thinking to myself (as I still do today) that this was like nothing I had ever heard before. Each session, each note played by those five gifted musicians sent chills down my spine. From its opening note So What, you’re greeted with that divine sense of intimacy Miles injects into every song. The asthmatic whisper of his trumpet cuts sharply through the speakers with such sentiment and soul-you immediately feel why his music causes such a stir in people. No matter how often I listen to Kind Of Blue in its entirety, or even just Blue In Green, my favorite jazz song, I always feel mesmerized, invigorated, inspired-very real reactions to something very real in this masterpiece. Each tune, each medley will undoubtedly have some special meaning for every listener.

Everything it is possible to say about Miles Davis’ musical achievement has been said many times before in every language. The man was a genius in every meaning of the word, a man who sustained a burning desire to make music. Not since the great Louis Armstrong (aka Satchmo) fifty years earlier, had anyone changed the trumpet’s sound, UNTIL Miles CAME ALONG. He was abrasive at times with his friends and family, including the women in his life and was sensitive to his core-as expressed poetically through his timeless music, which was always full of risks, full of mystery and a little mystic. Miles felt misunderstood and was never afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeves. Behind the cool dark shades and calm sentimental ballads, hid a lonely boy, haunted by his demons and by the prejudice he faced at a time when the “risk of assault, verbal and physical, was a daily reality-not least from the police.” He took shit from no one, not even the young, cocky New York City detective who split his head open, all because he was standing, peacefully smoking a cigarette outside the club he was gigging. But while cynicism and what seemed to be arrogance formed the cloak of protection for his vulnerability, Miles Davis shared his musical gift with humanity in his unique manner, which never ceases to inspire human warmth and innovation.

Kind Of Blue