Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Anniversary in Bermuda

My wife and I are headed to Bermuda this weekend to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. While she's a seasoned vet, I've never been.

We'll definitely be drinking these (image by ACL)

as well as stopping by here (image from Life). Any other recs?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Extinguished Flame of Delta Psi

In 1850, a University of Vermont classics major named John Ellsworth Goodrich came together with a group of his fellow classmates to found the Delta Psi fraternity; an organization devoted to the promotion of Greek and Latin literature and deep-seated friendship. As interest in Goodrich’s group grew, he found it necessary to obtain a headquarters that would inspire its members as equally as the texts they enjoyed reading together. They found a home in the Richardsonian Romanesque mansion at 61 Summit St. Over the next one hundred and fifty years, Delta Psi evolved into one of the leading fraternities on campus and its awe inspiring residence attracted some of Vermont’s best and brightest young men including world renowned author and philosopher John Dewey.

I grew up passing this house every day on my walk home from middle school. I can clearly recall its members clad in brightly colored Patagonia syncillas, heavy norwegian sweaters & two tone CB down vests playing football on the front lawn and drinking cheap beer on the porch, the late fall sun reflecting off of their oakley frogskins. At the beginning of each semester, stop signs, street cones and other random neighborhood objects would start to disappear, the casualties of a semi-annual plegdship period. Dad never really paid the disappearances much mind. He was a fraternity man himself and could relate position the pledges were put in. He’d been through it in spades. One morning we awoke to find the marble bench that Dad placed under the maple tree that shaded our driveway gone. He marched straight over to 61 Summit St. and wrapped the bronze knocker on the front door until it dented the wood. “I would like my bench back please.” ”I’m sorry sir but I have no idea what you are talking about.” Dad strode by him and examined every room on the ground floor and saw no sign of the intricately carved bench. “The apple has certainly fallen far from the tree here,” he said as he walked out the door and back to our house without his stolen property. A week later Dad got another one, this time cementing it into place.

In 2003, the girlfriend of a Delta Psi brother called the police. Her boyfriend had been kidnapped she said. They found him hogtied, donning Oakley frogskins and drinking cheap beer in the custody of his own pledges (just kidding about the frogskins). This prank was the last straw for the University that agreed with my Father - The apple had fallen and the tree needed to be chopped down and burned. After a century and a half at UVM, the Delta Psi fraternity was indefinitely suspended. To make matters worse, their house, once the physical embodiment of the classicism and tradition their organization was created to promote, had fallen into disrepair and needed roughly two million dollars for restoration. The brothers and alumni scrambled to save their house but their efforts were too little too late and they were forced to sell 61 Summit St. to the university in 2007. The house has since been emptied and the current plans are to gut the inside and turn it into an admissions building.

A few weeks back, while home to visit my mother, I decided to take a walk over to the deserted house and poke around. I don’t know whether it was the thought of Goodwill’s dying legacy or the unfinished quest for my father’s bench that spurred my interest. I didn’t care. I found an open window and, after climbing through, took my time examining every room of the four story fraternity capturing images with my camera and my mind. On each floor was an eerie, empty sea of mahogany, coffers and bronze gilt light fixtures. Beautifully carved tables were stacked in piles in the center of the main hall. The library’s bookshelves were still filled with dust covered books on philosophy and antiquity. I found myself wondering if Dewey ever had a glance at any of them as I moved toward one of the many ornate, grotesquely decorated fireplaces. They seemed to be in every room, each one as distinct and different as the snowflakes so frequently collected on the house’s windowsills throughout those notoriously long, brutal Vermont winters. The fireplaces, like the house itself, were designed to motivate, to feed the fire of inspiration in its dwellers both figuratively and literally. Unfortunately, the light of Delta Psi has gone out and my father’s stone bench is nowhere to be found.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Lesson in Fall Layering from the First AKC

Who needs the fashion rags for inspiration tears when I keep finding photos like these? A leather bomber over a fairisle and brown wide wales…this look could be on our fall rig right now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Last Shots of Color in Spring/Summer

The seersucker and madras are headed into storage this weekend. My head is ready for fall and 13th & Wolf will reflect that starting tomorrow.

The Council of Italian Taste Makers at Barneys

the council

the chairman of the board

the double monk

I hate to reblog but what is going on at Barneys is just too good to keep quiet about. Scott Schuman's pop up shop The SartoriaLUST is officially up and running. Last night, Schuman and Barney's held a book signing/party to kick off the collaboration. Lino Ieluzzi of Milan's Al Bazar & Valentino Ricci, the Pugliese purveyor of the soft but strong shouldered suit were both there to show their support. Schuman did an excellent job of filling the small space with a diverse selection of garments from brands like Woolrich John Rich & Bros, Duckie Brown & Roda. The true standouts to me are the selection of double monks from Al Bazar (particularly the navy suede pictured above) as well as Schuman's DB blazer collaboration with Boglioli. The jacket is completely unconstructed and each size has different colored buttons. Valentino Ricci will be back over at Barneys today to host a trunk show. His jackets, which take 72 hours to construct by hand, are nothing short of spectacular and definitely worth a look. His tailoring sensibility can be summed up by one phase he uttered during a conversation with Jeremy Hackett: "If you hide your shoulders you are hiding who you really are..."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Michael Bastian S/S09 - Bet on a Black Market

For fall 09, New York menswear designer Michael Bastian took us backpacking across the country with his heart on his sleeve (and scarf). Yesterday, he journeyed further south into Latin America for his SS 10 collection. One of the things I have always appreciated about Michael is his understanding of the need for consistency. His collection has evolved every season but many aspects of it that garnered fans initially are still present time after time. His fits have changed little since Fall 06 (He is still really the only choice for someone looking for a long and lean updated prep aesthetic). His models, like the one button peak lapel jacket, boxer-lined cutoffs and buttonless placket rugbys, see the light of day in every runway show. This was no different in yesterday’s showing at the EXIT ART space on 10th Ave. & W 35th St. Where he departed from the norm was his strong use of black; a real first for him. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of black for spring when he first mentioned it to me a couple months back. It certainly wasn’t the safest choice and in an economic climate where companies are going belly up seemingly every day, most designers just aren’t taking the risk. Thankfully for American menswear, Michael Bastian isn’t most designers. In sportswear, washed out blacks were complimented with shots of spring color like teal, yellow and bright greens. In tailored clothing, Michael’s use of Mother of Pearl buttons on a black blazer made his look feel less John Varvatos and more Battistoni. The result is a black story without the obvious, stereotypical color connotations. It wasn’t punk rock, it wasn’t weekend yuppie, it was only Michael Bastian. To me that’s a great thing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cleaning the sauce from suede shoes - An Epic

(click to zoom for damage shot)

A while back, Foster Huntington and I set out to document Rugby tie designer Sean Crowley’s apartment and The Jazz Age Lawn Party for our respective weblogs. In a day filled with amazing photos, Fort Greene barbeque, and St. Germain cocktails, the only casualties were my favorite suede cap toes, mortally wounded by a massive glob of bbq sauce from Foster's sandwich. With no more than a chuckle and a shoulder shrug, the Restless Transplant transplanted himself to the bar with the greatest facility and left me to find my own solution. So how do I clean them? I’d been attempting, to no avail, to answer that question ever since. I tried everything. A friend recommended rubbing the stain with salt and then brushing it out but that didn't work. Jim’s Shoe Repair said that they couldn’t do anything for me but advised to put baby powder on the stain for a week and then give it a brush...nope, try again. An extensive google search yielded unhelpful results. Was there really no solution? Just as I was about to concede defeat and bury my captoes in the back of the closet I hit pay dirt. Yesterday, I found an old suede cleaning spray that included instructions suggesting the use of an emery board.

After three months of failure involving the harebrained use of kitchen and bathroom products, all it took was five minutes with my wife's toiletry and my shoe looked like new. So there you have it, a long-winded, roundabout answer to a simple question. An emery board does wonders to combat any sort of damage a shaggy-haired, beer-guzzling, shoe-throwing, west coaster at a northeastern liberal arts college blogger/photographer could inflict on a pair of suede shoes.

back in working order...

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm headed here this weekend...

If you're in town you can probably catch me here:

or here:

drinking this:

and behaving like this:

Enjoy that last bit of summer and I'll catch you all next week...

Summer '09 Wears at Summer '29 Prices

vintage corbin indian madras blazer - $11 @ eleven vintage on prince st.

phineas cole cutaway dress shirt - $12 @ housing works soho

vintage brooks brothers indian madras tie - $7 @ the pop up flea

Maybe I've been reading too much Giuseppe or maybe I'm just tired of spending a truckload for my wears. One way or another I've caught the thrift bug. Above some of the summer's best pick ups. Whoever said thrift/vintage shopping in NYC was too expensive isn't digging hard enough!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Italian Ingenuity - Michelangelo's San Lorenzo

It was my freshman year of college. I had just moved back from Italy and the influence of the country's art still captivated my every interest. My creative writing teacher asked me to write an essay about where I saw myself in ten years. Needless to say, it began back in Florence in the Piazza San Lorenzo. I envisioned myself on the steps flanking the Medici family church, with a podium in front of me and Michelangelo's newly completed facade to my rear. As a Renaissance fanatic, my dream was to get that facade built as Michelangelo had planned it. I had succeeded and was about to commence with the opening ceremony.

While my interests have broadened in the past few years, I still think of that church, the Medici family who continually patronized it and the legacy that they left the world through art and architecture daily. That is why I was happy to discover yesterday that the Commune of Florence has been entertaining the idea of completing Michelangelo’s long abandoned plan. Some of the details can be seen here.

Now that we have successfully seen the revival of the classics in menswear I find myself wondering if and when a similar shift will occur in architecture. I liken contemporary architecture to a strong-shouldered, five button Armani suit: It may seem ground breaking at the time of its conception but centuries later it's just another preposterous monstrosity. Unfortunately, a retroactive shift in contemporary architecture is not as easy to effect as the ever moving tide of men’s fashion. A change in architecture would need to commence at the academic level and this would be no small feat. I know that at my alma mater’s school of Architecture the history books BEGIN with the Bauhaus movement. The only way an architecture student at USC can study Michaelangelo’s Porta Pia and Palladio’s Villa Rotunda is in an art history class. Vitruvius’s ten books on architecture were chucked into the furnace along with the coat and tie a long time ago. Now that the wardrobe is back I would love to see a push in new building as well. Maybe we should start with San Lorenzo and go from there.