Monday, 12 July 2010

Lacroix Schweetie

So I was checking my blog email address a couple of weeks back, and the good people of Christian Lacroix had invited me to the presentation of their menswear. In Paris! Alas, I had to go on a press trip when the presentation was on, and not knowing much about Lacroix (except for the obvious Ab Fab references, and some dodgy Xmas accessories i'd seen half a decade ago), so I wasn't too gutted about not making it. Then, they sent me the lookbook (kudos to their PR department for confidence in a good product, there). And isn't it lovely. I've not posted the whole thing - surely you'd get bored? - but the relaxed feel, clever detailing and what seem like quality fabrics certainly piqued my interest more than I was expecting. The nautical, loose cut of the trousers & shorts, and smart jackets contrast nicely, and recall some of the earlier Lanvin menswear collections. The looks are chilled-out and accessorised with espadrilles and louchely-tied scarves, which give the whole collection a summery but smart vibe which I'm definitely loving - and now trying to emulate. Is it a change of direction for what was once seen as a tacky de trop brand? Time will tell, but this is definitely an encouraging start. Now, let's see if I can get some time off for the next Paris Fashion Week...

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Staple - A Civilised Magazine Session

Glossy Obsession

It's not just working for a magazine that keeps me interested in the magazine industry. Lavishly-produced glossies are the Staple of many a menswear blog, and not only serve to inspire, but also, enjoyed properly, become an act of defiance, a way of harking back to an earlier, pre-internet time when journalism only existed in a print form, and the most commentary you were likely to get was a letter printed on the following day's 'Dear Editor' page. It's a fact that the magazine industry is still in rude health because the quality of what's being produced is increasing, and the realtime Twitter/blogosphere/comments page only serves to increase the lust for something permanent, concrete and unchangeable. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been fortunate to have a few hours of chilling out time in various places (my new flat is pleasingly without a working telly), and been able to sit down for an hour or so and digest an entire magazine. Reading Man About Town on a Shoreditch roof terrace with a glass of rosé in hand was one of the most civilised things I've done recently, and this evening's settling down on my sofa in my flat with a mug of tea and a copy of Ten Men was a pretty equal second. The immersion into another world and the feeling of calm that this generates is incomparable; I justify the purchase of weighty magazines because I equate them with books. Yes, there's advertising, and yes, there's a lot of it, but just because the content is trying to sell you something doesn't mean that it can't be enjoyed on an aesthetic level. Editorial in my favourite magazines now is irreverent and inspiring; Charlie Porter's piece on the escalator at St. John's Wood station in the latest issue of Fantastic Man is one of the most inspiring articles I've read recently, because of its beauty-in-mundanity approach combined with the effect that Mr. Porter's calming prose has on the reader. I can't recommend searching out a good magazine and devoting an hour of the day to it; time spent reading is nothing if not a Staple. Other Staples this week:
Devouring a whole magazine in a single sitting
Capri-Sun orange juice
Spending a day messing about on the canal on a barge
The Diner in Camden Town
A nautical, navy-and-cream-striped thin knit cardigan
Goat's cheese from Neal's Yard dairy
Disco Discharge compilation CDs

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Staple - Notion Festival Guide 2010

Stapler's Note

For those that have been wondering what's happened to the blog, I apologise. The last three months seem to have flown by, and in that time, rather than the result of suffering from a massive internet clampdown at work, I handed in my notice, found a new job working at Notion Magazine as a Staff Writer and Marketing person, and also moved house. Add into this a serious Twitter addiction, and you have a sorely neglected blog. It'll be back though, I need to get back on the wagon. My first major project is over though, you can see the fruits above. I was entrusted to edit Notion's 2010 Festival Guide, which entailed rather a lot of writing and research, late nights making design decisions and two in-depth interviews (with Secret Garden Party's organiser, Freddie Fellowes, and the DJs Erol Alkan & Boys Noize) and we finally got the finished copies at the end of last week, which was obviously, hugely exciting for me! The Guide is available now from various stockists and will also be given away with the next issue of Notion in a fortnight or so. If you want a copy in the meantime though, please don't hesitate to get in touch and I'll send one over! Naturally, It's a Staple, and also marks my return to the blogosphere (and the end of my shameless plug). I can't wait to get stuck back in...

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Staple - Vintage Tootal Scarf


I am a man of many scarves. I always have at least 2 upon my person at any one time. Over the years I've amassed a large collection of them; cheap, designer, charity shop, vintage, new, skinny, silk, wool, tasselled and chunky, I've no shortage of accessories for my neck. Yet, for some reason, they're the item I always end up buying when I'm not really trying to shop. On a recent Sunday cycle down to Greenwich, we happened upon a small vintage market, with lots of stalls laid out in a small square. I was having a good old rummage, didn't really find anything except this (and a few other) vintage Tootal scarves. I was about to leave and be good, but then realised that at £12, this scarf was too good to leave behind. I'm so glad I did - it's got such a lovely intricate print; almost geometric, but with an artsy, almost Liberty-esque slant. This print could have been too much, but the way that the stripes have been integrated into the design, and the winning combo of colours (red, white, a few shades of blue and a silvery-grey) make it into a subtler piece. Also, it avoids the hackneyed paisley-print Tootal scarf (although Liberty paisley is perfectly acceptable); Tootal btw: an old-school brand, mod favourite, resurrected recently etc etc. Anyway, I wore it today on the Tube (bike had ANOTHER flat tyre, grrr) and noticed several admiring glances scarfwards, which is always nice. Best thing about it though is that behind that silky (read: polyester) printed side is a 100% wool backing, which makes it warm, practical and stylish. A classic Staple. Other Staples this week:
Vintage Tootal scarves
A day trip to Paris to see Fortune perform
Fiery Jamaica ginger ale
The Juan MacLean's DJ Kicks mix CD
Finally moving to London Fields (fingers crossed)
Cadbury's Creme Eggs
Working in an office with music

Monday, 1 March 2010

The Staple - Carolyn Massey Knitwear

Sample Sale Success

It can't have escaped your notice that London Fashion Week has just been. Menswear day is going from strength to strength, and that's down to a crop of talented young designers who create wearable but directional fashion, and are developing and pushing their styling into new arenas each year. Topman's Lens project has been instrumental in this, giving the big-name support and distribution to a select crop each year. One of the current darlings of both of these forums is Carolyn Massey. Her bold knitwear and shirting is complemented with neatly tailored pleat-front trousers and coats that the London mens fashion blogs just can't get enough of. So I was rather thrilled when I checked my Twitterfeed and found out that she was having a sample sale, on the day that was to be my first day of freelancing. I decided that a quick trip over to her Mare St. studios to see if there was anything worth picking up would be a nice escape from the land of email. And boy was I right. Turns out I was the first person to arrive today, the second day of the sale, and was presented with a rack of tailoring, knitwear and woollen accessories at the kind of price point that a newly-freelance hack could get on board with. I tried on a few shorts, but eventually fell for this red cashmere number. Obviously, it's a slim-fitting red cashmere jumper, but the two strips of material sewn around the collar give it a new dimension. Kind of a feminine, pussy-bow (is there a less masculine sounding thing) vibe, but with such a basic garment in such a simple colour, it somehow achieves the opposite. Like a famous Athena poster, it somehow transcends boundaries. Having worn it all day, it now seems like the most natural thing to have on a jumper. With the great addition that my neck has been warm, but never TOO warm. Am a big fan, and I'll be storing this one much more carefully than my other pullovers that the bloody moths got - if I ever take it off! Oh yeah, best thing: Original price £240; price to the Staple £20. Only through Twitter...Other Staples this week:
Sample sale Carolyn Massey knitwear (also bagged a 'scarfaclava')
Embracing the freelance lifestyle
Resoling my shoes
Notion Magazine
Following LFW coverage via Twitter and blogs
The end of Winter
Chocolate brownies from Boradway Market

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Staple - Messenger Bags

Don't Shoot the Messenger; Steal His Bag!

Just as rucksacks become hot property in menswear, I've decided that I'm all about the courier bag. It stems (as with many of my purchases recently) from the bicycle. Much as I love a rucksack, you can't swing it around your body to get your phone/keys etc on a regular basis, and if it's warm, your back will get all sweaty. Plus, I just can't get a rucky to look good with my trenchcoat (in fact I've not even worn a cross-body bay with the trench - it crumples it and spoils the lines...or something). Anyway, since late last summer I've been reusing what was my old school bag from 6th Form - A red Manhattan Portage number that my Dad bought me back from NYC. I must've had this for a good 12 years, and aside from a slightly mashed buckle, it's still in perfect order. It's probably about the simplest bag you can buy, one zip pocket and a main pouch, thick black strap and that's it, but that's why it's lasted so long. It looks fine whatever it's stuffed with and is moderately waterproof as well, which helps. A quick glance through my wardrobe shows it's actually the oldest thing in there (vintage stuff that I've bought more recently excluded), which is a testament both to the durability of Manhattan Portage and the vast turnaround of clothes one can have in a decade. From the oldest item to the newest, and it's another courier bag. This time, it's one from the recent(ish) Raf Simons for Eastpak SS09 range which I picked up from Le 66 on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on a recent 2-day trip for my birthday. It might look like a dodgy shopping centre from the outside, but inside it's packed with discounted clothes and shoes for boys and girls - I'm talking Acne, Marc Jacobs, Paul & Joe, Castelbajac, Helmut Lang - good quality streetwear in other words. This beauty was tucked away and 50% off, making it a perfect indulgent-but-not-mad Paris purchase. It's longer than a conventional courier bag (oblong rather than rectangular) and zips up with some lovely little silver leather zip-pulls. It's also got a reflective silver leather base; perfect for cycling at night! Sale+Simons+Cycling=Too good to miss. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now, and all's working out nicely. It more than copes with the crap I haul about all day, and like the Portage is pretty waterproof. This might all change if I find a rucksack I like the look of, but for now, I'm firmly in/a Camp Courier. Other Staples this week:
Raf Simons for Eastpak & Manhattan Portage courier bags
Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie icecream
Music from Ibiza 1999 (and DJing it at a house party)
Tom Ford's film, A Single Man
Finishing work, and embarking on a freelancing career
Paul Auster's new novel, Invisible
A pack of new socks from M&S

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Staple - Navy APC Trenchcoat

A French Trench Quench

My APC obsession began some years ago. As this blog has progressed, I've been through a period of much APC-purchasing, which has only become worse now that the brand is so easily available in London. It used to be just a small concession in Liberty and a stand at Selfridges, but now there's racks of it in both stores, and in Urban Outfitters, as well as a dedicated standalone store on Dover Street, opposite the famed Market. Anyway, after a lovely Xmas gift of a Liberty-print shirt from my fantastically generous parents (not quite right, sadly, and very similar to a Prada one I have), I decided to trade up for something a little more substantial. APC's coats are a particular weakness of mine (I already have a chambray/cotton striped peacoat), and spotting this gem in the Liberty sale sealed the deal for me. The detailing is superior, from the waistbelt to the front shoulder flap (originally designed to correctly shoulder a rifle, apparently), and the colour a slightly unusual navy, it was perfect for my birthday trip to Paris (which involved a trip to the APC sale shop in Montmartre, 20 rue Andre del Sarte; a must-visit if you're there). I've worn it practically every day since, and I particularly like it for its extra-long sleeves (to fit my silly ape arms) and French Resistance charm. It's one of those pieces (like so much of APC) that is made great by simplicity of cut and good quality detailing, but which doesn't scream 'designer'. Like an Audi RS2, or a Ferrari-engined Lancia Thema 8.32, this trenchcoat punches well above its weight (and price) and I'm hoping that it will make a great first impression at some interviews. It certainly did when I was in Paris, and met up with the fantastic Editors of BuckStyle, Celia and Steve. Whatever happens, this coat has certainly started my year off well, and been surprisingly warm in the recent cold snap, and I reckon it's going to be a brilliant Spring transition coat - hopefully smartening up my wardrobe and weaning me off the oh-so comfy canvas plimsolls...Watch this space! Other Staples this week:
The fantastic Renee Ashby
Pawel's album on Kompakt
Washing my APC wool bag (which was disturbingly filthy)
Champagne breakfasts
Shouting out the answers to University Challenge
Dalston Jazz Club
David Byrne's book 'Bicycle Diaries'

Stapler's Note

It's been three months since my last post; the time has slipped by all too fast and unfortunately, The Staple has been sorely neglected from my usual weekly updates. Reason being a combination of a massive internet clampdown at work, and a bit of a Twitter addiction. However, I'll be leaving my current work in 3 weeks time to start some somewhat more interesting projects (fingers crossed), so I should have time at least for two addictions! Am looking forward to getting back into it - have a couple of posts planned already - and connecting with any readers that might still check back here...note over; on to a post!