Friday, 18 April 2014

Time to shave ?

Beard trend goes a whisker too far as men told 'it's time to shave'
First it was Hollywood dads at the Oscars, then men in John Lewis adverts and finally Jeremy Paxman. The end is nigh
Hannah Marriott

It's no secret that fashion is a fickle game: as soon as a trend becomes truly popular and is adopted by Adrian Chiles or the cast of The Apprentice, it holds little interest for the style set. About a year ago, fashion journalists started reporting that this sad cycle had claimed its latest casualty: the beard – a prognosis that now appears to have been confirmed by the University of New South Wales.

The beard trend started about five years ago, in the usual places. David Beckham and Ryan Gosling had been making short beards look good for years; models such as Patrick Petitjean - and others walking for Martin Margiela in 2011 and Paul Smith in 2012 - demonstrated that the full ZZ Top could be handsome, too. Beards were adopted by the sort of men who live in east London and dress like 18th-century carpenters. But by 2013, they were popping up in the least edgy places: on Hollywood Dads at the Oscars and in John Lewis adverts. Then Jeremy Paxman wore his on Newsnight, in August 2013, and the death knell was rung.

And yet most pogonophiles carried on wearing theirs regardless – and quite right too. Yes, the beard had become a bit of a cliché. A neat version screams 'still got it – honest!' a bit too loudly. A huge, out-of-control bush has started to look like a bit of an effort to live with, which is the opposite of the anti-establishment Hobo vibe the wearer presumably hopes to convey. But beards are popular for a reason. They are more flattering than any make-up: they draw attention to the eyes and lips, create cheekbones and hide double chins. If you are bald, they give balance. And what are the alternatives for those who love facial hair? Moustaches come with worrying connotations; Guy Fawkes goatees are downright sinister. David Beckham tried that, in 2012, and even he couldn't spark a trend.

But fashion can be cruel – we may as well accept that beards, though flattering, are starting to feel a bit naff, like boot-cut jeans and blush-coloured court shoes before them. The best thing to do? Have a shave. Move on. Relegate beards to the style wilderness – quickly. The sooner they are banished, the sooner some brave fashion type will re-embrace the trend in the name of irony – and the more quickly we can have them back.

Have we reached peak beard?
For the past few years stylish men have let their bristles grow. But the era of fashionable facial hair may be coming to an end
Emine Saner

If, like me, you are a staunch pogonophile and do not believe there is a single man who cannot be improved with a beard (see David Mitchell), these are happy times indeed. At the Oscars in March, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd all wore new beards. Earlier this year, John Lewis cast a heavily bearded model to front its campaign for its own-brand menswear label, and if that isn't a sign that beards have become middle England's idea of fashionable and edgy – though the Daily Mail still complained – I don't know what is (meanwhile the department store reports sales of beard trimmers grew 57% year on year).

If the big beard look is a little too Mr Twit for many tastes, there are a large number of very attractive, more elegant beards – Tom Ford's, say, or the beards worn by Jeremy Langmead, editor-in-chief of men's fashion company Mr Porter, and Matt Prior, the England cricketer. Beards, beards, beards. What riches. Except that even I have to admit I may be starting to tire a little of their ubiquity. I think this happened with The Apprentice, where half of the male candidates had beards – a sign that they have gone pretty much mainstream now. Are we, in fact, approaching Peak Beard?
Beards are certainly more popular than ever, says Brendan Murdock, founder of the Murdock chain of barbershops. Around a fifth of his services are related to facial-hair grooming, and this week he is launching a range of beard conditioning products. "I guess it's becoming more mainstream," he says. "We did wonder whether the whole Great Gatsby thing, and new looks coming through, would take away from the beard but they haven't. I've noticed there is a beard culture – people like talking about their beards, feeling their beards."

Perry Patraszewki, co-founder of the Blue Tit salons in east London, isn't convinced that the beard – or fashions in facial hair – has quite gone mainstream yet. "From my own experience, whenever I've been to a more mainstream event people point out my moustache and laugh," he says. But in parts of east London, he admits, there are beards everywhere – in fact every male stylist at the salon except for one has a beard or moustache.

Patraszewki thinks the appeal of beards is nostalgic: "(Beards are) the vibe of your childhood, when we were kids and our dads had beards in the Seventies and Eighties." He also thinks beards are here to stay. "You get used to it, it becomes part of your identity. I wouldn't shave my moustache now."
The beard – not the Noel Edmonds/Father Christmas/Gandalf variety, which has been around forever – has been growing in popularity since the mid-2000s. In the US, the New York Times pinpoints its genesis around late 2005. "In years to come, when they make movies or write books about this time, the beard will be used as a definitive visual shorthand for the early 21st century, as the moustache is for the Seventies and a pair of mutton chops for Regency England," wrote the cultural commentator Ekow Eshun in an essay on beards last year. Eshun tracks this modern sprouting back to the pre-beard Nineties dotcom boom, the speed and slickness of it at odds with slacker-style, grungey, facial bushiness, and New Labour, for whom "beards were everything they abhorred. Beards were Clause IV and Militant. Donkey jackets and picket lines. Marx and Engels."

After the dotcom bust, 9/11 and the war on terror, writes Eshun, "came a more reflective public mood" and a yearning for a simpler time. The craze for a kind of pastoral idyll took hold, even if the men lived in Hackney, Portland or Brooklyn – artisanal food, crafts, folk music. And beards. But it's not all cosy and twee – Eshun says the growth of the beard was also a reaction to women's growing economic power, and a way of reasserting one's masculinity
Last summer, the street-style photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce started shooting a 100 beards in 100 days project, taking photographs of a wide range of bearded men for a Tumblr site and limited-edition book. "That was a reaction to seeing how beards had become so popular, and not just with hipsters. The trend has continued to increase but yes, I think it is reaching a point of saturation."

But could there be early signs that the fashion beard is on its way out? Last Sunday at Lovebox, the day of the east London music festival that traditionally draws its biggest gay crowd – the group any trendwatcher will look to if they want to know what the mainstream will be doing in a few years' time – a colleague, Alex, observed: "There were a lot fewer beards than there would usually be. I think a more clean-cut look is gaining in popularity among younger gay men." He also points to the current issue of Fantastic Man, the influential men's style magazine, as "another sign that beards are on the wane – there's a shoot with lots of bearded men shaving them off".

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Two INVERTÈRE Archetypes ...

The Invertère Coat Company Ltd was formed in 1904 by Mr Harold Parkin and his two brothers. They began making coats above a shop in the centre of Newton Abbot and the name "Invertere" (Latin for "to turn about") was used to describe the Reversible coats they had developed for the wealthy owners of the newly invented Motor Car.

The "Invertere Buildings" are still standing proud in this Westcountry market town as a lasting testament to a company which held various patents for methods of manufacturing reversible coats that were so innovative in 1904 that they cannot be improved upon more than 100 years later.

In 1948 the company was sold to a Yorkshireman, Walter Sawtell, who bought new premises for the company and began developing a larger product range for export, mainly into North America. In 1966 the business was sold to Simpson of Piccadilly Ltd and in 1968 was awarded "The Queens Award to Industry for Export Achievement".

A tiled plaque above a shop at the eastern end of Courtenay Street indicates that this used to be the premises of a tailor called Parkin, who invented a reversible raincoat that he called ‘Invertere’. He sold the patent to Daks Simpson in the 1950s; they had a business making coats and gloves in the town until it closed in 1986. ‘Invertere’ garments were evidently well made, as there is still a demand for second hand examples.

The Invertere factory was closed in 1986 and Harold Shaw, who had been Technical Director there, started a new business, Westcountry Clothing Ltd, making the same Invertere coats under contract to DAKS—Simpson.

Westcountry Clothing was sold to Moorbrook Textiles in 1995 and shortly after this Moorbrook bought the Invertere Brand from DAKS-Simpson. In May 2001 Graham and Peta Shaw bought Westcountry Clothing from Moorbrook in a Management Buyout and continued to make invertere coats under licence. In August 2003 Graham and Peta Shaw bought The Invertere Coat Company from Moorbrook Textiles. Graham Shaw has been working for Invertere since 1974 and his Father, Harold Shaw since 1948.

The Invertere Coat Company Ltd is still wholly owned by the Shaw family. In 2012 the Invertere Coat Company Ltd granted Imex Co., Ltd the worldwide licensee in order to expand the business.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

RED ( "PINK" ) Hunting Coat.

Mounted hunt followers typically wear traditional hunting attire. A prominent feature of hunts operating during the formal hunt season (usually November to March in the northern hemisphere) is hunt members wearing 'colours'. This attire usually consists of the traditional red coats worn by huntsmen, masters, former masters, whippers-in (regardless of sex), other hunt staff members and male members who have been invited to wear colours as a mark of honour. Since the Hunting Act in England and Wales, only Masters and Hunt Servants tend to wear red coats or the hunt livery whilst out hunting. Gentleman subscribers tend to wear black coats, with or without hunt buttons. Ladies generally wear coloured collars on their black or navy coats. These help them stand out from the rest of the field.

The traditional red coats are often misleadingly called "pinks". Various theories about the derivation of this term have been given, ranging from the colour of a weathered scarlet coat to the name of a purportedly famous tailor.

Some hunts, including most harrier and beagle packs, wear green rather than red jackets. The colour of breeches vary from hunt to hunt and are generally of one colour, though two or three colours throughout the year may be permitted. Boots are generally English dress boots (no laces). For the men they are black with brown leather tops (called tan tops), and for the ladies, black with a patent black leather top of similar proportion to the men. Additionally, the number of buttons is significant. The Master wears a scarlet coat with four brass buttons while the huntsman and other professional staff wear five. Amateur whippers-in also wear four buttons.

Another differentiation in dress between the amateur and professional staff is found in the ribbons at the back of the hunt cap. The professional staff wear their hat ribbons down, while amateur staff and members of the field wear their ribbons up.

Those members not entitled to wear colours, dress in a black hunt coat and unadorned black buttons for both men and ladies, generally with pale breeches. Boots are all English dress boots and have no other distinctive look. Some hunts also further restrict the wear of formal attire to weekends and holidays and wear ratcatcher (tweed jacket and tan breeches), at all other times.

Other members of the mounted field follow strict rules of clothing etiquette. For example, those under eighteen will wear ratcatcher all season. Those over eighteen will wear ratcatcher during Autumn hunting from late August until the Opening Meet, normally around November 1. From the Opening Meet they will switch to formal hunting attire where entitled members will wear scarlet and the rest black or navy. The highest honour is to be awarded the hunt button by the Hunt Master. This means one can then wear scarlet if male, or the hunt collar if female (colour varies from hunt to hunt) and buttons with the hunt crest on them. All members of the mounted field should carry a hunting whip (it should not be called a crop). These have a horn handle at the top and a long leather lash (2-3 yards) ending in a piece of coloured cord. Generally all hunting whips are brown, except those of Hunt Servants, whose whips are white.


Friday, 11 April 2014

Bankruptcy forces baronet out of family seat. Sir Charles Both he and Lady Wolseley, his American wife, were declared bankrupt after a venture in the 1990s to turn the estate's gardens into a tourist attraction collapsed. Aristocracy - Survival of the Fittest: 1970-1997 4th part (+afspeell...

The Aristocracy series originally aired on the BBC. Each episode explores a period in the history of Britain's noble classes. Focusing on the decline of this class in the modern world, each tape offers a glimpse into a world only the privileged are intimately familiar with. In this particular episode, viewers explore a golden age for England's aristocracy. Around the turn of the century, Britain's aristocracy owned 80 percent of the land and dominated Parliament. The program features interviews with current dukes and duchesses, as well as with leading historians. ~ Rob Ferrier, Rovi
The Duchess of Devonshire, Sir Charles Wolseley, the Marquess of Anglesey and others describe their ancestors' lifestyles and finances.

Sir Charles and his wife, Lady Wolseley, went bankrupt after a disastrous attempt to turn the huge estate into a tourist attraction

Bankruptcy forces baronet out of family seat
By Nick Britten
12:01AM GMT 03 Jan 2008 /

A baronet and his wife must move out of the house that has been their family's ancestral home for more than 1,000 years after a disastrous business venture left them bankrupt.
King Edgar gave the 1,490-acre estate near Rugeley, Staffs, to the Wolseley family in 975AD as a reward for ridding the area of wolves. But Sir Charles Wolseley, the 11th baronet, failed to keep the wolf from the door.
Both he and Lady Wolseley, his American wife, were declared bankrupt after a venture in the 1990s to turn the estate's gardens into a tourist attraction collapsed.
As parts of the land were sold off to repay their debts they were allowed to keep Park House, their 34-room Georgian home, but this has now been sold by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Lady Wolseley, 64, said: "It is a very big wrench and moving is always traumatic even if you want to go.
"It is very upsetting really to leave, when it's happened after a thousand years, on your watch. You feel as though you are caretakers and the house is to be passed on."
She added: "It has been a privilege to live here — we love it and we have enjoyed it."
Sir Charles, a qualified chartered surveyor, inherited the estate in 1954. He planned to open the 45-acre landscaped gardens to visitors in the late 1980s but Wolseley Garden Park, which cost £1.73 million and eventually opened in 1990, only earned £30,000 in its first year and closed soon afterwards.
At one stage Sir Charles's debts reached an estimated £4.6 million. He was made bankrupt in 1996 with debts of £2.5 million, which Sir Charles blamed on the recession and high interest rates. Afterwards, he was forced to claim benefits in order to make ends meet.
The bank sold the estate, including hundreds of acres of woodland that now form the headquarters of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. Park House was built for the Wolseleys in 1793. It has been sold by the bank to another family for an undisclosed sum.
Lady Wolseley said: "It is terribly sad that the Garden Park didn't come to fruition. But it was always going to be a problem because the bank withdrew funding before it was completed, so it didn't have much chance."
Sir Charles said that they would be moving into nearby rented accommodation owned by a friend, but they were being forced to leave behind several valuable pieces of art.
He said: "There are some things we are taking, such as rare portraits of the family line dating back to the reign of James I, but other things are simply too big. We've been hanging on as best we could but the bank finally sold the house. It's very sad."
Park House is the family's last remaining physical link with the estate, although the family motto, "homo homini lupus" — man is as a wolf to his fellow man — will provide a timeless reminder.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Crimson Field / BBC One

The Crimson Field, episode 1, review
BBC period drama The Crimson Field is the First World War by way of Call the Midwife, says Serena Davies

The comparisons with Call the Midwife were inevitable. The Crimson Field, now nestled in the Sunday-night prime-time viewing schedule for the next five weeks, is BBC One’s new drama about nurses during the First World War. It is also an opportunity to show us, like Call the Midwife does, lots of well-scrubbed young ladies with plummy voices, alongside some more matronly, fiercer types, dealing with bloody matters of life and death. This they do in both programmes with gusto and good cheer, qualities which accentuate the huge clumsy gash of naked sentimentality which is scored across every moment of every scene.
I find Call the Midwife unbearable. But I actually rather liked The Crimson Field. Despite the absurdly pretty nurses and the over-sanitised sets (note the briar rose climbing up the field hospital wall; and soldiers marching off to the Front unburdened by backpacks), The Crimson Field seemed to have rather more justification to emotionally manipulate us than Call the Midwife has. Birth is everyday. The mass slaughter and irrevocable damage inflicted on millions by the First World War is not. The Crimson Field has a right to make us weep.
It also has Oona Chaplin. Chaplin is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and great-grand-daughter of Eugene O’Neill. As befits that pedigree, she is an exceptional actress. In episode one of The Crimson Field her character formed the central focus of a thin storyline that brought three volunteer nurses to help at field hospital 25A – “not far from the Front” in France. She was the disaffected, grumpy one, Kitty Trevelyan, jaded by love (she tossed a wedding ring into the sea).
Chaplin has stillness, a quality that works wonders on a script as simplistic as this. She made every word stick, and hold you, made you care and she brought the single note of subtlety in the hour, when she played down the fact that a man sent mad by gas gangrene had tried to kill her. “No harm done,” she said quietly with a twitch of her head and a flicker of her eyes that spoke real compassion. With Chaplin at its core, and some very reputable performances skirting hers from the likes of Hermione Norris, The Crimson Field, despite its knee-high corn, is a seductive proposition.

The Crimson Field; Return of the Black Death: Secret History – TV review
Another posh period drama: could those be Downton Abbey girls nursing the wounded soldiers?
Sam Wollaston

A young woman throws a ring into the sea at the start of The Crimson Field (BBC1, Sunday). What could this mean? I'm thinking it might possibly signify her romantic life has gone tits up, she's got a sad backstory. Also that The Crimson Field ain't scared of no cliche. Time will tell.

We're in Boulogne, 1915, and she – Kitty (Oona Chaplin) – is one of three ladies heading off to volunteer at a field hospital just behind the western front. VADs they were called: voluntary aid detachments. Or "very attractive darlings", as one spunky young army surgeon has it. The rascal.

There's something of Downton Abbey's Crawley sisters about these three. So Flora (Alice St Clair) – young, pretty, naive but well-meaning – is a little bit Lady Sybil; Rosalie (Marianne Oldham) is the dull, worthy, less glamorous, unmarried one, whose name I obviously can't remember (nor can I be bothered to look it up); and Kitty is Lady Mary – beautiful, defiant, troubled, ahead of her time, with shorter hair, shorter temper, good with a cig in one hand, would be even better with a ballot paper in the other (yes, there's not just a bloody great war going on up the road, we're on the brink of all sorts of social upheaval as well).

They were generally from well-to-do backgrounds, these VADs, if not all Downton-posh. And look, here's Kevin Doyle, a butler in DA, a surgeon here; same kind of time though, and same kind of feel to it all.

It gets more Call the Midwife once we get to their destination, the fictitious Hospital 25A where well-meaning women in starched linen go about their business. Call the Volunteer Nurse. They're not pulling out babies, of course, they're picking out shrapnel. And dressing terrible wounds, patching up where possible, simply being with the dying when not. Then writing letters to their mums saying their boys went without discomfort or pain. Poor Flora, it's not quite the Guide camp she'd pictured. There are even human body parts – fingers and toes mostly, but the odd bigger one too – in the laundry.

Less chummy than CTM then, but the war, with its misery and death on a massive scale, doesn't help. Nor does Grace (Hermione Norris) the matron. She seems to want to do right by the men, but to the VADs she's a vindictive bully. What is her problem? Another tricky backstory to emerge, no doubt. And the other one, Sister Quayle (Kerry Fox), seems to have a touch of Munchausen by proxy about her too. She rips up poor shellshocked Prentiss's blighty ticket so he's sent back up the line to the front, almost certainly to be shot to pieces (physically – he already is mentally). Quayle's a cake-stealer too. Yes, there's cake-based humour – it shares that with Call The Midwife as well.

To be honest, it looks a bit as if they've looked at what's done really well recently, Sunday night period drama-wise, then picked out the two that have done really well and made a kind of amalgam. Which happily also ties in with a major anniversary.

There are six episodes for now, with more to come if the viewing figures are good. So there almost certainly won't be a satisfactory arc or sense of going somewhere; the complex characterisation or the emotional involvement of a novel adaptation (the recent Birdsong or Parade's End, say).

But the figures will be good, of course, because this country loves a posh polished period soap for a Sunday night. And though it's not my thing (nor were the other two), it is well done – lavish, performed with gusto (Norris's matron stands out), obviously well researched, and historically fascinating. And a rare story of women among all the men and mud. I certainly wouldn't bet on The Crimson Field being over by Christmas.

A bigger killer even than the first world war, the Black Death was deeply scary, and Return of the Black Death: Secret History (Channel 4, Sunday) certainly wasn't going to let you forget it. "Two horsemen of the apocalypse were riding on London in tandem," says Samuel West, narrating, (melo)dramatically. One horseman is the plague, the other famine, brought on by climate change, incidentally.

Not scared yet? Here are skeletons. And a churchy choral score, a bit like The Omen music, haunting bells too, constantly, loud and oppressive, throughout the entire hour … arrrgghhhh.