Tuesday 29 October 2013

The new english garden by Tim Richardson

The New English Garden - in pictures
The New English Garden is a new book surveying the most significant gardens in England today. Below is a selection of some of the 25 gardens picked by garden writer and historian Tim Richardson. Photographs by Andrew Lawson

The hot borders at Packwood House, Warwickshire, designed by Mick Evans.Photograph: Andrew Lawson

The grass garden at Bury Court in Hampshire, designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole.Photograph: Andrew Lawson

James Alexander-Sinclair's terrace borders at Cottesbrooke Hall in Northamptonshire. Photograph: Andrew Lawson

The Exotic Garden at Great Dixter, East Sussex, famously the site of the old rose garden, still stands as a pioneering exemplar of devil-may-care horticultural exuberance, with its large cannas, yuccas, gunneras and other operatic stars. Dixter is gardened at a connoisseurial level that is probably unmatched worldwide, the result of a continuous programme of aesthetic appraisal and alteration which was developed by Christopher Lloyd and head gardener Fergus Garrett, and is now continued by Fergus and his team [since Lloyd's death in 2006].Photograph: Andrew Lawson

The walled garden at Scampston Hall, Yorkshire, designed by Piet Oudolf.Photograph: Andrew Lawson

The Manor House, Armscote in Warwickshire. Designer Dan Pearson gives a conventional lawn with an Arts and Crafts corner pavilion a modern appeal by simple fringe plantings of Alchemilla mollis and a distinctive wavy-topped edge.Photograph: Andrew Lawson

The lower parterre at Trentham near Stoke-on-Trent in autumn, with Piet Oudolf's flanking plantings in the foreground and Tom Stuart-Smith's beyond. Photograph: Andrew Lawson

Mount St John, Yorkshire designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. Here the big views are complemented by big-scale plantings which bulk up in late summer. Halfway down the slope a lateral pool breaks up the space and invites the visitor in.Photograph: Andrew Lawson

The Cotswolds goes cosmic at Througham Court, a lovely stone farmhouse set on the edge of an enviably obscure Gloucestershire valley. Here, designer-owner Christine Facer - whose work could best be described as of the Charles Jencks School of Cosmic Gardening - has created a garden which is in part a homage to Jencks's original Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland. Pictured here is the Arts and Crafts Sunken Garden designed by Norman Jewson.Photograph: Andrew Lawson

Redesigning gardens: when old favourites become new again
Timeless English gardens are always changing, says author Tim Richardson.

Entitling a book The New English Garden (my latest) was always going to be somewhat controversial. But I stand by the premise that all 25 gardens in it have been "made or remade" over the past 10 to 15 years. Gardens naturally regenerate themselves, of course, and gardening is a notoriously and gloriously unstable practice.
Which is not to say everything has to be swept away in order for "newness" to reign. An established structure, especially hedges and old brick walls, is gold dust to any garden maker. Great Dixter is perhaps the best example; Christopher Lloyd always insisted on recognition of the topiary and hedge system his father installed with help from Edwin Lutyens, and which provided the frame for his own horticultural exploits.
Some of the most fascinating elements of the gardens I selected are features retained from a previous era, remodelled to suit the tone of the new garden.
The 'Italian' sunken garden
This classic Arts and Crafts feature from the early 20th century can be found at scores of English gardens, often in a slightly dilapidated state. In its heyday the sunken garden was a glamorous spot for whiling away the pre-dinner hour with a cocktail. Today's gardeners have been exploring the horticultural possibilities of the space. At Packwood in Warwickshire, the sunken garden has been given a new identity with dramatic Mediterranean and South African exotic-themed plantings – kniphofias, euphorbias, eryngiums and succulent echeverias and sedums. Poppies and white verbascums dotted about complement the unbuttoned feel of what was originally conceived as a romantic but "formal" feature.
Dan Pearson has taken a similarly irreverent approach at Armscote Manor in Oxfordshire, where an enclosed Twenties sunken pool garden is now pleasingly overrun by Rosa rugosa, reinforced by the more delicate varieties 'Roseraie de l'Hay' and 'Blanc de Blanc'. Purple and white verbascums surge between them and balls of clipped evergreens in informal groups add a different note, reinstating a sense of structure while also undermining the original fearful symmetry.
The herbaceous border
The prime showcase of the gardener's art throughout the 20th century has gone through a sea-change over the past 15 years, as naturalistic planting styles have become more popular.
At a garden such as Cottesbrooke in Northamptonshire, the main double border exhibits none of the "pictorial" qualities of the classic Arts and Crafts border, with a beginning, middle and end, and perhaps even a clear development in terms of colour. Instead, James Alexander-Sinclair offers a more immersive experience, with multiple repeat plantings of tall perennials including sanguisorba and white corncockles threading through. Tom Stuart-Smith aims for something similar in his gardens, such as Mount St John in Yorkshire, or the revamped Trentham in Staffordshire, where favoured plants include thalictrum, phlomis, eremurus, eupatorium and veronicastrum (you know you are in a modern garden if you spy lots of these). He likes to think of his gardens as a continuum, surging and receding like music.
The rock garden
The rock garden has fallen from favour in recent years. The idea of a mountainside in suburbia evidently proved too kitschy even for English sensibilities. But there is life in alpine or rock gardening because the plants are so beautiful.
Keith Wiley was the moving spirit behind the acclaimed Garden House at Buckland Monachorum in Devon for many years, and in 2004 began his own garden, Wildside, just down the lane. His energy and ambition are extraordinary, the new garden consisting of several acres which he first reformed by extensive use of a mini-digger, very much in the mountain-moving spirit of Edwardian rock gardening.
The resultant ridges, berms and pool areas create a good habitat for many of his favourite plants, which he has arrayed naturalistically in swathes and large unruly groupings. Troops of kniphofias, crocosmia and agapanthus provide a flavour of the Cape while erythroniums, asters and eragrostis grasses drift on through unhindered. Rock on, Keith!
Kitchen Garden
Growing "edibles" (as young gardeners now like to dub vegetables) is all the rage of course, but at larger properties it is now all but impossible for owners to keep a garden in High Victorian style. There are a handful of astonishing exceptions, notably West Dean in Sussex, but many owners choose to update the look of the traditional walled garden. One fine example is Daylesford Manor in Gloucestershire, where Rupert Golby's floral interventions, jaunty topiaries and clever fruit supports in woven hazel and willow create an atmosphere of fun-loving fecundity. This is a large scale kitchen garden which nevertheless feels like a garden in its own right, not a service area.
Piet Oudolf pushes the idea even farther at Scampston Hall in Yorkshire, where he has turned the old walled garden into a compartmented extravaganza, with his trademark perennials-and-grasses plantings at the heart of it all. Flower colour is by no means anathema in old kitchen gardens, of course, since up to a quarter of the space would traditionally have been used for growing flowers for the house.
'The New English Garden' by Tim Richardson (Frances Lincoln, £40), is available from Telegraph Books (0844 871 1514) at £36 + £1.35 p&p.

Monday 28 October 2013

3D representation of 17th century London before The Great Fire. Pudding Lane Productions, Crytek Off The Map

8 mei 2013
"We are six students from De Montfort University taking part in the Crytek Off the Map project, building a 3D representation of 17th century London before The Great Fire.

For more information on our whole project, including concepts and processes please visit our team blog;"

*the team does not claim ownership to the music used in this video, all credit goes the the composer Hans Zimmer, 'Leave No Man Behind'. Copyrighted.

Thursday 24 October 2013

The return of the regimental watch straps ... and more. Smart Turnout.

Mencyclopaedia: Smart Turnout
How guardsman, Philip Turner, earned his stripes in fashion.

Following a nine-year stint in bearskin and scarlet, Philip Turner left the Scots Guards in 1996 - only to find his campaign to gain stimulating civilian employment a troublesome one. "I did do a bit in marketing, and found out a little about how businesses should be run. But it was difficult - very frustrating. A lot of us have the same experience."
Happily, Turner's soldiering days had already provided the catalyst for future fulfilment. While serving, he represented the regiment in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown, and came up with the idea of having some racing colours rustled up for the race. His fellow officers fancied them, too, so Turner went back to the rustler-upper and had some jumpers made: "I sold them around the regiment
In 1999, Turner remembered their enthusiasm, and decided to try to expand the idea into a business. He found a British manufacturer, contacted regiments, schools and universities to propose that he produce items in their colours, then from his bedroom established a modest website to sell them. "The alumni merchandise was very weak in this country compared to America. At the beginning it was all word of mouth: for instance, a friend who taught at Radley put me in touch with the right people there."
For a while the business, Smart Turnout, tootled along, selling cufflinks, ties and jumpers as well as some clever military-style striped nylon watch straps Turner had dreamt up, based on ceremonial braces. In 2008, American GQ featured the watchstraps in its pages, and suddenly Turner's customer base rocketed. Each month the website now sells around 1,000 straps featuring the colours of institutions such as the Household Division, the Royal Marines, or even Vanderbilt University to men in the US, Japan, Korea and beyond. There are some very attractive wallets, scarves, belts, polo shirts, pyjamas, knitwear and jackets for those who wish to fly their favoured colours even more prominently. There are even Bradfield boxer shorts (very brown: not so nice) and some grey trunks with Nato-flash elasticated waistbands.
Smart Turnout has now expanded well beyond its original remit. Successful non-alumni items, including its "SMART" jumper (recently worn by a member of One Direction) and some extremely well designed, Grantham-made backpacks and briefcases (my favourite of all Turner's range), suggest that this business has the momentum to expand from bedroom start-up into bona fide up-and-coming brand. It has just opened its first bricks-and-mortar shop, in the Prince's Arcade on Piccadilly.
There is, though, a nagging etiquette-based conundrum lurking beneath Smart Turnout's spit and polish: is it ever strictly pukka to wear unearned stripes? Is Turner enabling any on-the-make charlatan to sport a pair of pink-flashed Westminster socks? Personally, I would happily inhabit Smart Turnout's natty Royal Artillery jumper (featuring a zig-zag burgundy stripe across the chest of a navy crew-neck), were it not for the uncomfortable prospect of running into a burly artillery man keen to discuss Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

Turner is admirably upfront about the point, cheerfully conceding that there aren't many British military veterans in Japan - Smart Turnout's second-biggest market - but pointing to a) the "spirit of affinity" that draws men to his products, and ruefully observing that b) many of the colours Smart Turnout features come from regiments long disbanded by cut-happy governments. We live in a world saturated by meaningless branding and trumped up logos: but the colours flown by Smart Turnout are the real thing, and the story behind it is real, too. Well worth your attention.

Smart Turnout Photo shoot

Poirot: The End is Near (trailer) / Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Big Four broadcasts Wednesday 23 October at 8pm on ITV

Poirot: The End is Near (trailer)

Four upcoming films will mark the end of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and see David Suchet reprise his iconic role as the world famous Belgian detective for the very last time.

The Big Four forms part of the thirteenth and final series, which includes Dead Man’s Folly, The Labours of Hercules and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case. Elephants Can Remember was the first film from this final series to be broadcast in June and attracted a consolidated audience of 5.7 million viewers and a 23% share.

David Suchet has worn the moustachioed Belgian sleuth's polished spats very successfully since 1988 when he accepted the role. His first film, The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, was broadcast on January 8 1989.

Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Big Four broadcasts Wednesday 23 October at 8pm on ITV

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Breathless ITV

Secrets, lies and passion smoulder beneath the glamorous and stylish world of the early 1960s, in the brand new drama Breathless.

Is that Don Draper? - No, it's Jack Davenport as Dr Otto Powell in Breathless. Photograph: ITV
Breathless; Trust Me I'm a Doctor – TV review
Yes, it's the 60s, and there's smoking, sex and even a Don Draper type – but don't call it the British Mad Men

Sam Wollaston

I saw the WikiLeaks movie, The Fifth Estate, the other night. Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic but the film isn't, for several reasons, one of which is that it doesn't really work visually. It's a problem with a lot of drama about the 21st century. People now spend their entire lives staring into screens and communicating via text. Looking at a screen of people looking into screens isn't a very fulfilling experience. You have to go back to the 20th century to find people actually talking to each other, having old-fashioned touchy sex not Skype sex, expressing emotions not emoticons, and anger in a way that isn't snapping shut a laptop. It's maybe why there's so much period drama about.

In Breathless, ITV's latest period piece, we're in London in 1961. Of course, being about the 60s it's already been called the British Mad Men (as The Hour was, and that wasn't even set in the 60s). Med Men might be better, given it's a hospital drama. And Dr Otto Powell (Jack Davenport) is the Don Draper character – you know, suave, smoking (in every sense), Brylcreemed etc. He just has to walk into a room, and women spread their legs. Well, he is a gynaecologist.

Not just a devilish cad though, Dr Otto is also an unlikely champion of choice and performs abortions (still illegal) on the sly. "Otto, is that you, I've been such a silly muffin," he's greeted by a silly aristocratic muffin (scone?) with a extra unwanted bun you know where. He's kinda Don Draper meets Vera Drake, then.

There's no such complexity from Dr Powell's doctor colleagues. All male, of course, and all randy as Jack Russells; after a brisk, rude group round of the wards, they're all off doing their damnedest to hop on and off the nurses like they're the Routemasters plying Piccadilly. I say, are you headed for Eros, room for one more on top, eh?

So 1961 doesn't look very jolly for a woman. The music may be getting a little better, the dresses too. And this so-called sexual revolution is gaining some momentum. Who's it for, though? Maybe the pill, which was around then, I believe, wasn't in general circulation yet. Because if you join in the revolution, chances are you're going to get knocked up by some twit. And if you don't get to Dr Otto (who's the one you really want to be with) in time, you're going to have to spend the rest of your life in the twit's kitchen. Quite a cool, 60s kitchen, admittedly, possibly even with a few new electric appliances about the place depending on the salary of your twit – but he's still a twit, and his kitchen's still a kitchen.

Breathless is good at that; the 60s kitchens, the dresses, the Brylcreem and the buses, the Austins and the Morrises, the drink-driving. Also at the paradoxes of the age – the looking both forwards and backwards, the rampant sex and rampant sexism, the shiny new NHS and the lingering stuffiness etc. It looks great, and it captures an age, a fascinating one – key elements in any period drama. Plus there are no screens or texting. You can forget the modern world for an hour (except that you're probably tweeting along).

But then Downton Abbey does all that too, and Downton is posh froth. What's beneath the gloss of Breathless? I'm talking about the drama part of period drama – its ability to get a hold of you so you become emotionally tangled up, go on thinking about it and the characters, new people in your life, after the credits roll. And I'm not getting that. Perhaps it doesn't matter – you can admire the shine, without worrying about what is – or isn't – underneath. Just don't go calling it the British Mad Men.

Trust Me I'm a Doctor (BBC2) is brilliant; I learned so many interesting things. Like BMI – the fat thing not the regional airline – is rubbish. OK, not rubbish, but it can be misleading, as an indicator of health; you can be fat and fit. I can be fat and fit. I also don't need to drink two litres of water a day. Yay, water's boring.

I'm a bit confused about whether I should take a quarter of an aspirin a day: it seems to depend on which distinguished expert you listen to. I'm certainly going to wash my hands a lot more often and a lot more thoroughly because a third of us have faeces on them … NO! I don't, you do, go away. And I'm going to bed early, because sleep deprivation is linked to all sorts of horrible and life-shortening ailments. Put another way, Newsnight gives you cancer.

Breathless is so much more than a Mad Men rip-off
EVERYONE has been banging on – well, OK, not everyone, but quite a few people – about ITV’s new 60s drama Breathless, and how it’s allegedly ripping off the cult US series Mad Men.

By Mike Ward

Take it from me, these people are all idiots. And it's OK for me to say that because I was initially one of them.

Being quite a shallow human being, I took one look at the distinctive 60s style of the whole thing – the fashions, the cars, the home furnishings, the music, the opening titles, the fact that everyone was smoking their tar-caked little lungs out – and thought, yeah, d’you know what, I’m going to slag this series off as a Mad Men rip-off, I bet no other TV critic will think of that, aren’t I jolly clever and original and perceptive, huh?

But now that I’ve watched episode one again, properly this time – followed by previews of episodes two, three and four – I realise just what an ignorant ninny I was being. Breathless is, in fact, superb.

All right, so the influences from that American series are fairly transparent, but is that really such a big deal? Pretty much every show on television borrows ideas from other programmes, a huge proportion of them from America (Ricky Gervais’ comedies, for example, and Jonathan Ross’s chat shows, are massively influenced by their US counterparts).

Sod originality. What really matters is the substance. If superficial 60s snazziness were all Breathless had to offer us, the whole thing would have disintegrated within the first 20 minutes of episode one, like one of those tragic Bake Off trifles where the custard refuses to set.

Instead, it had me hooked. Britain was such a different place in 1961, the year the story gets underway, that the characters in Breathless, working in the gynaecological department of a leading London hospital, are having to deal with situations that seem fascinatingly alien to us.

Women weren’t allowed the new contraceptive pill, for example, unless they were married. And only then with their husband’s permission. Also, abortion was still illegal, which meant reluctantly pregnant women would resort to terrifying backstreet terminations, carrying all sorts of appalling risks.
The abortion thing is key here, because Jack Davenport’s character, charismatic surgeon Otto Powell, offers these desperate women a better alternative – still wholly illegal, and enough to get him struck off and banged up if word ever got out, but carried out safely, sensitively and responsibly.

It was when he defended his actions in episode one to nurse Angela Wilson (Catherine Steadman), who’d unwittingly found herself in attendance at one of these so-called “specials” of his – that we sensed there may be more to this guy than we’d initially given him credit for.

He insisted he was helping these people out of a nightmare they shouldn’t be forced to suffer – and he sounded very much as though he meant it.

“The law,” he told her, rejecting her protests “makes miserable lives and miserable women.”

So, OK, maybe he’s not just a rich, suave, self-satisfied womaniser after all. Otto may be smitten by nurse Angela (so am I, but that’s another story). And the more she rejects his advances – possibly because Otto sounds like a name better suited to a Labrador – the more he relishes the chase. In that sense, he seems just your average adulterous slimeball.

But the marriage that Otto is putting at risk, we’ll come to realise, isn’t quite right. Not so much in the sense that it’s a miserable one, more that it’s an act of some sort, an arrangement he and his wife Elizabeth have both agreed to, for reasons we’ve yet to figure out. And beneath their trappings of wealth and suburban respectability, they’re nursing a significant secret.
Elsewhere, we’ve just witnessed ninnyish junior consultant Dr Richard Truscott (Oliver Chris) marry pregnant ex-nurse Jean Meecher (Zoe Boyle). Jean has actually lost the baby on the morning of the wedding, but has insisted on going ahead with the ceremony – and not telling the groom about the miscarriage, terrified he’ll call the whole thing off. Will he eventually find out in any case? If so, will he go ballistic?

Richard and Jean’s is a relationship already weighed down with a whole heap of 60s issues. A working-class lass wedding a posh chap. A bride walking down the aisle when she’s supposedly up the duff. A nurse being forced to quit work because that’s what the rules used to demand if you got hitched to a doctor. All wrapped up in one merry little marital package.

Not so much another age as another planet. I shan’t go into any more detail about Breathless for now, just in case I give away some vital plot twist (you know, like I stupidly did when I mentioned the Martian invasion in next week’s Downton).

Suffice to say this is another cracking ITV drama – as gritty as it is stylish. And rest assured, the best is yet to come.

Review: Breathless – Series 1 Episode 2 – ITV

By Lina Talbot

Spoiler Alert: This review assumes you have already watched episode 2 of ‘Breathless’.

Female viewers must be feeling relieved after every episode of Breathless because things are different now. The control exerted by social codes and above all, by male authority over women, tied them down to being little more than kitchen maids and baby makers. Male viewers I hope will agree with Mr Powell, the debonair doctor with a dark past, that to keep women this miserable makes no sense.

For women to become properly liberated after the Second World War took a strangely long time. Men must have been very afraid, perhaps more so in the upper echelons where a certain family life needed to be on display. As the Powells’ marriage with one sprog and one housemaid demonstrates – concealing beneath it some terrible truth.

Natasha Little gives the most plausible performance as the fearful yet restrained Mrs Powell, whether supporting her husband and son or confronting Iain Glen’s sinister Chief Inspector Mulligan. It’s enjoyable stuff, so I am not going to “Wiki” what British commandos were doing in Cyprus in ’53 and spoil the mystery.

The other main characters have a touch of caricature about them. Even Jack Davenport as Powell overdoes the jolly father role. He also overplays his perplexity in the presence of Nurse Wilson (Catherine Steadman) after some very minor encounters. Perhaps she represents the future and the challenge facing these Sixties social paragons, but I may be over-interpreting.

The Enderbys (Shaun Dingwall and Joanna Page) are most watchable in their struggle to achieve higher status, though sadly they have a sexual problem to solve too. Baby making in these days is certainly fraught with difficulties. Happily, pills for some women’s problems are now available if you know the right chap, which former Nurse Meecher, now Mrs Jean Truscott (Zoe Boyle), does. As a modern girl struggling with Sixties society, she is not telling her husband and -  clap on the back for the man – neither is Powell. Or is he being all things to all people?

So the sexual charade of the Sixties continues, this time with Pippa Haywood popping up as the cheated on wife whom her husband wishes to quieten with a dose of Librium. He warns Mr Truscott (Oliver Chris), who hesitates to prescribe this: “We can go and see the top man.” Later his wife holds a scalpel over his mistress’s head as a different sort of warning – presumably the only justice available for the wronged woman. Of course her mention of Holloway immediately recalls Haywood’s recent outing in Prisoners’ Wives.

Then there is the romantic subplot. Mmm. It is silly… but despite that charming, as the nervous Powell waits amongst the plebs in a street cafe for the object of his desire. He is now aware of Wilson’s background and her actions in helping Miss Mulligan (Holli Dempsey) escape marriage. He doesn’t yet know that she is Jean’s sister, nor that Mulligan has him by the goolies.

Once again the scenes are lovely to behold. In the Truscotts’ new flat, for example, the camera beautifully presents both its décor and its metaphorical meaning as the cage for the new wife. Indeed the formidable exterior has the look of Wormwood Scrubs. The Sixties’ hospital ward rounds become comic parades, the private consultation almost an assignation.

I bet the writer and director Paul Unwin is having a ball. He has built up considerable expertise with medical drama, having co-created Casualty and worked on Holby City. Most recently he was lead director on the US network series Combat Hospital. No doubt he realised that people who watch medical drama are more interested in the social milieu of the protagonists, and this time he focuses on the milieu.

Though the dialogue still bothers me. It’s too unnatural – comic book even – I presume Unwin intends to mimic Sixties TV shows in the mould of Danger Man and The Avengers. With such a visual feast, a terse dialogue may be a blessing, providing the bon mots keep coming. This week Matron (Diane Fletcher) offers her reactionary guideline for women: “we need to be tamed.” OK, the blame does not lie entirely with the men then.

Breathless Trailer, ITV

Monday 21 October 2013

The Return of the Espadrilles / Alpargatas ...

Espadrilles are sandals made of canvas, with soles of varying heights decorated with rope. The sandals were first made over 600 years ago in Catalonia, but the name itself is French. It can get confusing, though, if you look for espadrilles in Canada, since this is the normal Quebec term for running or jogging shoes. The French name for the sandal comes from the Catalan word, espardenya, which referred to a tough grass used for weaving the ropes that form the bottom of the shoes. Today’s espadrilles may no longer use espardenya, and rope styling on the bottom may be glued to wooden, plastic, or rubber soles.

The early espadrilles were peasant made and worn by peasants. A small amount of canvas combined with a rope-work bottom was much cheaper than leather. Many featured a lace up component to keep the sandals firmly attached to the feet.

If we jump forward to modern days, espadrilles are popular summer sandals, mostly made for women in many countries. They’re particularly associated with casual summer wear, clothing for cruise ships, and for women who want a dressier but still comfortable sandal look in hot weather. Designers make a number of styles, which can get uncomfortable if the heel is very high, but there are many non-brand name espadrilles that are cheaply made and purchased.

The soles of modern espadrilles are usually wedges, with a gradual incline of the heel. You can find flat espadrilles or platform styles, too. Many are slip on or slide versions, but still others may feature ankle straps to keep the foot more secure. Though many of the variants, especially of less expensive brands, feature synthetic roping around the heels, a popular feature is the use of jute, a natural fiber, to make the roping. Jute espadrilles with cotton canvas tops are made in great number in Bangladesh where they may be exported to Europe and the US.

When jute is used, gluing the jute rope to the shoe sole can actually be a laborious process. They may be not only glued but also stitched, and many feature extra designs in the rope weave to provide a fancier shoe. Despite the more labor-intensive work required in the manufacture of espadrilles, they are often less expensive than other summer sandals, unless you want espadrilles with a designer name. Then, expense is approximately equal to other designer sandals.

 Espadrilles / Alpargatas are normally casual flat, but sometimes high heeled shoes originating from the Pyrenees. They usually have a canvas or cotton fabric upper and a flexible sole made of rope or rubber material moulded to look like rope. The jute rope sole is the defining characteristic of an espadrille; the uppers vary widely in style. In Quebec, however, espadrille is the usual term for running shoes or sneakers.
The term espadrille is French and derives from the word in Occitan language, which comes from espardenya, in Catalan or espardeña in Spanish. In Catalan it meant a type of shoes made with espart, the Catalan name for esparto, a tough, wiry Mediterranean grass used in making rope
Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia and Occitania since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles go as far back as 4000 years ago. Traditional espadrilles have a canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece, and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they would have laces at the throat that would be wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by both men and women.
Once peasant footwear, espadrilles have grown in popularity, especially in Catalonia and the Basque Country, where many men and women wear them during the spring and summer months. Designer espadrilles are now widely available. They are usually manufactured in Spain and South Asia. Modern espadrilles are predominantly for women, though some men's shoes are made in this style.
The soles of espadrilles may be flat, platform or wedge shaped, and can be made of natural fiber or synthetic fiber rope, or flexible synthetic materials cast to resemble rope. Uppers may be made from nearly any substance, and may have open or closed toes, open or closed backs, and can be slip-on or tied to the ankle with laces. Thousands of varieties of espadrilles can be found, from inexpensive bargain brands to high priced designer brands.
Espadrilles became fashionable in USA in the 1940s. Lauren Bacall's character in the 1948 movie Key Largo wore ankle-laced espadrilles. The style was revived in the 1980s, due to the success of Miami Vice—the shoe was worn by Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson). In 2013 at luxury shoe stores in New York City, a pair of espadrilles can cost nearly $500.
Only second to cotton in favor as a natural fiber, jute is increasingly used in the manufacture of espadrilles. The soles of espadrilles are now commonly made with jute rope or braid, which is favored because of its eco-friendliness compared to synthetic substances. The natural bright white color of jute is a major design feature of modern espadrilles.
Bangladesh is the producer of high quality jute, and has become a manufacturing centre for premium quality jute soles and complete espadrilles. Ninety percent of the world's total production of complete espadrilles, as well as jute soles, is now manufactured in Bangladesh, although some manufacturers in Spain, France, and Italy import jute soles from Bangladesh to finish espadrilles in those countries. Complete espadrilles are also manufactured in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela.
Jute soles typically include fully or partially vulcanized rubber beneath the jute fibre for long-lasting espadrille shoes. Sometimes crepe soles are used as out-soles. Jute braid soles might include heels made of wood or EVA foam.
The manufacture of espadrilles is generally more complex than that of sandals. The jute soles are the most critical part. The jute twines are first machine-braided. These braids are then manually formed into the shape of the sole and hydraulically pressed with heat to form the final shape, and completed with vertical stitching. These basic soles are then vulcanized underneath. EVA foam or wooden heels are glued in place and more jute braids are wrapped around it to complete the soles. Uppers of different styles are then built on the jute soles to complete the espadrille. Most traditional espadrilles made by hand come from La Rioja, Spain. They are widely distributed in France and Canada.

Assembling of a jute sole

How traditional espadrilles are hand sewn in la Rioja, Spain ( alpargata...

Saturday 19 October 2013

Nostalgia for the future, waiting for the Past ?

Nostalgia for the future, waiting for the Past ?
“Tweedland” publishes two films  (only in Dutch /sorry about that)  … illustrating “radicals” in “Vintage Culture” or “Creative Nostalgia”.
The dialectical processes of History are mysterious and somehow the “avant garde” transforms itself in “something else”… but one thing is definitively clear … In these times of crisis and mass production, there is a search for a lost quality in human behavior and environment. “Human ecology” ?

Yours Jeeves.

De kledingkast van Mark Davids (Avro)

Jip Hartog, Lindsay Lane en Mark Davids bij de week van Filemon - Nostal...

Wednesday 16 October 2013

P.G.C. Hajenius Rokin 96 Amsterdam

P.G.C. Hajenius
Rokin 96
1012 KZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel.: 020-623 74 94
Fax: 020-638 72 21
E- mailadres: info@hajenius.com

Opening times:
Monday 12.00 am - 6.00 pm
Tuesday 9.30 am - 6.00 pm
Wednesday 9.30 am - 6.00 pm
Thursday 9.30 am - 6.00 pm
Friday 9.30 am - 6.00 pm
Saturday 9.30 am - 6.00 pm
Sunday 12.00 am - 5.00 pm

Since 1915 Amsterdam's Rokin boulevard has been the home of one of Europe's most famous cigar houses: the House of Hajenius.
The Van Gendt brothers' design incorporated familiar shapes and occasional references to 17th and 18th century architectural styles. The Hajenius building was constructed using a concrete skeleton structure that was particular innovative for the time. The facade was made up of two separate sections – a wide left-hand portion mirroring the store entrance in the centre and a narrow right-hand portion with an entrance to the offices above. The facade was clad in the same expensive Oberkirchen sandstone as the Maison de Bonneterie. The lower wall beneath the storefront was made from granite. The building had a high storefront extending from the ground floor to the first floor that formed a plinth for the three pilastered upper storeys. A royal coat of arms was hewn into the sandstone above the store's regal entrance with the words 'P.G.C. Hajenius' and the year '1914'. The familiar name of the building, De Rijnstroom, was placed above the entrance to the upper storeys.

The Van Gendt Brothers' Art Deco Store Interior

The oak entranceway was fitted with heavy doors and copper hardware. This led into a large rectangular-shaped room with counters on both sides made of Italian marble. Two huge brass chandeliers that had been removed from the store on Dam Square were suspended from the ornately decorated coffered ceiling. The walls were clad in various types of marble and open mahogany cabinets displayed not only boxes of cigars, but also 19th-century, wooden pipe tobacco boxes and decorative delftware pots. Hardstone floors with mosaic patterning were later hidden away under carpeting due to wear and tear. The Van Gendt brothers used exclusively natural products for the interior such as wood, marble and hardwood. No paints or related products could be used inside this exclusive cigar store because cigars were particularly susceptible to absorbing odours from their surroundings. For quite some time, two traditionally crafted wooden cigar cases formed the showpieces in the centre of the store. The cases displayed a Corona and a figurado of the same make, the Corriente del Rhin, named after the three Hajenius buildings, De Rijnstroom.

PGC Hajenius (1806-'89)
However the history of Hajenius begins in 1826, when the nineteen-year old Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius left the fortified town of Doesburg for Amsterdam. And Hajenius had a dream: to open a store that offered customers only the very best cigars. Young Hajenius was evidently a born businessman, since he established his new store in the Hotel Rijnstroom on the Vijgendam - and a location more suited to the achievement of his dream was virtually inconceivable.

His new store was located amongst a prosperous clientele, and just a stone's throw from the Tobacco Exchange - as well as some thirty small cigar factories, where he had the best cigar makers use the choicest tobaccos to make his Hajenius cigars for him. His store was an immediate success: leading citizens soon made their way to his store, rapidly joined by prominent industrialists - and even Royalty. The market for his cigars soon extended far beyond the national borders. His store rapidly became too small, and he moved to a new location on the Dam.

His fame continued to grow through the years; Hajenius acquired its reputation as a renowned cigar house, with a continually increasing number of customers. Once again, the store became too small, and a new location was required; a location possessing a status compatible with the prestige of the now universally-acclaimed House of Hajenius. The need for a new location resulted in the construction of an elegant store on the Rokin, built in German sandstone, which was once again christened 'Rijnstroom '. It has since transpired that this third relocation in 1915 was to be the last: the House of Hajenius is still located on the Rokin, in premises where nothing would seem to have changed.

The De Heerenkamer, which translates as the Gentlemen's Room, was the area in which regular customers were welcomed to discuss their cigar orders for the year ahead. This room has retained much of its original to this day. Two portraits of Pantaleon Hajenius' successors, Hendrik Willem Nijman and son Neander Nijman, can be found here. Many a deep and meaningful discussion has been held at the antique meeting table. Courses are regularly held here about how to become an expert cigar smoker.