Thursday, 18 November 2010

Light Up the Night

   Any visitor to Hong Kong's shores will likely have taken in this extravaganza at least once and I did, too, arriving for the 8pm start in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre at Tsim Sha Tsui. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of my viewing inwardly laughing at the cod-Nintendo music - and given my fond ownership of various Nintendo soundtracks, that speaks volumes

   The actual thought behind A Symphony of Lights is cogent, I feel - almost every city looks better at night, particularly a gleaming metropolis like Hongkers that offers densely packed, almost foreboding skyscraping by day, but blossoms into luminescent, celebratory flamboyance by night. That the performances are heavy on symbolism speaks to a particularly national and cultural pride, and I certainly like that a city is not afraid to show itself off in such an expressive fashion. But oy, the music...

   Also, for what it's worth, I suspect that it's sponsored by Samsung

Monday, 15 November 2010


   Anyone seeking guidance in amassing elegant furniture, accoutrements and high-class baubles could do worse than look for inspiration in the recently auctioned former belongings of Ponzi schemer and convict Bernard L. Madoff and his wife Ruth

   Certainly, what I've seen of their blink-and-miss artwork selection speaks to the genteel preoccupations of the gilded rich and the overall aura of the pieces seem dismayingly restrained, but the 18th and 19th century home furnishings, along with gleefully cheeky outliers like the bull-shaped footstool in leather demonstrate that the "bad guys" almost always enjoy fine decor (and speaking of dismayingly restrained, it seemed rather obvious that Mr. Madoff sought to construct a quiet, serious and respectable identity, like other men of his tastes, out of Lobb, Charvet and Turnbull & Asser - and not with the subtle, ludic polish of an Ahmet Ertegun, either). The jewellery collection was, in my eyes, the clear highlight. I might have reacted emotionally to seeing the timepiece collection, in small part due to seeing a platinum Cartier Ronde Solo amongst the solid gold Patek Philippes, Piagets and Audemars-Piguets, and in large part due to dropping an iron on my foot whilst trying to read the interweb simultaneously. Ordinarily, I'm a great multitasker

   I only wish I could see the expensive bonfire that will be lit by the fellow whose $1,700 bought him a selection of Mr. Madoff's underwear - all because he wanted the socks. I'm not even sure many of them are silk. Maybe the Prada pantyhose was the true gem

Bubba Sparxxx - Deliverance (2003)

 I left off of mama's with my thumb in the wind
The leaves on the ground, winter's comin' again
Solid on the surface as I crumble within
But legends are made out of vulnerable men
So on the brink of death I still manage livin' life
'Cause so rarely in this world are these chances given twice
I indeed sold my soul, without glancing at the price
No instructions when I was handed this device
But with what I did get, I was more than generous
Put others over self on several instances
But I'm back on my feet without a hint of bitterness
And one way or another I shall have deliverance
So I say

   Another review that I wrote six years ago focused on the widely underappreciated sophomore cut from Southern boy and Timbaland alum, Bubba Sparxxx

   In 2003, Timbaland was perceived to have begun a decline in his creative and commercial prowess that would last until his recruitment of Nate 'Danja' Hills and their highly populist and propulsive creations for Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake in 2006. In truth, Timothy Moseley was as restlessly inventive as in previous years - when not mixing the clip-clops of horses with flamenco and updating  doo wop swing for an almost perfect r&b record that went unreleased - Simple Girl by Kiley Dean - he was interpolating and sampling recent hits into a country-slanted hip hop album that was as offbeat and contemplative as any Lee Hazlewood number 

   His MC friend wasn't half bad either:

    In which the best known of Timbaland's roster of underrated protégés hits back against the haters, the shamers and those who'd rather forget he ever existed. The essence of the album is Bubba's on-record character, more roundly developed and emotionally invested in than the previous record, with music and beats to match from Tim (with a little bit of Organized Noize to garnish). Importantly, Bubba's way with a rhyme and a microphone carry equal weight with Tim's surprising yet totally sensible bluegrass funk, country crunk, chase scene torch songs and ever excellent ass-shakers (Tim's diminished presence on the second half prevents this from being 2003's perfect hip hop album, but when on point, he's ever the hard act to follow - how the hell is 'Warrant' so confidently funky, mysterious and addictive when it's got barely no beats to speak of?)
   He's got a convincingly guilty conscience on 'She Tried', acts the good time party boy fool on 'Hootenanny' and the ultra-catchy top 10 single that never was, 'Comin' Round' (fiddles! synths! squealing tyres!), and he is straight up convincing about the New South signifier. I believe in Bubba when he's evoking a hard past that may or may not have been on 'Nowhere', because he's mastered the art of convincing soul-bearing on record. And when 'Nowhere', with it's last line of 'If I'm nowhere/let that nowhere/be nowhere near a worry' and the equally underrated Kiley Dean leading a lovely chorus of 'Cry Me A River' (what's done is done, eh, Bubba?), concludes its 5 mins plus of pure symphonic hip hop beauty, Bubba tells us there's nothing he can't Overcome and I hope he's right. Sooner or later, he deserves to have his Deliverance
Recommended tracks: Comin' Round, Nowhere, Warrant

Friday, 12 November 2010

Local Sampling

   In this outfit, I'm wearing a custom-made jacket and shirt combination that originates from here in Hong Kong. The jacket is a vintage late 1970s number; the shirt is far more recent and actually a light shade of orange linen. A number of the other pieces were probably manufactured here, also

   Something of a "When in Rome" ensemble, then

Le Temps de Cartier (1989)

  It takes a particular type of connoisseur, hobbyist or aesthete to procure a horological tome. So, I'm fortunate that my mother owns a copy; I'm not refined enough, nor in possession of a classic Cartier such as the Tortue or the Tank - both featuring from their Edwardian-era guises onward - to have obtained this alone

   In the terms I couch the word "luxury" in, rarity, creativity, fineness, exquisiteness  and beauty perennially loom large, which is why it's so edifying to delve into some of the delights that the house of Louis-François Cartier built. In the age of mass luxury, it is gratifying that maisons like Cartier and Hermès maintain not only their pedigree but their quality controls (as long as the recent stake in the latter taken by Bernard Arnault, chairman to LVMH, does not become too ineluctable, I suppose). Throughout the book, one sees the exhibition-worthy works produced for, or inspired by, gilded clients with influence and/or royal warrants such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (who was presented with the highly aureate Cartier Imperial Egg that now resides in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art), Alberto Santos-Dumont - whose need for aviation comfort, of course, influenced the creation of Santos, the first men's wristwatch - and King Farouk of Egypt, whose commissions tended to be sexually themed; apposite, of course, for a royal connoisseur of erotica and pornography

   But Giampiero Negretti, Jader Barracca and Franco Nencini, who authored the book, also elicit interest in their historical coverage from the reader, transcending the superficial gratuitousness of Timepiece Porn as they do. Of course, there are a great many double page spreads and money shots contained, for this is a history that stretches back deeply into elegant, diamond encrusted and monogrammed fobs with clever shutter mechanisms, utterly covetous platinum wristwatches, elaborate automatic calendars and the ne plus ultra accessorial decor of la Maison Cartier's pendules mystérieuse ("mystery clocks") - so named because the inner workings of those home, desk and travel clocks were concealed under the skilled artisinal artifice that makes such things desirable. Throughout the decades, Cartier's craftsmen would decorate these latter creations with carved jade, sculpted precious metals and artfully arranged jewels in intricate manners that oft drew on au courant themes in artistic movements - Egyptian, Oriental, Indian and animalistic motifs were all explored at one time or another

La Chimère (Chimera) pendule mystérieuse, 1926, comprised of substances such as topaz, agate, platinum

This pendule mystérieuse, dating from the early 1980s, is based on the original Buddhist temple-motif model circa the 1930s, which is featured in the publication

   Fundamentally, this is a social history of Cartier's horlogerie designs as they related to the whims of the market, the events of the passing days (the Viennese Secession, Art Deco, Modernism, World War II), its constant successes in jewellery creation and the exponential development of the firm itself, with the life and innovations of Louis Cartier - grandson of Louis-François - and the company as its foci. Those deeply involved in Louis's personal and professional orbit - his brothers, Jacques and Pierre, who operated and grew Cartier's businesses in London and New York, respectively; Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier's graceful, panther-obsessed Director of Fine Jewellery with an eye for gemmed and sculpted figural pieces based on creatures, as well as Louis's muse and love; Charles Jacqueau, the independent and ornately-minded legend of jewellery design; and Edmond Jaeger, whose legacy is contained not only within the famed Jaeger-LeCoultre firm of watchmakers but also in the exacting movements that he provided for Cartier during his exclusive 15 year-partnership with Louis. Working in such tandem, it would have been impossible not to have ensured Cartier's prepotency in its fields

   Covering the mid-to-late 19th century through to the establishing of Le Must de Cartier in 1973 after the company had passed from the hands of the family into a private group - today it is part of Richemont - the book concludes with a look at the then-contemporary state of auctioned Cartier timepieces, artfully tracing the high value the maison's works have come to command over the decades. But even in this pricey arena, it is the craft, the aesthetics and the sheer invention of these pieces that transcend mere lust and displays of status

   For at the end of the day, it is taste and appreciation that make a Cartier worth having

   Cartier Tonneau ladies wristwatch in 18k yellow gold circa the 1920s

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Birds/New Friend

   I recently paid a visit to the State-Of-The-Arts Gallery in Central, Hong Kong, where I met this fellow. He was encouraging visitors to unleash their inner animal, rather like the Power Penguin meditation sequence of my favourite film, Fight Club

   Like this man and Fight Club's unnamed Narrator, I suspect that my own animal is avian themed - apposite and appropriate - although a peacock might be a tad obvious. Our sartorial fandom does make us - dare I say - birds of a feather

Saturday, 16 October 2010

My Daria Morgendorffer

   Beavis and Butt-head was good for some things, but few scaled the heights of this misanthropy icon, who deservedly spun-off into her own series during her time with Mike Judge's name-making creations. God bless Glenn Eichler

   Insanely easy for the disaffected to identify with, as an archetype, Daria is more than due for a revival: so says the Paris Review. And, of course, so do I

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Basement Jaxx - Kish Kash (2003)

   Speaking of my past self, I am invoking him today to review my favourite record by the Brixton-based dance pioneers. This is my writing style of six years ago; a funny collection of tics, to be sure:
   Kish Kash didn't take much deliberation to make my number one [best album from 2000 - 2004], for it is everything Basement Jaxx is; everything that makes them compelling, surprising, frenetic, starry-eyed, intuitive and above all, just themselves. This is particularly apparent when you've come to terms with the consistency in the album's running order and the way it bursts not only with sounds but with life.
   Like Cornelius['s Point] and The Avalanches[' Since I Left You] (my no's 3 and 2, respectively), there's so much going on that if you don't take time to listen around, you might miss it (but thank God for the RWD button). Not only the sounds of the 3-parties-in-one that are 'Right Here's The Spot', 'Plug It In', 'Cish Cash' and 'Lucky Star' and the Jaxx's all-out Voltron-assembly of pop songs, Prince-outs and mismatched but purposeful sonic chaos, but the things they do to their special guests. In-between spitting catchphrases on every verse, Dizzee Rascal sounds like the electrodes attached to his secret places are working overtime, Me'shell flirts with a gender identity crisis that she can't conceal her enjoyment over, Totlyn deploys a winning bid for Queen (or King) Scatter of 2003, JC further hints at his growing case of Schizophrenia, his emergent tender sleaziness and his desire to be the most Purple teen idol ever, and erotic pleasure belies Siouxsie's dominatrix cries of "YOU'RE INSATIABLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEE!" And I'll be damned if I'm not. I don't want to miss a thing.
Recommended tracks: Good Luck, Plug It In, Lucky Star, Cish Cash

   I also had the great pleasure of seeing them perform twice in support of this record in December 2003, where Felix Buxton, Simon Ratcliffe and their carnival-spirited live band dynamically impelled their music into more frenetic but ever compelling arrangements - a warehouse party for the world stage, to be sure. However, it cannot be denied that in spite of the spirited renditions by their fill-in live singers, each special guest on the album utterly made their songs their own. Not surprisingly, the Jaxx spent part of the time between this album and their fourth as jobbing music producers, creating or remixing some underrated, would-be chart burners for the likes of Chasez and Lady Sovereign

   It remains highly recommended, by the way

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Post 200: Mode Parade HK

   At the time of writing, Mode Parade has been Hong Kong-based for seven days. I needed to relocate to a land where I am once again one of the tallest dominant lifeforms

   Actually, I have a plan and a purpose for being here. And all, as they say, will become clear within the coming weeks

   Needless to say, the preceding weeks teemed with activity as I placed a neat bow on my Accra life for the time being and ejected, leaving behind a trail of destroyed automobiles, puzzled cousins, supportive elder relatives and around 5 orders for solid gold signet rings. My acquisitiveness is nothing if not prolific

   Nice things happened to me in the run-up. My family confessed that I would be missed, primarily by the proprietors of the only club I regularly attended, and the city's car mechanics. On my connection from Dubai - which fills its airport with the sorts of travellers that actually make me look attractive by comparison - a kindly Arabian man told me that I looked "like a walking picture," which he eventually translated to "movie star." He'd evidently drawn the same comparison

   I've settled in well enough, though my temporary accommodation reminds me of my university days in a most disdainful fashion. Merely thinking of my 18 - 21 year old selves brings on the megrims quite forcefully. I also have not owned a laptop in a year, my book collection was not welcome on the flights and my phone's inaccurate GPS has led to some misunderstandings with taxi drivers. Usually when I'm crossing the road

   In my favour, there is a bar here that played this classic single by Strawberry Switchblade; karmic proof that whimsical, pretty things will not stray far from my world:

   By the way, Dubai's airport retails Guerlain's fragrance range in its duty free. Vetiver made my hand smell like unappealingly sharp citrus soap for the duration of my changeover (Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver, incidentally, was not much more suitable, though both experiences make me want to try them again in less long haul-centric scenarios), but the pretty sales assistant sold me on one of her two recommendations that she thought of as masculine scent perfection. The loser was the blandly designed, Justin Timberlake-endorsed Play by Givenchy, which dried down from its own citric assault into an unmemorable morass of powdery notes. Conversely, L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme Eau Extreme, her initial, immediate suggestion, stayed with me, figuratively and literally, throughout my browsing, and this compellingly mixed, (perhaps too) subtle, heady and strangely delicious EDP has proved pleasingly fortunate of late. Characterised by a number of candied, near-edible notes - patchouli and honey and cocoa, oh my - with a floral middle and a spicy, warm, woody, creamy base, the seduction, rare to say, was instant. To the right persons, I seem almost... edible. And I was seeking something odder, so there you go

   Two bottles, next time

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Metal Lust Object No.2 - Gübelin and IWC

Gübelin/IWC solid gold dress watch circa the 1940s

Research Turtles - Research Turtles (2009)

   So Research Turtles decided to send me their album gratis. And when it finally surmounted its rivals on my To-Do List, I settled down to take in some studiously hewn, power pop-infused rock by four young fellows from Lake Charles, Louisiana, who could not be more pleased to be calling their own tune. Moreover, they also happen to be dab hands at playing it - this, along with the following they are conscientiously amassing on the stage and through the interweb, should make a sizeable bargaining chip for any future recording contract

   In the meantime, the band has a craft to hone

   Jud and Joe Norman, the mop top brothers, share vocals and commandeer the bass and guitar, respectively, in a well oiled machine that is also formed from the excellently named Logan Fontenot, lead guitarist, and Blake Thibodeaux on drums and percussion, with Wes Anderson's Bill Murray-led The Life Aquatic inspiring the group's sobriquet and detailed, intuitive and heavy production from Justin Tocket. With such telegenic qualities, the four-piece have covered much ground in their bid to live up to their self-assumed mantle of "America's Newest Hit Makers," although I might suggest developing an addiction or five in order to efficiently generate the salacious tabloid material that would come with the territory

   Five-star status is normally greatly difficult to effectuate with a debut record, and in the interests of disclosure, Research Turtles The Album is no different - it holds much promise and delivers on it across the vast majority of the songs, but now and again, one hears the sound of a band starting to coalesce into a combo of worth rather than arriving at that place already. This is normally the result of Jud Nelson's songwriting rather than any flaws in the group's performances; 'The Riff Song,' for example, is realised in an endearing fashion of confident musicianship - and also strongly resembles Rage Against The Machine's indelible 'Killing in the Name' - but ironically, the songwriting is somewhat subordinated to the Riff itself when they could, and should, work as an equal partnership. 'Break My Fall,' the only other song I felt to be lacking enough for nitpicking, also sounds a touch sluggish in spite of its on-paper successes of decent riffing and relatively uncomplicated songcraft, which seems to be down to the unattractive vocal delivery and a main hook that is a little too languid to be greatly compelling - the lively jamming that occurs within two minutes literally resuscitates the song into a form of enthusiastic life

   Nevertheless, I really like what the four are capable of, thus far. By working within the tried and true framework of classic rock, and threading together influences from the fields of New Wave, psychedelia, AM pop, surf harmonies and touches of British melody (that which I usually like to refer to as "Kinksian"), the formula they offer is bright, immediate, mostly upbeat and unabashedly built for lingering when the record has long ceased playing. It's also, as the band allude to themselves, staunchly American - deceptively simple, rooted in rock history, attuned to hooks in their purest form, and polished to a self-assured, radio friendly sheen

  The bands the album evoked in my mind vary from the obvious to the recondite to the slightly unfashionable, and whilst the likes of The Knack, middle-period rock Cornelius (himself a grab bag of classic rock inflections done his own way), Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath's riff mastery, The Sweet, Shonen Knife and The Ramones are easy associations, I was surprised to find a  contemplative moment such as 'Kiss Her Goodbye' to be somewhat redolent of Ben Folds Five, a band, I should state, that I have always categorised as a genuine pleasure; never a guilty one. Truthfully, one can link a number of the Research Turtles' songs to those of older bands; the one I found most unexpected was 'Into A Hole's sonic link to Weezer's 'Susanne,' though the notion that the two bands share anything in common is easily confirmed somewhere between the start of the subtly enticing, groovy opener 'Let's Get Carried Away' and the midway point of spirited, future teen movie soundtrack classic in its own right, 'Mission'

   I particularly appreciate the foursome's refusal to maintain straight-ahead structures, as heard in highlights like the ska-kissed 'Tomorrow's Beatle-esque bridge and the micro rave-ups and gliding codas seeded within otherwise traditional power pop and radio-ready rock numbers like 'A Feeling' and the aforementioned 'Break My Fall.' Such jams go quite a ways to cementing Research Turtles' instrumental credibility. But never let it be said that these young men do not know how to enjoy themselves - my other favourites include their abandoned, amiably rocking party starters, 'Damn,' '925' and 'Cement Floor,' where the group's upbeat rock'n'roll tendencies are in perfect sync with their vigorous playing, simple singing and unfussy delivery

   I've never met them, but if fortune favours them, they might have the brightest futures of anyone else I've encountered this year. Good luck to them all


Research Turtles can be downloaded at no charge here. Their MySpace fiefdom is also present and correct

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Voluptuary

   One of my favourite cinematic misadventurers is Augusta Bertram, the titular relative to the reliably stuffy and highly strung Henry Pulling in 1972's Graham Greene adaptation, Travels With My Aunt, as portrayed in mercurial, bombastic and somewhat affected style by Dame Maggie Smith. This, of course, has much to do with her characterisation as a previously unworldly convent schoolgirl whose dalliance with an older sophisticate eventually transforms her into a trouble-prone, mendacious but fundamentally good hearted manipulator, and more importantly, a sensuous, consummate aesthete with more than a passing, and doubtlessly deliberate, resemblance to cheetah walker and epicurean profligate, Luisa, the Marchesa Casati, that infamous and bottomless well of extravagant vanity:

Portrait by Giovanni Boldini, 1908, from the private collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber

   In fact, Aunt Augusta's Casati-like "commissioning of her own immortality" forms a significant plot point as the story unfurls. She makes for quite a striking flame haired nude, if I do say so myself

  And what Augusta lacks in exotic pets, she makes up for in Louis Gossett Jr's bizarre but canny, quasi mystical but oddly grounded, and whimsical but efficient Wordsworth - a fictional personification of the word "protean" if ever there was one. However, given that she is rather dependent on him, he is assuredly of greater utility than wearing gilded snakes as jewelry

  The underepresentation of the film on the WWW might suggest it to be the sort of lost gem whose soundtrack will eventually be exhumed by a reissues label. It's not quite of that vintage, but it is more than diverting,  is leavened with soulful pathos in parts, and contains some minor comic gems, such as the amusing joke of Augusta's lavish and bohemian London dwelling being situated one floor above a working class pub. Aside from the grandeur that makes up the wardrobes and leisurely homes of Augusta, her friends, her lovers and her enemies, the film is a treat of foreign locales, the less suspect side of the nightlife and  the more conservative early 1970s menswear; usually 3 dependable visual enticements to watch the filmed works of the decade. There is also a cute hippie (Cindy Williams), who may serve to remind all trustafarians that they have precursors

  The other attraction to the film is its tendency to roam, both around the earth as Augusta, Henry and Wordsworth jaunt on their extended caper, and through Augusta's memories as she reflects on the woman she came to be. This facet makes for quite the balancing act against the madcap style of the rest of the plot and Smith's effusive performance; ultimately, Travels With My Aunt is a fine entry into the canon of curate's eggs that are nevertheless rather charming, due in no small part to a fortunate confluence of skill and vigour

   And if all else failed to entertain, there are always Anthony Powell's costume designs - they did win him his first Oscar, after all

Friday, 17 September 2010

Roll It

Not bad for a man named Lewis

   Posthumously speaking, Brian Jones is my favourite Stone; the butterfly to Charlie Watts' beetle (and this also takes into account Keef's splendid purple suit); never a grown-up, always a child. Where Watts today is precise, sharp and structured in his appearance to the point that he may as well be armoured, Jones' flamboyance at its peak suggested that a mere brush with his chimerical finery would result in a psychotropic trip

   And those caught up in his personal whirlwind must have suspected the come downs would be as debilitating as they were scandalous

   Brian is perhaps the quintessential Rock Polymath of Doom, since, as it is sometimes seen, with great ability comes great disaster. He was charismatic, popular, sexually overactive and indulged in a great many interests; one could see the self-destructive predisposition a mile off. He was a rebel within a band of rebels and a quintessential outside-insider, a feeling to which I can sometimes relate

   He was also a Peacock sans pareil, with a mid-to-late 1960s wardrobe  practically custom built to outrage the sensibilities of the most conservative echelons of sartorialism and stir the loins of the girls and women who flocked to the itinerant father of five and his bandmates.  With finery to source from the likes of Mr. Fish, Hung On You, I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet, and Granny Takes A Trip, Brian had little difficulty in establishing himself as a leader of the psychedelic plumage set

   Bandmate Bill Wyman later summed him up as thus:
There were two Brians... one was introverted, shy, sensitive, deep-thinking... the other was a preening peacock, gregarious, artistic, desperately needing assurance from his peers... he pushed every friendship to the limit and way beyond
   Of course, even without the motivation of court appearances to moderate his excesses, he was perfectly capable of affecting a more reputable presentation when the occasion arose; indeed, the earlier days of The Rolling Stones - interesting enough to serve as a reference for Stefano Pilati's Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche collection in Fall 2008 - feature a more relatively sober Brian, with he and his bandmates more attuned to the calmer attire of the earlier 1960s. I like to think that he was good at that, also:

   But don't think that I cannot appreciate the contrast; the immediacy of Brian's psyched out latter period may attract more attention, but these different modes instantly resonate with me, used as I am to modifying my appearance when social engagements call for it. That, by the by, is a choice I make - it's rather an interesting exercise in adaptability where I'm concerned

   Nevertheless, the Dandy In The Sky look that Brian made his own has such a compelling F-U grace to it that it rarely fails to inspire.After all, peacocks rarely exist to be 100% replicated; it is their ideas that are to be admired or reviled, absorbed or discarded. For all the white men who can be found fretting about their suitability for a wider palette of clothing colours, there's Brian's blithe mixing and matching; a riotous visual patchwork of glee for dressing up that doesn't occur to most fellows even once in a lifetime. Where concerns persist over the use of odd striped trousers, Brian went to tour sporting a dark jacket and corresponding tie (3rd photograph from the top), confidently displaying the desaturated version of his own adventurous glamour. When I need an interesting guide or 5 to donning neckscarves and other silken accoutrements, I have over a dozen pictures of Brian to show me how it's done

   Certainly, he looked like the sort of fellow one might proffer to a hippy at a Dead concert to lick, but I enjoy that. I draw the line at his blazer suit and the fondness for python skin boots he shared with Keith Richards (though I suppose that he had to share a few tastes at least with The Glimmer Twins), but with such a bombast, there's usually a line that must be drawn somewhere

   Let us put it this way - he is not the Lapo Elkann of the 1960s - for a start, Lapo's binges seem to have had a more all-encompassing deleterious effect on his own creativity than Brian's did his. At least Brian had the good grace to keep it consistent

   Mick Jagger, appropriately, wore one of Mr. Fish's shirt dresses when performing at The Rolling Stones' free concert in Hyde Park, two days after Brian joined The 27 Club upon his death on 3rd July 1969. Having dedicated the performances to the founder who eventually became isolated from his peers, the band's frontman took a moment to play orator in memory of his one-time friend:

   Brian, as it is famously known, was ultimately discovered dead at the bottom of his own swimming pool at his Cotchford Farm home in West Sussex. It bears noting that in later years, the tiles from the pool were individually sold for around $210 per 6-inch tiles, courtesy of his own Fan Club

   Such as it was, Brian earned a place in checkered history. And popular culture and rock 'n' roll were certainly the more interesting for having had him there to develop their milieus in a most uncommon manner

   Roll with it

Further reading:

And a pictorial to close out proceedings:

Matryoshka - 'Evening Gleam Between Clouds' (2007)

Matryoshka is a Tokyo, Japan based band consisting of the track maker Sen and the female vocalist Calu. During the days when they were playing in the band Parachute Coats, their material was released as a 7 inch vinyl by a fan in Netherlands and received good attention in the club scene there. Only a year after the band was formed, they had already received sponsorship offers from Yamaha and were digitally distributed on their download site.

Their music can be described as Modern Classical, IDM, and Experimental.

Sleuth (1972)

To borrow a cliché, there can only be one. And with Messrs. Olivier and Caine in the headline, one should certainly hope so

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Belatedly, Joseph Ettedgui

   Early this April, my father received a card from Issy Ettedgui, with a heartfelt, touching and unlachrymose handwritten message regarding the peaceful passing of her husband Joseph that made a particular note of the affection he held for "his brother," for our families were close enough for me to refer to him, with a certain honour, as "Uncle Joe." That habit, as it seems to do when Britishers grow into their teens and beyond, had  indeed dissipated by the time I became a young adult

   But don't mistake a loss of formality for a loss of respect and admiration; I'm perennially inclined to admire men of taste, of class, of perseverance and of percipience. And perhaps our personal relationship also served to elevate Joe in this particular facet of my esteem, but there's certainly little wrong with that

   This post is an apology, for I do a great many things out of time and sequence. Perhaps those who choose to read this post might feel a morsel of understanding; a sympathy founded on the difficulty in composing and cohering thoughts regarding the death of a presence in one's life. But it is still rather belated a post, especially because Joseph was one of the vaunted few in the last years of the 20th century who continued to make fashion retail a sphere of interest. His patronage alone of Kenzo Takada's output in his formative retail years is proof of his nous for talent. We also shared a belief in a wardrobe that was built upon dependable, finely made clothes with ample room for the fashionable and the expensive to elevate it - a philosophy that more than hinted at his adaptability

   Amongst the various branded shopping bags that filled my childhood, the minimalistic black rectangles on a white background motif that signified a purchase from a Joseph shop always lodged in the mind in a manner that was both iconic and in tune with the visual modes of the 1980 - as stark and neat colour arrangements, Nagel prints, deceptively simple but striking aesthetics, pristine glamour, and so on. He may not have aimed his shops at children, but for a time, Joe's Café was a cherished, if infrequent, treat that forms a fond part of my South Kensington memories. I can only imagine what celebrated restaurant he might have overseen had he lived to see his hotelier desires come to fruition

   Even as he battled the cancer that ultimately took his life, Joe made time for me during my nascent forays into fashion-related work, and encouraged me not to discard my semi-romantic notions after the crisis that is financial eradicated my former livelihood. Indeed, given the upcoming evolution of my professional life, I believe that he was correct in his steering, although it is a shame that he could not be there for me to tell him the news. I spent a fair amount of time at the former Conduit Street site of his luxury goods operation, Connolly, over last year, covetously admiring the Charvet shirts and unconstructed sportcoats, imbibing the genteel and warm aura of its woody yet somewhat minimalist decor, striking up friendships and letting him know in which directions Mode Parade was pulling me that week

   I have always suspected him as responsible for my father's Habanos habit, though he was always a responsible and devoted man. Still, with his brand of unassuming charisma, I imagine that it would have not taken much convincing; it seems symptomatic of his trenchant way of discerning what one might need in life

   The photograph chosen for the remembrance postcard is an excellent, dégagé portrait of Joe reclining in a beautiful silk dressing gown, shirt, trousers and designer trainers; a happy, joyfully eyed depiction of Offbeat Informality, if ever there was one, and certainly an encouragement to those who knew him that we should not remain sad for long

Merci et Bon Nuit,


For Joseph Ettedgui; 22 February 1936 - 18 March 2010

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ivy Friends (Plastic Curio Objects No.1)

Perhaps the only Trad memorabilia that I find interesting these days

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Smoking Shirt (Dance Dance Dance)

   Tintin said:

   So, I wonder what he would make of this:

   A flashback to more immobile times follows:

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Cake - 'You Can Have Him' (1967)

   Decades before Sugababes achieved a mild flavour of notoriety for performing their debut single on Top of The Pops with an unsmiling archness, the world birthed this:

   My sentiments regarding The Cake's showmanship could only appear trite; this Manson-James Brown-Ronettes hybridising should only happen in the theatre. What's so delicious about this performance is that it did not

   For unconventional band mascot/ensemble dark horse-status, the impassive baby doll that was Jeanette Jacobs is right up there with ABC's homosexual, Kid Swifty Lazar-esque midget, David Yarritu

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Blue/Green Again

   It's the return of that  allegedly irredeemable colour combination; a suitably optimistic presentation for the latest wedding I attended recently. And I barely believe in marriage, so my high spirits surprised even me

   ADG, a member of my personal Band of Blog Brothers, has written an exceedingly kind and trenchant tribute to your author, with one commenter noting an accessories trifecta of mine; namely, my rose pin, pochette and pen. This time, on the grounds of ensemble dissonance, my writing instrument remained at home

   Even I have my Coco Chanel Moments