Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sado-maso Jacket and the Shirt with Initials

You can never really determine the wearability of a garment until it's lived in your closet for a while and proven its ability to work itself into your everyday outfits. I bought this Ivan Grundahl black leather and jersey kimono jacket as a show piece. I thought that I'd be lucky to get a couple or three wears out of it, and I was completely fine with that. It was that exquisite.

black patchwork leather and jersey kimono jacket by Danish designer Ivan Grundahl. I was with my buddy Lisa Mettier shopping around IF New York and when I picked it out, I was floored with laughter when she remarked that the raw-edged and pieced-together panels of leather reminded her of sado-maso or S&M. She has long since taken back that opinion, but the monicker lingers.

But I found it to be more useful than I thought it would be. It lent an almost rebellious relaxed feel to evening outfits, setting me apart from everyone else in their dashing but constricting sharply-tailored jackets. Coupled with classic menswear items, it becomes wearable in the daytime, almost slightly reminiscent of the silhouette of a relaxed trench coat.

I've been going double-loose a lot lately: drapey, robe-like jackets with oversized shirts and trousers a size or two too big. Hopefully, diligent belt-tightening to the furthest notch prevents me from growing into my gargantuan garments.

Number (N)ine sunglasses, Ivan Grundahl leather and jersey kimono jacket, oversize monogrammed shirt by MTM shirt, crochet scarf from my mother, Cheap Monday trousers, vintage shoes

close-up of the leather-trimmed sleeve. Casio watch courtesy of

I had the shirt made by this new Russian-based online custom shirt service called MTM Shirt and I was quite pleased with their product. The process of designing the shirt on their e-shop was simple yet thoroughly customizable and the delivery was prompt and efficient. They have been working on web design and have improved their looks quite a bit since I tried the service a couple of months ago. I would recommend trying it out and having a shirt made; the shirts are quite reasonably priced.

monogrammed made-to-measure shirt courtesy of MTM Shirt

It's fascinating how much of a surprisingly noticeable air of class embroidered initials bring to a regular shirt.

photos by Angelina Santana

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Stylish Senior

My beloved Boston, fashion-indifferent and nightlife-dead as it is, is causing me to live my days the way a happy old man would: nippy morning strolls through falling autumn leaves, Friday nights at Trader Joe's, dressed-up dinners in lieu of drinks and dancing. On the same note, my wardrobe choices have been leaning towards those of a stylish septuagenarian. I seem to favor shirts a size or two too big for me, soft-, not sharp-shouldered jackets, tortoiseshell, cravats, slipper-type shoes. Here's a couple of things I plan on blowing my next pension plan check on:

"Mr. Casual" Belgian shoes in ostrich calf

or the same pair in lizard calf

Because even on my casual days, I still strive to look like a contributing member of society.

And something to block the harsh sun rays from my eyes and my deepening crow's feet from yours:

Linda Farrow x Damir Doma sunglasses, via Assembly New York
I love how Damir Doma freshened up the increasingly popular rounded wayfarer shape by doing it in a metal frame. And wire-rimmed glasses are infinitely more comfortable than acetate specs, in my opinion.

The brown leather nose piece is a luxe touch that I imagine would be quite comfy as well.

When you hit those years when your donut cushion is your best friend and your lower back hurts more often than your only daughter calls to check in, comfort is most definitely top priority.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DIY: From Wrist to Wall

Riding on the creative high from the last trio of wall hangings I made, I decided to pop over to the art supplies store, purchase a larger canvas that was on sale, and create a piece for my living room. I wanted to do something reminiscent of Mark Rothko: the restraint in his simple floating rectangles painted in carefully-chosen colors allowed you to appreciate the colors for the moods they evoke and the things you associated with them, while the un-neatness of the shapes and overall simplicity of his style meant it was doable by little old clumsyhands me.

"Yellow and Gold", Mark Rothko, 1956.

But the last thing I wanted to do was to make a blatant ripoff of the master's iconic piece. I set out to make the painting my own by playing with texture as well as color, drawing out my own arbitrary proportions for the rectangles, and flipping the whole thing to a landscape orientation, as opposed to the upright orientation Rothko seemed to prefer. As for the palette, I wanted a little shot of crimson to tie in with my red Ikea furniture to liven up a vast spread of pewter and brass in the same shades as the bracelets I wear everyday:

The Number (N)ine bracelet in oxidized silver mercilessly scratches my watch, while the Giles and Brother cuff in brass has a way of making my wrist smell like old coins once in a while, yet I find myself slipping them on every morning.

Here's what I did:

I first whitewashed the entire canvas with a mixture of white acrylic and water just to give it that clean finish. Then, with a clothes hanger, no less (it is fashion-inspired art after all!), I pencilled out my rectangles in proportions that felt right to me.

I then started to mix pigments to get that exact shade of Philip Crangi brass, which didn't take much skill at all: I really just mixed a standard gold metallic acrylic paint with a smidge of black. I then stirred in some clear granular gel medium for a rough texture almost reminiscent of rock salt (not pictured).

To match the oxidized silver on the Number (N)ine bangle, I used standard silver acrylic metallic paint and, you guessed it, lots of black. I also mixed in some gloss medium for extra shine.

And here is the piece done:

"Rothko by way of Crangi and Miyashita", acrylic and granular gel medium on canvas, 35"x24", October 2010.

I went to town with the brush on the brass section, expressively dabbing in graceful curves, and I like that the texture came out slightly reminiscent of those trees in old Chinese landscape paintings. To add depth to the rectangle in dark gray, I layered coat upon coat of diluted silver acrylic on to the border, which I then finished off with a dry brush halfway upon setting to create a subtle brushed effect.

the texture up close

Upon seeing this painting via webcam on Skype, my mother remarked that she should have just commissioned me to do the paintings at her new condominium she just had furnished. I replied, "Why pay a good penny for mediocre hotel art, when you can make the same thing for much less and have it match your jewelry?"

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Lapel-less Blazer and the Hermès Scarf

Contrary to what you think I might say, one can have too many black blazers, and so when I set out to have another one made, I decided to change it up a bit. I wanted something that was structured, yet easy, and minimally detailed. Allow me to share my latest collaboration with my brilliant tailor, the lapel-less blazer:

I had the front made softly structured, partially double-breasted, and buttonless and all the pockets nixed save for the one breast pocket for stuffing in various pocket squares to subtly alter the look. This jacket has the makings of a possible favorite basic piece.

The idea may not be notably groundbreaking; a number of designers have done jackets without lapels in the past. However, the execution and detailing were my vision through and through. Here it is worn:

Number (N)ine sunglasses, tailor-made lapel-less blazer, Hermès scarf, Uniqlo cardigan, Cheap Monday trousers, ASOS shoes

Oh and as you can see, I bit the bullet and purchased my first Hermès scarf.

gratuitous orange box shot

It's a old-time print entitled "A Propos de Bottes", literally "About Boots", and depicts a collection of riding boots accented by top hats and braided whips made out of horsehair. The print is in cream and gray with hints of green; the narrow hand-stitched trim in bluish green gracefully brings everything together.

the Hermès 90 cm carrè in silk twill up close

A couple more detail shots:

man mary-janes from ASOS

permanent fixtures on my left wrist: cuffs by Number (N)ine and Giles and Brother

Second, third, seventh, and eighth photos by my darling friend Angelina. Take a stroll through her portfolio, she's really talented.

Monday, October 11, 2010

China Ciao

The Dandy Project was featured in the August 2010 issue of L'Officiel Hommes China, aptly headlined "Online Fun". I can't begin to express my appreciation for this kind gesture on the part of the L'Officiel Hommes' editorial team.

(L'Officiel Hommes China August 2010 cover) Blokes in banana hammocks might not be a common sight on this blog, but it amuses me to ponder upon what sort of "online fun" the visual is insinuating.

I had a friend translate the article to me and I was floored as to how so much praise can be contained in such little space. (After all, one Chinese character, more or less, stands for one word.) Something the author said about "the blogger using his God-given talent" made those messy afternoons with newspapers all over my apartment living room and paint everywhere from my camera screen to my eyelids worthwhile.

featured alongside blogging bigwigs Pascal and Pelayo

Apologies for the delayed public expression of gratitude, but it took quite a while for me to get hold of a good scan of the feature. Many thanks to Quan for the scan of the article. Friends in China and Hong Kong, pick up a copy!

magazine cover scan via The Fashion Spot

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pockets of Pelt

I have found the coat I will be living in for the next few months of fall and I know just the reason why. The pockets are lined in rabbit fur, perfect for my (surprisingly soft!) hands hypersensitive to the cold.

(coat pockets lined in rabbit) I love this idea of hidden luxury.

The coat is softly tailored and creates a shape that is relaxed, yet still masculine. Assembly New York designer Greg Armas says he designed the collar to be narrow and soft so you could comfortably wear it up without it flopping about.

long black hidden snap-button cashmere coat by Assembly New York

A couple more delicate details:

The inside seams are covered with this fur-print fabric, which echoes the real thing that lines the pockets. The coat also features a singular hidden toggle button, affording you the choice to wear it partially open.

Yesterday, on my way out to grab a drink with a friend, I reached for this H&M wool topcoat that I used to wear a lot last fall. One sleeve in and I had to return the coat back to the rack, and instead put on the Assembly New York delight I had been wearing for the past few days. Never in my life has a piece of clothing felt so hoarse! I move that cashmere-and-fur coats come with a warning label.

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