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Cheaney Shoes
Fashion

Last Horizon

Many have heard speak of the legend of Northampton. Historically the home of English shoe making since the 15th century, it is said that one may purchase footwear for a song from one of the eleven factory outlet stores. Four of us fired up Mick Hawksworth’s shooting brake and we set forth for the Midlands. We have come 134 miles from the Chap offices but are immediately stepping into our world. We enter a wood-panelled vestibule with nobody in it; just a 1930s sign saying ENQUIRIES and a bell. This is the Cheaney factory in Desborough, 18 miles outside Northampton… Keep Reading

Les Sapeurs
Fashion

Les Sapeurs

Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, is host to the Sapeurs: a group of dandies approaching the seriousness of a cult. Brazzaville is poor, like most Central-African nations, and it went through a civil war several years ago, the evidence of which is still pockmarked on quite a few facades. This is the reason the US State Department’s profile of the country includes the delightful sentence “In March 2003, the government signed a peace accord with the Ninjas, and the country has remained stable and calm since the signing.” Le Sape (The Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes),… Keep Reading

Robert-ryan-on dangerous ground
Fashion

Mean Pleats

Hard-boiled language to go with hard-boiled plots. In fact, everything about Film Noir is pretty hard. Hard urban clutter in hard, rain-sodden mean streets. And the people who live on those streets are hard, too. The characters of film noir are not fulfilled, three-dimensional people. They are ciphers, stereotypes, interacting uneasily through confusing tales of morality and counter-morality. The one thing never confusing, though, is the way they’re dressed.   “All my dresses are beautiful. They gotta be in this racket. There’s nothin’ like clothes – that’s the sugar makes the flies come round.” Isabel Jewell in Marked Woman Even… Keep Reading

Seersucker Social USA
Fashion

Cotton Club

For the capital city of a superpower nation, Washington is sadly insular, non-cosmopolitan and aesthetically conservative. The suits are gray or navy, the ties are red or blue. Not since the pith-helmeted and moustachioed Teddy Roosevelt has a president looked like anything other than a businessman. On top of this, the summer heat can be stifling, adding to the soporific atmosphere of the city. Fortunately, sweat-drenched sartorial tedium has been resisted in Washington by a non-partisan movement which proudly waves as its flag the “Stripes-and-Stripes” of the great American fabric: seersucker. I once nearly fainted in awe at a white-on-white-striped… Keep Reading

Summer Fabrics
Fashion

Summer Fabreeze

The Dilemma faced by a chap when deciding what to wear during the longish hottish British summer, or when sauntering through far-flung lands, can be a sticky one. When the season finally prevents the donning of 18oz tweed three-pieces, where does one turn to find sartorial solace on sunnier days? Many modern lightweights lack the substantiability for the heavier-tailored garments favoured by the anarcho-dandy. But traditional summerweight fabrics are still available on the open market. FrescoÔ The first ‘air-conditioned’ material has been made in Huddersfield By the firm JJ Minnis for around a hundred and fifty years. Originally produced in… Keep Reading

Fashion on the Ration
Fashion

Fashion on the Ration

Think of clothing in World War II and chances are you’ll imagine either RAF officers on bombing raids or victory-rolled Land Girls in breeches and beetroot lipstick. You probably won’t think of men’s fashion. There’s a good reason for that. A new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, Fashion on the Ration, 1940s Street Style, describes how the Second World War affected the way ordinary people looked and dressed. Men play a typically back-seat role in the displays, but a closer look reveals a low-key but determined presence. We all know about women’s wartime privations – gravy browning legs, boot-polish… Keep Reading

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