Saturday, July 30, 2011

Man in a Bottle

"Man in a bottle" is what my friend Mia uses to describe my new scent, Tuscan Leather from Tom Ford's Private Blend Collection. It is quite manly indeed, but not brusque---although a stereotypically dirty-old-man scent done well, say, Terre d'Hermes, could be quite enthralling---it is alluring, more dressed-up, and very, very attractive.

Tom Ford Tuscan Leather eau de parfum - I have to admit that part of the charm of this scent is that it is available only at Tom Ford boutiques and at select Bergdorfs and Neimans within the US.

Tom Ford describes it as:
"A chypre blend of notes brings a raw, yet reserved sensuality to Tuscan Leather for an original take on a classic leather scent. Saffron, raspberry and thyme, open to olibanum and night blooming jasmine. Leather, black suede and amberwood add an intricate richness."
See, I'm not one to nasally visualize how a fragrance smells based on its components; what I can do is tell you what smells it reminds me of and what thoughts and feelings it conjures up. I can tell you that it smells like a gentleman: tall and brooding, in a dark suit, and even darker hair, mildly disoriented as if he had just stepped out from seeing a long film at the cinéma, perhaps one that he starred in, the street lights blind him as he remembers it was still daylight when he stepped in, he quickly rubs his eyes with his pointer, blinks twice to readjust sight---impossibly thick eyelashes.

The apothecary-style dark brown glass bottle and the luxe gold and textured board box add to its allure.

Tuscan Leather is dressier and more robust than Baudelaire; this precious liquid manliness in a small 50 mL bottle will be my nighttime scent. What is yours?

photographs by Mikee Tuason

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Scout Original, the Antidote to Trade Show Fatigue

There was an epidemic of sameness at the recent menswear trade shows in New York. I share Style Salvage's feelings of fatigue with the trade shows, but mine more of a sense that many brands merely rehashed clippings from their inspiration boards over the last five years, somehow pushed through into production, content that the line had been sufficiently freshened up with the novel idea of doing one double-breasted wool jacket in...wait for it...peach. At trade shows, which are designers' exhibitions of their next-season offerings, mostly for buyers and partly for press---in essence, clothes on racks en masse at convention centers---devoid of the glare and stomp of runway shows and the magic of styling and accessories and the beguiling beauty of models, one gets to see the clothes for what they really are, what they would possibly look like if they make it into production, and subsequently, into the hands of consumers checking them out in stores.

I was about to lose all hope in fashionkind in the stroke-inducing heat on the last day of Capsule when I stumbled upon Scout Original, a new Brooklyn-based label by Gianna Galli, Ryan Sneden, and Jon Sneden, whose clothes I thought transcended the conventions of fashion and tickled a childlike fascination in me.

hand-painted reworked vintage jacket by Scout Original

Granted the DIY-er in me favors those who do customization in a similar vein, these exquisite pieces are created with such skill that I could only dream about recreating them with my kindergarten-level manual dexterity.

The caricature jacket in its entirety: the drawings are a kitschy nod to Old Hollywood (and a fresh take on those much-maligned two words!), but they also remind me of those for-hire pencil portrait artists in sleepy little Shoppesville in Manila.

the back: more drawings and distressed oversize leather elbow patches

These hand-painted khakis in an interesting capri length that is longer-than-Abercrombie but not-quite-Thom-Browne are oddball-beautiful. The doodles on the patched and frayed pants make me think of an artistic soldier who chose to stay in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor and whiles away the time drawing figures of fantasy on his now tattered army-issue uniform.

hand-painted khakis by Scout Original

They like to pair objects of history with their pieces, and this vintage compass comes with the pants.

This painted white t-shirt would look terrific worn over and over in the summer until it's stained and semi-sheer and the colors are muted and falling off.

botanical hand-painted-tshirt by Scout Original

For the dreamers, the star-gazers, and those perpetually starstruck---

this reworked vintage work jacket hand-painted with a constellation print is an interesting mix of romance and masculinity.

And the orange scarf elevates it to the state of painterly.

What they did with the belts was brilliant:

vintage leather cut and pieced together with brass hinges.

These long shorts are an exercise in subtlety and an exhibition of technical prowess. They started out an almost-black indigo, and were repeatedly washed until supersoft and pale ice blue.

washed long shorts by Scout Original

a close-up of the color variation due to the repeated wash and the natural folds and frays all over the piece

The commentary on Americana that is strung through the entire collection and their fresh take on heritage are so versatile that those like myself with a penchant for darkness could easily incorporate a piece or two in their wardrobe, say, the caricature jacket, and those who prefer a more joyful, colorful take on clothing would appreciate pieces like this apple-stamped military jacket:

The kooky take on Americana is amusing,

and with the map-print pocket square, also quite global!

The line had just been picked up by Barney's, and I only expect to hear great things about this label in the near future.

Scout Original's official site

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Tour of Tim's

I had the chance to take a few snaps at the studios of CFDA award-winning designer Tim Hamilton a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I'd share what I saw.

fur-lined leather jacket with a fur collar

a great basic blue shirt from the Redux line

a candid office moment

dress form #36

bolts of shirting fabric

patterns being plotted on

Mario mulling over matters

a Fall 2011 top in a print created in collaboration with activist-artist Ross Bleckner

more Ross Bleckner, manifested in scarves

a semi-sheer paneled maxi dress in the same print

hanging on

Tim Hamilton's Tumblr
Tim Hamilton's Facebook page

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lace and Leather

A clear standout for me at the latest Capsule menswear trade shows were these washed laser-cut lace-patterned lace-ups from Florsheim by Duckie Brown. These shoes have gone through every treatment you could possibly think of doing to a piece of leather, and yet you could still see a sense of restraint---in the absence of seams, the dull finish, the almost-black color. They may very well be my statement shoes for next year.

laser-cut lace-patterned leather shoes from Florsheim by Duckie Brown

They seem to be a little darker than the more typically preppy-dandy shoes we've seen from this label in the past, but I think they're a very well-done, graceful progression.

Two points of concern, however: (1) will the narrower strips of leather be snapping as shown? and (2) how much, pray tell, are these going to cost me?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Color and Collar

Eleven Objects collar and vintage embroidered dress on Linh Thi

At an event at Union Pool in Brooklyn, I snapped a few photos of Eleven Objects' Linh Thi, who I thought, wore color beautifully and displayed an ease and elegance quite rare in a sea of contrived darkness and manufactured grit. I must confess I had to talk her into letting me photograph her in the Sambas, which she was somewhat ashamed of, but I though this particular sneaker-dress combination was quite charming.

Cazal sunglasses, fan, and dress, all vintage, collar by Eleven Objects, Adidas Sambas

aqua-tinted vintage Cazals

weathered Adidas Sambas


Eleven Objects' collars, originally made for women, have been featured in The New York Times and In the first men's collection, designers Linh Thi Do and Christine Rhee were inspired by vacation photos of their fathers in the 70s, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and more recently, fashion blogger Steve of Hard Liquor, Soft Holes, of the grandly gauche style and signature gift bow concealing his identity. Here are photos from their lookbook:

the ferocious ones of the bunch

The one in white perforated leather would beautifully top off a minimal outfit.
lemon yellow pony hair good enough to eat

lookbook photos via Eleven Objects

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Audience with Assembly's Armas

Assembly may well be my one favorite shop in New York. It is expertly curated with exceptional pieces from lesser-known designers from around the world, and is stocked with its eponymous collection of elegant, softly tailored basic pieces that are unique in their own quiet way, yet wearable enough to have you reaching for them season after season. Allow me to share with you the interview I had with Greg Armas, the man behind Assembly New York---about the collection, the coasts, and cupro.

Assembly New York Spring 2012

The silhouette for Spring 2012 seems a little more masculine and a little more fitted than the previous collections. What would be the reason for this? There still seems to be some drapery on a few lapels, and in the soft fabrics used, but overall, it seems to generally be more manly.

white linen jacket with a voluminous draped lapel

They are very confident clothes and I wanted to convey sexuality.

classic menswear twisted at the trousers: cream 3-button pinstripe suit with the pants cut on the bias

I noticed that you knotted the shirts in a couple of the looks, and you do this on your shirt as well. What inspired this?

the rollup shirt, knotted at the waist

I was inspired by old Spanish farmers and French field workers.

There is a near-absence of black, and even shots of mint green in the collection. Why the choice of palette?

high up on my wishlist for next summer: the mint green tuxedo shorts

I replaced the defensive black with a more engaging rich navy. The mint green was fabric I just couldn’t let go of once I found it.

the bomber and baggy tie pants, both in navy cupro

I see a lot of the use of cupro in your Spring 2012 collection. Could you tell us about this fabric and why you decided to use it?

I sourced west coast fabrics this season and cupro twill has a good weight, like presynthetic rayons.

I really like the turquoise-nugget bolo tie against this "shifted" shirt in natural rayon

You are from LA, but you're now based in New York. How do these two cities play into your design process and how you curate your shop?

For design, the Spring is typically west coast and the Winter is more of an east coast concept. Maintaining as much of the amount of light I grew up with on the west coast is very important to my sense of well-being.

What do you like to wear?

Assembly New York designer Greg Armas at the ENK Menswear Trade Show

The farmer-inspired knotted shirt: Greg wears it well.

I wear the same thing all day and night for sure, and like to be casual. As long as I'm in my boots…

battered Paul Smith boots

How do you design?

Backwards. Vintage is the reference for technical attributes and history for aesthetics.

Assembly New York causes me to reconsider the relevance of the vest.

Who wears your clothes?

Happy people.

white double-breasted, single-button suit worn with a chunky white turquoise necklace. When I'm happy, I wear white.

What is in the future for Assembly New York?

We are launching women’s for Fall 2012 and I want another shop, major moves...

lookbook photos via Assembly New York

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