Saturday, 30 April 2011


  The nice thing about the word "iconic" in relation to buildings is that it lends itself much easier to styles than to the individual constructions themselves. Which is why it is quite the delight to be able to talk about the ones that endure in the increasingly blipvert-based times of our lives and the ineluctable erasure time brings to taste, memory and the prevailing view

   So, do take a moment to be charmed by Frank Lloyd Wright's famous 1935 form, Kaufmann Residence. Or as it is more famously known, Fallingwater. Not many buildings can maintain such a resonant appeal, but its lessons of simplicity scale, space and congruence with its surroundings - Man + Nature + Insight = Sui Generis Architecture - persist to this day (fun, though possibly apocryphal, fact, as related by draftsman Edgar Tafel: after weeks without the emergence of any plans or drawings from his studio workshop, Wright, with his draftsmen, Tafel and Robert Mosher, eventually, and in a bout of focused genius, created the home's plot plan within the two hours it took Edgar J. "E.J." Kaufmann, Sr. to arrive for a long-desired , albeit impromptu, discussion of the construction at Bear Run). Any look at a Taschen Architecture Now! volume will affirm that

Now, what makes this feat all the more astonishing is that Fallingwater stands, or appears to stand, not upon the solid earth of some Middlewestern prairie but upon air. Cantilevered out over Bear Run by means of almost invisible concrete supports - Wright called them "bolsters" - the house and its series of terraces seem to float in saucy defiance of gravity above the waterfall. To the south, facing the view, its walls consist almost entirely of glass; to the north, its walls are of rough sandstone, hewn from a nearby abandoned quarry. Wright said of the house, "I think you can hear the waterfall when you look at the design. At least it is there, and he [Kaufmann] lives intimately with the thing he loves." Looking over the elevations and plans with Wright, Kaufmann proved the old man's equal in coolness.
With characteristic aplomb, Wright made no effort to disguise the peculiar fact that the house as he designed it was the one place from which it would be impossible to gain a glimpse of the waterfall. On the contrary, he emphasised the peculiarity, saying, "E.J., I want you to live with the waterfall, not just to look at it"
 -- Brendan Gill, Many Masks: A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright, 1987

   One other nice thing about Wright: he did not let only his work speak for him. Here, he talks about his perceptions of... well, pretty much everything. I am not in favour of every sentiment expressed, but an affirming screed that regards creativity, knowledge and Nature as our reasons for being? Hell yes:

Royal Show

George Tupou V, King of Tonga. Ever think that spats could be appealing again? This is your movement's new frontman! 

See the photographs from his coronation; classical statesman style in action

Princes Charles and William, accompanied by their wives, present for last night's festivities in black tie. And whilst Charles is always the leader, particularly in this milieu, such a potentially enduring image of a famous father and son pairing is all that really matters here

Friday, 29 April 2011

Sarah and Catherine

   My celebrations for today's Royal Wedding, which was indeed less moving though more stirring than I expected, were mostly horizontal. This is a common occurrence when one lives rather close to a 24-hour convenience shop, I candidly admit


   Having spent the past month fielding a number of personal questions regarding the most famous nuptials on the planet since, I don't know, Michael and Lisa Marie (though I regretfully think William and Kate will not be making high comedy out of a Nightline appearance any time soon), I was prepared to affect a vaster-than-usual emotional distance from the spectacle, pomp and grandeur - diminished since 1981's Big Day, naturellement - but seeing Sarah Burton's virtuosity at play on the former Catherine Middleton's body (oooh, matron!) has fired up the prolix machine that is Mode Parade just to say, "Damn good job, woman." Between this prestigious commission and her appointment as creative director of Alexander McQueen last year after its namesake founder's unfortunate existence failure, her position in couture history may now be ironclad

Burton is pictured on the left, via Creative Minds

   Firstly, the dress is of a fittingly demure characteristic; the better to complement the decorum of the occasion and how very pretty the new Duchess of Cambridge is. Secondly, despite the archaic medieval aesthetic it seems to identify with, it is gratifyingly stylish in an intelligent way: aware, rather than subsumed by, tradition yet open. I remember when Jigsaw tended towards "cool," so it is difficult to watch a former employee circling the public eye whilst dressed as a woman ten years older with a penchant for purchases from the clothes shops of Tunbridge Wells. Thirdly, it is a balancing act, like all clever dressing is; the plunging 'V' juxtaposed to the elegant sweep of the train and the graceful embroidery on top of the pellucid lace says "I'm a blushing bride on the happiest day of my life, but this might be easier to remove than you might think, dear husband"

   Naturally, the collaboration does not end here; those of us who have already started pondering if Burton might become the Mainbocher to Kate's Royal Wife forebear, Mrs. Simpson, will be mustering additional words for the second and also rather tasteful dress the Duchess adorned for the rest of the festivities. William does indeed work fast:

Fuzzy dice for newly minted brides?

   "Damn good job" to both women, indeed. If editors, trend watchers and the middle classes the world over are very lucky, this could be the start of a beautiful something

The Mayfair Set - 'Junked' (2009)

Visit The Mayfair Set at their own little slice of Myspace

   I know little about this act, but very much expect to get to know them better in time. I think that this engaging drone-like rock ditty makes for a nice little gateway into this caliginous collaboration between the band's principals, Dee Dee and Mike Sniper. Listen

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Homme Couture

   Some talents deserve better words than one can give them. So sometimes, it's best to go with the reminiscence

   At the risk of producing the sort of lazy entry that is decried by exemplars like ADG and Gaye, I cannot find any better words to proffer on today's subject, the late menswear designer and shopkeeper Roland Meledandri, than those written by his daughter Nina on the Film Noir Buff forum in 2006 (and elsewhere):

My father started in men's clothing at a store called Casual Aire (I believe it was spelled with an "e") where he met my uncle; Joseph Levine.  Together they started Men's Town and Country (which was in the 50's, I think on 3rd Ave; the shot of Marilyn Monroe over the subway grate with her skirt blowing up was in front of the store).  My father left there to start R. Meledandri Inc. at 74 East 56th St. (early '60's); a full service men's retail establishment with a custom tailoring department.  Most of his merchandise was made in Italy and my father (and mother) used to go to the factories where he would have input into the designs made specifically for him.  I would risk saying that in reaction to the prevailing "Brooks Brothers" sensibility he was responsible for bringing elegance and flair back into American men's fashion; he widened lapels, raised the armholes, nipped the waist and flared the skirt.  He brought both the influence of Italian tailoring and the British hacking jacket into his designs.  Cuffs, collars and ties also went wide, and he introduced a range of colors and textures that were previously unavailable to the American male.

Of course anyone with an artistic eye and a flair for clothes would be attracted to the "Meledandri" look and his clientele included fashion photographers, advertising directors, etc; the people who dictate what the world sees when it comes to style.  He was also an extremely charismatic person, when I was photographing his friends and clients, so many of them referred to him as "one of my closest friends".  As I said earlier, his store became a kind of salon, a hang out and one his name synonymous with elegance and success (as when the phrase "the men in their Meledandri suits" was used to describe a certain sector of hip NY in the book "Edie")

Over the years he also developed a wholesale division and had departments at both Barney's and Bloomingdales as well as other fine department stores across the country.  But he was primarily known for the exquisite design and quality of his custom tailoring department.  When he died from a massive and sudden heart attack in 1980 at 51 (quite unexpected as he was extremely fit, a runner and watching his heart) he was in the process of closing "R. Meledandri Inc." and had finally run the first sale in the history of the store.  He was a man of impeccable taste, an artist who expressed his vision through clothes.

   Meledandri was a marvel; a designer with an exacting eye for quality who is still remembered in certain circles for offering some of New York's finest tailoring. He was one of the last 20th Century Stylistics; a sobriquet that sounds hollow rather than sonorous in typical Barimanastic fashion, I suppose, until one tries to think very hard about how many subsequent menswear figures successfully hewed and crafted a diverse, piercing aesthetic vision to direct the way things might evolve or expand (Hedi Slimane, whose feeling for romantic, energetic rebellion, sense of baroque theatre and sensibility for emaciated, speed-fuelled, spoiled rent boys, is thus far the only sensible suggestion for this century's most interesting game-changer)

   Of course, menswear proceeds from the details and Meledandri was no different to his other interesting contemporaries, nor even the couturier talents to whom he may be seen, in some ways, as a counterpart (recall that the defining moments of latter-day womenswear creativity sprang from the oft calmly-dressed likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga). His deft switches between his intricate confluence of great fit, expressive fabric patterns and painstaking details to a still expressive, yet more tempered mode that insinuated rather than announced itself made him friendly to those who wanted to play Quiet Assassin rather than Otherworldly Rock Star. Fitting, then, that when Roy Scheider portrayed Dustin Hoffman's Quietly Assassinated sibling in 1976's classic Marathon Man, it was Meledandri - once again sticking the knife in the grey flannel suited man he nevertheless appreciated - who ensured his corpse was good looking:

 That red sculpture in the background is named Double Ascension, by artist Herbert Bayer, and you'll find it at the Arco Plaza (now known as City National Plaza) at 555 S. Flower Street, in downtown L.A. That's in the plaza between the two towers, off the west side of Flower Street (between 5th & 6th streets) 

   Meledandri's name was brought up in my recent meeting with Edward Sexton as I intend to frame part of the resultant piece around the idea of a vanguard at the Peacock Revolution's heart. For if there was an American flavour to the clothing confections that period saw in, Sexton agreed that much of that came from Meledandri's own peculiar creativity. No matter the visceral reaction the fabric surely engenders, I'd be impressed if a cogent argument against the cutting and styling could seriously be mustered; in my dreams, the nicest single breasted suits present a lot like this:

Like the coat further below, this 3 piece is still in the possession of Nina. They were created for The Coty's, the men's fashion awards, in the 1970s

   Sexton is becoming known for a personal credo of "romancing" the suiting one wears - be not afraid to think out the details, balance the elements and display a palpable pride in wearing clothes of distinction and tailored grace. In other words, be one's true personal stylist, for it will always be appreciated, particularly by the wearer. Dressing to enjoy life is a free action; the stealth wealthy and the reactionary class get to bitch about it because they just don't know how to smile. Meledandri makes me smile; there's the requisite foolhardiness (up, middle finger!) in donning his most extreme stuff, but if one's in such pieces, one surely knows they're in a certain company; not only the communal kind that Nina describes below, but also the kind who lived in the same world as everyone else, though not wholly interested in seeing it in the same way:

salon: the store was often thought of that way, it was definitely a gathering place, especially on Saturday afternoons and it tended to attract people connected with the movie & advertising industries (which overlapped quite a bit anyway since many art directors and photographers of that time eventually went into film).  many of the people who hung out at the store would convene later at Elaine's.  at some point i will try to post the list i was working from for my book but since that was pre-digital, it will take some time.  off the top of my head, some of the people i photographed were (in no particular order): Dan Melnick, Billy Dee Williams, Mayor John Lindsay, Richard Benjamin, Richard Meier, George Lois, Noel Behn, Carmen Capalbo, George Segal, Joel Schumacher, David Susskind, Art Kane, Steve Horn, David Z. Goodman.

my memories: well, i certainly don't have an adult perspective, the time i spent in the store was mostly during high school but i did spend a lot of time there.  it was a very comfortable place for me which is a bit surprising since i was an extremely shy kid and it was such a social environment.  i think what attracted me to it was that my father was so in his element there, he really had an incredible sense of style and here he was surrounded by people who not only appreciated his clothes but relied on his eye.  in some ways his interaction with his clients was like a performance, not that it was contrived or in any way disingenuous  but in the sense that it drew you in, watching him oversee a fitting and then accessorize the suit seemed like magic to me

designer/tailor: it is true that my father was a designer not a tailor nor did he have any training in that craft. but he intuitively understood clothing and what made a successful garment.  he could look at a pattern and know what was wrong with it and he was a total perfectionist when it came to the finished product, something that i think was particularly important to his clientele.  his expression manifested itself not only in the style and fit of his clothes (the proportions) but also in his choice and combinations of colors and textures.

photos: when i get to packing that box, i will try photographing the prints, again none of this is digitalized and unfortunately nobody was wearing his clothes for the photos i took (i didn't start the project until a few years after he died).  also i will try to shoot some of the press clippings that i have
 A sampling of Meledandri's pocket squares
it is actually easier for me to answer questions or comment on things raised here, since my recollections are going to run the gambit of (somewhat) objective to highly subjective.

one (possibly) little known fact: my father loved shoes and could not refrain from buying them for the store even though he always lost money on them.  he would often say of a shoe that it was "so ugly it was beautiful".(Author's note: I have seen some of his shoes. And if ever I want to recreate my primary school uniform, i will definitely scour the earth for a pair)
   So here's to Roland Meledandri. And here's to ugly beauty; the kind one should not only admire, but also the kind one works to appreciate and  should eventually, actively revel in. Because as every good and bad aesthete knows, it's definitely the fun kind


Wednesday, 20 April 2011


1 February 1946 – 19 April 2011
   I sincerely doubt that there is a single soul amongst the Doctor Who fandom that did not like Elisabeth Sladen, even to varying degrees, nor is there one who is not at least disappointed that she is gone so suddenly, in the midst of a renewed career and popularity, no less. No wonder she was brought back so often in the revived series and made the headliner of her own show; she made rapport look simple and easy. It must be said, the cancer has so much to answer for

   I think it was that simple-yet-complex, intrinsic quality of hers that made her more or less the most popular of the series' "classic" companions; her character Sarah Jane Smith partnered the John Pertwee and Tom Baker incarnations of the Doctor and along with her brief appearances alongside the Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison versions, her enduring appeal - an appealing merger of sass, intuition, enthusiasm, chemistry and independence - ensured an iconic standard was made. Her first guest appearance alongside David Tennant's Doctor in 2006 could have been done by few other previous Who companions, really - when one has lived down an increasingly absurd selection of clear practical jokes played by the BBC's 1970s wardrobe department  (who wants to look back on their (at the time) final appearance and note how Andy Pandy-like their outfit is?) and remained a fandom star, then there's no doubting the welcome impact of a brief reprise

   Sladen was in the midst of capturing a new audience of once and future Whofen with as the headliner of spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, where her ability to sync with any and all co-stars remained appreciable; she was reunited with fellow 1970s Who staple Nicholas Courtney (whose aborted Mode Parade posthumous tribute this past February would have been entitled "Five Rounds Rapid", probably. Sorry, Brigadier) and most memorably performed alongside the current - and for my money, most enjoyable modern - Doctor, Matt Smith, and her predecessor as Pertwee's girl, Katy Manning, late last year. She also made her ongoing teamup with her much younger co-stars, Tommy Knight, Yasmin Page, Daniel Langer and Anjli Mohindra, seem like the most natural companions a middle aged weird happenings fighter should want to surround herself with

   To quote your sadly (and ironically) apposite final story's title, "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith." I should think it's going to be very hard to forget you now

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Karaoke Shippai

   With my own personal Leather Lust Objects on my feet, a body in mod's clothing, a spring in my step and a song in my heart, I decided to go forth and take the microphone. No, there's no surviving audio - what do you take me for, a Guantanamo Bay interrogator?

   The object lesson of the night was to keep me away from hits that require an upper register, though one cannot discount my comedic falsetto when performing Timberlake standards. Basically, 'Paint it Black', 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' and 'Johnny B. Goode' are serviceable. 'Simply The Best' and anything sung by Axl Rose are not. Unfortunately

   I even found a little moment to do my dance - this must have been during 'Like A Prayer':

   And then it was over

   Postscriptum: Jacket sleeves and sides adjusted by Graham Browne Tailors

Monday, 18 April 2011

Shiina Ringo - 'Supika' (2002)

   I've been intending to introduce the music of Shiina Ringo to Mode Parade through a review of her extensive body of work; the nous and attention required to do so has unfortunately eluded me over the past few years. Suffice to say, nothing is new there, oh semi-regular readers

   So, to impel myself into some form of action, I offer up one of my favourites from her salad days; a cover of a comparatively conventional ditty by fellow Japanese rockers Spitz. This makes for a rather nice gateway to her 'Ringo Catalogue;' present and correct are the slightly woozy production tics and offbeat use of low-end that she likes, her soft-to-aggressive-and-back-again delivery, a distinctly feminine maturity - which I stress because most other Japanese female pop singers I'm enamoured of trade in a particularly kittenish or innocently/knowingly kawaii sensibility - and her ability to create some rather pretty melodies out of what would otherwise be construed as blithe and abrasive sonic chaos

   Even though she is not the song's writer (fun fact: the title, which I prefer to spell as 'Supika,' but is also (more) acceptable as 'Spica,' refers to the 15th brightest star of the night sky) Ringo Shiina is one of those disgustingly Machiavellian Japanese musical types that can do any and everything her way, which resulted in her becoming one of her country's most successful popular stars despite trading for a time in music that grew increasingly dense, baroque, fractured and foreboding to the extent that her third album, whose title contains the word "semen," was considered a commercial failure for falling under the million sold barrier, unlike her previous output. One would not be too surprised to learn she has some obsessive tendencies; that same album is also notable for a rigorous symmetrical arrangement that determined the order of her lyrics, the number of letters in song titles and the running order of the album itself

   She's quite a talent, really

MP3 here

With this hill road soon to come to a peak, so too are the ridiculous lies about to vanish
When I picture my favorite season on its way
With a beautiful cord at just the right time, I’m about to reach staggering heights
Longing for us to touch each other beyond words, I’ll push my way on to you

These painful palpitations rush out like powder
Just for now, I’ll look right at you and won’t run away
On a random serious night, why is it that I’m about to cry
Even as happiness gets interrupted it’s continuing on

If even a stray monkey can be in a good mood, then even an unchanging tomorrow is laughable
When I turn to look back, it was in a kind-seeming era starved of kindness

The beginning of a dream still has a bit of a sweet taste
Shouldn’t you carry the broken pieces you have in your hands?
The ancient starlight illuminates us – there was nothing in the whole world except for that

If I were to entrust the scraps of my heart to the flowing clouds in the southbound wind, I would follow...

These painful palpitations rush out like powder
Just for now, I’ll look right at you and won’t run away
On a random serious night, why is it that I’m about to cry
Even as happiness gets interrupted it’s continuing on – it’s continuing on

Leather Lust Object No.9

A crocodile skin luggage set by Bijan. "Reassuringly expensive" and suitable for all those "overnight adventures" one gets up to away from the bedroom

Sunday, 17 April 2011

An Expensive Existence Failure

   Through StyleForvm this morning, I have learnt that we now have yet another Fabulous Dead Person to memorialise. Petkanas, I'm counting on you

Bijan Pakzad, 4 April 1944 – 16 April 2011

With my ego, I would have been successful anyplace, but America gave me the opportunity to show my taste
   Despite my raft of accidental globe trotting, I've never gotten around to visiting Beverly Hills, but between clever marketing, the world press and two seasoned Earth travellers whom I call "Mum and Dad," I had a wisp of an awareness about this alluring brand Bijan and how it filled the closets of the great, the good and primarily, the wealthy. Naturally, it was his range of scents - always one of the easier ways to integrate a designer's name into one's possessions - and that striking, almost graffiti-like logo that made a lasting visual impression on me; an indelible link to the glitterati of the planet might also have had something to do with that

   'The Persian Master of Fashion' - and a proud one at that, steadfast to his Iranian roots to the last, which is even borne out by the music on his website - was known for his 'appointment only' visitor's hours; highly appropriate, given that he had custody of "the most expensive store in the world," grown through his charm, good fortune, entrepreneurial nous (apparently genetic; his family was staunchly self-made) and dogged industriousness. He dressed a list of men so illustrious that they have been typed out and published in better obituaries than this one, as well as in his Wikipedia entry (his son Nicolas stated that he dressed over 40,000 clients, including all five living American Presidents). He was exceedingly fond of the colour yellow - good for him, me and you. And he loved his automobilia, did this one - every single write-up will probably mention how he enjoyed parking the jewels of his four wheeled fleet outside his store before attending to the whims and wants of those who came a'calling

   His signature flair for design splendour was hardly confined to clothes and fine living, and in the late 1980s, he sought a more luxurious way to fire bullets, achieving it with a Colt revolver made from gold. But then when of his most perceptible traits was how greatly he loved his work; you can see it in every twinkly eyed portrait taken to show that this brand had a face and it was that of a kindly, charismatic, expensive Iranian who would transform one from schlub to film star for the price of the average home and make it feel worthwhile. But back to the handgun:

The gun had a leather handgrip fashioned for a .38-cal. Colt revolver; inlaid in the cylinder was 56 grams of 24-karat gold. The revolver was placed in a mink pouch in a Baccarat crystal case embossed with the customer's name. Bijan's own signature is engraved in gold on the barrel of the gun. Only 200 such guns were made. In 2005, one of these guns sold to Jacob Nahamia at Christie's auction house for over $50,000 USD.

   The Bijan brand will endure, of course - it is a family enterprise - but naturally, the stewardship will be different and perhaps a little less aureate. So to conclude, I think it's only polite that I highlight an ethos worth sharing in:

The world said to conform, the world said to settle for less, the world said to compromise and no one would know... so I made my own world

   Godspeed, Mr. Bijan

Friday, 15 April 2011

Let's Go Airside

   I am enjoying being back in London, which is a pleasing, if stark, contrast to my feelings about this much vaunted metropolis when I left. I think that amongst the varied vagaries of my life that impelled me to take a working sabbatical from the place was that I was then losing my ability to see what it has to offer. I might be over it now, for I am taking rare pleasure in its foibles again: it still holds the most charming of Georgian architecture, the most reticent of heterosexual dancefloor patrons and the most pellucid and brief of summer dresses

   I have subsequently lowered my resistance to a number of things since my return. I have performed at karaoke on two separate large nights out in the past week alone. I visited Graham Browne Tailors for alterations. I stumbled across a group of 'bladers outside the National Gallery, performing deftly along a line of twenty overturned plastic cups no more than 3 feet apart, and resisted the urge to yell "The hardest part of rollerblading is telling your parents that you're gay!" (an old joke; one not easily forgotten). I even mustered up the urge to observe a controversy response first hand by visiting the John Snow pub in Soho earlier this evening to see what would become of the homosexual group kiss-in that was being performed in support of the two amorous young fellows who were ejected from the premises on Wednesday. My tweets say it all; I really had no idea that gay men - on their primary London stomping grounds, no less - could make a mass gathering so boring that I had to turn to micro-blogging about it and then became careless over my own spelling

   Being back has also inspired me to experiment a little. Given how the previous paragraph ended, I am sure I know what you are thinking, but no; I am actually talking about t-shirts:

   Although I don't plan to make a habit of this, I have held this design in high esteem for a few years. As a student, I became enamoured of the annual Airside T-Shirt Club, due to a fondness for its rotating cast of media designers - Cozyndan, James Jarvis, Pete Fowler, Laurent Fetis - and its singular constant, Airside co-founder Fred Deakin, whose excellent downtempo band Lemon Jelly was interviewed by me in 2002. So I joined for the 2004 run; I'm pleased to say that it was a banner year and I still retain each piece, including the above design by Deakin himself. And in a funny full circle-manner - where this post is concerned - I was actually living in Ghana that year, too

   Airside's shop can be found here. Normal flamboyance will resume with the next outfit post

Thursday, 14 April 2011


   Why don't they make stars like Esther Williams any more? And no, I do not refer to the sensuous and slightly sonorous voice behind the funk nugget 'Last Night Changed It All', although she, too, is worthy of appreciation

   Known as the "Million Dollar Mermaid" at MGM after the 1952 film she starred in, Williams made a great many films under the studio's aegis, amongst which was Ziegfeld Follies. I recall watching it as a small and entranced child who was as far from being the world's keenest swimfan as Josef Fritzl is from being a humanist; the enrapturing aspects of those beatific, synchronised sequences nevertheless left quite the  impression. This was a special time; a time I refer to as "My First Impression of Wet Women"

   YouTube naturally has a myriad video range of her work (I recommend this embedding-unfriendly profile from That's Entertainment) and whilst much of it seems genteel and quaint, there is always a particular dignity, physical grace and acute professionalism in her movements - par for the course in Cinema's Golden Age, of course. But then, I've often been accused of preferring to look too closely at nice forms:

Sunday, 10 April 2011


June 25, 1924 – April 9, 2011

   I think that mustering up an effective eulogy to Sidney Lumet is a touch beyond me today. I have hardly watched each of his films, but I am certainly a little versed in those the world considered the greats; the most recent dip into his back catalogue being The Verdict (one can tell my addiction to Turner Classic Movies/TCM has been nearing a plateau, of late). Because of this, I can also spare us all the ramble involving the various ways in which The Wiz scarred me for life (consider the Wicked Witch's melting scene - my God, for something so cartoony, it seems so... visceral, like Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, perhaps. And no three year old Michael Jackson fan wishes to see his idol torn apart - what would Freud say?). Besides, I think he actually came aboard that project because he wanted to sleep with Diana Ross

   One of the best things about Lumet's work is that in an increasingly cynical existence referred to as "life," his rich seam of humanist work has embedded itself so deeply in the culture that there is practically a quotable for every film he shot. Consider:

"Attica! Attica!"
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
"Drop your cocks and grab your socks!"

   (I may be reaching with that last one)

   The past decade has seen a number of our leading lights of the creative arts pass on; this year has seen more than I would care to name, in fact. And as far as I can discern, it seems to be quite the struggle to replenish the sorts of technical qualities and insights into human behaviour that talents like Lumet offered. But then, that's what iconic status means to me - a capacity to achieve or to symbolise achievement so that others may observe, learn, admire and wish it was them about to galvanise the careers of several gossip columnists by indulging in behaviour most indelicate at the celebrity festooned after party of a major awards event

   Farewell, Mr. Lumet. And for the record, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network were my other favourites. I like your actors when they shout

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Leather Lust Object No.8

Filofax Ostrich Leather Agenda

Friday, 8 April 2011

MGMT - 'Brian Eno' (Cornelius Remix, 2010)

   An unexpected delight tonight was discovering that one of my dearest musical icons had taken on this "vampire punk rock song" by the well-known, noisily tuneful combo last year, for if there's one thing that Keigo Oyamada does peerlessly, it's recombinant mutant pop music that makes hipsters say "Oh!", bloggers say "Wow!" and cats say "Meow!"

   Who knows what invigorating effect a little MGMT has had on Cornelius, but this is his most offbeat remix in quite some time; the sort of à rebours slip into hummable oddity that was last embraced on his remake of Bloc Party's 'Banquet' (and interesting how this paean to the pioneer that has doubtlessly influenced Cornelius and MGMT sounds not entirely dissimilar to the (paid for) paean to Oyamada himself written by Japanophile sonic oddity Momus). In a funny way, this might almost sum up his career, for as a man of consummate kitsch and a connoisseur/player of practically every musical genre created, it is both old  and new for him to embrace that favoured instrument of Dracula's most entrenched pop cultural representation, the harpsichord. A cheeky reading of MGMT's bloodsucker intentions, perhaps, but whatever brings out Oyamada's intrinsic whimsy is good for us all, much like Emma Stone is. Were I angling for a role in music PR, I might describe its frenetically beatless qualities as akin to "skipping on air," but I am seeking to engage, not to scar my semi-regular readers for life; I can do that with my outfit photographs on any other day

   I was in need indeed of a new song with which to see in this season's sunsets; not only do I have that now, but it even doubles as a happy little ditty to imagine playing Transylvanian Families to. That Cornelius: always thoughtful, forever delivering

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Shine One On

Elegant slubbing, courtesy of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

   For one shining moment last year, I owned a light grey slubbed Shantung silk suit for spring and summer; as is customary in my collection, it was double breasted, Roman made, from the 1980s (the period most associated in my mind with the Suits With Runs Look) and formerly owned by my father. And then "formerly" became "presently," so I wait for either old age or senility to make it mine once again. "This kind of suit, my son," he intoned, "is not yet for you." I don't think this was said because he perceives a lack of gravitas in my make-up; I think he just remembered that it still fits him. And unlike him, my arms are long enough for my fingertips to graze my knees, so there is that...

   I believe that each summer suiting choice, particularly Dupioni and Shantung silk, mohair and cotton, is a beautiful and unique snowflake; a catholicon to all that may feel particularly rote and lifeless about warm wools. Silks have a galvanising aspect when tailored, imputing colours with texture and hypnotic iridescence at their most beautiful (Shantung being the more flamboyant, slubbier and occasionally rougher take compared to Dupioni); mohair distinguishes itself with its sheen, crispness, lightness of wearing and valuable versatility (particularly the ones that look slightly pearlescent in various lights - see also this excellent article by good pal Winston C);  cotton and its endearingly wrinkly aspects create the most relaxed tailoring of all. I, like others, also recognise the considerable charm of linen, the most rumpled of all, and its warm weather boons to even the heavy sweaters amongst us all. But I am ultimately a texture addict, not to mention one who often, like Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, dresses like "an explosion in a rainbow factory;" this is a tendency that silk clothing enables very, very easily and is the exact reason I plan to acquire a new (or new-old) one of my own when fortune and funds permit. Mohair is my second choice and I have recently viewed a number of vintage Savile Row examples that might still be mine if anything can be done about the sleeves (I'd also enjoy seeing some from China). It is to marvel at the unique fabric designs that the 1960s and 1970s produced for summerwear

Two examples that may possibly be silk-blends (or just shiny), courtesy of Robert De Niro's character Sam "Ace" Rothstein in the undeniably excellent Casino. Note the iconic Ultra Goliath eyeframes

   When I commented on Roger Moore's Cyril Castle-created Dupioni suit at The Suits of James Bond today, I initially considered that I wanted a very light grey version for myself (steel blue, light or rust brown, burgundy, forest green and off white also loom large), since that sort of icy look is quite the head-turner on very bright days. I have never thought such a colour to really suit me, despite owning a patch pocketed version in ramie from good old Junya Watanabe that I love, but in a slightly shinier form, my mind's eye makes it look rather becoming. It can also handle many accessory colourings and with my skin tone, a Mr. Fish-inspired presentation of a matching white or bone-coloured shirt and necktie feels more than possible. A silk trifecta formed from the three main ensemble components also seems ridiculously appealing

Moore's first 007 Dupioni number, dark grey and double breasted, as seen in Live and Let Die, via The Suits of James Bond

   Of course, it is worth recalling that lightweight silks are vulnerable to stains, crotch rot and the accidental snags caused by the fingers and rings of an amorous partner, so those who are also tempted may wish to blend. Wool, linen, cashmere and cotton mixes, as well as heavier silks have much to offer; they can sacrifice some of the breathability, but done well, style always remains

 The Modern Jazz Quartet in mohair suits for The Cocktail Age

   London is bright again. Let's shine one on for the summer

Prince Charles in Dupioni silk suiting

Monday, 4 April 2011

Leadbelly - 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' (1944)

For the record, I'm unfamiliar with the Kurt Cobain-sung cover. I just had a rather bluesy weekend