Thursday, 16 June 2011

Beating the cold at home - Cashmere + Whisky + ...

I firmly believe that if you are, for want of a better word, physically ugly, you can make up for it by dressing exceedingly well.

Let's face it. Nobody wants to hang around an ugly, poorly dressed, boring person with deficient intellect or conversational skills. If I wanted company like that, I would head straight to the Western Suburbs or the CBD on a Friday or Saturday night.

Have a skill. Deadpan wit, cut throat conversation, historical expert on any number of esoteric topics. And dress well. If you have these in your armoury, you become instantly INTERESTING. Step it up a notch and in Melbourne, you may even enter the stratosphere of the ECCENTRIC.

Look at 2 of my favourite Frenchmen - Sartre and Gainsbourg. Now, we can forgive the French for being the ugliest, rudest and most communist European nation for their unmatched contributions to gastronomy. We can also forgive them for proving that ugliness can be surpassed, dare I say even overlooked, by some redeeming features.

These 2 examples were ugly motherfuckers. Yet we can forgive Sartre for his contributions to existentialism and Gainsbourg for the marvellous music he produced. That, and the fact he is the finest living example of an ugly man who banged the hottest chicks on the planet after he added Bardot and Birkin to his stable.

Unfortunately, the only credible poster boy for batting above his average these days is Shane Warne. What has become of the world?

This brings me to the issue of suitable attire for relaxing at home. Many of you would picture me at home, pipe in one hand, glass of calvados in the other, wearing a plum coloured smoking jacket. I hate to shatter your dreams but there is only one credible alternative to this Oscar Wilde nightmare.

Derek Rose Cotton pajamas are the gold standard. These are old school, long pants and sleeves and suitable only for winter. Admittedly, I do get a thrill wearing my made in the Czech Republic Derek Rose's, knowing someone has toiled hard in the third world for my evening comfort, I would achieve a better level of nocturnal relaxation knowing they are made in the UK (the ones currently being sold at Harrold's are, I believe, made in the UK).

Church's leather home slippers are the only suitable footwear. Period.

As for dressing gowns, cashmere is the only way to go. I remember seeing a beautiful camel coloured pure cashmere dressing gown by Derek Rose, in Henry Buck's Collins Street store many years ago. It was buttery soft, perfectly sized but imperfectly priced at $3000. I subsequently learned last week that this said dressing gown was on the floor at Henry Buck's for several years, only selling at one of the sales for a mere $2000 after discount.

My desire for a cashmere gown was firmly cemented when several years ago, US GQ profiled how a number of young, upwardly mobile American males would be spending their NYE and how they would be attired. Some of them chose black tie functions (Brioni tux etc), otherwise went casual (woolens and down vests like a Penfield) while the wisest of the bunch stayed at home. He was the smartest and smartest looking by far. Emulating a dignified Hugh Hefner, he was outfitted in a beautiful pair of red pajamas (silk or cotton I can't remember), slippers and the featured camel coloured cashmere dressing gown. His accessories profiled in the article to help celebrate NYE were a bottle of Dom and some cigars. He failed to mention or show the 3 Brazilian hookers and kilogram of cocaine he also needed to help him cross the finishing line.

So here is what I choose to wear at night. I do my best work after midnight.

As for whisky, Ballie Nichol Jarvie seems to be the weapon of choice at the moment.

Striped cotton pajamas by Derek Rose, Henry Buck's own 50% cashmere, 50% wool mix dressing gown made in New Zealand, vintage GMT Master by Rolex of Geneva.

Monday Yum Cha at The Tai Pan

The Tai Pan. Queen's Birthday Holiday.

Number one for Yum Cha, in my opinion. Conceited food writers like The Age's Larissa Dubiousreviewer, seem to go gaga for the dumplings at The Red Emperor and its city contemporaries.

Forget it. This is the real deal. First session. Good from the get go. Double up. Triple up. Take no prisoners. Only more dumplings.

Yum Cha is all about the flavour. The colour. The frenzy.

And the egg tarts are still the best on the planet. Go back to your rancid little cafe, hipster and eat a stale Portuguese tart. And then choke on it.

Following photos with my Sony Cybershot. Left the Leica M8 at home. When you're eating Yum Cha, you need one hand to hold chopsticks, the other holding your axe.

The aftermath.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Girl of the week (so far)

I have Morry to blame for this. He has a habit of continually wanting to read all my phone messages. Kudos to him as he knows many of the salacious entries are quite interesting but nowhere near as jaw droppingly gossip laden as any of his.

I was using one of my trusty Field Notes notebooks on Saturday. I simply used this particular one for work details but on one page, I made a personal entry inspired by Alexander Olch. Olch is the sometime film director, sometime tie designer who has a few interesting/odd hobbies (I saw some of his ties at Bergdorf Goodman last year and they were all pretty shit - I bought discounted Thom Browne skinny ties instead. On the other hand, his directorial debut not yet released in Australia looks fascinating).

Olch has managed to note down, catalogue and index all of the attractive, ordinary everyday girls he sees but never talks to. The girls you fleetingly fall in love with.

The descriptions are brief but illustrative. From memory, they are all typed on index cards which are then all filed in a wooded index card holder as you would find in a library. In essence, he has created a Dewey Decimal System of ephemeral desire. The casual encounters that fire one's imagination. Too brief to stimulate any conversation but too memorable not to commit to memory.

These are the girls we are still afraid to talk to.

Girl # 1. Fitzroy Post office Wednesday afternoon. Dark hair tied back, medium height. Boots. Dark clothes. An artist, possibly a sales assistant at a more fashionable clothing store (somewhere like Assin but probably not). Melbourne cool +++. Defining feature, incredibly large birthmark right cheek. I looked away quickly and then looked back. Such an imperfection. So beautifully imperfect. Distinctive. Confident. The perfect antithesis of every girl who hides behind her imperfections.

Morry, like me, you would have fallen in love.

For at least 5 minutes.

How to Dress for a Porterhouse (and even the Rib Eye)

Last Thursday night. Dinner at Rockpool. No pissing about. No women. No nonsense. No vegetarians. No vaginatarians either.

US GQ, several years ago, nailed it in one of their fashion spreads. Serious steak necessitates serious dressing. A suit in a dark colour is the only minimally satisfactory form of dress. Hipsters go home.

Bespoke shirt by Ascot Chang, dark navy silk knit tie by New and Lingwood, bespoke single button single breased midnight blue suit by William Yu (incredible blue satin lining inspired by one of Maxwell Smart's suits from an episode of Get Smart), white cotton pocket square by Paul Stuart (not visible), herringbone overcoat with velvet collar by Ted Baker (yeah, I know, but it's several years old and I do try and wear it at least once a year), leather gloves in overcoat pocket by Dunhill and finally, vintage GMT Master watch by Rolex of Geneva.

Black Selboune's by Crockett and Jones and Argyle socks. Close to perfection. The best ensemble so far this winter.

Spring in North Carlton - The Flowers of Fenwick Street

What an incredibly gay title. It reminds me of a mid 80's Merchant Ivory production. Cue Colin Firth, Hugh Grant et al. These were taken on Fenwick Street just prior to the cold snap. All taken with my Leica M8 - even the ones out of focus. Nice colours nonetheless.

Monday Night Get Up - Dressing for Shannon

Monday night. Dinner at Vue De Monde, Normanby Chambers in the final week. Review of food to follow. Firstly, the important details - what I wore. It is no surprise that no one in Melbourne has the knowledge or flair required for modern dinner dressing. I was going to suit it up but had second thoughts so compromised with the tailored top half, jeans bottom half option. Of course, it worked oh so well. I looked smashing - the right combination of classical tailoring fused with casual elegance. I don't know how or why I manage to get it so right so often. I think it is just a gift.

Bespoke Prince of Wales jacket with blue window pane square by William Yu of Hong Kong, bespoke blue shirt by Ascot Chang of Hong Kong, dark navy silk knit tie by New and Lingwood, Tenugui pocket square from Cibi of Collingwood, fuck off incredible style by me.

Indigo jeans by Nobody, brown brogues by Barker Black of NYC. Both photos taken with Leica M8.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Friday Get Up - Channelling Agnelli

A little too complex for the ultra-simple Melbourne look but comfortably Italian in all aspects. Gianni really go it so right. Just like me.

Navy cotton 3 button jacket by Brunello Cucinelli, bespoke shirt by Ascot Chang with Turnbull and Asser 'James Bond' style turnback cuffs, grey woolen tie by Thom Browne, vintage navy woolen crew neck sweater, Japanese cotton pocket square and sunglasses by A R Trapp of Madison Avenue.

Wearing a tie outside of a sweater is simple Sprezzatura. I could not think of anything worse than dressing like a hipster.

Blue jeans by Nobody, argyle socks by Bresciani, tan Selboune shoes by Crockett and Jones.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tuesday Get Up - Barbour Needed

Winter!! Besides snow, winter degustation menus and the crazily cold Antarctic winds, winter means dressing well. From casual layering to winter-weight suiting and overcoats, winter means a heightened level of style (for me at least). Tuesday day and night are the coldest Melbourne days in living memory for me. The evening was so cold I had to walk with my hands in my pockets (Dunhill gloves now out of storage). This for the day:

Jacket Barbour Bedale (interestingly New Zealand made, as opposed to British), Barbour synthetic fur liner, bespoke shirt by Ascot Chang, vintage navy blue woolen V neck, jeans by Nobody.

Selboune in brown by Crockett and Jones.

There is a great quote in Bernard Roetzel's Gentleman, the incomparable male style bible, where he mentions that a Barbour and the right wristwatch can be the passport to expressing great personal style, a subtle way of commanding respect from anybody in the know. He goes on to mention that it would be more acceptable to wear a Barbour, woolen pullover and jeans rather than wearing the incorrect black tie to a formal function. I kind of agree. Long live Barbour.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Saturday lunch- Florentino's Grill

The Upstairs restaurant was absolutely savaged in a restaurant review several weeks ago in The Australian magazine supplement. As fate would have it, I was actually reading that very review whilst seated in The Grill on that Saturday.

Firstly, very good service. I think they addressed me as 'Sir' which I do like and they remembered I had been a diner previously. 'A good to see you dining again' does so much for the ego. Nice basic touch which is so lacking in many of our more popular establishments. Prompt bread delivery, regular water fillage and good eye contact from the waiters.

Light Saturday lunch consisted of the complimentary bread (fresh, abundant, decent olive oil) and a grilled whole rainbow trout with some accompanying vegetables and a side dish of some particular green vegetation dusted with copious parmesan flakes. Whilst the fish itself bordered on the smallish side, it was expertly cooked and served at the right temperature. The side dish added a healthy slant to the meal itself.

Whilst the food, service and surroundings of The Grill proved a very satisfactory lunch destination, the dress sense and overall style of my 'fellow' dining companions was quite abysmal. Naturally, I wore a jacket and tie to lunch. Other Neanderthals and Plebians were dressed in all manner of causal get-up ranging from torn jeans (probably from the far Northern suburbs) to dare I say, a tracksuit (Western or Eastern suburbs I could only presume) but the exact nature of said tracksuit could not be verified for I had to avert my eyes most promptly.

This is a wonderful Melbourne institution. There is an old-world style to its ambience. A rarified air where old money once reigned. I just can't tolerate all the bogans in Melbourne and the general dreadful lack of style which is now the standard.

Daily Get Up- Monday

Restrained palette for Monday. Suit by Versace off the rack, shirt by Ascot Chang Bespoke, E. G Etal silver cuff links, navy knitted silk tie by New and Lingwood, pocket square by Paul Stuart, vintage Rolex GMT Master, coloured wrist bands made from salvaged electrical wire, Selborne lace ups by Crockett and Jones.

Nice break on the pants. Tailored 'Italian' length.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Exceptional movie, Exceptional Titles

I Am Love. Riveting movie. Superlative house and overall sense of style. This is how to be Italian.

Screen capture, Leica M8.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Well shod: Crockett and Jones Selborne

Well made. Well shod. Well played. Size 8 1/2 Selbourne in black by C & J. I have 4 pairs of C & J on rotation and they are the only shoes that fit from the get go - no wearing in period required. Better than John Lobb, Barker Black, Berlutti and Church's.

Better than blisters.

This is the perfect entry level shoe. The Porsche Boxster of shoes.

Bikram Yoga

Inaugural class down. It's like doing stretches.

In a sauna.

For 90 minutes.

With a lot of half-naked women.

My next class is tomorrow.

Ferrari Daytona - the other Daytona

Taken with my iPhone ages ago on Rathdowne Street. The only other Daytona worth getting. One day.

Get Born - First Post- Umberto Espresso Bar

More pictures, less words. Hit the ground running. Original content, original photos is the key. Any no talent hack can re-post. My Leica M8 is my axe, man. My impeccable taste and eye will be my guide. Pictures will do (most) of the talking. And so it begins...

Umberto Espresso Bar
822 High Street
9484 8654
Wed to Sun

This is old school Italian. Think Felice's but with better food and less of a cemetery vibe. Run by the son with a special appearance by dad on the floor. Kudos to him for recognizing my Italian looks. I do look  like a young Pacino circa Godfather II.

The food. Nice breakfast/lunch/dinner options. The variety of the salumi plate was adequate - a nice starter. Good crunchy bread (think good Italian and thank god it wasn't Dench fucking sour dough), olive oil. Spaghetti marinara generous, decent prawns and some gusto with the added chilli oil. Overall, quite satisfactory.

Nice bite-sized canoli to finish- just big enough if you've had gastric banding. Genovese coffee to start and finish. In summary, worth heading over to the Beirut end of High Street for. I shall return.