A couple weeks back I tossed my ever so brief review of Hollywood and the Ivy Look into this post as an afterthought, but after thumbing through that book countless times since I wrote that piece, I’ve decided that a one sentence blurb hardly does it any justice. The book’s glossy images of icons from the fifties and sixties, some of which have never been published before, are reason enough to pick it up alone, but to me, the book’s real value lies in it’s numerous examples of the well-executed tab collar shirt. Nowadays though, the tab collar has become a nonentity in the arsenal of men’s style. Yet I’ll admit, in keeping with the natural order of supply and demand, that scarcity has only increased my intrigue, so over the past few months I’ve gone in search of my great white whale – a slim fitting, tab collar oxford. And every time I come up empty handed. Brooks Brothers offers four models but never in the right configuration of fit and fabric, Ralph Lauren only makes one paltry pink version, and with Rugby now falling by the wayside there isn’t one company that seems to excel in the tab collar department.
Like all suburban boys with mothers that wouldn’t let them touch a football, growing up I my first taste of glory on the sun spotted, dew drenched grass lots of my hometown’s baseball fields. In those days I could barely make contact with an underhand pitch, let alone actually pay attention to the game for any longer than a couple of outs, and so it was out on those diamonds that I wandered into my early, innocuous delusions of grandeur. The game itself was irrelevant, but for that hour or two each weekend I could pretend that I was Sammy Sosa in the backfield, long before steroids, adolescence, and an actual score card took away my wide-eyed love for the game.
If you’ve been keeping score, (and really I don’t know why you would be), it’s been about nine months since I’ve written about anything that was sent to me for free. The last product I decided to accept from a brand denigrated in a matter of days (after I had written a positive review no less) so since then I’ve turned down almost every offer that’s come across my desk. I try my hardest to adhere to the belief that if it’s worth writing about it, I’ll find it on my own. But a couple weeks ago, I received an email from Bespoke Post (a name that I’m not particularly keen on), a startup monthly subscription box service based around menswear, that had me curious enough to write back and have them send over a trial box.
This past Monday, in advance of this year’s (capsule) trade show, I had the pleasure of joining my good friends photographer Liam Goslett and stylist James Jean down at Basketball City to shoot the Capturing Capsule look book. As brands arrived and unpacked, James and Liam, along with models Patrick Rood and Patrick Dery, braved the cold to create a series of looks inspired by the work of photographer Gavin Watson, using some of the best pieces from the scores of brands that showed at (capsule) this season. Thanks to an incredibly gracious offer by Liam, I was on hand to capture B-roll of the shoot and so here’s a look behind the scenes of Capturing Capsule.
When Ian Velardi turns to me and asks “so what do you think” I get the sense that he genuinely wants to know the answer. Amongst the innumerable booths of capsule, and even more innumerable boilerplate conversations filled with half-hearted queries, talking to Velardi feels like a much needed respite. He might be soft-spoken, but Velardi seems to actually consider every word he says, and so as I walked through his booth on the opening day of capsule, carrying on probably the only thoughtful conversation I had in a booth all day, I could tell that Velardi pays that same level of attention to the clothes he designs.
It opens with a Princeton crested navy blazer, closes with a duffle coat and in between The Talented Mr. Ripley traverses between the Ivy League world of New York City, the cobblestone steps of Italian cities, and concludes with a nod to the English countryside. As the diabolical Tom Ripley (played by Matt Damon) arrives in Italy from New York to bring Dickie Greenleaf (played by Jude Law) back to the city and his father’s shipbuilding empire, he is clothed in pleated trousers, a black knit tie, and what appears to be a Brooks Brothers button-down, which would’ve been standard issue for any “Princeton man” of 1955. I won’t spoil the story by detailing Tom’s exploits as a con artist, although Damon’s performance as one of the most finest liars to ever grace the silver screen is worth the price of admission alone. But it’s the costumes, running the spectrum from trad to Neapolitan to Anglo that wrap the entire film in a blend of hopsack, cord, wool, and cashmere which covers all the character’s ruthless deeds and personality flaws, making them seem all the more sinister from behind those fine threads.
This past summer, during an exceptionably slow day at work, my friend (and former co-worker) Matt spontaneously summed up the entire current menswear wave with one word: “Italiatrad.” While Matt’s impromptu portmanteau was all we needed to kill a day discussing the marriage of Neapolitan and Ivy, after that day I’d practically forgotten about the word altogether, although I’m pretty sure Matt’s been searching for a “real” definition of the word ever since. This past week though, I found Italiatrad back at the forefront of my mind, as I sat there reading the announcement that Antonio Ciongoli was leaving his role as deputy creative director of Michael Bastian to spearhead the creative direction of Isaia’s resurrected diffusion brand, Eidos.
I like to think of shopping on Amazon.com as the retail equivalent of an embarrassment of riches with more options and products than any sane person can ever sift through. And so this past month after receiving a gift card to the site, I found myself faced with such a limitless amount of choices that I was momentarily stricken with shopper’s paralysis. The only way out of this was to fall back on my old e-commerce standby: books I would never buy otherwise because they’re too big to carry home from the store.
Over the past year or so there’s been a lot of chatter within the ever-introspective menswear community as to whether or not tumblr has made blogging or worse, and while I for one adhere to the principle that some people on tumblr do it right, and most people do it horribly wrong, there is one man who does it unbelievably well. While we’ve all been busy debating the merits of the microblogging platform, Milstil a self described “Dutch, classic menswear dilettante” has created a full-blown empire of single-source menswear tumblrs that could make any diehard wordpress fan (myself included) blush.