Showing posts with label geekery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label geekery. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 August 2010


The Out Group - 18th July 1967

Back Row: Tom Maschler, David Benedictus, Nicholas Tomalin

Centre: Cathy McGowan, Jonathan Aitken, Tom Hustler

Front Row: Christopher Gibbs and Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon

   Revisiting the theme of Luminaries United, this counterpart portrait to The In Group was also commissioned by Jocelyn Stevens, then the publisher of Queen Magazine, to take place on 18th July 1967

   Don't be fooled by the veneer of respectability this photograph uses to juxtapose itself with its sibling: former Conservative MP Mr. Aitken, for one, is not known for his aversion to a little indelicacy. One should also take note of Chelsea Set leader, designer and dandy, Christopher Gibbs - we have him to thank for giving velvet ties their moment under the club lights

   It's been said that Lord Lichfield's gift lay in eliciting an air of relaxation from his subjects (and let it also be said that his gift was certainly not in lending his name to transient menswear brands). Nowhere, I feel, is this more aparent than in his group portraiture and his more candid work at country piles, Hollywood homes and ambassadorial residences

   But as I said, he had a way with the human reaction. One only has to observe the subjects in this Studio-set shot to notice that

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

My Impeccable Sense of Haute Couture

   So, the livery of Britain's Favourite Alien©; almost always of a kind that is definably oddball, outward and outré

   Informing today's title are the early words of the seventh incarnation of the Doctor, as embodied by the peculiar showman's élan and mobile visage of Sylvester McCoy. The character's current, eleventh persona has deftly created warring camps with his attire - "Bow ties are cool" is the diktat from his  recent debut episode itself - yet I've perennially found myself on the side of the 1987-9 model, not only for his meddlesome, obfuscatory, warm and ruthless persona but his offbeat formality. Such whimsy, a lasting influence? And yet an evaluation of the hero of a world-recognised adventure series from a sartorial standpoint could not be more germane to this column's mandate

   Forgiving the branding-motivated question marked apparel - although, that said, it is quite the endearing personalised umbrella - McCoy's costume is cleverer than received wisdom would have it. Hewn closely to the producers' conception of an appearance thought of as normal from afar and stranger under scrutiny,  I'll restrict myself to 1989's brown jacket model over the more familiar cream. It was to represent the devious and darker undertones of the character's progression; in practice, it veers the outfit's previous spring associations towards the autumnal and better melds its elements together, muting the fair isle-inspired vest and picking out the brown tones of the rather classical correspondent shoes. And the jacket is better cut, to boot, tightening up the well considered silhouette of proportioned garments and full cut trousers that assist in exuding the comfort and theatricality of McCoy's character. A sort of playful John Steed, perhaps

   There is a confluence of designs that allows much to be gotten away with; a veritable rainbow of colour alongside a cornucopia of pattern. That the most obtrusive component remains the lurid, questionably designed, as opposed to questionably hued, question mark vest - disdained by the actor to the extent that he once tried to arrange its absence for an entire serial - is a testament to paying attention to an era of considered combinations (the 1930s) in an era of neon excess (the 1980s). Strip the outfit down a tad and one would be golfing in St. Andrew's 70 years ago. This is also cogent to its wearer; McCoy beat David Tennant to becoming the first Scottish Doctor, behind the scenes and in front of the camera, sporting plaid, tartan and paisley and deploying his own accent throughout his tenure. Thus far, this remains the only portrayal in which the Doctor was definably not the model of a very English alien

   The accessorising similarly straddles the line of over-application. A paisley scarf under the lapels is perhaps the height of stylish scarf use and a segment of today's Italian dressers favour such an adornment in the pockets of their coats these days, or is that merely Lino Ieluzzi? Then there is the manner in which McCoy's fob chain was pinned to his lapel, which strikes me as a somewhat patrician affectation and is certainly my preference for its more statement-based positioning over the more familiar waistcoat placement. Finally, McCoy is inarguably a hat person, to the extent that the incongruity of a straw with a self-tied band - achievable with a pocket square - accompanying cooler weather wear simply merits my admiration

   Such a mix is certainly not for the undexterous, which makes it rather iconic as a presentation for a physical performer of McCoy's abilities. If not for this concept, this ensemble may never have come about. For lessons learned, it speaks for itself

   Inspiring, but not as one would expect

Saturday, 23 January 2010

In Their Element

The In Group – 18th July 1967

Back Row: Susannah York, Peter S. Cook, Tom Courtenay, Twiggy

Centre: Joe Orton, Michael Fish

Front Row: Miranda Chiu, Lucy Fleming

   I’ve felt like sharing this Patrick Lichfield-shot image for a while; it’s been a favourite since a collection of Swinging London photographs passed through my field of browsing vision some time in the distant past. I certainly think this mixture of languor, exclusivity and energy ranks with his airily bohemian portrait of Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh two years later, even allowing for their compositional differences

   It also seems to be the only reference for what the man who devised the kipper tie and the wardrobes of Terence Stamp in Modesty Blaise, Jon Pertwee in Doctor Who and Peter Sellers in There’s a Girl in My Soup, Michael Fish, looked like, never mind anything more recent. Surrounded by other luminaries of his scene and taking centre stage in clothing of his own design, one can discern the flair and the garrulousness that made him and his work a desirable commodity; the latter still is, if I have anything to say about it

   The online provenance of this image lies with Shana Ting Lipton; her mother, Miranda Chiu, is seated by Fish’s right knee. Ms. Lipton, an international pop culture and travel writer/editor/journalist and cultural researcher/strategist with an incisive worldview and an exceedingly interesting website, is ostensibly who I want to be when I grow up. My world could certainly use more of her like

   In terms of appearances, there’s certainly a marked difference between this clan of memorable tastemakers and the brand name/High Street scruff of today’s Hot Young Things in an identikit photoshoot. It’s all in the elements

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Cravat Post (and Other Knick Knacks)

   Prompted by a couple of comments on StyleForvm regarding cravat use amongst the young (the most specific being "How can I wear an ascot and not look gay kthxbye?"), I have taken upon myself to investigate this Scoobariffic mystery

   I'll begin by informing you that you're likely screwed if you wear them as ultra traditionally as possible, unless you are genuinely in costume or ridiculously full of elan. I own 3 and only trust myself to wear them to either a wedding, in character at a party or without a standard suit jacket/blazer/odd jacket, unless it's a three piece suit and a cravat that's sized more like a scarf

   Call me a sentimental young fogey, but I rather think the morning suit cravat holds up very well. I wore it as a groomsman last year, yet not only had I no say in the outfit (aside from relatively accurate fit), but when I arrived wearing the lilac cravat in a traditional manner with a pearl tie-pin, the rest of the four-in-hand cravat-sporting wedding party physically attempted to rearrange it whilst I was still wearing it. Good times

Via the New York Times , this J.C. Leyendecker look encapsulates elegance through illustrative prowess

Judy and Fred during the final scenes of Easter Parade, from a Telegraph featurette 

   But you want to know about less occasional and more down to earth usage. So make it casual. You need to refer to Apparel Arts/Esky and the Duke of Windsor on this one, and even if you are young, let Will at A Suitable Wardrobe guide you along the way (he also has the most comprehensive collection of Apparel Arts images in the menswear sphere)

   Instead of a regular cut jacket, try something a touch offbeat (I don't like reusing shots, so the link is necessary) or something more relaxed and informal like a cardigan (Will favours a safari-styled shirt jacket - colonial, yet still uncommon enough to be interesting). Or just get them in a particularly eyecatching size, tune up the nonchalance and colour match with extreme prejudice:

The DoW treats it as just another part of the ensemble by harmonising it with the rest of the outfit. Bold, bright and relaxed

   What I'm also driving at is using scarves instead. You get the combination of flash and practicality without the self consciousness. Some of you may remember this one:

   This would also look rather clean and somewhat exuberant with a waistcoat, either as part of a suit or a more informal ensemble - there's something of the lounge lizard about it. It's also rather enjoyable with a v-neck:

   You should also have noted by now that rather than the standard references of Lord Byron or early 20th century motorists, I'm actually interpreting something of a mariner look, which is far less overexposed and flouncy and much more enjoyable since it doesn't need to be worked at or overstated. Think also to the peacoats-and-flat-caps casual styles of the young Paul Newman but with decorative neckwear

   For those of you who don't want too much material but enjoy the look nonetheless, well, there's always a neckerchief; leaving the ends out is standard, though one can also sport them tucked in like so:

   For the upcoming seasonal change, look to the new collection of a certain Japanese designer whose name, I'm finding, is becoming rather redundant to type. You probably know who I'm referring to by now, and he's tackled this gilded age look with utter aplomb and a clear idea of how to make it natural today.

   As befitting JW's "new feeling for basics," the proportions are executed rather similarly to my own silhouettes, generally mixing slim-but-not-tight upper halves with flowing trousers and structured looks that utilise shorts to avoid severity, alongside some well mannered quirks and enviable pattern mixing

   Observe that the neckwear is even worn with polo and short sleeved shirts and without jackets. A perfect way to bring these Esky looks back into focus:

JW CdG Man S/S10 images from A full review may appear after its release next month

   If you don't believe that you have a flair for the look, the solution is very simple - find someone with a flair for it and take inspiration. After that, the rest seems easy

   As for the neckerchief with suits-look, let me get back to you when I've made it happen for myself. Oooh, excitement

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Mad Men Myself

   I can see this little device doing more than a few rounds across the internet, so I'd suppose that I'm getting the hang of being "on trend" for once. The opportunity to insert myself between Joan and Peggy (oh, matron!) was too good to pass up, as was the option to reference my own eyeframed look. Even the bow ties hid themselves behind my avatar's shirt collars - is there nothing that this creation can't do; no facet of fantasy or reality that it will not capture? For when you reach its limits, you will indeed have discovered its tragic flaw - it doesn't get any better than this

   Ladies, I hope you, in particular, will enjoy this - I hear the program's collection of cocktail dresses and go go boots is truly to die for

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Outfit Digest - Variable Weather Response

   The heatwave had more than a good run earlier this month, but eventually, British Summer Time must maintain its reputation. So, it's all about varieties in suit, sportcoat and trouser weights, and a readily available umbrella, which was amusingly referred to as a "pimping stick" by an otherwise sultry Colombian girl on the bus, who had an anti-social - if droll - tendency to sing along to Spanish-language and r'n'b songs on her mobile

   Go Greens:

   Purple Rain and Anchorman Burgundy:

   New purchases include borrowed fake eyeglasses, green poly-cotton H&M sportcoat, burgundy H&M double breasted cardigan (with nods to Winston) and purple Aquascutum Ltd. by Nick Hart odd jacket, which was another lucky bargain second hand purchase. Beautifully moddish and slim cut, it should make quite a few rounds this autumn

   This has absolutely no new purchases contained within; it had been a while since I'd worn a suit, and a visiting friend from Shanghai, who wears them socially as well as formally (and also enlightened me with the history of my Aquascutum jacket), provided me with an excuse to do just that:

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Pop Culture Tick-Offs - 07/04/09

   Things that have not made me happy of late include the untimely death of Angel alumni Andy Hallett at 33 last week. It was a sad piece of news made even more surreal and sad because earlier in the day I viewed him during a rewatch of the final episode to feature series lynchpin Charisma Carpenter, in which she and David Boreanaz genuinely cried during their final scene together. But then the show was stuffed with the talents of professionals who loved and knew what they were doing, and it's an apt and special body of work that Mr Hallett has left behind him

   It's somewhat ridiculous, given the circumstances, to say that this next story left a bad taste in my mouth, but one of my favourite Japanese indie-pop stalwarts, Hideki Kaji, was beaten up in Sweden on a video shoot while dressed as a pineapple. Ridiculous, but rather uncool nonetheless. Here's a video of Mr Kaji dressed as a rotating head on a yellow background and note that this assault is driving up his video comments on YouTube

   And finally, I'm predictably unimpressed that House M.D. is now short one main cast member, if only because I'm sceptical that the show is going to do justice to the fallout. But the actor did a great job bouncing off the rest of the cast and I cannot wait for the next season (not that this season is done yet)


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

My Overthinking in Action

   A 'Styleography' interview I provided for my friend Fi last December shows just how deeply I'm in this whole style thing. Passes some time, I think