Monday, April 7, 2014

Esquire's 2014 Spring/Summer Big Black Book

It's finally here! Like a child waiting for Christmas morning! I went to B&N several times looking for this, thinking it would be out earlier since it is already April.

I'm most excited about the possible resurgence of the double breasted suit. It was extremely popular the 1940s and 50s (check on these dates), made a comeback in the 1990s and his been dormant for almost 25 years. Joseph Abboud offers a DB model in its custom suit program, which is only available at The Men's Wearhouse I was going to purchase one last month, but I had to wait. I actually want to purchase three, a charcoal gray pinstripe, a navy glen plaid, and a navy houndstooth with a burgundy windowpane. This edition of BBB has 5 different DB models listed.

Some interesting locales to visit are Cap Estel, Cape Town, and Costa Careyes.

If you have a hankering for a watch that costs more than 15.000 USD, BBB suggests models from Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Blancpain, and Breguet. They include other price points ranging from 10.000 - 15.000 USD, 7.500 - 10.000 USD, 3.000 - 7.500 USD, and less than 3.000 USD. The only TAG Heuer model profiled is the Steel Monaco 24 retailing for 13.500 USD.

The One-Day Apprentice is an article by Richard Dorment. He spends a day at the Caesar Attolini headquarters in Naples to see what is involved in creating a sport coat entirely by hand.  Ninety-nine percent of clothing you purchase today is made in a factory by machines. With so much competition it is the most cost effective way to mass produce garments. Then you have the rarified one percent of clothing that is made by hand and the prices reflect this. Oxxford suits that cost 6.000 USD, Ralph Lauren cashmere overcoats 7.500 USD, John Lobb shoes 8.000 USD, and Kiton sport coats 4.500 USD.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Definitive Ralph Lauren Coffee Table Book

Ralph Lauren

Written by Ralph Lauren, Edited by Mary Randolph Carter
  •  October 18, 2011
  •  Hardcover
  •  Design - Fashion
  •  Rizzoli
  •  9 x 11-3/4
  •  $50.00
  •  $55.00
  •  978-0-8478-3743-4

As I was growing up I adopted the preppy style of dressing. It is all about polka dot ties, glen plaid suits, brown brogues, tan linen suits, white french cuff shirts, and pocket squares.

There is only one name in the world of fashion that has made preppy into a four billion dollar juggernaut, Ralph Lauren.

It all started with a tie he designed and named, "Polo".  His tie was a massive hit and Neiman Marcus placed an order for 100 dozen. From there he opened a Polo boutique on Rodeo Drive with the financial backing of Norman Hilton and the rest is history.

Over the years his line has expanded to women, boys, and housewares. Denim, sportswear, and the Rugby concept store round out the choices. RL has several different lines to accommodate all discriminating clients, with Purple Label at the top. Also, RL is a major contributor to several worthy causes.

His astute eye for classic clothes is only surpassed by his discerning eye for classic automobiles. Remember the saying, it is not the quantity, but quality? RL does. The number of automobiles in his collection is small compared to Jay Leno's. However, the 60 automobiles in his collection are the rare of the rarest. Automobiles with production runs of 4, 5, 6, 15 and the coveted 1 of 1. The three standouts are the 1938 Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic, 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK "Count Trossi", and 1996 McLaren F1 LM. In 2005 RL displayed his collection of automobiles at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston which I attended.

I had first seen this book in NYC. I mentioned that I had seen this amazing coffee table book about RL to my wife. She remembered I had an interest in this book and purchased it for my birthday 2 years ago. This is book is massive! It weighs about 5 pounds and runs in excess of 450 pages.
This book is a mere glimpse into the mind of RL. It is divided into four sections, Living, Movies, Heroines, and History. The foreword is penned by the late Audrey Hepburn, extolling his brilliance in designing clothes. It important to note this is a biography of RL in hundreds of pictures and not in words. However, there is some text in the beginning and in History, but not a lot in between.

Check out a free preview of the book.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

House of Cards Seasons 1 & 2: A twisted tale of politics as usual

Poster for Season 2 House of Cards. Source

Kevin Spacey portrays Congressman Francis J. Underhill,  Robin Wright portrays his wife, Claire, and Kate Mara portrays reporter, Zoe Barnes. House of Cards (HoC) is the BBC version of the same name from 1990. The new series pays homage to the old by mirroring some scenes. One scene from the original is used in the current series and the movie, Horrible Bosses. It is the scene when Kevin Spacey manipulates Jason Bateman into drinking 18 year old Scotch at 8:15 am.

HoC is not a network television show. It was created by Media Rights Capital. They pitched the series to several cable networks and then Netflix, the Internet streaming media provider, ended up securing the show.

HoC represents the future of television shows. Since it is not shown on a network it does not face the same type of scrutiny from Standards & Practices, which results in more artistic freedom to create, there are no commercials, and all the episodes are released as the same time. Since all the episodes of a show are available all at once,  a new phenomena has emerged, binge-watching. This is when someone watches several episodes in one sitting. This is how I raced through season 2. I went through all 13 episodes in less than a week. Had this been a show on a network, it would have taken more than 3 months to watch all the shows.

HoC is an insiders look into how politicians work in D.C. Determination, a fine quality in anyone, is the goal to the end, with no consideration with the consequences of the means. Whomever is in their path will get steamrolled. Coercion and manipulation do not even require a second thought, as it is already a given. Murder, corruption, deception, false imprisonment, and extortion are as benign as a cup of tea in this world. It is fair to say Francis might have consulted, The Prince, from time to time.

There are a few similarities between HoC and Shakespeare's Richard III. Both use soliloquies by the main character to speaker directly to the viewer/audience and both feature the main character's Machiavellian ascent into power.          

An interesting part of HoC, as in the original, is Francis' breaking the fourth wall by speaking directly to the viewer. This serves insight to what Francis is thinking at certain moments. Below is a video of this. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

GQ Style: What to Wear Now Spring & Summer 2014

I was looking for the latest copy of Esquire's Big Black Book at B&N and I stumbled across this. This is the GQ version of The Big Black Book. I don't why they waited 8 years to create their own version.

This issue has a several interesting articles. The two I like are the spread on different stripes of seersucker. Some choices include olive, red, and brown. I own a seersucker suit in blue. This is the only color I would consider as it is the most traditional. The style of the suit, however,  is not traditional. I choose a double vented jacket with a flat front pant. The more traditional is a single vented jacket with pleated pants. Here is a photo of a seersucker suit.

The second article I took note of is, The Badass Banker Suit, article. Most suits off the rack are single breasted. This means the the two sides of the jacket button in the middle whereas in a double breasted suit, the left side overlaps a part of the right and is buttoned there. I am going to purchase a custom Joseph Abboud gray pinstripe double breasted suit this weekend from The Men's Wearhouse. The suit is pre-altered at the factory which is located in New Bedford, MA. My suit will be slightly different from the suit in the picture. It will have a ticket pocket, a small pocket above the pocket on the right side of the jacket and the pants will not be cuffed. They will sport a plain hem which is correct for a flat front pant. 


Other articles of note include a features on David Hockney and Toshiro Mifune. On the style side, appropriate man bags, the commandments of wearing Hawaiian shirts, cargo shorts with the pockets on the front of the thigh as opposed to the side, and the alternative to leather, suede.