Sunday, 29 April 2012

Robert Morley

 Robert Adolph Wilton Morley, CBE (26 May 1908 – 3 June 1992) was an English actor who, often in supporting roles, was usually cast as a pompous English gentleman representing the Establishment. In Movie Encyclopedia, film critic Leonard Maltin describes Morley as "recognisable by his ungainly bulk, bushy eyebrows, thick lips, and double chin, [...] particularly effective when cast as a pompous windbag".
Morley was born in Semley, Wiltshire, England, the son of Gertrude Emily (née Fass) and Robert Wilton Morley, a Major in the British Army. His mother came from a German family that had emigrated to South Africa. Morley attended Wellington College, Berkshire which he hated, followed by RADA. As a famous "Old Wellingtonian", generations of headmasters tried to contact him, without success, with Morley stating "the only reason for me visiting Wellington would be to burn it down". Morley made his West End stage debut in 1929 in Treasure Island at the Strand Theatre and his Broadway debut in 1938 in the title role of Oscar Wilde at the Fulton Theatre. Although soon won over to the big screen, Morley remained both a busy West End star and successful author, as well as tirelessly touring.

A versatile actor, especially in his younger years, he played roles as divergent as those of Louis XVI, for which he received an Academy Award Nomination as Best Supporting Actor (Marie Antoinette 1938). He gave powerful performances in Oscar Wilde (1960) and as a missionary in The African Queen (1951), but did not receive Oscar nominations for either.
As a playwright he co-wrote and adapted several plays for the stage, having outstanding success in London and New York with Edward, My Son, a gripping family drama written in 1947 (with Noel Langley) in which he played the central role of Arnold Holt. But the disappointing film version, directed by George Cukor at MGM Elstree in 1949, instead starred the miscast Spencer Tracy, who turned Holt, an unscrupulous English businessman, into a blustering Canadian expatriate. His 1937 play Goodness, How Sad was turned into a 1940 Ealing Studios film Return to Yesterday directed by Robert Stevenson.
Morley also personified the conservative Englishman in many comedy and caper films. He was also the face of BOAC (British Airways) in television commercials of the 1970s. British Airways: 'We'll take more care of you'. Later in his career, he received critical acclaim and numerous accolades for his performance in Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?. Renowned for repartee and for being an eloquent conversationalist, Morley gained the epitheton of being a "wit".

Morley was honoured by being the first King of Moomba appointed by the Melbourne Moomba festival committee and, in typical humility, he accepted the crown in bare feet. Morley was in Australia touring his one-man show, The Sound of Morley.
He married Joan Buckmaster (1910–2005), a daughter of Dame Gladys Cooper. Their elder son, Sheridan Morley was a well-known writer and critic. They also had a daughter Annabel and another son Wilton.
He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1957. He was also offered a knighthood in 1975 but declined it

Simon Dee interviews Robert Morley - January 1969

A. Christie's Murder at the Gallop 4 9.flv

Robert Morley Quotes

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Friday, 27 April 2012

The secret story of "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON"

Keep Calm and Carry On was a propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion. Seeing only limited distribution, it was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000 and has been re-issued by a number of private companies, and used as the decorative theme for a range of other products. There were only two known surviving examples of the poster outside government archives until a collection of about 20 originals was brought in to the Antiques Roadshow in 2012 by the daughter of an ex-Royal Observer Corps member.

The poster was initially produced by the Ministry of Information, in 1939, at the beginning of the Second World War. It was intended to be distributed in order to strengthen morale in the event of a wartime disaster. Over 2,500,000 copies were printed, although the poster was distributed only in limited numbers. The designer of the poster is not known.
The poster was third in a series of three. The previous two posters from the series, "Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might" (400,000 printed) and "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory" (800,000 printed) and were issued and used across the country for motivational purposes, as the Ministry of Information assumed that the events of the first weeks of the war would demoralise the population. Planning for the posters started in April 1939; by June designs were prepared, and by August 1939, they were on their way to the printers, to be placed up within 24 hours of the outbreak of war. The posters were designed to have a uniform device, be a design associated with the Ministry of Information, and have a unique and recognisable lettering, with a message from the King to his people. An icon of a crown was chosen to head the poster, rather than a photograph. The slogans were created by civil servants, with a career civil servant, Waterfield, coming up with "Your Courage" as "a rallying war-cry that will bring out the best in everyone of us and put us in an offensive mood at once". These particular posters were designed as "a statement of the duty of the individual citizen", un-pictorial, to be accompanied by more colloquial designs. The "Your Courage" poster was much more famous during the war, as it was the first to go up, very large, and was the first of the Ministry of Information's posters.The press, fearful of censorship, created a backlash, and thus a lot of material related to these posters has been kept by archives.

Keep Calm and Carry On: The secret historyHow Barter Books uncovered the massive second world war poster campaign that nobody ever saw
Sarah Crown, Friday 9 March 2012

Ever wondered where those nowadays-ubiquitous Keep Calm and Carry On posters first came from? Nope, me neither – and frankly, more fool both of us. Someone posted the link to a video purporting to tell the "story of how Barter Books found the Keep Calm and Carry On poster & made it a global hit" on Twitter the other day, and honestly, I wouldn't have clicked on it had I not been intrigued by the fact that it featured the name of one my favourite bookshops. But click on it I did, and here's what I discovered: it turns out that not only are Barter Books' owners Stuart and Mary Manley brilliant at selling books, they're also brilliant at giving birth to country-wide trends, too.

The video tells the story of the Keep Calm posters, which were commissioned by the government during the second world war as part of a wider poster campaign designed to boost morale among the civilian population. Some 2.5m copies of our poster were printed, but in the end they were kept back; "held in reserve, intended for use only in times of crisis or invasion", which happily never came. 50 years later, Stuart found one in a box of books he'd bought at auction, and Mary put it up by the till. Apparently, customers were so taken with it that the pair began making copies - and an iconic noughties image was born.

It's a lovely video, as much for its shots of Barter Books - once a Victorian railway station; now overflowing with well-stocked shelves - as for the story it tells. But the story's a fine one, too, and the sentiment of the poster, which overexposure had led me to dismiss as trite, becomes moving and inspiring again when resituated in its original context of genuine threat and principled resistance. Enjoy.

The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Give three piece a chance. Abercrombie & Fitch simply doesn't fit Savile Row

Photographs in home of The San Francisco Chronicle.

The deep blue sea.

The Deep Blue Sea is a British drama film directed by Terence Davies and starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale. It is an adaptation of the 1952 Terence Rattigan play The Deep Blue Sea about the wife of a Judge who engages in an affair with an RAF pilot. This film version is funded by the UK Film Council and Film4, produced by Sean O'Connor and Kate Ogborn. Filming began in late 2010 and it was released in the UK in 2011, the year of Terence Rattigan's centenary. It was released in the United States in 2012 by distributor Music Box Films

Set 'around 1950', The Deep Blue Sea tells the story of Hester Collyer, the younger wife of High Court judge Sir William Collyer, who has embarked on a passionate affair with Freddie Page, a handsome young RAF pilot troubled by his memories of the war.

The majority of the film takes place during one day in Hester's flat, a day on which she has decided to commit suicide. Her attempt fails and as she recovers, the story of her affair and her married life is played out in a mosaic of short and sporadic flashbacks. We soon discover the constraints of Hester's comfortable marriage, which is affectionate but without sexual passion.

As Hester's affair is discovered she leaves her life of comparative luxury and moves into a small dingy London flat with Freddie. Hester's new lover has awakened her sexuality, but the reckless, thrill-seeking Freddie can never give her the love and stability that her husband gave. Yet to return to a life without passion would be unbearable. The film takes its title from her dilemma.

Terence Rattigan's romantic drama set in a repressive postwar Britain is brought to the big screen superbly by Terence Davies 

Philip French
The Observer, Sunday 27 November 2011

If we count his first three short films made on shoestring budgets between 1976 and 1983 as a trilogy, and his next, Distant Voices, Still Lives, as a diptych (they were actually made separately), Terence Davies has directed a mere seven films in 35 years. This puts him in the same exclusive league for low output and high quality as his contemporary, Terrence Malick. Davies's last film, Of Time and the City (2008), was a withering documentary about the sad decline of his hometown, Liverpool, and it followed two feature pictures adapted from American novels set at different times and in different American milieux, John Kennedy Toole's The Neon Bible and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth.
His outstanding new movie, The Deep Blue Sea, is a version of a play by Terence Rattigan, who died in 1977 aged 66, Davies's present age. Despite the difference in age and background (Rattigan upper middle class, home counties, Church of England; Davies working class, northern, Catholic), they have much in common: being gay, having a deep attachment to England, a sympathetic understanding of women and a stoical sense of living with and making the uncomplaining best of the hand life has dealt you. This is perhaps best expressed in Rattigan's plays The Browning Version, Separate Tables and The Deep Blue Sea, all filmed in the 1950s, but none with such love, attention and understanding as Davies brings to his present task.
Rattigan's characteristically well-made play, first staged in 1952 with Peggy Ashcroft in the lead, is set on a single day in a dingy bedsit in north London. It begins with an act of despair as Hester, 40ish estranged wife of reserved, 50ish high court judge Sir William Collyer, attempts to commit suicide (a crime in those days) by gassing herself. This action is dictated by the callously offhand behaviour of her lover, the 30ish Freddie Page, a handsome, feckless, sexually vigorous ex-Battle of Britain pilot. The play ends symmetrically beside the same fireplace, but this time the gas is lit – an unforgettably simple gesture, an act of almost heroic resignation.
Davies has skilfully reworked the play, cutting it up into a number of short scenes, beginning with a quarter of an hour almost without dialogue. This sequence first creates a lifeless early morning in a 1950 Ladbroke Grove cul-de-sac that looks a lot like the murderer John Christie's killing field at Rillington Place. A montage then establishes the frustrated life of Hester (Rachel Weisz) at home with her unresponsive husband (Simon Russell Beale), her meeting with the dashing Freddie (Tom Hiddleston), their passionate love-making and the writing of the suicide letter, which later falls into Freddie's hands with disastrous consequences.

Davies drops conventional chronology to give us moments from Hester's life such as her meetings with the overbearing mother-in-law to whom her husband is in thrall. If Sir William is the deep blue sea of the chilly but kindly British establishment, Freddie, with his passion for sport, his drinking, his devotion to fading military glory, is its devilish other face, the physically fulfilling, misogynistic philistine. There is a gay subtext in Rattigan's play, but it is subtly buried. Davies leaves it there as he directs us to observe The Deep Blue Sea as a link between Brief Encounter, which appeared just as the second world war ended, and John Osborne's Look Back in Anger, which supposedly introduced a new, angry, less repressed Britain in 1956. We now see in Davies's film what might have been, had Celia Johnson's character in Brief Encounter taken off with a Jimmy Porter figure, a self-loathing, insensitive narcissist. Freddie is obsessed, as Porter was, with a romantic notion of the past and the belief that there are, as Jimmy puts it, "no good, brave causes left".

Davies elicits outstanding performances from his central triangle, all sympathetic in their various ways, lacking in self-awareness and victims of sorts. Tom Hiddleston, however, has a suggestion of a hidden sensitivity as well as a bitterness that was lacking in the character as created on stage (and later played in the film) by Kenneth More and which made More so much sadder a figure. Davies also brings to the film a particular stylistic trope of his own that he developed in Distant Voices, Still Lives, the drawing together of people into a community through popular music. In the new film a group sheltering in an underground station during the blitz sing "Molly Malone" (a folk song that echoes Hester's own tragedy); later the drinkers in a packed pub raucously perform the 1952 hit "You Belong to Me", which modulates into Jo Stafford's version as Hester and Freddie dance, slowly and romantically, in the empty art deco foyer of a hotel. This is a magical moment in a movie in which Davies, his cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister, production designer James Merifield and costume designer Ruth Myers masochistically capture a key period in British life, a repressed and repressive time. They coat it with the brown varnish of postwar austerity.

The Deep Blue Sea (2011) - Official Trailer [HD]

Last minute news !! Sorry chaps, Abercrombie & Fitch simply doesn't fit Savile Row.

Protesters outside the proposed location for an Abercrombie & Fitch children's store on Savile Row. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

The Row has been the heartland of English bespoke tailoring for 200 years. This is not the place for T-shirts and cargo pants
Gustav Temple, Tuesday 24 April 2012

A modest band of immaculately dressed chaps and chapettes descended upon Savile Row on Monday to protest against the opening of a children's store by Abercrombie & Fitch. We felt rather strongly that Savile Row is not the right sort of street for the sale of T-shirts, cargo pants and thongs with suggestive slogans on them.

The Row is the heartland of English bespoke tailoring, source of the most beautifully crafted suits in the world. It was here that tailors made the uniform worn by Horatio Nelson when he was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar; it was here that Edward VII invented the dinner jacket. Savile Row is where the 20th century's most iconic fashion moments were dreamt up: production on Hollywood movies would be halted while actors from Rudolph Valentino to Frank Sinatra were flown over to the Row to have a waistcoat cut properly. Anderson & Sheppard made Fred Astaire's tailcoats, and kept a section of carpet loose, to be peeled back during his fitting so he could ensure the tailcoat flowed around his body correctly by dancing a few steps.

Savile Row has maintained its excellent reputation for over two centuries, surviving hard times and boom times and even occasionally moving with the times. In the 1960s, Tommy Nutter opened a shop on Savile Row and made flashy flared tweed suits for Mick Jagger and Elton John; but he made them with as much care and professionalism as he would have made a morning coat for the Prince of Wales.

You can go to practically any street in any city in Britain and buy the sorts of clothes peddled by Abercrombie & Fitch. You cannot, however, go to any street in the country to get a bespoke suit, and this is why the trade should remain where it is – so that when the time eventually comes that we can afford Savile Row's prices, we know where to go.

The opening of an Abercrombie & Fitch store could well sound the death knell for the Row. The Kooples, another trendy clothes chain not offering a bespoke service, has already lodged an application to open a store at No 5, Savile Row. Within 20 years, the Row could easily become just another London street full of the sorts of global brands that have branches in every major European city.

It isn't as if bespoke tailoring is in decline. There has been a recent regeneration of the trade and many Savile Row tailors are doing very well. Richard James and Ozwald Boateng both moved into the Row in the last decade, and their arrival was greeted with suspicion by the established tailors. Yet they have both proved that Savile Row can be modernised in keeping with its ancient traditions and that bespoke tailoring can continue to flourish as a trade. The cost of a bespoke suit is high – as much as £3,500 on Savile Row – but there are many luxury stores on Bond Street that will charge you similar amounts for an off-the-peg number.

One of the few connections between Abercrombie & Fitch and Savile Row is the huge mark-up. In traditional tailoring houses, this is because a bespoke suit takes up to 10 weeks to construct, over 60 hours of labour and numerous fittings. In the case of Abercrombie & Fitch, it is because it has used aggressive marketing campaigns to attach a high premium to the letters A and F, especially when cut from frayed bits of denim and glued to a T-shirt.

What reverence has Abercrombie & Fitch for the tradition or heritage of Savile Row? It is only interested in the street's iconic status on the tourist map. Its flagship store on Burlington Gardens, which abuts the Row, has already spoiled the ambience of old-world gentlemanly charm. Endless queues of teenagers spill along Savile Row, blocking the entrances to tailors and giving traffic on the Row even less room to manoeuvre.

In a deeply ironic twist, a source in the tailoring trade has revealed that Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, has his suits made on Savile Row. So the man whose company wants to desecrate the Row clearly values its product much more highly than he values its origin. If you had enjoyed a fine lunch at Le Gavroche, would your response be to open up a McDonald's next door?

If Abercrombie & Fitch is allowed to open its store on Savile Row, others will follow: eventually, the Row will become like any other street in the world, full of chain stores selling clothes that can be bought in Madrid, Dubai or Tokyo. Where will Jeffries get his suits made then?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Evander Berry Wall ... When "Dude" meant something else ...

 Evander Berry Wall (1860 – May 13, 1940), was a New York dude who became famous in the 1880s for his extravagantly refined look.

He was the son of Charles Wall and Elizabeth A. Wall, and the brother of James R. Wall, and Mrs Louise Berry Wall Ladew who died on 22 April 1910 and who divided her property between her son Harvey Smith Ladew and Elise Ladew (later Mrs William Russell Grace), and left an annuity of $3000 to her brother James, but none to Evander.
At the age of 16, Wall owned his first race horse. Having inherited $2 million before the age of 22, he became a leader of the American cafe society. He was popularly credited with the possession of over 500 trousers and 5,000 neckties.
He is credited for having been the first person in the United States to have worn during a ball, at a time when the tailcoat was still the rule, a white dinner jacket, sent to him by the London tailor Henry Poole & Co "to be worn for a quiet dinner at home or at an evening's entertainment at a summer resort". He was immediately ordered off the floor.

 He generally wore "very extraordinary" costumes: a dust coat of a reddish havana brown, a suit made of a large grey shepherd plaid check; extremely wide trousers tapered at the ankle, and turned up several inches to display white spats and highly varnished shoes; a "startling" striped shirt in red and sky blue, with very high false collar of a pattern different from the shirts, a striped vest and a widely spread stock-cravat

A journalist of the New York American, Blakely Hall, made Wall famous, proclaiming him in 1888 "King of the Dudes" for having won the "Battle of the Dudes" against Robert "Bob" Hilliard, another sartorial dude when, during the blizzard of 1888, he strode into a bar clad in gleaming boots of patent leather that went to his hips. Nevertheless, some historians still consider it was Hilliard who won that dude battle.
Wall won another contest in Saratoga Springs, New York against John "Bet a Million" Gates, for having changed clothes 40 times between breakfast and dinner, appearing on the race track "in one flashy ensemble after the other until, exhausted but victorious he at last entered the ballroom of the United States Hotel in faultless evening attire"
After an ill-conceived stock-broking career and additional failures as a stable owner which ended in a 1899 bankruptcy, Wall decided that "New York had become fit only for businessmen" and left for Paris in 1912.

Berry in a caricature by Sem at Charvet declaring “Look here! I want a Chinese neck-tie for my dog.” and at the Ritz with bartender Frank Meier.

Whether in Paris, Deauville, Biarritz or Aix-les-Bains, Wall and his wife were famous members of the French social elite, with a society that included the Duchess of Windsor, the Grand Duke Dimitri, the Aga Khan and ex-king Nicholas of Montenegro, whom Wall called a "magnificent old darling".
They lived with their chow dog Chi-Chi in the Hotel Meurice, near Charvet, where he had his signature "spread eagle" collar shirts and cravats custom-made for himself and his dog: Wall always dined at the Ritz with his dog, whose collars and ties were made by Charvet in the same style and fabric as his master's.
Wall ascribed his longevity to the fact he never saw physicians and never drank water, claiming: "There are more old drunkards than there are old doctors".

The Memoirs of Chi-chi le Chow, their dog who enjoyed a French life ...

A year before his death in 1940, he wrote his memoirs, published after his death, where he noted:"I keep reminding myself as I draw nearer my last great duty, the obligation upon me to thank the God I believe in for the gift of life."
When he died, he left only $12,608, having "squandered nearly every cent on pleasure".

Monday, 23 April 2012

Drake's Ties . London.

 The doors of No. 3 Clifford Street, the first ever Drake's shop, opened May 20th 2011.

 Our building itself is something of a landmark in the heart of Mayfair really. Formerly the home of a prestigious art and antiques Gallery, known for its Art Nouveau and Art Deco drawings, paintings, and posters, it is agreeably situated between Savile Row and Bond Street. We think that's completely appropriate to our mission of becoming the Savile Row haberdasher for those discriminating gentlemen accustomed to handmade quality


Style, comfort, and quality – rather than just fashion – have always been the hallmarks of a gentleman's wardrobe. A beautifully tailored suit, a perfect shirt, and handmade shoes send a message of natural assurance. But it doesn’t matter who your tailor is or how beautifully your suit has been cut (or what it cost), you will not be well dressed without paying attention to some rather simple details.

The small consideration, the subtle element, the fine points really do matter.

It's not a question of having the world's largest wardrobe, and certainly not an elaborate one. It's a matter of the right clothes, clothes that illustrate the inspiration and taste of the man wearing them. The aim is a relaxed elegance, a nonchalant nod towards a simple refinement.

First there's what I call the V area, that's the jacket collar and lapel, the shirt collar and the tie. This V, which both supports and causes us to visually focus on the face, is arguably the most important aspect of the whole wardrobe, and getting it wrong will be even more obvious than you might fear.

Start with the shirt. Keep it simple; blue is always a good colour, as is white, in solids, small stripes or checks. Avoid extremes; theatrical collar shapes are really dumb, as is edge stitching or fancy-coloured buttonholes. Go for softness and simplicity; allow the make to show through.

Avoid jacquard weaves, anything that looks shiny, and select twill weaves only if it’s a cotton flannel. Opt for two-ply, crisp cottons. If the fabric is too fine chest hair will show through and this is, let's be delicate, not a good look. Best stick to 2x100s or 2x120s cotton broadcloth. Good buttons are mother-of-pearl, of course.

Next the tie. The tie is important not only because it's so much the focus of attention, but because it's more symbolic than utilitarian. The best ties are hand made, never stitched by machine. You have a suit made in the round, and so the tie should be three-dimensional as well.

Avoid extremes: no wider than nine centimetres and no narrower than seven. Eight will look right on any occasion.

The pattern should not be overly designed, with too many colours, or too shiny; although solid satin in navy, grey or purple is fine for the evening, for a more formal look. The time-honoured tradition of lighter coloured ties in the morning, a little darker in the afternoon and darker still in the evening is hard to beat.

Seventy percent of the ties we produce at Drake’s of London are shades of blue. It’s always a good starting point.

There are only two knots worth considering, the four in hand and the half Windsor, the second also being a good standby if the tie is too long or a slightly fuller knot is required.

Best not to use the loop or ‘keeper’ at the back of the tie, to remain nonchalant. It’s ok to see part of the tail. Avoid a look that’s too stiff and rigid – think the Duke of Windsor or Snr. Gianni Agnelli rather than your local bank manager, whose ties will often look ironed flat.

Wearing a tie that is either too long or too short is another give away. In an ideal world the tie should reach the top of the trouser waistband with both the front and tail finishing at the same length. If this can't be achieved, better to have the tail slightly longer than the front. Often the rise of the trousers can cause the tie to be the wrong length.

The chicest suit, the softest handmade shirt is a sartorial dream; but with an inappropriate tie the dream becomes a nightmare.

Similarly simple things are making sure your cufflinks do not resemble Byzantine coffin lids and the metals match up. If you are wearing a stainless steel watchstrap, your cufflinks shouldn't be gold. For me the simple choice is a knot link made from both white and yellow gold.

A few other small, but telling details. Never puff up a white linen hank, always wear it folded. Choose the leather trim on your braces to match your shoe colour. It’s difficult but possible to find braces with silk braided ends, which are preferable to fasteners. A slight and personal disregard for coordination can be charming, but carried too far one drifts from harmony into jarring chaos.

Socks are another give away. Never wear short socks with a suit. Navy socks always work with brown shoes but black socks do not with brown. Personally I am inclined to wear purple socks with almost anything, and like to think of it merely as a signature eccentricity.

Avoid extremes in shoes: those that are too flamboyant, too pointy (or too square for that matter) or over designed. It's too easy for shoes to call attention to themselves and spoil the overall effect.

The idea is to not look as if you have just arrived on the boat from Naples. The best-dressed Neapolitans aim for an understated English style.

As Coco Chanel once said, women should dress to either look chic or sexy. Men should look stylish.

Michael Drake founded Drake's in 1977. Today it is the largest independent maker of handmade ties in England. The picture of Michael was taken in 1973 by Lord Litchfield

How to make a silk tie

In a disused post office depot, Jon Henley finds the skills to make the finest gentlemen's accessories are still making the cut

TJon Henley
The Guardian, Saturday 6 February 2010

There aren't many people still making things in the centre of London but, in a small former post office maintenance depot in Clerkenwell, Michael Drake and his staff make what those in the know reckon are England's finest hand-cut, hand-sewn silk ties. "It's almost a lost art," says Drake, "working materials of this quality by hand. So few people do it that we pretty much had to teach ourselves."

Drake began his tie, scarf and gentlemen's accessories business ( in 1977. His designs mix the classic and quirky to produce "the English look, the way the Italians imagine it". Apart from a growing internet business, the vast majority find discerning homes abroad; here, he says, though attitudes are slowly changing, "ties tend to be either very old-fashioned, or big-name brands. City-boy stuff."

A tie has three main parts: the blade, or front; the neck; and the tail, or back. To start, the material – Drake uses mainly British-made heavy silks, woven or screen-printed – is unrolled and checked for flaws. In 80cm by 70cm blocks, generally in piles of 20 or so, it then goes to the cutter, who lays out the cardboard patterns as economically as possible and, using an extremely sharp knife, cuts the silk cleanly on the bias (at a 45-degree angle to the threads).

Each block will make two ties; it could, at another manufacturer's, make four, but not without cutting off the bias, and a tie cut off the bias, says Drake, will not hang as well or recover its shape as quickly. The cutter also cuts out a small piece of waste cloth for the loop – the "keeper" attached to the back of the blade through which you can, if you know nothing about how a tie should be worn, tuck the tail.

Both blade and tail are then "tipped". The only part of the whole process done by machine, this involves sewing a partial lining to the back of the tie, either in the same material (in which case the tie is "self-tipped") or a contrasting colour and weight of silk. Blade, neck and tail are then joined together, and the material and seams lightly pressed (it's vital, says Drake, to retain the three-dimensional shape of the tie; that gives it character).

Next the tie is "slipped". First, the interlining – the core strip of thicker material, wool or cotton or a blend of the two, around which the silk is folded – is tucked into the blade tip. Then the silk is folded and pinned along the length; the folds must be neither too loose, nor too tight, and the seam must run up the centre.

Now, starting with a bar tack (or anchor point) and using a slightly curved needle and strong, 40-gauge silk thread, the sewer puts in the slip stitch that will hold it all together. The slip, a relatively loose stitch that allows the material a degree of movement, must gather in both sides of the silk, the tip and the interlining, while leaving the front of the tie untouched and being completely invisible from the back. It's an exceptionally skilful business. Along the way, the keeper is sewn in.

Finally, the slipping is secured with another bar tack at the tail, leaving a small loop of excess thread inside the tie. This loop means that however much the tie is stretched, twisted or scrunched, it will return to its original shape if hung and left well alone. The last step is to sew in the label with four corner tacks, and to give the two ends a finishing (and again, very light) press.

The result is an object whose design, weight, cut and construction mean it feels every bit as pleasing to the hand as it looks around the neck. To keep it that way, says Drake, it should be untied carefully after use, rolled and then hung. There are only two knots worth considering: the four-in-hand and the half-Windsor. Aim for a dimple at the base of the knot. And don't use the loop: it looks naff.

Drakes Ties Interview - Michael Drake

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly

Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly (2 November 1808 – 23 April 1889) was a French novelist and short story writer. He specialised in mystery tales that explored hidden motivation and hinted at evil without being explicitly concerned with anything supernatural. He had a decisive influence on writers such as Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Henry James and Marcel Proust.
Paul Bourget describes Barbey as an idealist, who sought and found in his work a refuge from the uncongenial ordinary world. Jules Lemaître, a less sympathetic critic, thought the extraordinary crimes of his heroes and heroines, his reactionary opinions, his dandyism and snobbery were a caricature of Byronism.
Beloved of fin-de-siècle decadents, Barbey d'Aurevilly remains an example of the extremes of late romanticism. Barbey d'Aurevilly held extreme Catholic opinions, yet wrote about risqué subjects, a contradiction apparently more disturbing to the English than to the French themselves. Barbey d'Aurevilly was also known as a dandy artisan of his own persona, adopting an aristocratic style and hinting at a mysterious past, though his parentage was provincial bourgeois nobility, and his youth comparatively uneventful.

Anatomy of the Dandy
We agree with Barbey d’Aurevilly that dandyism is as difficult to describe as to define. We can opine about effortless elegance and sparkling wit, but dandyism is ultimately characterized by the nearly indescribable effect of the dandy’s appearance and demeanor on the spectator. The French call such effect a je ne sais quoi; in Hollywood it’s called having “it.”

The magic of dandyism resides in the interplay between the dandy’s temperament and his appearance. Yet it is not a question of simple harmony, for one dandy may combine severe dress with a jocular demeanor, while another meshes cold aloofness with colorful and audacious dress.

Nevertheless, what follows is an attempt to describe the indescribable, to unravel the formula of dandyism’s certain something.

To do so we must bear in mind that dandyism is sometimes referred to as an affectation. In Regency England, dandyism became a fashionable pose when men wished to imitate Brummell without having either his sartorial originality or his particular temperament. And though Brummell surely exploited his temperament for effect in fashionable society, it was already present when he was a lad at Eton and distinguished himself by “the most bold and delicate mixture of impertinence and respect.”

The difference between the genuine dandy and the ersatz dandy is shown explicitly in Stendhal’s “The Red and the Black” when Prince Korasoff says to Julien Sorel, “You have that natural froideur we try so hard to affect.”

And so for those not born with a natural dandy effect, this dissection of the dandy temperament will serve as a guide to the proper pose.

Individual dandies throughout the ages have emphasized certain qualities over others, but all qualities must be present in some degree for the effect to reach full fruition.

And so, here are the qualities that comprise the anatomy of the dandy, ranked in order of importance:

1. Physical distinction

Dandyism can only be painted on a suitable canvas. It is impossible to cut a dandy figure without being tall, slender and handsome, or having at least one of those characteristics to a high degree while remaining at least average in the other two. Fred Astaire was neither tall nor handsome, but he was “so thin you could spit through him.”

Count D’Orsay, of course, had all three qualities to the highest degree.

“To appear well dressed, be skinny and tall.” — Mason Cooley

2. Elegance

Elegance, of course, as defined by the standards of a dandy’s particular era.

“[The dandy's] independence, assurance, originality, self-control and refinement should all be visible in the cut of his clothes.” — Ellen Moers

Dandies must love contemporary costume, says Beerbohm, and their dress should be “free from folly or affectation.”

3. Self-mastery

Barbey speaks of the dandy’s staunch determination to remain unmoved, while Baudelaire says that should a dandy suffer pain, he will “keep smiling.”

“Manage yourself well and you may manage all the world.” — Bulwer-Lytton

“Immense calm with your heart pounding.” — Noel Coward

4. Aplomb

While self-mastery is the internal practice of keeping emotions in check, aplomb is how it is expressed to the dandy’s audience.

“Dandyism introduces antique calm among our modern agitations.” — Barbey d’Aurevilly

5. Independence

Ideally financial independence, but if the dandy is forced to work, a spirit of independence will be expressed through his work, as with Tom Wolfe. Independence — often to the point of aloofness — will also characterize the dandy’s dealings with the world.

“The epitome of selfish irresponsibility, he was ideally free of all human commitments that conflict with taste: passions, moralities, ambitions, politics or occupations.” — Moers

“Independence makes the dandy.” — Barbey d’Aurevilly

6. Wit

Especially a paradoxical way of talking lightly of the serious and seriously of the light that carries philosophical implications.

(See Oscar Wilde, his characters such as Lord Henry and Lord Goring, and to a lesser degree every other notable dandy.)

7. A skeptical, world-weary, sophisticated, bored or blasé demeanor

“The dandy is blasé, or feigns to be.” — Baudelaire

“A spirit of gay misanthropy, a cynical, depreciating view of society.” — Lister

8.  A self-mocking and ultimately endearing egotism

“Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.” — Wilde, “The Ideal Husband”

9. Dignity/Reserve

Pelham keeps “the darker and stormier emotions” to himself — Bulwer-Lytton

“A flawless dandy, he would be annoyed if he were considered romantic.” — Oscar Wilde, “An Ideal Husband”

10. Discriminating taste

“To resist whatever may be suitable for the vulgar but is improper for the dandy.” — Moers

11. A renaissance man

“A complete gentleman, who, according to Sir Fopling, ought to dress well, dance well, fence well, have a genius for love letters, and an agreeable voice for a chamber.” — Etherege, quoted by Bulwer-Lytton in “Pelham”

12. Caprice

Because dandies are an enigma wrapped in a labyrinth, and because dandyism makes its own rules, the final quality is the ability to negate all the others.

For in the end there is not a code of dandyism, as Barbey writes. “If there were, anybody could be a dandy.”


Photographs of Massimiliano Mocchia di Coggiola Piccolo. by Rose Callahan

De Barbey d'Aurevilly à John Galliano, l'être et le paraître se confondent

À Granville Éric Biétry-Rivierre Mis à jour le 20/05/2008 in 

La villa du couturier évoque ces artistes rares, qui ont fait de leur personne un chef-d'oeuvre.

Il y a une géographie du dandysme. Elle est surtout anglaise mais aussi normande. Du haut de la falaise de Granville, on peut parfaitement la considérer. À l'ouest Guernesey, important sanctuaire hugolien et donc du romantisme français, un des proches ancêtres du mouvement. À l'est, Caen où mourut le beau Brummell, l'archétype de l'élégant. Au nord, la presqu'île du Cotentin avec Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte où naquit et vécut Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, le premier théoricien du dandysme. Au sud, Paris, ses salons, ses bals, sa culture du raffinement…

Au cœur, sur la falaise, emmitouflée dans son jardin de bambous, de rosiers et de senteurs, la villa « Les Rhumbs » doit justement son nom au terme de marine désignant les divisions de la rose des vents. C'est la maison d'enfance de Christian Dior et aujourd'hui un musée consacré au couturier, théâtre d'une exposition, petite mais dense, intitulée « Dandysmes 1808-2008, de Barbey d'Aurevilly à Christian Dior », car on fête cette année le bicentenaire de la naissance de l'écrivain. C'est, sur deux étages de pièces cosy, un parcours brillant de correspondances mises en évidence par le commissaire Jean-Luc Dufresne. Littérature, peinture, mode et parfums fertilisent un unique et fin sillon. Celui de ces caractères rares ayant fait d'eux-mêmes le centre de leur vie.

Ce parcours commence avec d'un côté, les gants en chevreau (« J'ai, parfois dans ma vie, été bien malheureux, mais je n'ai jamais quitté mes gants blancs »), la redingote à taille de guêpe et la cravate brodée d'un Barbey, posant fier et précieux, dans un tableau peint en 1881 par Émile Levy. De l'autre, la grande cape sur pantalon noir et chemise blanche de la dernière collection prêt-à-porter Dior Homme, imaginée par Kris Van Assche. Le rapport ? Il se noue dans une photo montrant Christian Dior déguisé en Barbey d'Aurevilly au bal des artistes de 1956.

Mais plus profondément que cela : le dandysme à l'opposé d'une quelconque frivolité se lit dans l'attitude « mannequin », symptomatique d'une sensibilité extrême au monde, en dépit du mépris affiché. Car, avant tout intellectuel, le dandy opère cette « fusion des mouvements de l'esprit et du corps » remarquée par Barbey. Outre ce dernier et le couturier, cette « pose » est commune à un Robert de Montesquiou, à un Jean Cocteau, à un Paul Morand ou encore à un David Bowie dont les portraits ponctuent la visite entre deux gilets brodés XIXe, la canne à pommeau perlé de Balzac, les collections Dior de l'après-guerre, où l'anglomanie, l'androgynie et la sophistication luttent ouvertement contre l'esprit pratique et les restrictions du moment.

Elle se lit enfin, hautement revendiquée, dans les fantasmes « historicisants » de John Galliano. Dans sa démesure et ses excentricités s'impose majestueusement le pouvoir d'être soi. Un pouvoir contradictoire car douloureux, puisqu'il s'accompagne sans cesse d'une « recherche inquiète de l'approbation des autres ».