Thursday, 31 March 2011

Metal Lust Object No.5

Vintage Italian solid silver caviar dish via Vintage Kitsch. A modern model with added depth and seahorses is offered at Asprey. Some food experiences should go all the way, no?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sartorial Arts

All works sourced from the artist's website

   I recently had an opportunity to browse the artworks of Oscar Whicheloe at the Medici Gallery - one of the myriad fine show spaces on London's Cork Street - and although the show concluded yesterday (let alone that I should have visited it earlier), I thought some of my semi-regular readers might entertain yet another sartorial artist in their hearts

   Of course, Whicheloe hews to a different blueprint than my favoured illustrators (Leyendecker, Fellows, Sheridan, that Grafton guy... can't think of any others); presently working at Wimbledon Art Studios, he is a graduate fine artist of Surrey Institute of Art & Design (class of 2003) who has set his brushstrokes on producing still life and portraiture, as well as prints, etchings and monotypes. Rendering tailoring is only one of the facets this gifted creator presents to the world and like my dear friend Ian Bruce, he can find the inner artistic boldness in even the most conservative suiting

   Nevertheless, for those who are as enticed by Savile Row window displays (now de rigueur since Nutter's began putting on a show in 1969) as the next man, Whicheloe's reverent, skillful and evocative series of half finished suits framed on that famed street are ineluctably delightful. As my own forays in painting and drawing taught me long ago, nothing vexes quite so much as the near infinitesimally small detail - the strings on a harp bow; the fuzzy turf-like texture of a towel; thread hanging from a needle or, perhaps, a bespoke suit. It is, therefore, a feat that he can so accurately capture the stitching so necessary to this sort of work in progress; additionally, by focusing on the incomplete suit, he brings a certain dynamism to it by making it a centrepiece - it congratulates the skill involved and enjoys it for the tantalising hint of a finished article that it is. Even an unfinished work done well holds a certain amount of value. The guessing game for the windows will no doubt keep one or two of you Paraders diverted; I have so far spotted  Richard James, Huntsman, Kilgour, E. Tautz and my countryman Ozwald Boateng. One may also note the presence of Paul Smith's socks and furnishings from other Piccadilly locations; the Royal Arcade and Albermarle Street shops, respectively; Smith's signature use of his tumescent palette and print libraries is just the sort of challenge that's at home in Whicheloe's catalogue of nuances


   It is this combination of a bold, up-close aesthetic packed with unerring detail that gives the artist's work a certain piquancy; his nous for composition, shape and colour also deftly leavens his output. For those of you available later in the year, Oscar Whicheloe will return in a solo show at St. George's Hospital, London
My present focus is on the still life scenes that are captured in a tailor’s window – a very precisely controlled environment, entirely constrained by the way the tailor has decided to position and display his creations.
These displays capture both the wider society they aim to reflect and attract, as well as the hidden inner-world of the tailor. “Finished suits are presented with tacking threads still visible, echoing the glamour and attraction of bespoke luxury clothing and the society that consumes it, as well as the physicality of the fabric and the hidden work involved in its manufacture.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Portrait of a New Suit

It's Houndstooth Time
Right before the spring arrives to make it obsolete, that is

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011. Never forgotten and, therefore, not truly gone

   In the past year alone, all due to the constancy and magic of Turner Classic movies, I have watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Butterfield 8 and The VIPs at least twice each. And there was a particular luminescent smoulder belonging to one Elizabeth Taylor that made many of the moments in these films as sexy and yet as dignified as they come. Often, I wondered if her work should be accompanied by a heatstroke warning

    As a child, I initially perceived Ms. Taylor in two states - one as a rather glamorous actress that elicited romance-tinged reminiscences from my parents and the other as a rather glamorous actress that was best friends with my hero, Michael Jackson. But I was already aware that this other indelible star rather liked surrounding himself with the best of the then-living icons: we should all be so fortunate to learn at the feet of Diana Ross, sing tributes to Sammy Davis Jr., or be called on by Fred Astaire for moonwalk lessons  
"Richard! Will you stop drinking and come to bed this minute! Your voice is ricocheting all over this hotel."
   Even after the multitudinous marriages, the faded latter-day career that was sustained primarily by branded perfumes and the cascade of human frailty that has finally claimed her, damn if she didn't continue to command with her presence whilst attending to business. And she never quite seemed to shed a singular, and rather unusual quality: that of being the screen goddess next door; a curiously approachable beauty who lived and looked for all the world like one of its royals, but possessed of a humour that the truly down to earth seem to use best. Between this, her accents and her singular beauty, it was almost too difficult to perceive her as British  

   She also deserves my admiration for affecting the vocal middle ground between Olive Oyl and Betty Boop. Vale, Dame Elizabeth Taylor: never forgotten, not truly gone and missed by more than a great many. Thank you

Daft Punk - Tron: Legacy (2010)

   To be honest, they had me at the affectionately appropriated John Carpenter synths

   I had eagerly anticipated this latest curio from one of our era's most beloved and occasionally pilloried electronic acts, but the prospect of uniting them with the 85-piece London Orchestra and the guiding hands of orchestrator and arranger Joseph Trapanese certainly instilled promise. Never mind that at far as the cosmos is certain, no other concern is as fated to score a Tron sequel as Daft Punk, but the spectre of third album Human After All still casts a pesky shadow. I cannot recall the halcyon message board day the general approval of 'Robot Rock' dissipated into shards of broken hopes and dead disco dreams when some encyclopaedic wag unearthed its original incarnation as Breakwater's 'Release The Beast', providing both an appreciation of a superb sample source and an accusatory totem with which to beat our favourite French androids over the head, without smirking a little

   Nevertheless, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Man de Homem-Christo have built up enough goodwill over the years to merit more than a little leeway when scoring a blockbuster movie, and if their remit was to produce a soundtrack that stands with the greats of our cinematic history, than the amount of time I've spent listening to this record since its December release suggests they came tantalisingly close to succeeding. For if the duo did not know their way around a hook - no matter how repetitive - their career would have been consigned to history faster than that of The Nolan Sisters

   Of course, such a sampladelic act know their way around the hooks other artists create, and aside from Carpenter and other old hands like Philip Glass, Vangelis (the well played homage 'Arrival') and Maurice Jarre (whose sweeping, bold romanticism and late period synth antics seem to guide the electronic and orchestral merges here as much as Tron's original composer Wendy Carlos. Wagner's here too, of course - who else could 'Rectifier's evil imperial bombast remind one of?), the soundtrack also takes in a very modern sampling of prolific scorers Hans Zimmer and John Powell, who are named in the album's thank you-notes, and whose respective trademarks of moody, minor key, minimalist strings (the recurring leitmotif for the film's sinister, near-unkillable antagonist Clu; 'ENCOM Parts I and II') and muscular tribal rhythms married to string-based melodies and flourishes ('Disc Wars'; 'ENCOM' again) give Tron: Legacy an almost self-consciously contemporary launchpad. Which is why it's so compelling when Daft Punk then proceed to add other twists to it. The repetitive build, swell and release that guides their studio records - utilised here as if to prove that the formula is mutable, not worthless, in a different setting - deftly complements the rushes of emotion, danger, odd austerity and digital battling that the film presents. Indeed, when the aforementioned Carpenter-like four note synth intruded like a warning alarm during Clu's first appearance, I could have punched the air with glee - a newly minted, iconic, modern leitmotif to match Jason Bourne's (the elegant, Bernard Hermann-like grasp of sinister undertones through strings and timpani offering the perfect creepy accompaniment, as does the hot vapor electro hiss when the stern, urgent strings of the final 'CLU' theme incarnation take hold - music for a last stand against a complete monster if I ever heard it. Digital Jeff Bridges is the new Childcatcher)

   The fortunate thing with so many musical reference points is Bangalter and de Homem-Christo's determination to meld them in ways both subtle and overt, refracting this familiarity into their own aesthetic in the same manner that their synths and symphonies wind around each other like sinew, a trick excellently deployed early in the runtime during the first 5 seconds of the stirring, Zimmer-but-different 'Recognizer' alone. Indeed, this piece is demonstrable of the album's significant, intrinsic aspect: the total ease in wedding the orchestral to the machinery, giving both core elements a textural parity that is stunningly synergistic - in this way, and in the recurrence of its own science fiction main motif across the myriad pieces, the work I'm most reminded of is that of Basil Poledouris for RoboCop. Like Daft Punk, he successfully rendered a traditional, yet unconventional, film accompaniment that musically captured the man/machine tension driving the story; in both cases, it is a judicious sense of nuance that results in such textural success. Hence, unlike with Zimmer or even Jarre, one doesn't see "the synthy bit" and "the horny bit" telegraphed a mile off. And it is both this and their versatility that make future Daft scores a prospect worth putting up with the inevitable cash-in remixes* for

* Let us face it - Tron: Legacy Reconfigured would always have sucked most of the interesting elements dry from the bones of the originals

   Even though two years working with Trapanese cannot confer his particular skills upon them, the two minds at Daft Punk's centre are so attuned to the protean aspects of a film's scenes that the score may forever threaten to overshadow the visuals in the mind's memory. Cohesion carries the day - the stylistic, near synaesthetic similarities created through mood and minimal melodies (and of course a band so concerned with hooks would make a film score with a surface so simple), as well as the two's increasingly dynamic mode of production and mixing, are what allows purely symphonic  pieces like the beautiful 'Finale' to gaily coexist with the Springsteen-esque, neon night ride 'End of Line', requiring little glue from the more conceptually enticing in-betweeners like the moving storyteller that is 'Adagio For Tron' (and speaking of leitmotifs, what an excellent plot detail it is to include Rinzler's theme in this piece, furthering the curiosity over this warrior's origins. Other plot guided examples include the reworked refrain of 'Armory' in 'Outlands Part II'). And all of it sounds ridiculously gorgeous and clear as a bell - there's something alluringly crystalline about the pulsingly pretty highlight, 'Outlands', whose wild ride-soundtracking resembles Danny Elfman's 'Flight of the Batmobile' filtered through the breezy sensibilities of Daft Punk's own 'Revolution 909'. And even this gem is preceded by the album's critical consensus-favourite 'The Game Has Changed', where Daft Punk's production nous reflects the fragmentation of the dying Program characters and the sterile yet treacherous and twisting expanse of the Light Cycle grid and the match fought on it through bit crushed martial drums, a hypnotic synth melody and the old build, swell and release as represented by the prominent and then reticent style of the instrumentation

   In order for one to fully appraise the score, I particularly recommend it with the visuals attached. Given that the film was cut to the music, that is no idle witticism - in that sense, it is also the successor to Daft Punk's humourous, nostalgic and entertaining anime collaboration with Leiji Matsumoto, Interstella 5555, which simultaneously played out to their memorable sophomore, Discovery. Tron: Legacy may not have the duo's vision at the helm, but my, are they becoming increasingly adept at telling a story made by others


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Crash Machine

   Moments like this really make one feel secure about their finances, no?

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Glimpse of a New Suit

   From the waist up, that is. Please excuse the rumpled hem caused by a restless foot

   More to follow,


Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Week's Inspiration

Shepherd check three piece suit plus cane, homburg hat, gloves and overcoat circa the 1930s, as rendered by renowned fashion plate illustrator Laurence Fellows, patron saint of all i-trads and i-dandies everywhere

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Psyche Out - An Ensemble Dissection

Warning: this entry contains scenes of a carousing nature:


   Fun fact: not counting the Holliday & Brown Special Re-edition print on the shirt, the only vintage item is the silk paisley brocade tie; its red lining especially comes through under a camera flash. Of course, my semi-regular readers may know that I've quite the thing for vintage silk paisley brocade; exactly the sort of thing that deserves a comeback, if I do say so myself

   One may also note the lack of a pocket square/pochette. This is very much deliberate - the severity of a shirt in the overall ensemble can, and should, determine the necessity for extra adornments, particularly around the chest area. It is already commendable if one has complementary ties to hand, in this case, but it rather pushes the boat out a touch too recklessly to find a pochette when such a shirt already adds that eyecatching element. Dressing is always a balancing act

   Mind you, I could have done with a hat

Hello, Toto

   I recently became intrigued by the one-time model/actress/socialite Catherina "Toto" Koopman, whilst perusing a biography of the industrious newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook. This was a woman who was a visible biracial beauty in a time where it was decidedly not fashionable to be so; moreover, this elegant half-Dutch, half-Chinese luminary led quite the intriguing life, from her upbringing in Java to her education in Holland and England; from her work for Chanel to her poise and poses in photography shoots by Edward J. Steichen and Hoyningen Huene 

   More interestingly, she was involved with both Lord Beaverbrook in 1933 or '34 and later, his son, Max Aitken, from 1935 to 1939. Lord Beaverbrook was incensed and troubled by Max's involvement - apparently due to sexual jealousy and distaste at the idea of a Javanese daughter-in-law - to the point that he gave them sums of money and a flat in Portland Square off Oxford Street to remain unmarried, whilst perennially desiring to break them up. She was also pursued by Viscount Castlerosse, incensing his wife to the point of threatening to have Koopman named in their long-mooted divorce case

   Matters become more interesting and opaque still regarding her wartime activities. Koopman is thought to have performed as a go-between for British intelligence in Italy, until she was double-crossed, compromised and interred at Ravensbrück concentration camp for two years, during which time she performed heroically, whether by trying to save those marked for death or smuggling food to her maltreated fellow inmates. Even after such a harrowing time, she continued enriching those around her by running the Hanover Gallery with her lover and fellow war heroine, Erica Brausen. Amongst the careers they guided was that of one Francis Bacon

   Not entirely lost to history, Koopman is recognised as one of the early lights of the modelling world, as well as an arbiter and a saver of lives, with an enviable fortitude to handle anything that was thrown at her. We should all have girlfriends this tough

It really was another world. One dressed not to please men but to astound other women

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Dead Seal Bows (Furry Curio Object No.1)

   The curios are truly coming out of the woodwork today. This vintage genuine sealskin bow tie, made in St. John's, Newfoundland by E. Melendy Ltd, recently sold on eBay for a paltry $21.50 (shipping not included)

   And no, I was not the buyer. But whether one is outraged by the barbarity or attracted by the lustre - a matching evening overcoat is the image that springs to mind - this, as well as being barbaric and lustrous, is undeniably exemplary of true luxury: the power to be offered or to commission whatever one wants and then proceed to get away with it in a certain style

   Alright, it's a little seductive. There are only so many stones a carnivore can throw

Mobutu Le Fondateur

   If you asked me now, I could not tell you where I found this

   Of course, I've written all that I need to on Mobutu Sese Seko, so I'm actually more interested in acquiring the name of the tailor who created the shirt - I really like that rounded collar. Lovely colours, also - such a great print, even given the connotations it carries

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Beta Band - 'To You Alone' (2000)

  I intend to review the albums of this dearly departed outfit in due course - say, between today and 2013. This non-album double-A single was released between their whimsical and psychedelic genre-bending debut, which I love and which The Beta Band themselves very publicly slated, and their somewhat Gregorian, moody folk/r'n'b-mating follow-up, as ably seeded in this moving, pulsing song

   It's music for evening people

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Leather Lust Object No.7 - Lobb Return

Plain toe double monkstraps by John Lobb, via Details

   There's something rather modish about an unembellished monkstrap shoe, which traditionally incorporates a cap toe and, occasionally, broguing details. Perhaps John Lobb is on (to) something - these may in fact be the most perfect monks for skinny denim and an overdyed Oxford shirt seen yet

Richard Lester - Boutique London


   Recently, I had the pleasure of finally reading this well researched tome and would recommend it to all Paraders with an ounce of interest in the period and the book's unique yet obvious premise of grounding the 1960s and '70s clothing experience where it truly took flight - in its shops

  Without scans, it's difficult to review this meaningfully - hence the quoted copy below - but it is a very worthy compendium of photographs and Malcolm English artwork that is only intermittently available from other immediate sources (like something called "The interweb," apparently) and, without directly stating it, places much of the emphasis on the now undervalued concept of shopkeepers designing their own desirable products; to do this in a time when practically anything was permissible, desirable and born from one of the boldest cultural intersections in living memory would always ensure these luminaries' places in stylish and entrepreneurial history

   For the record, my favourite portraits naturally feature, or relate to, Hung on You's Michael Rainey and Christopher Gibbs, The Beatles' Apple Boutique, Michael Fish, Blades of Savile Row and Tommy Nutter, as well as the beauties that modelled for BIBA and Annacat. I'll be forever glad, also, that there was ample room for Vivienne Westwood and the late Malcolm McLaren's concern, Sex 

   It is affordable, unfussy to the point of sparseness in its writing and is fundamentally a well presented snapshot of a diversely presentable time. More helpfully, it compiles all the names of all those faces that made this scene one that hasn't lost its large footing in the cultural consciousness into one neatly packaged book. Groovy, Lester
To any style conscious Londoner in the sixties just two places mattered: the King's Road and Carnaby Street. By the end of the decade the whole world came to see and be seen, to take part in the theatre that played out of the new boutiques and onto the street. From the sleek modernist tailoring of 'Top Gear' and 'His Clothes' to the nostalgic dressing up box style of the World's End boutiques, at the heart of it all were the young designers whose conviction to make and sell clothes on their own terms generated an explosion of talent which lasted and evolved over twenty years, leaving an indelible mark in fashion history. 'Boutique London' follows the journey of the first risk-takers like Mary Quant and John Stephen, to the celebrity salons of Ossie Clark, 'Mr Fish' and 'Granny Takes a Trip', stopping along the way to include the weird and the wonderful, the glamorous and the bizarre. With in-depth profiles of over thirty retailers and lavish illustrations, the clothes, interiors and characters of 'Boutique London' are as diverse as they are colourful, vividly bringing to life a vanished London, which changed the way we shop forever.

Lou Reed - 'Sad Song' (1973)

I'm gonna stop wastin' my time
Somebody else would have broken both of her arms

   Sadness for the weekend? Perhaps this inappropriate, ever moving threnody is on my mind due to the tsunami tragedy of Japan that has occupied hearts and columns of late. Elizabeth Avedon is currently promoting a charitable auction of photographic works for the cause. Mayhap others will follow

  Funny what other interrelated trivia comes to mind - 'Sad Song' was sampled by the plagiaristic yet innovative Japanese under-to-overground pop stars Flipper's Guitar (the training ground for my favourite recording artist, Cornelius) as part of their psychedelic song cycle, 'The World Tower,' produced by Salon Music's Zin Yoshida

   Spent energy, bitterness, ruing, catharsis; bitter pills don't come much sweeter than this

Friday, 11 March 2011


   Whilst the font is on the uninspiring side and the CGI glow that adorns our tweed-clad hero is rather unappealing - even if it is in reference to his alien nature and upcoming Roswell adventure - this is reasonably effective in drawing attention to the imminence of Doctor Who's sixth season

   My semi-regular readers probably dreaded some sort of recap of last year's successes, since they are really here to see some dork with a baby Afro attempt to to adorn himself in style and present himself as "witty" to the 39 people foolhardy enough to follow him. And of course, there are dedicated Who blogs and columns; no one really requires an analysis of the show written in the most grandiloquent style possible

   So, here is all that needs to be known - it is the wittiest, frothiest and gosh darn best adventure series going, starring a Brummie with a long nose, the prettiest willowy redhead this side of Lily Cole and a very talented fellow with a funny face who may have finally upgraded to self tying bow ties and can hold his own in performance with the likes of Michael Gambon. And to top it off, they will be promoting the almighty Stetson:

   April 23rd cannot come soon enough

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Ribaldry: Boutonnière Tales

   On rare occasion, when I'm not deleting spam, "private videos" and entreaties to promote pricey trainers (Mode Parade is not that kind of "fashion blog"), I unearth the odd kind word and genuine gem in the column's e-mail. This comes from a first time caller and long time reader (hopefully?), who has already developed a notable camaraderie with the rest of the online menswear fellowship through Boxing The Compass, a witty and comprehensive take on the vicissitudes and vices of dressing well

   This is his unedited e-mail sent in response to my most recent ensemble post. If you are sensitive to the amorous adventures of real life Uncle Oswalds, please avert your eyes:
My comment is a bit too long for the comment section of your post, and perhaps unsuitable.  Here it is:
My great-uncle ALWAYS wore a boutonnière. He visited us at our place on Cape Cod for a month every summer to sail, golf, etc.  One time he appeared home in the same handsome clothing from the evening before... I was having breakfast(!).  The flower was gone from his seersucker lapel, and I asked about it.  He told me that "a man should never wilt before his flower does", meaning that one should stay out until the boutonniere wilts. 
Grandmother was in the dining room as well (great-uncle Maxwell was her brother).  I asked Uncle Max (in his seventies at the time) if he had thrown away his wilted flower, and he said to a nine-year-old me: "I left it on her pillow."
Grandmother spun around, inadvertently sloshing the coffee from her cup "MAX!!"
I think I was in college when I first emulated the flower/pillow gesture, and ONLY then did I realize what Uncle Max had meant.  Brilliant old fellow!

I love your blog.

-Yankee Whisky Papa

   For the record, I was seven when I "met" Uncle Oswald, my parents being unaware of Roald Dahl's more indelicate side. Because of him, I will never contract leprosy

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Leather Lust Object No.6

Crocodile leather cigar case with piercer and 9 carat gold mounts circa 1955 by Asprey, via

Sunday, 6 March 2011


    Consider one or two traditional accoutrements like neckscarves, a matching yet complementary shirt and tie combination and lighter coloured suiting for the incoming season. It will be good for you. It's to our cost that illustrators are no longer charged with the content of lookbooks

Scans by Sator from Grafton Fashions For Men 1971


   Here is where I've been spending some of my online time of late:
  • The Cutting Class. Having come across this via Twitter this week, I've had an edifying time reading its breakdowns of garment patterns and fabric usages in runway collections; a stimulating form of dissection, to be certain. Intelligently and confidently written, it may become a reference when I begin moonlighting as a dressmaker under a particularly flamboyant sobriquet one day (my heart is currently set on "Lazlo T. Funkenschmeiter," by the way)
  • In light of the imminent Royal Wedding, I have been perusing the details of its predecessors at Vintage Connection, purely out of interest in the passing of fashions and aureate displays of affection and happiness like the real gold charms that filled the cake at the Queen Mother's nuptials
  • Daniel Copley, writer and cynic, is one of the few I follow on Twitter. Recently, he has decided to consider online dating. Since I feel he is sure to follow through on it, it may be worth keeping an eye on his blog over the ensuing months. It could possibly turn out to be Humiliation Theatre
  • The Big Bark Blog. Because my friend Sasha's burgeoning film reviews column saves me quite the chunks of change that would otherwise be spent sitting in a darkened theatre myself. I'm duty-bound to divulge, however, that I often skip her writing to stare longingly at her Sophia Loren wallpaper instead
  • Slashdot. Sample headline: "Meth Dealer Faces Loss of His Comic Book Collection"; how much more entertaining can "news for nerds" get?
  • Gregory Parkinson. Because he creates vivaciously refreshing womenswear, all filled with psychedelia, drape and a certain sense of hippyish abandon. And because his nephew suggested it

Friday, 4 March 2011


   It felt like time for an actual tiny slice of nature in my jacket buttonhole. And for good measure, a map of Delaware (of all places) in my breast pocket