Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Leather Craft

A little window (or two) into the leather lust object craft that characterises the House of Hermès

Also included: a cute little bonus on a practical, global issue:

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Kings of Convenience - 'Winning a Battle, Losing the War' (Andy Votel Remix, 2001)

   Ever been led towards a beauty by a newsletter? I have. Ten years ago, the newsletter from my then-local record shop told me that I should buy this and so I did. It seems silly to admit that, but then a cursory look at my dress sense would suggest a tolerance for public embarrassment, wouldn't it? And all in all, I do think it a colourless life to be one who lacks the capacity for any sort of romance

   The years I spent in a Northern town involved too much whimsical melancholia to count my days as interesting ones, and I sometimes conjured up beatific interludes to pass the time between pretentious conversations with stoners and eventful carousings to meet girls and favourite musicians. I liked running into the bearded psychedelic and freak beat aficionado Andy Votel; he ran a highly interesting record label that was named after a creepy little film called Twisted Nerve (I always think of its theme music as the sound of someone entering another's room and touching all their stuff), made subtly sinister alt-r'n'b covers of Black Sabbath and his idiosyncratic nous for art direction was a masterclass in stitched together aesthetics, inventive 1960s/1970s'-updated typefaces and photography and graphics that were ramshackle, bold, austere and plaintive in measures - how very Northern of him

   Now, I never thought the majority of Votel's solo output took flight - usually, it sounded too controlled, careful and studied, unlike many of the rather tohu bohu and spirited records he enjoys and dices up into collector friendly collections of abstruse European rock that was recorded in cold sheds 100 miles from Warsaw in 1968. I rather think remixing is one of his other fortes; true, he is not the sort to remake songs from the ground up and could remain reverent to the structures of the originals, but on occasion, his approach could deliver some of the most accomplished things in the world just by adding his Votelian twists to that which was already familiar

   And so it is with 'Winning a Battle, Losing the War', in which Votel realised that the poignancy of the Kings of Convenience's original could not be evinced through a minimal musical approach and a story of the desire to heal from heartbreak told through downcast singing alone. Thus, it is not so much a remix or an alternative reading as it is an embellishment of the song's character, melody and soothing, lullaby-esque mood. It's prettier, it's still somewhat touching and the subtle, 1960s flourishes that the ever reverent Votel and his friends brought to the instrumentation make it akin to Simon and Garfunkel writing for the soundtrack to The Thomas Crown Affair and then saving it for something more languorous, introspective and British instead. A Confessions film, perhaps

   I'll always be glad that I purchased this. My beatific interludes needed a soundtrack

Friday, 20 May 2011

Putney Swope (1969)

Truth in advertising? Satire for longhairs? Ever so "slightly" gonzo?

Near plotless though it may be, yet one of my favourites from the late 1960s for its slipshod skewering of all that political correctness holds dear, Putney Swope tells the story of what happens when the token black man leads a Madison Avenue agency from the front, with nary a demographic not offended by the conclusion. And the moral is that when it comes to the bottom line, people don't change, even for their "ironclad" principles. The fun, of course, is in seeing such a narrative through

Directed by Robert Downey Sr.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A Moment of Charm from Peter O'Toole

   Portraying alcohol-and-self-loathing suffused rake and actor Alan Swann in Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year is one of the comic highlights of Peter O'Toole's storied career. One can feel the dissolute manner in which he makes charm and manipulation his emotional armour against the world with every offhand riposte and flash of naughtiness; this arresting appearance, in which he seemed to make his co-stars genuinely hang on to his every utterance, locked him in for one of his many Oscar runner-up moments

   Whilst the comedy sequences do much to highlight O'Toole's gifts of physicality, timing and an exceedingly delicious gift for dry delivery, this destructive, difficult dandy would be ultimately forgettable were it not for an emotional core that is clichéd enough for me to avoid discussing in detail (a wounded heart, a desire to escape genuine responsibility, irritation with drinks served at room temperature, etc.), but is necessary to make certain the audience cares for his ending as well as his slipshod journeying throughout the conversations, appearances, negotiations and set pieces (two standouts: the impromptu abseil off the side of a tall apartment block using a retractable fire hose, and the glorious bit of impromptu swash and buckle at the end when Swann stops searching for the hero inside and puts his madness to good use) that make up his character arc. There is also wonderful support from the requisite foil, Mark Linn-Baker, and the surprisingly endearing romance between his Benjy and Jessica Harper's K.C. Downing - even this cynic has to smile when he finally wins her affections, over a projector reel and a box of popcorn

   No small entry into this luminary's canon, My Favourite Year, although more indebted to Errol Flynn for inspiration than O'Toole's personal indelicacies, nevertheless draws upon his idiosyncratic behaviours and vulnerabilities for its pathos, channelling them into the myopic mischief of its lead character the rest of the time. If Russell Brand were actually singularly gifted, he might be counted on for a remake, even if that is the worst kind of filmic idea: the remake as vehicle for a bubbling under performer of debatable talent. Besides, not everyone is blessed with that which, for all his faults, helped make a star out of a flawed yet brilliant man like Peter O'Toole:


Monday, 16 May 2011


Outside of perusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn-related articles, Liz Armstrong's article on nude bodysuits, fresh from Jane Pratt's new concern, xoJane, is the most diverting thing I've read all day. If she can do it, then maybe all of you Paraders can, too

I wonder if they come in medium brown

Spike Jonze Presents: Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma (2011)

   It's not often that collaborations turn my head like a topspin, though judging by 2009's fling with Uniqlo, I reckon that the rather good Opening Ceremony have a facility for a damn fine get-together

   This number was presented by Jonze for OC's blog

Sunday, 15 May 2011

L'Amour Fou (2011)

“I’ve gone through much anguish, many hells. I’ve known fear and a tremendous solitude. The deceitful friends that tranquilizers and narcotics turn out to be. The prison that depression can be and that of mental-health clinics. One day I came out of it all, dazzled but sober. Marcel Proust taught me that ‘the magnificent and pitiable family of neurotic people is the salt of the earth.’”

   I think few things explicate the psyche of a sophisticate like examining his desire for the splendid, so I am greatly looking forward to this ostensibly intimate film by Pierre Thoretton. For what the world certainly needs is a documentary about the lives and tastes of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé

   It's pretty gratifying to see that the muses - Betty Catroux, Loulou De La Falaise and Catherine Deneuve - are present and correct, as well as knowing that L'Amour Fou (“The Crazy/Mad Love”) does not shy away from acknowledging the distraught and depersonalised depths the industrious, sensitive, aesthetically-obsessed Saint Laurent could slide into, almost unbidden, whilst Bergé navigated much of his life for him

   Interspersed between the reminiscences from a 50 year love affair are moments from a confessional on the catwalk, the copious collections of objets d'art that filled the rooms of houses the world over and the delivery of said objets into the funereal hands of auctioneers (because nothing marks the passing of a life lived in connoisseurship quite like the wholesale of one's acquisitions) and then to those of that sagacious breed whose avarice and passion match those of Saint Laurent himself: collectors

   For all the attention lavished on works by Mondrian, Degas and Picasso, it's more interesting to me that there was a democratic element to the couple's assorted pretty things; Saint Laurent was apparently apt to see value in the bric a brac of a Marrakech market as he was in Chinoiserie pieces, Constantin Brancusi forms and Egyptian sculpture. And personally, an openness to the potential beauty in the affordable and the aureate is what makes such accumulative types all the more endearing

   Frankly, a production like this would always feel akin to the closing of a chapter


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mode Parade x Final Fashion

Final Fashion is the column of adroit fashion illustrator Danielle Meder, who relocated from Toronto to London not long ago. She arrived just in time, for since my return to this town, my oh-so-cosmopolitan circles have indeed expanded to include more Canadians and blondes. Brought together by fate, Twitter and The Grumpy Owl, yesterday we spent a late afternoon indulging in some mutual portraiture

For the record, this is the first artistic endeavour I've produced in over 10 years, created over pots of Chilli Chilli Bang Bang and Adventure tea at the ever temperate Yumchaa:

Here is Danielle's rendering of your author - "More handsome" defines her take on Mode Parade's baby Afro'd boy (I'd also venture, "More Nigerian," as I'm happy without needing my features to be chiselled). In a rare moment of vanity, I, of course, asked for my lips to be accorded more accurate proportions:

Danielle and I might do this again at some point. I've certainly threatened to begin sketching again. I was always a little dangerous with a crayon when I put my mind to it

The tale of the tape may be found at Final Fashion

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Upper Class Living


   Having little care for what passes for entertainment television in this day and age - and how fuddyish of me to consider that I wish Dick Cavett, Michael Parkinson and Michael Aspel were still the leaders of chat shows - I nevertheless chose to watch the latest in class-based reality television, E4's Made in Chelsea, an anaemically produced and performed "inside view" into the lives of monied twenty-somethings that resembles a televised version of the The Sun's photostories, albeit more unintentionally funny and with the crowning achievement of being less intelligent. I wonder if they share scriptwriters; that insipid line about eyelashes could only have come from the mind of one raised on a diet of softcore porn, Dynasty and Brookside

   Of course, even this sterling material cannot quite survive when delivered by a group of young turks who, despite their varying degrees of attractiveness, function under quite a glaring charisma embargo. This concept might have gone over better if they had employed genuine actors with the requisite backgrounds and who would at least delivered the necessary irony to make this more palatable. Of course, the ones I am thinking of - Eddie Redmayne, Imogen Poots, Harry Hadden-Paton - presently have better things to do

   Why were the most poignant comments of the show about eyelashes - from the fellow with great hair as he struggled to reciprocate his girlfriend's gushing compliments about his character - and pineapples - from the pompous-but-lovelorn-so-he-might-be-alright-in-time fellow stroking a globe and openly praying for posterity to record his alleged greatness and socio-economic acumen? Why did they have an ostensibly 15 year old girl socialising in Raffles and hanging around modelling shoots? Why did they not concentrate on the lead girl's singing, a trait infinitely preferable to the written-for-automatons-by-automatons lines she delivered on the subject of her ongoing "love triangle?"

   Aside from the laughs, I gained one nugget of information - The Troubadour on Old Brompton Street is still in business. We are all honour bound to support our aged, ramshackle haunts, after all

   Although he no longer lives here and would have to go online, I wonder if viewing this will cause that Laguna Beach Blogger Fellow - the most SW3 of us all - to experience copious flashbacks to his 1980s days

   I may tune in next week, primarily for the girls, of course. Not for the reasons one might imagine, however - I simply have a theory that most of them prefer the company of dogs to the company of men. And I will never sleep again until this is proven

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Blast of Bombast

   For all the simplicity of the palette I chose, this might be the most forceful colour play of mine, thus far:

It is certainly fair to say that my Holliday & Brown aggressive abstract acid shirts are getting quite the workout; teaming one with H&B collaborator Prada (the bootcut dress trousers) and the Spencer Hart-designed Aquascutum coat, gives the wearer an overall look of a hedonist in search of a happening 

Adding to the fun, in the Lobbs I am just shy of 6'4"

Photograph by Harry L

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Tie Up

   Edward Sexton, also known to me as "My Favourite Tailor," presents an instructional on the four-in-hand, the only tie knot that connotes an unfussy mind when it comes to necktie styling. His dummy's name is Ben Fogle, reporting for NBC as part of a piece on morning dress:

   Thanks to Edward's assistant, Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, for sending this to the MP inbox

Friday, 6 May 2011

A Wake


   Popular culture is perpetually at a stage where its degradation is marked by the passing of its figureheads perhaps as much as the dwindling of the culture itself. And at this time, I'm not certain we are superseding those luminaries with anyone better

   That said, I may just be venting from having memorialised more interesting dead people than I'd like on this column over the last year. But the thought persists, nonetheless

   For the most part, I could possibly muster more energy on these performers if I spent more time with my age 18 and below relatives. But they keep asking me to pay for the MP3 downloads and sing into their hairbrushes with them. I might look like I am made out of money, but I will only ever accommodate them on one of those requests

   It's the latter, in case you were wondering

   I think that for now, I will stick with the dissections of the old school, thank you. At least the past  can still feel perpetually alive

Monday, 2 May 2011

Beastie Boys - 'Make Some Noise' (Cornelius Remix, 2011)

All I can say is, they have all made me a very happy man today. Given the influence the middle-period Beasties had on Cornelius's middle-period 69/96 album, this is a more natural pairing than one may initially be led to assume

Maestro? Some noise, please:

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Greenbrier Revisit

   Now with added video, as the hotel's leadership itself has seen fit to join with the YouTube generation. Needless to say, it is a document of a different time; a few familiar celebrity visages abound as The Greenbrier  in 1948 is shown to reassert itself as a hub of aureate activity and sybaritic sensations. We now know how long that lasted

   With thanks to Virginia S