Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Growing in to a personal uniform

Inspiration from Oily Boy
Following an interesting article over on Valet, EJ posted a thought provoking look at the idea of having a personal unform which left such an impression on me that I'm still pondering it. I like the idea of owning and becoming one or two outfits. The clothes would come together to form a signature of sorts, a recognisable trademark. Once you've found that secret formula (if it even exists) of a great outfit the key should be to tweak as you go, accessories and colour can certainly be experimented with to breathe fresh life in to any outfit. In a relatively recent feature on WWD Thom Browne stated...“It’s the beauty in the uniformity that I find refreshing. Not having so much choice is what I find refreshing,” Indeed, Browne is well known for his regimented daily habits, which extend to the shrunken grey suits and white button-down oxford shirts he dons every morning but could this be for me?

Earlier this week Susie declared to me that when she hits a certain age she will embrace the dark colour palette and relaxed fit world of Yohji Yamamoto for her personal uniform which made me question who I would turn to as I matured. During an afternoon of procrastination I found myself discussing this very subject with John. He declared he would 'love to be a Yohji and Issey man with a sprinkling of Comme' for good measure and this certainly struck a chord with my me. John also recalled his pleasant surprise at viewing images of CdG x H&M collaboration launch and noticing a significant number of middle aged plus enthusiasts thumbing the rails. We both found this loyalty to certain brands admirable. It soon became apparent that the names we were discussing were extremely Japanese focused, including Visvim, Porter Yoshida as well as those already mentioned above). For us Japanese old man style is hard to beat and this is just one of the reasons we love Oily Boy so much. The gentlemen contained in the pages are of a certain generation who have learned how to wear their clothes not let their clothes wear them.

My personal uniform could quite easily come from Casely-Hayford's aw09 collection.

I decided to sleep on the question of who I would turn to to create my personal uniform today. My answer constantly evolves because I'm still in a stage of experimentation...I've not quite reached that age yet where I can say..I want to wear this, this is me and then stick to it. However, my current pick of designers to supply such a uniform would be Casely-Hayford. Along with Fashion156 we were offered a sneak peak at their AW09 collection long before anyone else had and I instantly fell for the mix of tailoring and sportswear. A number of labels attempt to combine a street and sport aesthetic with formal tailoring but very few truly pull it off and the father and son design duo undeniably do so. The tailoring fits perfectly with my current sartorial aesthetic as it is full of interesting features such as a dropped hem on a single breasted jacket and the ribbed cuffed trousers in tweed jersey. This is tailoring for the 21st gentleman and I would love to be that gentleman. Which designer(s) would you turn to in order to create your personal uniform?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

McQueen Rethinks Runway

McQueensbury Rules was the perfect balance of theatre on the one side and desirable yet wearable clothes on the other. The show of the season for me by far.

WWD broke the news today that after wow-ing us all with his theatrical yet highly wearable AW09 collection, Alexander McQueen will be moving on from the standard runway format. He certainly has provided us with some of the best, most memorable shows over the years, but this summer, the designer will present his collection in some other format. The designer and his team were one of the few designers who were able to create something special on the catwalk but McQueen is a true showman so I am sure that he will blow us away. His publicists say they are working on “something very special,” which will definitely not be a sit-down runway show and although Milan will certainly miss him, he will still give us something awesome. McQueen constantly surprises me. In a recent interview with Numéro Homme magazine, he extolled the virtues of choosing soaps over fashion and made me laugh to myself (whilst getting the odd strange look from other folk in Borders...oh the shame!).

"You know it’s hard enough doing this job, I don’t have to live it as well. I’d rather sit at home watching ‘Coronation Street.’“

As long as McQueen manages to peel himself off the sofa from season to season, he will continue to push fashion forward in whatever way he chooses. How would you like to see McQueen show his next collection? I have visions of McQueen directing an episode of the nation's favourite soaps..just imagine Jack Duckworth in McQueen tailoring...or maybe not!

Paper Cut Tailoring

Our recent trip to Antwerp saw us take in some culture as well as just the over eating and stock sale hunting. One of the highlights for me, was the trip to the MOMU to marvel at the Paper Fashion exhibition. The exhibition brings together the most remarkable collection of paper fashion creations. In addition to the historic objects from Ancient China and Japan, the exhibition includes designs by Hussein Chalayan, A.F. Vandevorst, John Galliano, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, Issey Miyake to name just a few. Although there has been no real question of paper fashion as such since 1968 (previously anything was possible with paper fashion from pop art to political campaign slogans), countless important fashion houses and designers have experimented with paper or with materials that resemble paper.

Of course the exhibition had a heavy womenswear slant but their were still the odd nugget of menswear to savour. Namely James Rosenquist's famous paper suit for Hugo Boss that he wore to Pop art openings and parties in the 1960s. Rosenquist in his paper suit transcended mere fashion and became the perfect embodiment of the era.

Recently remade of Tyvek(r) (a nonwoven fabric made from spun-bonded olefin) brings Rosenquist's paper suit into the new millenium. This extraordinary garment represents the increasingly explicit link between art and fashion and marries the most enduring form of menswear with the "throwaway" nature of paper.

The fragility of paper stimulated the textiles industry to seek out alternative materials that looked like paper, but which offered more possibilities. Ultimately, Tyvek proved to be the only one of these materials that would continue to be used in the textiles industry to the present day. When I posted about Saskia Diez's use of the fabric I was most intrigued by it and meant to explore its use further (Miuccia used it expertly to provide monochromatic colour blocks for MiuMiu SS07 collection - it became the outerwear of choice from the bomber jackets to the boxy plebian coats with micro collars) and was even pointed in the direction of Cloth House where the fabric is available. Following a great deal of papier inspiration at the exhibition I will make that trip to Berwick Street this weekend for a closer look.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Finding Bruno in Antwerp

As you all know I was fortunate enough to spend a long weekend in the quiet city of Antwerp and whilst admiring the architecture, exploring the home of Rubens, and eating far too much food we had more than enough time to hunt and gather some stock sale bargains. After the initial sale and resulting disappointment of the offerings at Ann Demeulemeester (the prices were somewhat off putting but the quality and stock in my size was also surprisingly lacklustre) and Dries Van Noten (which was huge and impressive but alas only large sizes were available for all of the good stuff...torture) we swung by Bruno Pieter's sale and my mood became a whole lot cheerier. The post therefore title does not refer to me watching an advanced screening of the latest guise of Sascha Baron Cohen causing laughter and embarrassment with his flamboyant Austrian fashionista's antics but rather nabbing a couple of gems from Bruno Pieter's menswear line.

The art of layering and clashing pattern. A favourite look from Pieter's AW08 collection...I was very tempted by the jacket but alas my size wasn't available!

In his role as Creative Director at Hugo by Hugo Boss (surely it should read by Bruno Pieters?) Pieters kicked off AW09 proceedings in Paris with a dizzying array of patterns and razor sharp tailoring which made me sit up and take notice. When I saw that the Belgium born and Royal Academy of Fine Arts graduate's name was included in the comprehensive list of stock sales in Antwerp I was eager to see what was on offer from his own, lesser known line. Where Hugo is in question he maintains a more geometric, German-style register whilst his own line is marked by romanticism and wonderful detailing. With only two shown collections I was worried that the amount of menswear on offer would be limited but I was more than pleasantly surprised by the rail after rail of pieces for me to try on. There was so much to tempt me but I carefully selected what I knew would fit in my wardrobe whilst adding something to it.

Here I am proudly modeling my favourite purchase. After a quick bit of research on I am almost certain that this shirt comes from his AW07 collection. The detailing of the double collar is particularly interesting and at 90 Euros I jumped at the chance at owning my first piece of Bruno Pieter's.

After living with Susie this past year she has brain washed me and converted me in to a disciple of grey jersey and I could not resist this super soft long sleeve t shirt complete with subtle elbow pad detailing. This is officially my new favourite t shirt and I will no doubt wear it to death.

Elsewhere, there were a number of interesting pieces at the Tim van Steenbergen sale but I was pleased with my purchases and showed a surprising amount of self control. He is a designer I will be investigating further given he is quite established in Belgium. I will certainly plan in a return trip next time for the next round of stock sales, hopefully next year the pound will be a little stronger...

A fitting setting for your life story

Earlier this month I mentioned that your wardrobe really is much more than a piece of furniture. My chat with Patrick Grant over his E. Tautz label first made me see that a wardrobe is a story telling medium, with your life's style being playing the starring role. The contents should therefore deserve to be housed in something special. It is difficult to see your wardrobe as anything more than a cheap piece of furniture if like mine at home, it is tiny and poorly made. During my weekend trip to Antwerp I was fortunate enough to find, use and fall in love with my dream wardrobe. Ordinarily during a short city break I live out of my suitcase, hanging up the odd shirt which screams to be cared for a little more carefully and leaving the rest (somewhat erratically) folded up or tossed together in my bulging case. The B&B we stayed in this long weekend was wonderfully decorated and furnished (we spent the first hour or two taking all of the antiques and knick-knacks in) and our his&her double wardrobes were really something special. So special in fact that before exploring the city and nabbing the odd stock sale bargain we took great pleasure in hanging up and neatly folding each item. The Valet wardrobe was an impressive size complete with separate compartments which were beautifully labelled. My favourite features were the trouser rack (so much better than hanging four pairs of trousers on one hanger) and the compartments reserved for items less favoured today including collars and studs. Everything had its place and it all made sense. It really was a wardrobe fit to tell the life story of any man. Returning home, my packed wardrobe looked even more inadequate. For my next wardrobe I think I'll have to venture further a field than the Ikea on the outskirts of Wembley.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Hyères we go with menswear talent

Hyères for menswear. Bandit Couture by Thomas Trautwein.

Last year I was fortunate to visit the Hyères festival for the first time and was blown away by the location, atmosphere and talent on show. Unfortunately this year I'm unable to be a part of it but will follow the goings on via A Shaded View and festival's very own blog. In my place (haha) are Jefferson Hack, Kris Van Assche, Fantastic Man editor Gert Jonkers to name but a few, who will be hard at work in the sun-drenched South of France judging the competition. The history of winners that have made it big is certainly impressive; Henrik Vibskov, Ute Ploier and Romain Kremer. Despite this impressive list, no menswear designer has ever won the Grand Prize but this could change in this 24th edition of the competition as four of the ten final selections are menswear collections. Susie posted a selection of images from each of the finalists on DD and I just had to share my personal favourites...

Alice Knackfuss' Heimwärts

If anyone is going to break the menswear, my money is split between Germany’s Alice Knackfuss and Paris based Thomas Trautwein. Kanckfuss' romantic tailoring takes its poetic inspiration further than most to with Rilke quotes sewn into armbands. Trautwein's collection titled “Bandit Couture” is my particular favourite because I just love his dark, detailed tailoring (for more information on the designer and the collection visit ASVOF) but this is based upon first impressions and all could change as the competition unravels. I am green with envy at all those lucky folk fortunate enough to play their part in the South of France...especially as rain is forecast in London tomorrow but I am so pleased that there is so much menswear on offer!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Picture Postcard: The readers

Image courtesy of Cout Que Coute

Numéro Homme is one of those magazine I sneakily flick through whilst sipping an Americano at Borders (cheeky I know, but I spend enough money on magazines as it is!) but the above image made me ponder the pages longer than usual. The latest issue (Issue 17, SS09) features an amazing black and white editorial shot by none other than Karl Lagerfeld. The above image taken from the Dynasty editorial depicts a scene very similar to how I like to think you guys read the blog. Ha! The sharp tailoring combined with the slight awkwardness and fogginess leave me with a quintessentially English feeling which I just had to share with you.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Archive Unveiled

A selection from the Raf Archive over on oki-ni.

Back on April 1st we gave you the exclusive news that oki-ni were preparing to launch their Archive feature and we have now been told (along with the fashionisto it seems) that it will be live this Thursday. We do however have a preview link and the archive is better than we imagined it would be!

Exquisite tailoring up close from Autumn/Winter 05/06

Raf Simons provides the first archive installment with pieces spanning from his initial mid 90s collections to the present day. Simons is undeniably one of the great innovators of contemporary men's fashion so what a great place to start! His clothes, typically characterised by a sharp and linear silhouette, have combined traditional tailoring with rebel youth outfits from all ages and have ultimately redefined menswear along the way. The archive showcases key pieces throughout and provides a real insight into what the online store feels were his most important collections. These garments are from a personal collection (could we be more jealous?), as time goes on the product matures in style and tastes and preference change all of which is shown in this feature.

A close up of the Alien Hood from Autumn/Winter 06/07

In launching this feature on oki-ni wanted to offer customers a chance to explore labels and genres a little further than just their current collections whilst giving an opportunity to find out more about the designer’s history in product. After spending much of the afternoon salivating over the wonderful back catalogue of Simons' designs we certainly think the online store has succeeded.

One of my favourite pieces is this navy bungee chord jacket from Spring/Summer 08

If you are wondering why the eyes of the model are covered it is because oki-ni wanted this section to focus entirely on the product and not an identity. There are sixty plus pieces featured but they will expand on this - as there is plenty more from where this came from. Just imagine owning such a collection? We can but dream.

In Deep Water with Makin Jan Ma

We spoke to Makin Jan Ma earlier this year to discuss his unique approach to menswear and looked at his SS09 collection 'You are my milky way'. For his sixth season the Central Saint Martins graduate returns from outer space and this time takes us on a journey to the deep sea. Makin finds inspiration in creating films, photography, fashion, illustration and poetic words and everything comes together quite beautifully for this collection and I believe this to be his strongest offering yet!

When I first came across these images over on The Fashionisto the set design made me instantly think of Gondry's marvellous The Science of Sleep and creating a desire to play around with clear plastic wrappers so I can travel off on my own imaginary journey.

His Aw09 collection titled 'Give Me Some Deep Water' provides some much needed style to a castaway as sharply cut suits are offered as well as over sized, draped and knotted fabrics. This collection’s script undoubtedly inspires an interesting combination of shapes and patterns.

Oversize outerwear with something of a nomadic feel is combined wonderful with fabrics that drape in all the right places. Makin is known for his prints and this collection features an ocean print sea map print filled with Makin's own imaginary islands. After testing the water with these images I'm certainly game to dive right in but before I do I might reach for a Gondry dvd, how about you?

Monday, 20 April 2009

Resistance is futile to the wonders of Japan

We frequently mention how we peer through the glass and look on in amazement and wonder at the goings on in Japan and we certainly aren't alone in our voyeurism. I am yet to explore the country (but plan on doing so sometime this year) so to get my fix of Japanese pop culture I often spend an afternoon and a fair bit of money at the Japan Centre flicking through the magazines and stocking up on a number of snack offerings. Ramdane Touhani was fortunate enough to work in Japan and was inspired by working cloth, casual cloth, bosozuko dress codes and military uniforms. A few years later, his label Resistance was born. The label uses unconventional proportions, sizes and fabrics; crossed by political words and revolutionary symbols whilst interpreting menswear staples pieces.

The label has been added to the ever growing list of brands over on oki-ni and the highlight of the offering is this short coat with tartan button detailing. The navy double breasted jacket's construction is really simple and sharp; a military collar, back vent and soft shoulder but the tartan buttons really make me drool. The jacket has inspired me to take a trip to MacCulloch & Wallis and see if I can find something similar to breathe new life in to an old jacket or two. The half contrast shirt and the animal Print Spring Courts provide further illustrations on how this brand adds a few design features to wardrobe staples.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

A surprising supplement to a Sunday morning

My idea of a perfect Sunday morning would always include a strong pot of coffee, a few slices of farmhouse loaf, a jar of marmalade and a selection of broadsheets. During the rest of the week the Internet satisfies any desire I have to catch up with what's what across the globe but Sunday requires a more traditional fix. This week, I may not have had any fresh bread in the flat, nor coffee but I was able to digest the Observer and the men's fashion supplement by Tank more than made up for anything else which was lacking. I was planning on giving the papers a miss today because of a football result I'd rather not remind myself off but thanks to Daniel Jenkins for dropping me a text to let me know that there was a damn good reason to pick up a copy.

The eighty page supplemented is a men's fashion special and features an interview with Dries Van Noten a piece on how the recession is forcing a return to masculinity (more on this in a later post) a selection of buyer's choices for the season and so much more. This really is one of the strongest supplements that I can remember picking up and it certainly caused Susie to turn a shade of green as she looked on enviously at the coverage afforded to men's fashion.

A life in the wardrobe of...Chris Moore

The feature that I just had to mention was 'A life in the wardrobe of...Chris Moore' because it is the type of thing I lap up but unfortunately it is hard to come by. The final page of the supplement is dedicated to a look inside the wardrobe of Chris Moore, a man widely known as 'the King of the Catwalk.' Moore has been photographing fashion shows for over forty years and runs his own agency, (providing much of the blogging fraternity with a look at the action before anyone else) but what does he choose to wear? The feature sees the renowned photographer pick out five of his favourite pieces including, an Aran jumper, a Comme des Garcons jacket, a Christian Dior suit (Hedi era), a Margaret Howell jacket and jeans by Helmut Lang. Moore introduces each item and provides a little background on how he came across each item as well as a little insight in to how the piece fits in to his everyday style. He was fortunate enough to blag himself the Margaret Howell jacket whilst shooting the collection and after they gave it to him he has rarely taken it off. "And they gave it to me. That was a year ago and I've worn it almost every day. It's terribly important that I try not to be overdressed or flamboyant because I feel that a photographer in my type of work should be invisible." As you can tell from our very own 'Style Stalking' feature we love to hear about an individuals everyday style but the 'A life in the wardrobe of...' piece provides a level of personal analysis and insight that I'd love to replicate on the this feature might well be repackaged in the coming weeks. The art of wardrobe building is an evolving process and it would be great to sneak a peek at a number of individuals' sartorial journey. Justify Full

Friday, 17 April 2009

A new bespectacled era

Copenhagen’s Han Eyewear releases its Harry frame in Tortoise. Image courtesy of Selectism.

Some of you may or may not be aware of the fact that I should wear glasses (especially for computer work) but frequently choose not to. I just have not found a pair of frames that I've fallen in love with and want to wear day in day despite at having two pairs at my disposal. It strikes me as strange that you can now walk in to any High Street store and pick up frames with plastic lenses and the fact people treat them as a style accessory, whilst I still refuse to wear the frames I have on a consistent basis. I find the whole plastic lens thing a little strange but bespectacled chaps are everywhere (even on the front cover of the next issue of 10 Men) so for a chap who should actually wear glasses, it could be the incentive I need. Why don't I wear my glasses more often, I hear you ask? I think I was conditioned as a young child at school (when I did not need them) that glasses were a terrible thing, they were considered even worse than braces. Glasses singled out a child for much name calling and down right bullying. Belatedly the time has come for me to recondition myself and approach glasses in a much more reasoned way and this weekend will begin the start of new bespectacled era. All I have to do is decide now is decide on the frames which will take me there...

During our style stalking of Elliott James Sainsbury he treated us with a number of frames but my favourites were from SUPER. The brand apparently ignited the phenomenon of acetate sunglasses and their frames have graced the noses of Kanye West, Daft Punk and Justice to name but a few...Elliott introduced me to the brand with these chunky grey plastic frames and EJ made me fall in love with the navy version (both available from FarFetch). However much I admire these frames, my search continues...

Selectism informed one and all that Copehnhagen's Han are introducing two new frames - the Grad Danois and Harry (above) for Spring/Summer 09. Grand Danois comes in Mahogany whilst Harry, which is my particular favourite is produced in Tortoise only. I've wanted a pair of Tortoise frames ever since I was first told that I suffered from astigmatism in my left eye. John from SeventySomething let me try his pair on last weekend (apparently I looked like Buddy Holly) and this has only whet my appetite further. His pair are Anne et Valentin from Kirk Originals (apparently the same brand as Stephen Fry's new pair) and he duly pointed me in the direction of Floral Street in Covent Garden and go there I will tomorrow. The Staple has reminded me of the plentiful offerings over on Moscot which has been something of a New York institution for the last 100 years and now has a fully functioning online store (I now have my good eye on this pair). Please drop me any recommendations you might have below. I will update you all on my quest for the frames which will provide me the confidence to enter my bespectacled era and will provide you lots of pictures along the way.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Playing in puddles

The Fashionisto brought one of the longest named collaborations we have ever come across to our attention yesterday but the fruits of this team up are certainly worth a follow up. We have truly entered the season of April showers and in truth I am fed up with my limited lightweight outerwear options and am therefore on the hunt for something new. The longest named collaboration is between Slow and Steady Wins the Race and the newly-found and wonderful store Stand-Up Comedy in Portland. The first installment provides a simple catalogue of rainwear staples inspired by Portland’s wet weather. The wet weather conquering options include trench coats, ponchos, rain boots, rain caps, umbrellas and even a cargo backpack carryall to ensure that we all stay dry.

The rain cape above has really got me excited. There is something about a torrential downpour and its aftermath which reduces us all to little children who love nothing more than playing in puddles and the very idea of a rain cape surely plays on this very point. The Fashonisto reliably informed me that in addition to being stocked at Stand Up Comedy, the collection will be available at Opening Ceremony, Hejfina, as well as a few other I might just be able to pick something up.

A guilty pleasure...Teen Vogue

The title of this post is not a typo. In all seriousness Teen Vogue has been one my guilty pleasures ever since I first borrowed a copy from Susie during our 'courting period'. Whilst she was blogging like a maniac I was left twiddling my thumbs (this was before Style Salvage) so I picked up an issue and was impressed by the refreshing quality of the editorials. If you are laughing at this point, I will try and persuade you that I am indeed right and not mad. I accept that I am not the target audience of this magazine, I concede that I am neither American or indeed a teenage girl but does this really matter? As I flick through the magazine or sneak-a-peek over Susie's shoulder I always take notice of the editorials. The relaxed photography, the well chosen, healthy looking models and the combination of labels used always surprises and dare I say it, inspires me somewhat.

As the sunshine which I was beginning to get used to seems to have left us here in London my mind is full of dreams of travel and this World Traveller editorial taps right in to it and so I thought I just had to confess this guiltiest of pleasures to you all. I guess my magazine addiction is out of control...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Howards End: Omar Kashoura AW09

Last season saw Omar Kashoura unleash his first full collection (Man Boy) following his graduation from his Masters at Central Saint Martins and subsequently forced me to declare that "this is a collection which demonstrates that the boy Kashoura is becoming a man." I am pleased to say that with his AW09 collection Kashoura continues to establish himself as one of Britain's leading menswear design talents.

Lookbook photographs by Alex Klesta

For Autumn Winter 09 Kashoura drew inspiration from the E. M Forster novel Howards End. The novel tells a story of class struggle at the turn of the 20th century by exploring the relationships of three families representing the different gradations of Edwardian middle England. Kashoura takes this inspiration and adds his trademark detailing whilst infusing shirt collars, jacket trims and trouser pleats, resulting in a collection that offers simplistic silhouettes which create a bold impact.

Lookbook photographs by Alex Klesta

I was fortunate enough to man handle the collection during a press viewing and the detailing and combination of fabrics left me purring. I've been impatiently waiting for either look book or show images to share with you but now the wait is over and you can all enjoy the collection. Fine silk jersey pieces are offered up in deep shades of chocolate and blueberry. Thick cotton knits come in the form of a rich brown day jacket and natural amice scarf with pull and toggle features.

Kashoura collaborated with Jarah Stoop for this bag in lavender leather with lamb's fur trim.

The accessories eloquently complimented this luxurious collection and really gace me something to think about for next season. Kashoura collaborated with Royal College of Art graduate Jarah Stoop and the result is a range of opulent bags in lavender leather (above) and custard canvas with lamb’s fur trim which left me salivating at the the press viewing. The Lodger shoes continued the exploration of relazed luxury with the highlight pair being these blue suede brogues which are truly something.

Kashoura narrowly missed out on showing at MAN but presented his AW09 collection at Arabian Fashion World (he is of English and Arabic descent) on April 6th. It was the first all Arab fashion event in Europe and staged at London’s InterContinental Hotel in Park Lane (for a full show report please visit BUCK). It is great to see that the label has had its first catwalk show but surely we shouldn't have to wait too long before we see Kashoura take his rightful place amongst the creme of British design talent at LFW?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Does menswear provide the first green shoot of the economic recovery?

The green shoots...Tom Ford, E. Tautz and Lanvin.

In the face of the economic recession (or Moneygeddon as rebranded by Newswipe) Charlie Porter for the FT recently reported that men’s wear sales rose one per cent to $4bn (as women's apparel sales fell 6%) but the first nine months of 2008. This is spending which runs counter to what might be expected in a time of rising unemployment, curtailed bonuses and the seemingly all encompassing thick, choking smog of doom and gloom we are told to fear. So does menswear provide the first green shoot of the economy recovery?

It is a little silly to go over board about a one percent rise but the optimism is justifiable. It seems that however bad things get, the luxury male consumer will go on about his ordinary way of consuming as long as labels provide the service and quality expected of them. We have spent a lot of time thinking about luxury in the downturn following our post on the subject. It is certainly true that some brands are struggling and many of those that are deserve to, after churning out poor quality products adorned with sky high price tags but there many brands who are taking advantage with their cautious optimism. Tom Ford puts the success of the label down to the clothes being perceived as investments and we certainly approve the idea of investment pieces and the art of wardrobe building as preached to us by Patrick Grant's E. Tautz label.

One of the shining lights of menswear in recent years has been the house of Lanvin. In every line of every interview that I've read featuring him, Lucas Ossendrijver always leaves me nodding my head in approval, on this subject he provide the following snippet of wisdom;

“With men, it’s more about needs, if they buy something, it’s really because they need something.”

If I'm honest I frequently buy more than I actually need but at the time I convince myself that a need exists but so many chaps I know practice the described generalisation. As a result, of this understanding, Ossendrijver doesn't strive to design whole looks, but rather he designs pieces. For him it is not necessarily about a total outfit but the individual parts that make up a wardrobe. This is a healthy way to look at men's fashion in any economic climate but certainly when things get a little tight. The key is to look at collections for key pieces which will truly add something new, something different to your wardrobe and then enjoy them.

On Song in Seoul

I came across Korean designer Song Zio over on the Fashion156 daily blog over Easter Weekend and just had to share the highlight of Seoul Fashion Week with you all. As the sunshine and (mild) heat of the previous week had deserted us during our four day long weekend, this collection provided more than a little sartorial inspiration to ponder whilst eating the odd mini egg or twenty.

There really is life beyond the standard fashion week circus and it is so much fun uncovering talent from more far-flung Fashion Weeks. As the grey skies and drizzle played havoc with my Easter plans (I just wanted to eat, drink and be merry in pub gardens and parks in a relatively deserted London) I was comforted by the alpacas, cashmeres and leather which was folded and draped in to quite wonderful sculptured jackets, and wide, billowing trousers.

These are silhouettes that you just don't see in street style and it is a real shame. The dramatic effect of the trouser is what really made me fall for this collection and it is something I would love to integrate in to one or two looks. This is not as simple as it sounds and will require a trip to a tailor as the High Street fails to deliver on volume. Although a little controversial, I personally loved Kris Van Assche's samurai trousers showcased in his Dior Aw08 collection and expected to see a few more affordable options trickle down to the High Street but I'm still waiting. Of course they are a little difficult to wear but as Van Assche declared himself "at the beginning, everybody thought that stretch black jeans were hard to wear." I for one long to experiment with volume and play with a few different silhouettes this season and it would be nice to see something other than skinny jeans.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Unlikely Style Icon: Alexander Rodchenko

Rodchenko standing in front of dismantled hanging spatial construction 1922, portrait by Mickhail Kaufman.

Happy Easter to one and all! We celebrated Good Friday with a little culture as EJ took me to see the Rodckenko and Popova exhibition at the Tate Modern. The exhibition explores the work of two of Russia's most avant garde artists and examines their evolution from abstract painting to graphic designs, the show includes cinema and theatre poster designs, books and costumes as well as paintings and sculpture. Although his architectural investigations and free standing sculptures were interesting, out of the whole exhibition, the above photograph left the biggest impact on me. In many of the photographs, Rodchenko appears to be styled as the archetypal bond villain (the only thing missing me a white furry cat in his lap and an gaudy lair setting complete with piranha filled fish tank) but here, he is styled to perfection in his all in one. The latest issue of Fantastic Man reminded us of the practical elegance of an all in one with stylist Elgar Johnson in an attractive boilersuit by Seagull from Leyland DSM (pg 165) as did Menswear in a recent post with colourful options from Dickies Workwear. Rodchenko, however is surely donning the best jumpsuit I've seen all season. I fell in love with the above image as soon as it was pointed out to me by the lovely couple from Seventy Somethings but when I found out later in the exhibition that Rodchenko had designed the jumpsuit himself, my admiration was immeasurable. My favourite design feature are the oversized double pockets, of course I currently have no need for such extravagant pockets but I should take up something which creates the use...Rodchenko's style is practical and purposeful, two hugely admirable traits.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Behind the scenes... Massey's Knitwear Inspiration

Last week we mentioned that one of our favourite British designers, Carolyn Massey unveiled a behind-the-scenes peak of her Autumn/Winter 2009 collection in an exhibition at Craft Central. Inspired by the Museum of London and National Army Museum, her AW09 collection saw her revive seemingly forgotten historic details and silhouettes and the exhibition exhibition pulls together the research and development that went in to the collection. The exhibition offers a rare insight in to the research and design process and should not be missed so if you find yourself in London this month (the exhibitions runs to 25th) you should certainly make a trip to Clerkenwell to catch Reflect Forward. However, for those of you who can't make it, we asked the designer to talk through her inspirations for her knitwear and how she worked closely with her knitwear consultant Lynn. Massey is at her happiest when researching something she has found, either an old picture or an actual garment and below are a selection of images which inspired her cable knits.

These collective images inspired all the discussion that Lynn and I had about cabling, proportion and scale within the knits. I'll find some imagery and so will Lynn, and then I do some sketches and will have ideas that Ive no idea how to produce or even if they are at all possible...! But then Lynn will come back with ideas and then we can progress from there. Its a good collaborative working process, and in a way my basic knowledge of knitwear (compared to Lynn- a knitter!) means that I have quite a naive approach, and often I'll say why cant this be done? and its up to Lynn to go and find a solution around the problem, which in turn sparks new ways of construction or methods of making.

After inspecting the knitwear pieces up close (at the studio and at the exhibition) Steve was left gushing at the cable knit pattern so it is so nice to hear about the research and development of some of the highlights of her aw09 collection.
By taking elements from pieces she has seen and found whilst combining them with her vision for menswear she create something new. We would certainly love to hear from more designers, not just on what inspired them but how their inspirations evolved in to the finished collection.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Style Stalking... The Sunday Best (Part Two)

As we enjoyed part one so much, it is about time we unveiled the rest of TheSundayBest's style diary. Thankfully, Thom's week is made up of eight days so he has treated us 'normal' folk with an extra look.

Day Five:
I really wanted to get more shawl-neck sweaters this year, but this is still the only one I own.

Day Six:
More casual Friday-ness wearing my current favourite piece of clothing - a boiled wool shirt from BBlessing. The scarf was a mistake.

Day Seven:
What I wore to Clack Clack Empire's last night in business. I'm pretty much moving towards dressing like this all the time.

Day Eight:
This is what I look like around the house - baggier jeans, slippers, and occasionally a bowler. Was feeling the -itis coming on.

_ _ _ _

Whilst most of us struggle in the mornings and chuck on any old thing in the bleary eyed darkness (maybe that is just us?), it is quite clear from our style stalking that Thom has an enviable work style and has a keen eye for quality, interesting staples. So, as well as a week's worth of Thom style, we asked him to offer a few shop recommendations and he more than delivered, featuring his picks from three cities:


The Block - Filson, Fillipa K, Coal hats.
350 West Cordova Street, Vancouver

Welcome Home, Eugene Choo - A.P.C., BBlessings, Wesc, Pendleton, Steven Alan - can't afford anything but they often go on sale.
3683 Main Street, Vancouver

Front & Co. - Well-curated consigment.
3772 Main Street (between 21st & 22nd Ave.)Vancouver BCV5V 3N7

Gravity Pope - Carries most brands of shoes you'd want, plus has clothing store next store with Gilded Age and Robert Geller
2205 west 4th ave, Vancouver

Deluxe Junk Co. - Good consignment.
310 Cordova Street, Vancouver

Vancouver Special - Little things for about the house.
3612 Main Street, Vancouver

Jonathan + Olivia - Engineered Garments - only store in Vancouver that carries it.
2570 Main Street, Vancouver


534 Yates Street, Victoria

Value Village - This is the best Value Village I've ever been to - must have bought 40 items from here.
1810 Store Street, Victoria


Blackbird - Currently my favourite store anywhere.
5410 22nd Ave, Seattle

1919 2nd Ave., Seattle

Five Doors Up
4309 university way, Seattle

Buffalo Exchange
4530 University Way NE

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Picture Postcard: Inspiring Spring Style

Hey EJ!
Thankfully we are mere days away until you come down to the big smoke to help celebrate the long weekend! As you know (via a few emails and the odd gmail chat) these past few weeks I have been poring and obsessing over magazine after magazine but I just cannot help it, there has been so much to take in...many of it inspiring. The latest magazine which has left me excited is Milk X - I previously posted images from the Thom Browne SS09 editorial - but the two images above have really charged my pulse. Both of these shots come from an editorial showcasing the best fodder from Harvey Nichols' Spring Summer offerings.

These two striking and highly achievable looks are perfect for this nice weather we have been enjoying (please, let it continue...I'm getting used to the sunshine). The look on the left is described as Retro Elegance and it has left the biggest impression on me; everything from the lightweight summer hat to the casually rolled up trousers to the butter soft lace ups are absolutely spot on. The second look is termed College Preppy and I find the mix of fabrics and styles to be really interesting. This look is aimed at a braver man than some but the change in the season has given me a push to try something a little different. Fingers crossed that the weather holds and we can enjoy the perfect Spring weekend (and the odd, perfect shopping trip)...who knows we might just have to take a little trip to Harvey Nichols (I don't think I've ever actually been inside any of their stores).

Looking forward to your visit!


A different Ken

New Look Ken...yours for £179.99

Firstly, apologies for the random post...put it down to me being excited by the upcoming four day weekend and the delightful Spring weather we have been treated to recently. I have to admit that I was a little perplexed as to what to post today as whatever it was would be the burger to the buns of TheSundayBest's (man, that sounds wrong) style diary. As most burgers are a little fake and leave a strange taste in the mouth, I just had to turn to Ken (apologies for the tenuous link, ha!). To celebrate Barbie's fifty years of iconic status there has been much hoo-ha and fanfare and even Ken has got in on the action and received a makeover by none other than Gareth Pugh. I got to inspect the new Ken at the Barbie Party at DSM last night...I'd like to add that my masculinity was restored in time for the football.

Pugh wanted his Ken 'to be outside the confines of what is acceptable' and he certainly mixed it up a little. To make the stiff plastic man a little more contemporary he gave Ken a rather awesome black PVC coat (a scaled down version of one from his debut menswear collection) and some skinny black trousers. Personally, I think the hair is a style feature too far but aside from that it is refreshing to see Ken looking so good.

As a nipper I was obsessed with all forms of action figures and I was something of a spoilt child, my favourites being The Turtles (drove my whole family mad with my obsession to collect every model), Bucky O'Hare, The A-Team (I liked their soft heads and used to bite them) but none of my figures were interesting sartorially speaking...there certainly were no outfit changes for any of my figures! Maybe it is time toy companies experimented with men's style for their toys of the future. Lets shape the sartorial choices of our children today. After seeing Tim Hamilton 's AW09 lookbook over on Blindman's Circus I'd love to sit down and play with a Hamilton inspired doll.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Style Stalking... The Sunday Best

What better way to learn about a person's style than to style stalk them for a week? Last time we caused much collective salivation over Elliott James Sainsbury's wardrobe and we did not have to think too hard about who we wanted to feature next. Step forward Thom of The Sunday Best who jumped at the chance after confessing he was something of narcissistic bastard. Please sit back and become a voyeur as we are let in to the first four days in his shoes.

We will let him introduce his first few looks...

My first instinct was to go through my closet and put together my seven or so "best" outfits, but decorum and pride --what if my curated outfits were unadulterated crap-- got the better of me. So here, for better or worse, are the outfits I wore over a week at work. (In the interest of full disclosure these pictures were taken over two work weeks.) Let us begin.

Day One:
Standard work wear - v-neck, shirt, tie, cords and boat shoes. Here I am trying to usher in Spring but it is still freezing in Victoria. The tie is one of the many I've bought at Value Village, probably 25 now in total.

Day Two:
Casual Fridays don't mean much in government since people wear jeans and t-shirts on a regular basis. I guess this is why I tend to still wear ties on Friday, although I do like jeans at work. Unfortunately Clack Clack Empire, the store where I bought the Wrath Arcane shirt, has since closed.

Day Three:
More work uniform. The tie is a thick cotton from Dunderdon - thick cotton and wool are going to gradually replace all my silk ties.

Day Four:
Blurry photo plus inexplicable hands in pockets. This grey flannel suit is actually an A.P.C. blazer with Farah pants, since A.P.C. doesn't make a pair of pants that fit me.

The rest of the week's outfits with be accompanied by his shop recommendations later this week.

Monday, 6 April 2009

New Balls in aisle three...

Anyone for tennis?

I've often conceded that I'm a magazine addict (hey, admission of the problem is the first step to recovery). My physical dependency on glossy pages is not helped by the fact that I live with another self confessed addict. The flat has been consumed by piles and shelves full of magazines and this environment has only intensified dependency. In fact, Susie's collection has led to me developing a number of guilty pleasures (flicking through Teen Vogue whilst in the bath anyone?) and introduced me to a number of previously unheard of titles, just like Milk. Whilst I was marvelling at the wonders of Oily Boy, I have to admit that I had one eye on Susie's choice of reading material and the below editorial instantly caught my eye from issue 32 of Milk X.

For SS09 Thom Browne surprised us all with with a tennis embroidered line incorporating skirts and kilts, plaids paired with paisley and low cut trousers complete with terrycloth headbands and armbands. I certainly did not expect to see his vision of American Sportswear in the supermarket aisles - I would love to see such ensembles next time I pop down to my local Tesco Metro!

Last month the Cut revealed that there might not be a place for Browne's $5000 shrunken suits in the free falling world economy, I for one would be sad to see him go. Doubts over how practical and wearable his designs are frequently follow a mere mention of his name so it is refreshing to see his designs shot in such a mundane and everyday setting. Of course one or two looks appear somewhat ridiculous but they provoke thought and a little debat. The whole editorial reminds me that I really must throw a Wimbledon party this summer...the search for a wooden racket I must warn the neighbours that I'll be dressing up in short shorts.


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