Could there be anything chicer than vegetable tanned leather right now? Those saturated colours, that unmistakable polish? Mansur Gavriel thinks not. The brand is all the rage at the moment, for its pared-back totes and bucket bags. This article in the LA Times last week explains its success. Simple, modern shapes, a reasonable price point and their signature contrast-coloured innards contribute, but the leather is a key factor. (more…)
I can’t say I’d ever get bored of the plain white shirt, but if I did, I know how I’d switch it up. Thanks to the team at MiH Jeans, I got the chance to try my hand at shibori, the ancient Japanese art of folding, pleating and twisting fabric to achieve mind boggling effects with indigo dye. Our teacher was the patient and all-round wonderful Niki Livingston, an artist who experiments with shibori from her studio in Los Angeles. (more…)
If I were a magazine editor, I would be complaining that you can hardly see the clothes in these Queene & Belle look book pictures. But it’s not just about the individual pieces, it’s also about the mood and an aesthetic. So personally I’m all in favour of this lighthearted Scottish knitwear brand and its thrown-together styling…. (more…)
There’s a little bit of a buzz around Detroit at the moment – the once-vibrant-now-less-so motoring and manufacturing city.
Shinola is a brand at the heart of Detroit’s resurgence that I discovered last year. It specialises in watches and leathergoods crafted from leather produced by Detroit’s Horween Leather Company – one of America’s oldest tanneries. (more…)
It makes up the bulk of my wardrobe, so I’m happy to see so much excitement going on around denim at the moment. From Selfridges’ impressive new denim studio and summer takeover, to the bespoke offer from 3X1, to MIH monogrammed jeans, to Marques’Almeida’s scissored deconstruction, there’s no end of clever things to do with denim.
And then there’s the Faustine Steinmetz approach. Taking the standard trucker jacket shape and 501 jean, this newbie designer has done something that looks like it could be denim but definitely isn’t.
Shock confession: in six years of freelancing I haven’t had a business card. The shame! I’ve somehow survived on the dual methods of LinkedIn requests and pitiful scraps of Moleskine paper but that only gets you so far. Much better, I decided, to step things up and investigate the process of designing and printing bespoke business cards. Not just any business cards you understand, but the ultimate in luxury and elegance – Smythson’s copperplate printed cards.
Here’s the thing: we’re all self-branders now. From bloggers to entrepreneurs, to graduates, to CEOs, how you present yourself is everything. (more…)
What’s all this talk about craft fatigue? What a load of nonsense, I’ve only just got started! Some might say that the thrill of seeing the skills at the heart of the world’s most luxurious handbags, scarves and watches is starting to tire but I hope that’s not the case. I love getting the inside secrets to age-old processes and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit the Hermes Festival Des Metiers exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. (more…)
“It takes two years to make and two minutes to buy!” So says Kamel Hamadou, the affable communications manager of Hermès silk, hosting a rare tour of the company’s silk printing facilities in Lyon. Two weeks ago I was invited on a whirlwind trip to learn the many meticulous stages of making one of those familiar silk ‘carrés’ of which I’m the proud owner of a few, neatly folded and stored in their equally familiar flat orange boxes.
My most astonishing discovery? The utter complexity of printing involved in a silk scarf of many colours. The average scarf has around 30 colours, of which each shade has its own precise mixing process. The printing itself has to be seen to be believed, but next week, you’ll have the chance to see it all when Hermès’ Festival Des Metiers lands on the London leg of its world tour. (more…)
There’s something charming, and humbling about a one-to-one session with a true craftsman, not least when it comes to haute horlogerie with one of my favourite watch brands: Jaeger-LeCoultre. I’m a big fan of the Reverso watch from the Swiss luxury watch-maker (have you seen its latest collab with Valextra? Oh my!), that just happens to be celebrating its 180th anniversary with a dedicated exhibition space at Harrods. (more…)
You may know Fornasetti for its distinctive ceramics and homewares. I certainly have an unhealthy preoccupation with the ashtrays and cabinets – especially those depicting the classical features of Lina Cavalieri, the 19th century opera singer and muse of Piero Fornasetti. But a more recent departure for the brand is its entry-point home smellies – the Fornasetti Profumi scented candles in their lidded jars (that are regarded not merely as candles but as decorative objects) and the delightful illustrated incense boxes.
Just like the boxes, the incense inside is an artisanal product. Created in Japan, it’s produced by Nippon Kodo, who have been making incense to exacting standards since 1575. At a workshop hosted by The Conran Shop to celebrate the Art of Kodo and the ritual of incense appreciation, I discovered that like calligraphy and tea ceremonies, ancient Japanese traditions are gradually going out of fashion. Globalisation favours teaching primary school kids English, not calligraphy, we were told by our Japanese Kodo master. And yet, as he demonstrated, the precise and meditative ritual of Kodo is something to be savoured, perhaps more so than ever in the information-overloaded 21st century. In a strange twist, it’s the western cultures that are learning to appreciate the age-old traditions and crafts of the East – as I’ve noticed with the recent flurry of ‘save our artisans’ retail workshops. So maybe all’s not quite lost… yet.