Styling The Man

A brief history of paisley

image 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.

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The square

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.

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Reflections on a golden moment

mySaxonI 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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