When I received an e-mail from the 'Jacket Maker', at the beginning of the year, offering me the opportunity of designing my own leather jacket, I jumped at the chance. I wanted something with lots of fringing. I was thinking Harry Styles meets Stevie Nicks (look just what happened at the recent Gucci Cruise show!) to wear to a festival. A few e-mails back and forth and a few months later, voila, here's my western style leather jacket in oxblood red with maximum fringing. Rock on!
I've teamed it with a vintage, dead-stock 1970s yellow blouse with beagle collars I found on eBay, my current favourite jeans from Raey at Matchesfashion.com and some practical hiking boots for all those hours flitting between the bar and the main stage. Bring on the music...
Credits - #Gifted - Fringed Leather Jacket - Jacket Maker, Jeans - Raey, Boots - Merrell, #Bought - Vintage Blouse - eBay, Vintage Neckace - eBay
Every year, the bluebells arrive to herald the end of spring, and TheChicGeek takes to the woods. The blur of blue and intoxicating smell are one of the miracles of the season and you should dress to match.
Gifted - Credits - Blue V-Neck - MG Rivers, Yellow Shirt - eBay, Tie - Dries Van Noten from Harvey Nichols, Trousers - American Vintage, Suede Loafers - Dune London, Watch - Kronaby
The horizontal striped camp collar shirt has become a staple of men’s summer wardrobes over the past few summers. It’s become a ‘Basic’ basic, if you know what I mean, but, honestly, they still look good.
I first met Scott Fraser of Scott Fraser Collection at the Goodwood Revival and he looked every bit the king of vintage he has become; sitting on his moped with his perfectly mid-century look. A stickler for the details, his own label is a fabulous collection of reproduced vintage inspired pieces and this shirt is no different.
Made from two newly-discovered 20-metre rolls of vintage fabric, perfectly wrapped and stored in the back of a mill, this ‘Lido collar’ includes two chest pockets, rear waist-band adjusters, v-split cuff details and mother-of-pearl buttons throughout. A Linen/cotton mix and made in London, the idea is to look like a walking sun-bleached deckchair this summer and this looks as good as anything made back when.
This is the best type of shopping; an investment and something originally beautiful. You already know I’m obsessed with vintage and the element of discovery and a new auction catalogue from Kerry Taylor Auctions in Bermondsey is like sartorial porn. So, treat yourself to something for Christmas. You deserve it!
Here are TheChicGeek’s picks of the sale and why:
TheChicGeek says, “Nothing is original in fashion, well, not totally. When Jeremy Scott put his wings on his adidas trainers, he could have glimpsed these gorgeous pair of talaria beach sandals. (Talaria are winged sandals, a symbol of the Greek messenger god Hermes -The name is from the Latin tālāria, "of the ankle".) Can you imagine the rest of the swimming costume?"
Lot 62 : A rare pair of Phillips' Silver Wing rubber bathing shoes, English, late 1920s
A rare pair of Phillips' Silver Wing rubber bathing shoes, English, late 1920s. moulded with maker's details to the soles, of black rubber with white painted edgings and silver wings to each side.
Estimate: £800 - £1200
TheChicGeek says, “I’m a little bit obsessed with Schiaparelli, ATM. I’ve been reading her ‘Shocking Life’ autobiography and she seems like a whirlwind of style and creative ideas and very much where we are, right now, in fashion. This is one of those fun things we take for granted today, but just look at the year it was produced”.
Lot 69 : A rare Salvador Dali for Schiaparelli 'Telephone Dial' compact, 1935.
The design of this compact in 1935 marks the first collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali. That same year saw the opening of Maison Schiaparelli at 21, Place Vendôme, Paris.
Estimate: £2000 - £3000
TheChicGeek says, “More Schiaparelli. I get the impression any woman who commissioned an outfit from Schiaparelli would be the interesting woman in the room. It’s a shame the name didn’t have the same life as her rival, Chanel, as it would have made for much more creative fashion”.
Lot 70 : A fine and rare Elsa Schiaparelli couture 'Hall of Mirrors' jacket and matching dress, 'Zodiac' collection, Autumn-Winter, 1938-39
Presented in August 1938, it drew on two main themes - astrology and the magnificent Palace of Versailles. The seventeen massive archways of the Galerie des Glaces, each filled with twenty-one mirrors, must have inspired the baroque cartouches on this jacket front. Provenance: Vera Bowler who married John Wesley Worth on 4th May 1935. Her husband was regional Manager for Carreras Ltd., Britain's largest manufacturer of cigarettes.
Estimate: £50000 - £70000
TheChicGeek says, “Move over the Milk Tray man in this James Bond like aprés-ski outfit. You can just imagine George Best or Tom Jones in something like this”.
Lot 107 : A fine and rare Pierre Cardin man's knitted jump suit, 1969-70.
Estimate: £7000 - £10000
TheChicGeek says, “John Galliano seems to be exciting everybody at Maison Margiela, ATM, so it’s nice to see some early stuff from this British master. £1200 in 1990? That would have been a fortune”.
Lot 159 : The John Galliano 'Banana' coat showpiece, Autumn-Winter, 1989-90.
Provenance: Gifted by Mr Galliano to a friend who worked with him. The coccon-shaped 'Poiret' coat in banana-yellow Melton wool with collar formed from tall cartridge pleats (retail price advertised at £1200). Galliano described this coat as a 'punctuation mark for the show’.
Estimate: £2500 - £3500
TheChicGeek says,”It was only a fews years ago that Christopher Raeburn put inflatable rubber coats onto his London catwalk. This is pure Michelin Man and full of those 80s proportions when Issey Miyake was at the height of his influence”.
Lot 172 : A rare Issey Miyake man's inflatable rubber jacket, 1987.
An identical jacket was worn by Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys in 1987 in a performance of 'Rent' on the 'Live from the London Palladium' TV show..
Estimate: £10000 - £15000
See more ChicGeek vintage picks here
Bill Cunningham’s first love was fashion, but the Big Apple came a close second. He left Boston for New York aged nineteen, losing his family’s support, but enjoying the infinite luxury of freedom. Living on a scoop of Ovaltine a day, he would run down to Fifth Avenue to feed on the spectacular sights of the window displays – then run back to his tiny studio to work all night.
Working as ‘William J’ - to spare his parents’ blushes - Bill became one of the most celebrated hat designers of the 1950s, his hats were featured in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and worn by Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy. Bill’s mission was to bring happiness by making beautiful things – even if it meant pawning his bike to fund fancy-dress outfits for all his friends.
When women stopped wearing hats and his business was forced to close, Bill worked as a fashion journalist, touring the couture houses of Europe. But New York remained his home, and it was as a street photographer of the fashions of the city that he became well known, in a job that would last almost forty years.
Fashion Climbing is the enchanting memoir he left behind. Found after passing away in June 2016 aged 87, it captures the madcap times of his early career and the fashion scene of the mid-century. Written with the spark and wit of Holly Golightly, and brimming over with Bill’s infectious joy for life, it is a gift to all who seek beauty, whatever our style or status.
Left - Fashion Climbing - Bill Cunningham - £16.99
TheChicGeek says, “We don’t have the same affection for Bill on this side of the pond as the Americans, but we know him from the 2010 documentary ‘Bill Cunningham New York’, charting his life as a street style photographer for The New York Times. (I probably need to watch this again soon).
One thing to point out about this autobiography is, it doesn’t touch on his later life as a photographer. It focuses only on his early years, moving from a hat designer to fashion journalist and ends in the late 1960s.
Bill leaves his conservative Irish catholic family in Boston, who tried to curtail his creativity, via a job at department store Bonwit’s and on to New York. Bill finds himself making hats and using his imagination during the heyday of Dior’s ‘New Look’ and America’s obsession with following Paris’ lead.
Bill takes us back to a time when people applauded at fashion shows and not the one handed clap while social media-ing you get today. As delicate a bird as one of his favourite feathered creations, Cunningham projects himself as an outsider purely driven by the love of fashion. He’s exasperated by the social climbing and the following of fashion of women during this part of the 20th century.
This is America at the height of its power. Post war and the golden age of the American dream, this autobiography works through the decades when America peaked and was a powerhouse of fashion consumption and was its biggest patron. Bill must surely be the only man to combine time in the American army while sitting frow at Parisian couture houses.
This is a fun read, and, while it feels exaggerated, it is endearing and is an amusing look at America trying to find its fashion feet. Bill isn’t particularly modest though and wants to continually remind you how individual and original he is. At one point he proclaims he’s ten years ahead of fashion and how nobody gets him. Nobody wants to be ten years ahead of fashion, plus you’d think somebody would have moved into something other than hats faster if you were so ahead of your time.
The hat business dries up and he starts to use his expertise documenting the latest fashion shows and writing fashion articles for WWD. He certainly doesn't have many positive things to say about the fashion press and notes how badly dressed they mostly are.
The book charts his struggle, particularly financially, but you get a feeling his family have more money than he lets on and his uncle sounds very wealthy.
What’s interesting in the book is how things are so different, yet the same. His talk of fashion shows isn’t far off of the circus today. But, fashion has changed and that breathless wait for the next creation from a chosen designer doesn’t ring true anymore. We look, yes, but they no longer have the power with people following sheep-like.
For many, at this time, fashion is a vehicle for social standing, climbing and showing their wealth and his eyerolling at those who just use clothes for these purposes isn’t disguised. He wants them to just enjoy it for what it is, but, you can only do this if you understand fashion, and very few people truly do.
This is the Mad Men New York of parties in hotel ballrooms, social gatherings and peacocking. This is America at its most formal, yet still shows how conservative they are and yet with all the money. They would never buy anything that original or daring and that still rings true today.
This is a lite and inspiring read for anybody who gets excited about vintage fashion, women with cinched in waists and full skirts, Parisian fashion salons of the 1950s and bouji New York beach resorts."
Read more ChicGeek Fashion Book Reviews here
For those of us who want to express our taste, get something different and also, possibly, invest, vintage is the place to be, right now. I love a rummage around a vintage store or on eBay, but finding something decent, that fits, is tough, but that’s part of the fun and makes something good all that more special. Book -
One of the easiest ways of finding something special is to look at a specialist online auction and Kerry Taylor Auctions in Bermondsey is probably the best specialist fashion seller in the UK. Admittedly, it is reflected in the prices, but they aren't crazy, especially when you compare them to today's designer prices. I always have a look at their online catalogue, not only to look at what is in the sale, but also for style ideas from the past.
Here are TheChicGeek’s picks of the sale and why:
TheChicGeek says, “While I probably wouldn’t get into this dress… it’s the 1960s & 1970s optical prints that are all the rage at the moment. Just look at Dries Van Noten’s Verner Panton inspired collection for SS19 to understand how fresh these are looking right now. I'd love this print in a shirt.” See Thom Yorke in Dries Van Noten SS19 it here
Lot 202 : A Pierre Balmain couture printed organza evening dress, 1972
A Pierre Balmain couture printed organza evening dress, 1972. labelled and numbered 154665, boldly printed with 'target' medallions.
Estimate: £300 - £500
TheChicGeek says, “Vintage Tommy Nutter is very hard to come by. These aren’t particularly exciting, but, it’s the shapes you’re buying into: huge, exaggerated lapels and flared trousers. I particularly like the multiple vents on the back.”
Book - You need to read the House of Nutter here
Lot 252 : Two Tommy Nutter gentleman's wool suits, 1975-76
Two Tommy Nutter gentleman's wool suits, 1975-76. un-labelled, of similar design, the first in sage-green, the second beige, both jackets with exaggerated lapels, inverted pleat detailing to front pockets and rear; together with an original 'Nutters' hanger and photocopy showing the original owner.
Estimate: £300 - £500
TheChicGeek says, “These are a fashion museum piece, so I’d expect them to go for much more than the estimate. The late 1960s sci-fi/retro-future styles still fascinate and these are one of the iconic eyewear styles of that era.”
See more inspiration from 2001 Space Odyssey here
Lot 267 : A pair of Courrèges cream plastic 'eskimo' sunglasses, 1964
A pair of Courrèges cream plastic 'eskimo' sunglasses, 1964. signed along one arm, the solid lenses with horizontal slits, in a Courrèges plastic glasses case.
Estimate: £200 - £300
TheChicGeek says, “While this isn’t an original Pearly King outfit, and more a stage costume, the allure is the style’s place in London’s working class street culture. While an original East London ‘Pearly’ suit would be the dream, it would be hard to find one in as good condition as this one.”
Lot 381 : A good 'Pearly King' outfit for 'The Yorkshire Coster', English, circa 1910
A good 'Pearly King' outfit for 'The Yorkshire Coster', English, circa 1910. of dark grey herringbone tweed and covered entirely with pearlised buttons, comprising jacket, waistcoat and trousers with buttons by 'Scarboro Etches'; together with an original photograph and pocket map of London. Provenance: The Castle Howard Collection, ex lot 210, Sotheby's, 7th October 2003. This suit belonged to William Wedgwood Fenwick (1886-1960) who was born in Scarborough to Methodist parents. He wanted a stage career and went to London where he trained as understudy to the performer Albert Chevalier. Eventually due to pressure from his family he returned to Scarborough where he opened a draper's shop. He used to entertain friends wearing this suit.
Estimate: £350 - £500
TheChicGeek says, “Pre-20th century items have a preciousness knowing that the majority of clothing or accessorises fell apart through wear and never made it through the decades of time. These pairs of braces are really cute and show the whimsy in menswear going way back into history. These are pure dandy and would be fun to wear, if the condition allows.”
Lot 419 : Three pairs of men's braces, mid-late 19th century
Three pairs of men's braces, mid-late 19th century. comprising: petit point pair with motifs including matadors, galleons, native figures with feathers; another pair embroidered with forget me knots, both with elasticated and leather straps; a woven blue and white Edelweiss patterned pair; and a single poor condition petit point panel.
Estimate: £250 - £400
TheChicGeek says, “This is giving me pure Gucci vibes, especially the yellow one. Saying that, Michele’s probably already ticked these off his list of references and he’s already ransacked Northern India from the first half of the 20th century for SS17!!!!”
See more about this AW18 season’s trend of Balaclavas here
Lot 464 : Two quilted hats, Ladakhi, Northern India, first half of the 20th century
Two quilted hats, Ladakhi, Northern India, first half of the 20th century. the first of golden-yellow silk damask; the second in black velvet with fauna stems stitched in gilt thread; both lined in red cotton. This style of hat is worn sitting high on the crown of the head, with the flaps curving outwards, during festivals.
Estimate: £100 - £150
With the Russian World Cup coming, or should that be looming?! We're going to get all nostalgic for Panini stickers and short-short football kits. Retro sportswear shows no sign of slowing down in fashion circles and anything branded, or with brand's old logos, is as popular as ever.
Credits - Loafers - Base London, Jeans - Raey, Top - Vintage
The silk pyjama shirt has become a fixture in our wardrobes - it was one of the most popular men’s items in the recent Erdem X H&M collaboration - Read 'The Return of The Sexy Shirt' - and it was inevitable, in all its louche, open-shirtedness, that we needed something extra to decorate our chests with. Enter the medallion.
Left - Fashion week street style
This look hasn’t been cool since the seventies with the combined stench of Brut aftershave and porn-star taches. But we're peacocking again and this overt masculinity is the reason why it is back. It’s very Burt Reynolds, very Magnum PI and has a musky, hirsute sexiness to it.
Right - Alex Orso - Disc - Gold - £125
I’m loving a silk shirt ATM, see one of my favourites of the season here and you wear it open with confidence. It could be the “Call Me By Your Name” effect, where the medallion necklace is an important signifier within the film - see more Call Me By Your Name style here or it's the effect of guys being more flamboyant and wearing printed silk shirts.
Team with silk trousers and a smile. Have you got the swagger for a medallion?
Left - Black Dakini - Disk Pendant Sterling Silver Necklace - £355 from Matchesfashion.com
Below - Vintage Bruce Weber Versace
Below Right - Steve McQueen
Far Left -Ryan Gosling
Middle - The medallion draws attention to your chest
Left - More McQueen
Left - Tom Selleck being Tom Selleck
Below Left - Call Me By Your Name - the older character shows his influence on the younger one when he starts to copy him and wear the same necklace
Below - Chained & Able - St. Christopher - £22 from ASOS
You're going to need a silk shirt to go with this - see more here The Return of 'The Sexy Shirt'
So many brands are simply remaking their archive, and why not, when it looks this good. We all know how I feel about Fila Vintage, but I first noticed this Fred Perry number at Pitti Uomo in January and then Berlin after. At first, I thought it was a display of vintage, but it's even better when you realise you can buy it. It’s part of their ‘Reissues’ collection and is designed to look like two layered knitwear pieces. The pageboy haircut is optional!
Left & Below - Fred Perry - Reissues Layered Turtle Neck Jumper - £145
The sport of rowing is dominated by the stereotypes of posh athletic giants called ‘Constantine’ or ‘Toby’. Their arrogance only surpassed by their prowess with a couple of oars and the Lycra in their rowing suits. But, off-duty they stick to tradition and continue to wear their team colours. The blazer was invented to be part of the rowing fraternity's uniform and as part of British culture, and our continual love affair with uniforms, it often takes an outsider to see and appreciate what we have and repackage and present something that has always existed.
Just when we thought ‘preppy’ was dead and wasn’t coming back for a while, we see green shoots appearing, and a new label like ‘Rowing Blazers’, reinventing and adding more fun to this seasonal British style.
Founded by Jack Carlson, a three-time member of the United States national rowing team, Rowing Blazers’ aim is to reintroduce one of the originals in men’s sportswear. The days when ‘sportswear’ still meant you wore a tie. He won a bronze medal for the U.S.A. at the 2015 World Championships and has also won the Head of the Charles Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta, and Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. Jack earned his doctorate in archaeology at the University of Oxford and is the author of the book Rowing Blazers (Thames & Hudson, 2014).
Left - Jack Carlson, founder of the American rowing blazer specialists, Rowing Blazers
Impressed the brand’s website and his passion for reintroducing this loud heritage style, I sent him a few ChicGeek questions to find out more:
CG: Why the fixation on rowing blazers?
JC: I spent a long time in the sport of rowing: nearly two decades, including three years on the US national team, so I've been immersed in this world for a while. But I've also been very interested in heraldry and in the visual and sartorial trappings of status and hierarchy for a long time as well. And I think the blazers that are traditional in the sport of rowing bring together all of those interests: menswear, heraldry, and the sport of rowing.
CG: When did you start? And what was the Eureka moment?
JC: I first competed at Henley Royal Regatta in 2004. My crew was knocked out in the first round, which was pretty disappointing. But it meant I had a great deal of time to spend in the spectator enclosures for the rest of the week, where I began chatting with other current and former rowers about their jackets and the stories and traditions behind them. I thought: someone should study these things, write a book about them. Six or seven years later, I realised I should be the guy to do it. The book came out in 2014, and the company - making blazers by hand, and incorporating a lot of details, traditions and construction techniques I came across while creating the book - launched this year.
CG: How have you found the reception to them?
JC: People from all sorts of different backgrounds love what we're doing. Menswear nerds love the research that has gone into everything we do and the quality of the construction and materials. The rowing community respect the authenticity and pedigree of what we're doing. The Japanese - we have a significant following in Asia - love the fact that our pieces are handmade in America. We've even had a positive response from many streetwear fanatics, who like the irreverent spirit, the cryptic Latin graffiti, and the graphics on our caps and badges.
Right - Rowing Blazers - Croquet Stripe Blazer - $995
CG: What would you say to those people who say that preppy is dead or is out of fashion?
JC: Preppy is dead. Long live preppy. I hate much of what that word has come to signify, and I think much of what it's come to signify is pretty dead for now. I think the consumer - at least the higher end menswear consumer - wants something with authenticity, with a story, a sense of meaning behind it. This consumer wants to know where, how, why, and from a product was made. Our pieces have tremendous depth to them; from the 3-roll-2 silhouette of our blazers, to the small embroidered faucet motif on our ties, there's a story and a reason behind every decision; and our pieces are all handmade in the US. So our collection is very different from much of what is usually considered to be "preppy" nowadays; but blue Oxford cloth button downs; flannel blazers - in navy or more outrageous colours; and webbing belts will never go out of style.
CG: Do you mostly concentrate on rowing teams and clubs or are you targeting a fashion consumer?
JC: We are a menswear brand first and foremost, but we are also proud to make blazers for a wide range of rowing teams and clubs, including Britain's most prestigious rowing club, Leander Club in Henley-on-Thames. We've also created blazers for rowing clubs in China - which is pretty cool considering we make everything in Manhattan; Oxford Brookes; the University of Texas - for whom we made blazer-cowboy jacket hybrids; and many other clubs, schools and universities.
CG: I’ve always loved the British Army blazer that I saw at Henley, would you make one of those?
JC: We might do something in camo, but we are always very careful to be respectful of existing club blazers, and would never "knock off' any institution's blazer.
CG: What’s your favourite style & why?
JC: My favourite piece in our collection is the 8x3 double breasted blazer, which is inspired by a blazer Prince Charles always wears. One never sees an 8x3 double breasted blazer on the market, so we had to make one. With five cuff buttons, an oversized front button from a vintage die, and a perfect fit, it came out brilliantly.
Left - Rowing Blazers - 8X3 Double Breasted Blazer ‘Prince Charlie’ $1095
CG: Do you ship to the UK? Isn't this a bit like taking coals to Newcastle?!
JC: We ship worldwide. Although the UK is the land of the blazer, no one is doing what we are doing: it's our commitment to quality and traditional techniques that's enabled us to become the official blazer supplier to Leander Club, Oxford Brookes University Boat Club and many other British institutions while making everything in New York. We are chatting with several British menswear retailers about going into their stores as well, and they understand that we are a high end brand with a unique product; they wouldn't be looking at us if they viewed us as a school uniform supplier!
CG: What would you say to those people who say rowing is elitist?
JC: Rowing has its roots in Oxbridge, but also the far more blue collar world of professional sculling. It developed not only through public schools and the Putney clubs, but also through many working man's clubs around England. Today many still associate the sport with Oxbridge because of the prominence of the Oxford-Cambridge race, but the truth is the sport is becoming more accessible and more universal all the time. British Rowing has done a great job bringing the sport into many new communities in the UK. I'm part of an organisation in the US, here in New York, called Row New York, which is a highly competitive rowing program for kids from the city's underserved communities. They've just qualified a boat for the national championships for the first time, which is fantastic to see.
CG: What’s the future for Rowing Blazers?
JC: We’ll be expanding into a few other categories and also expanding our retail footprint; we have a lot of pop-ups planned, including at Henley and Goodwood Revival; and we'll be going into a number of stores in Japan, Taiwan and China in the next few months. We have some cool collaborations planned with Merz b. Schwanen, a very cool and historic German knitwear manufacturer, and a few other exciting brands. We are really just getting started.
CG: You don’t just sell blazers? What else do you sell?
JC: We also make shirts in a few different styles. They are pretty unique because they are hand-distressed - here in the US! - and come with or without busted seams. They've been a hit with the more street-oriented customer actually. We also do hats, belts, ties -- many featuring satin-stitch embroidery, or hand-embroidered wire bullion motifs - and a wide range of rare, funky and quirky vintage product.