Thursday, August 16, 2007

Black Fleece: Thom Browne + Brooks Bros

Black Fleece is a new line complementing Brooks Brothers' Golden Fleece line of suits, jackets and accessories. Overseeing the design of Black Fleece is the somewhat controversial Thom Browne. His jackets are noticeably shorter than convention, as are the legs of the trousers. In 2006, Thom Browne won the best menswear design by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

This StyleForum thread illustrates some of his runway designs, some of which will presumably hit the stores this fall. On a more amusing note, I asked a senior salesman at one of the larger Brooks Bros stores about the Thom Browne designs. I don't wish to get him in trouble by reproducing his rather funny response but suffice to say the Black Fleece line is a break from tradition in some respects (though the outerwear shown on the runway are very traditionally English for the most part).

It's too early to tell but I think Black Fleece is a rather smart move - fresh enough to attract new, younger buyers but familiar enough not to alienate current customers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Musical detour: Sir Edward Elgar

2007 happens to be the 150th anniversary of Sir Edward Elgar's birth (1857-1934). If you live in England, you may wish to investigate the Elgar Society. It's too late to join in their birthday bash for the composer but you can check the website for local music festivals in England.

Across the Atlantic, Elgar is unfortunately played less frequently. But the Bard Music Festival in New York remedies this quite nicely this summer. As the New York Times review of the Bard Music Festival says, Elgar is too often the subject of critical dismissal. But his skill in constructing a sense of "lofty pathos" remains unparalleled. Also notice the photograph of him in black tie and high wing collar in the article. I have yet to read a biography of his life but photos suggest an Edwardian gravitas in keeping with his music.

Below is a 1931 short film of Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1 ("Land of Hope and Glory").

More on shoes: construction methods and brogues

For those sorting out the differences between blake stitching and Goodyear welts, this Stijlforum thread provides a good visual on the different shoe construction methods.

Also, ever wondered what the differences were between quarter, half and full brogues? This AskAndy thread should be able to answer them once and for all.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Shoemaking: Four video essays

Marcel Szabo, a Hungarian shoemaker, has posted four videos showing the early phases of shoemaking.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Thanks to Janne Melkersson, a Swedish cordwainer, for posting this in a StyleForum thread.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The white sharkskin suit

I spoke with a tailor recently who recounted the days back in the 1960s when he regularly made white, unlined sharkskin suits. He also wore them himself. Apparently they were quite the thing to wear in Los Angeles at that time. Unfortunately, he said the fabric is no longer available today. If anyone has a picture of a white sharkskin suit, please let me know.

By coincidence, there is a new book called "The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit", which is a memoir of life in Cairo before and after the Second World War (review, book). The title refers to the author's nattily dressed father.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cary Grant - a sharp dressed man

Here's a clever montage of Grant in top form throughout his cinematic career. All cut and synced to ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man". Needless to say, Grant does everything well whether he's wearing a 2 piece suit, 3 piece suit, single breasted, double breasted, dinner jacket / tuxedo, white tie and tails or morning coat.

Thanks to jml90 for posting this in a StyleForum thread.