Wednesday 30 September 2020





In Memoriam

Desmond Guinness, Cofounder of Irish Georgian Society, Dies at 88


Guinness and his wife, Mariga, brought Irish Georgian architecture, furniture, and art onto the international stage in the 1960s


By Mitchell Owens

August 21, 2020


There was an enormous amount of gin consumed the afternoon that I met Desmond Guinness, a cofounder of the Irish Georgian Society, who died on Thursday, age 88. Which explains why my memories, decades ago, are fragmented. The location was his flat on the King’s Road in London, where he lived with his second wife. I recall a steep flight of stairs and the aforementioned alcohol; I was generously overserved. Joined by my great friend Barrie McIntyre, the archivist of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, we talked about many subjects aesthetic—the dangerous beauty Daisy Fellowes, Guinness’s restoration of the Irish country house Castletown, his memories of the 1951 Beistegui Ball, et cetera. I also have a dim memory of Penny Guinness, walking in toward the end of my visit, seeing us both tanked well before the official cocktail hour, and admonishing her husband with, “Oh, Desmond, how could you?!” (I think they were expected somewhere for dinner.) Down the stairs Barrie and I sheepishly crept, me hoping against hope that my farewell descent, though unsteady, possessed some sort of dignity.


Blessed with a crystalline profile and glacier-blue eyes (“I got the pretty one,” his first wife once said, comparing him to his Oxford University classmates), Guinness was born in 1931, the elder son of the Hon. Bryan Guinness, the future second Baron Moyne, a member of the Irish beer and banking dynasty who also happened to be a poet. His mother was a more complicated creature. With a beauty that admirers compared to that of a Greek goddess, the Hon. Diana Mitford, a sister of novelist Nancy Mitford, abandoned Guinness’s father in 1932 for the arms of the married Sir Oswald Mosley, sixth baronet, the charismatic leader of the British Union of Fascists. After he was widowed, they were secretly married in 1936 in Berlin, at the home of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, with Adolf Hitler as the guest of honor. (Among Lady Mosley’s jewels was a diamond swastika brooch.) It was a union so politically scandalous that Lady Mosley, declared a “public danger” by MI5, was incarcerated at London’s Holloway Prison for three years with Sir Oswald, followed by house arrest. Small wonder that, for a time, she was called “the most hated woman in Britain.”


Days after graduating Christ Church, Oxford, in 1954, Desmond Guinness married Her Serene Highness Princess Marie-Gabrielle von Urach, a.k.a. Mariga, the dynamic half-Scottish granddaughter of a onetime king of Lithuania and a relative of Prince Rainier III of Monaco. The Guinnesses were a meteoric pair, him with his staggering looks, dashing personality, and deep pockets, and her with her extravagant gestures, high energy, and vintage clothes. Soon after their marriage, they decamped to Ireland, where the plight of 18th-century architecture—largely denigrated, willfully ignored, and being knocked down by developers—led them to establish the Irish Georgian Society in 1958.


As the New York Times observed in a 2008 profile, “Given that they did not have to work for a living (Mr. Guinness lived off family money), they were in a rare position, they realized, to do something about it.” The brewery scion cheerfully agreed, adding, “You know, we were free. We didn’t have to go to the office every morning.” That same year, he and his wife bought Leixlip Castle, not terribly far from Dublin, and restored the 12th-century fortress themselves, using brilliant paint colors and employing a shared eccentric eye, so much so that it became one of the most memorable interiors that Horst P. Horst photographed for Vogue. After having two children, the Guinnesses separated in 1969 and divorced in 1981. (Mariga Guinness died eight years later and is buried beneath Conolly’s Folly, an ornamental 18th-century structure that they saved in the 1960s.) His survivors include his wife, the former Penelope Cuthbertson, a Lucian Freud muse, whom he married in 1984; a son and daughter from his first marriage, historian and former Irish Georgian Society president Patrick Guinness and Irish-music patron Marina Guinness; and several grandchildren, among them fashion model Jasmine Guinness. One of his nieces is Daphne Guinness, the fashion icon and singer.


Aided and abetted by likeminded friends such as Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin, the vibrant young Guinnesses put Irish Georgian architecture, furniture, art, and decorative arts onto the international stage in the 1960s, winning the respect of previously sniffy scholars as well as connoisseurs who snapped up fine Irish antiques at then-bargain prices. In a visit that resulted in international headlines, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis stopped by to see their restoration of Castletown House, the country’s biggest Palladian residence, in 1967, shortly after the Guinnesses acquired the abandoned property for $259,000. “The lead was being stripped from the roof,” Desmond Guinness recalled in a 1998 newspaper interview. “People were ripping out the light switches and so on, but luckily the fireplaces weren’t stolen.” In the decades since, swaths of Dublin and other cities have been saved from bulldozers by the Irish Georgian Society, while the organization’s viewpoint has broadened to include the conservation of significant buildings of many periods.


“I regard these houses as works of art,” Guinness told the New York Times in 1985. “But the survival of the Irish country house is a matter of chance and luck, because of the negative attitude on the part of our government toward our architectural heritage. The trouble is, when we wake up to it, in many cases it will be too late. We're a very small organization, compared to the projects we tackle, and we're always trying to think of ways of making money, which we put into buildings.” That included a licensing agreement with American furniture company Kindel, which launched a collection of Irish Georgian reproductions that same year.


A gifted writer with a puckish wit—he was for a time a contributor to AD—Guinness also wrote and co-authored several seminal books, including Portrait of Dublin (1967), Georgian Dublin (1979), and Irish Houses & Castles (1973). As the Irish Independent observed in 1999, “In an age when the quality of much writing appears often to be in inverse proportion to the quality produced, Desmond Guinness reigns supreme.” Irish style was a subject that fascinated him until his final days, whether it was the discovery of an obscure craftsman of long ago or a historic building in need of attention. In an Instagram tribute, AD100 interior designer Steven Gambrel recalled dining at Leixlip Castle with the Guinnesses some years ago, where “we poured endless glasses…and drank well into the night discussing Georgian houses.” It was, he added, “a life highlight.

A 50-Year Battle to Save Old Ireland


largest Palladian house, above, was one of Desmond Guinness’s biggest victories.


By Christopher Hann

Nov. 26, 2008


WHEN Desmond and Mariga Guinness first lived here in the 1950s, they were unlikely champions of Irish architecture. Mrs. Guinness, the daughter of a German prince, had grown up in Europe and Japan, with no real link to Ireland. And although Mr. Guinness had Irish roots going back more than two centuries, he had been raised and educated in England (Oxford, class of ‘54).


But he was a Guinness, descended from the 18th-century brewer who put the family name on the lips of stout drinkers the world over. His father, Bryan Guinness, Lord Moyne, kept a home in Ireland, and by the mid-’50s his mother, Diana, one of the famous Mitford sisters, was living in County Cork with her second husband. And Ireland’s long economic decline had made property far more affordable than in England, making it an attractive alternative for the young couple, who moved across the Irish Sea in 1956.


In the two years they spent searching for a home, driving through the countryside and making regular forays into Dublin from a house they rented in County Kildare, the Guinnesses became familiar with the country’s architecture particularly its 18th-century buildings, from grand country homes to town houses filled with working-class flats and found themselves increasingly bothered by its state of decay. And given that they did not have to work for a living (Mr. Guinness lived off family money), they were in a rare position, they realized, to do something about it.


In February 1958 they announced plans to re-establish the Irish Georgian Society, a group that had created a photographic record of Dublin’s best Georgian buildings earlier in the century; this new version, Mr. Guinness wrote in The Irish Times, would “fight for the protection of what is left of Georgian architecture in Ireland.” The following month they began restoring a building of their own, Leixlip Castle, a dilapidated 12th-century fortress on 182 acres west of Dublin, which would be their home and the group’s headquarters.


Now observing its 50th year with a series of celebrations and a lavishly illustrated book, the revived Irish Georgian Society has been credited with restoring dozens of architectural gems across Ireland, from a former union hall for Dublin tailors to the country’s oldest Palladian house. (The society’s early preservation efforts focused on Georgian Dublin, but in later years it expanded its mission to cover noteworthy buildings from any period.) Perhaps more impressively, the group has helped bring about a national change of heart regarding Irish architecture.


“We weren’t the only people concerned, but we had the time and the youth 50 years ago and not much to do, said Mr. Guinness, now 77, as he reclined in the circular sitting room at Leixlip, beside one of the castles 20 fireplaces. He still lives here, now with his second wife, Penelope, whom he married three years after his divorce from Mariga in 1981. “You know,” he continued, “we were free. We didn’t have to go to the office every morning.”


Free or not, Mr. Guinness and his followers faced a tall order. Saving old buildings was hardly a priority in Ireland in 1958. The year before, more than 50,000 Irish citizens emigrated and 78,000 were unemployed. There were few, amid the grinding poverty, able to maintain a 200-year-old mansion. Many Irish people also reviled the lavish Georgian buildings for their association with the British occupation. “May the crows roost in its rafters,” one farmer is said to have remarked about the large house on his family’s land.


Meanwhile, the Irish government had neither the money nor much inclination to support preservation. Some officials openly assailed the Irish Georgian Society as elitist, a charge that endures to a lesser degree today. In 1966 the Lord Mayor of Dublin dismissed the society’s efforts, saying ordinary citizens had “little sympathy with the sentimental nonsense of persons who had never experienced bad housing conditions.”


Mr. Guinness was equally dismissive in return. “We were confronting a philistine state,” he said, a point that was driven home to him one day in 1957 when he saw workers systematically dismantling a pair of 18th-century houses on Kildare Place in Dublin. The city, which owned the houses, planned to demolish them in favor of new construction.


“People on the roof slinging slates down from perfectly good, beautiful buildings, with red-brick facades and good interiors,” recalled Mr. Guinness, indignation still evident in his voice. “And now they’d be worth millions.”


Mr. and Mrs. Guinness envisioned their group as a guardian of the nation’s architectural heritage, never mind that neither had formal training in architecture, Irish or otherwise. With 16 volunteers Trinity College professors and students, friends who owned country houses and some whom Mr. Guinness called “ordinary civilized people” they set out to spread their preservation ethos.


“They did start a quest, a sort of mission, when Irish 18th-century buildings were completely unfashionable,” said Desmond FitzGerald, the Knight of Glin, an early convert to the Guinness cause and, since 1991, president of the Irish Georgian Society.


The Guinnesses led members of the society on regular scouting missions to view buildings at risk. They lobbied local and national authorities, reminding policy makers that Irish craftsmen had constructed these buildings. They held cricket matches and galas and lectures to raise money, and Mr. Guinness, and later Mr. FitzGerald, began traveling to the United States to lecture on Irish architecture and design.


Two projects in particular helped galvanize public support for the society’s work. The first was Mountjoy Square, a cluster of town houses in north-central Dublin that dated to 1791. By the early 1960s, many of them had been abandoned, and a developer was buying them up with plans to replace them with a large office development. In 1964, the Guinnesses intervened, buying a single decrepit property, 50 Mountjoy Square, that stood in the middle of the proposed construction. The standoff got plenty of attention in the Irish press, and two years later a court hearing resulted in the developer’s backing out of the project.


The following year Mr. Guinness wielded his checkbook again, buying what many considered the most important house in Ireland for $259,000. The house, Castletown, in County Kildare, was the country’s largest Palladian house and the only one designed by the Italian architect Alessandro Galilei. It was built starting in the 1720s for William Conolly, the speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and had been in the Conolly family for nearly 250 years.



But by 1967 Castletown had been abandoned for two years. A housing development had recently sprouted next door, and an auction of its possessions, accumulated over two centuries, had left it virtually empty. Preservationists worried that it could succumb to the whims of a short-sighted developer. To buy it, Mr. Guinness borrowed against a trust he would come into in a few years.


Led by the Guinnesses who, for aristocrats, were unabashedly bohemian and did not shy from taking a paintbrush in hand or climbing a ladder to remove moldy wallpaper an army of volunteers descended on Castletown. Donors supplied period furnishings to fill its vast rooms, and that summer, Castletown opened its doors for visitors. Jacqueline Kennedy made a surprise visit and was given a well-publicized tour. Today, Castletown is owned by the Irish government and remains open to the public.


“When you think that that house was nearly lost to dereliction,” Mr. FitzGerald said.


Mr. FitzGerald, now 71, studied art history at Harvard and has written about Irish art, furniture and architecture. He also knows a few things about restoring old houses. Glin Castle, his home in County Limerick, has been in his family for 700 years. He inherited it when he was just 12, after the death of his father in 1949. At that point, according to Mr. FitzGerald, the family had no money and the house was in disrepair. His stepfather, a Canadian businessman, saved it, he said.


Today Mr. FitzGerald and his wife, Olda, live in a wing of Glin Castle, which they operate as a 15-room hotel. (They have a second home in Dublin.) His own experience, he believes, underscores the importance of preservation to Ireland. “I think we need the historic houses if we’re going to set ourselves up in the grand shop of tourism that the rest of Europe takes part in,” he said.


Under his leadership, the Irish Georgian Society operates on an annual budget of less than $1 million, raised from private donors. Based in Dublin, it keeps an office on Manhattan’s Upper East Side; 600 of its roughly 3,000 members live in the United States and provide two-thirds of its funding.


The group now publishes an annual scholarly journal, gives scholarships to Irish students of architecture and preservation, conducts trips abroad to historic sites and funds grants for restoration projects, like the recent repair of a conical roof at the 15th-century Barmeath Castle in County Louth.


This year the society organized a series of fund-raising events for its golden anniversary, to pay for restoring the “eating parlor” at Headfort, an 18th-century estate in County Meath, in its original colors what Mr. FitzGerald called “a very intricate and complicated paint job.” The parlor, a high-ceilinged room with ornate plasterwork, is part of a suite of six rooms designed in the neoclassical style by the renowned Scottish architect Robert Adam. They are the only rooms he designed in Ireland that are known to exist.


LEIXLIP CASTLE has its own place in Irish Georgian Society lore. For many years it served as the organization’s de facto clubhouse, the scene of picnics and parties and a magnet for glitterati. (Mr. Guinness remembers Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull visiting in the 1960s and walking off into the grass just as lunch was being served. “I suppose they got bored with our conversation,” he said.)


Over the years, the Guinnesses have outfitted their home with objects largely reaped from native soil. The library’s gilt mirror, which Mr. Guinness bought at the Castletown auction in 1966, was made by John and Francis Booker, premiere mirror makers of mid-18th century Dublin. Mr. Guinness bought the dining room sideboard at a 1973 auction at nearby Malahide Castle. The 1740s Kilkenny marble chimneypiece in the front hall came from Ardgillan Castle in County Dublin. Mr. Guinness acquired it around 1960 by swapping the Victorian fireplace that had been in the front hall.


“I try to collect Irish furniture and pictures,” Mr. Guinness said. “And you used to be able to buy it very cheaply. Now people have discovered it.”


He has only himself to blame. Mr. Guinness, who has written extensively about Irish architecture and design, received an award in 2006 from Queen Sofia of Spain on behalf of Europa Nostra, a pan-European cultural heritage group, which cited his “fifty years of unrelenting voluntary efforts” on behalf of Ireland’s architectural heritage. The following month the Irish government provided about $645,000 in start-up funds for the Irish Heritage Trust, an independent charity designed to take ownership of historic properties.


Kevin Baird, the executive director, said the trust is just the sort of government-sanctioned body for which the Irish Georgian Society had long lobbied. “The Georgians deserve huge praise,” Mr. Baird said. “They were swimming against the tide for so long, and they were instrumental in turning that tide.”


That the tide had truly turned became evident last month, when the society published a book by Robert O’Byrne, an Irish journalist, documenting its history. The foreword, which described the society as “a fine example of the extraordinary lasting effect that a small but committed organisation can have,” was written by Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland.

Monday 28 September 2020

Polo Ralph Lauren FALL 2020 MENSWEAR

Polo Ralph Lauren




May 7, 2020


Polo Ralph Lauren’s low-key menswear presentation in early March was likely the last fashion event many editors attended before New York’s coronavirus lockdown went into effect. Knowing what we know now, we might have spent a bit longer in that cozy, mahogany-paneled showroom, taking our time to chat with R.L. staffers and sip Champagne at the corner bar instead of rushing back to the office. It isn’t just that we’re nostalgic for those real-life interactions; any visit to Lauren’s Madison Avenue H.Q. feels a little nostalgic, with its tufted furniture, weathered rugs, and walls lined with vintage R.L. pieces. It’s comforting to find yourself immersed in that warm, highly specific world just moments after dodging pedestrians on the streets of Midtown. There’s also a degree of comfort in knowing that, no matter what season it is or what’s happening in the broader fashion conversation, you know what you’ll find in there: tweed suits, madras plaids, Western motifs, stacks of cable knits, neat rows of oxfords.


With the fashion industry continuing to shift its attention from trends and novelty back to quality, longevity, and sustainability, Polo’s fall 2020 collection felt newly relevant in March. But in the wake of the coronavirus crisis—which has bankrupted retailers and exposed the industry’s excesses and overproduction—it feels especially on point. Now, the feeling seems to be that if you’re going to make anything, it should be meaningful, intentional, and built to last. Much of the new Polo collection qualified, especially the items that nodded to the early days of Lauren’s brand: the three-piece suits, buttery suede coats, barn jackets, and varsity knits. All of it, wearable, timeless, investment-worthy stuff. Executive vice president and creative director John Wrazej pointed out the more directional three-piece suits, including a few with cropped, wide trousers plucked from another era. They were part of the Haberdashery line, which is particularly big in Japan, as is vintage R.L. While novel, those items were rooted in the past. More Polo guys will be drawn to the items with a Southwestern spirit, like the soft blanket coats and a puffer with a retro postcard print of wilderness explorers. Again: novel, but not disposable, and destined to become a vintage trophy one day.


Sunday 27 September 2020

My Brilliant Friend (Italian: L'amica geniale) Review // VIDEO: My Brilliant Friend | Official Trailer | HBO

My Brilliant Friend (Italian: L'amica geniale) is an Italian- and Neapolitan-language coming-of-age drama television series created by Saverio Costanzo for HBO, RAI and TIMvision. Named after the first of four novels in the Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante, it is set to adapt the entire literary work over four eight-episode seasons. The series is a co-production between Italian production companies Wildside, Fandango, The Apartment, Mowe and international film group Umedia.

The first season premiered on HBO on November 18, 2018 and on Rai 1 and TIMvision on November 27, 2018. A second season, based on Ferrante's second Neapolitan Novel and titled My Brilliant Friend: The Story of a New Name (Italian: L'amica geniale - Storia del nuovo cognome), was confirmed in December 2018, and premiered on Rai 1 on February 10, 2020, and on HBO on March 16, 2020. The first two episodes of the second season were released in Italian cinemas from January 27 to 29, 2020.

On April 30, 2020, the series was renewed for a third season, to be based on the third novel in the series, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.


 Margherita Mazzucco and Gaia Girace in My Brilliant Friend.

My Brilliant Friend review – sink into a slice of this Neapolitan delight

5 / 5 stars5 out of 5 stars.   

Gripping, heartbreaking, and beautiful, the second series of the gorgeous Elena Ferrante adaptation shows no signs of slacking


Rebecca Nicholson

Fri 19 Jun 2020 22.10 BSTLast modified on Sat 20 Jun 2020 20.59 BST


My Brilliant Friend (Sky Atlantic) never quite had the breakout moment that a series of its quality deserved. Perhaps this second series will bring it the audience to match the acclaim. The beautiful and graceful adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels moves to book two, The Story of a New Name, and picks up on the evening of Lila’s wedding to the vile Stefano, precisely where season one left off.


Its debut season managed to take elements that are usually signs of, if not a dud, then a slog – the risk of adapting beloved novels, child actors, a voiceover narrating the story, trying to make writing appear interesting on screen – and made all of them sing. It shows no sign of slacking as it moves into the 1950s.


For Lila, marriage is a direct root out of poverty, but her husband has betrayed her before they have even left for the honeymoon, and their trip to the Amalfi coast is far from the celebration is should be. It descends, quickly and inevitably, into shocking, horrifying violence. When Lila returns home, she finds that she may have escaped her old impoverished neighbourhood and moved into a nicer one, but the trappings are the same as they are for most wives of her era and environment. She simply has bigger rooms and more trinkets. To see Lila stuck in a domestic no man’s land, her spirit sapped away, is heartbreaking.


Her brilliant friend Lenù, meanwhile, is continuing along her own, slower, path to escape, pursuing the education that Lila was denied. When Lenù starts to doubt her ability to see her schooling through to the end, owing to a crisis of confidence and the distractions of romantic entanglements, it feels like a double betrayal, because she is learning for the two of them. Yet Lenù is sympathetic, her choices understandable. She tries to force herself to care about Antonio, the local boy who wants to marry her, as her way of tethering herself to her old neighbourhood. But he is unable to trust her, or rather, his insecurities make him uneasy, because she is educated and he is not. She wants to love him because he is safe, unlike the lofty and aloof Nino, who wears glasses, prints his own magazine and talks about workers’ rights.


The two girls had drifted apart by the end of season one, divided by unavoidable resentments and differing circumstances, but here they are back together, working out how each of them can make their way through their lives as young women.


My Brilliant Friend is excellent on the complicated nature of female friendships and how they can turn on competition and admiration, particularly when the playing field is not level and never will be. As smart teenage girls in a society that has little need for them, the odds are almost always stacked against them. They are hungry for experience but, at 16, Lila has a violent husband who repulses her. There is a shot of Stefano eating prawns and sloshing back wine that hammers home his grotesqueness, and it reminded me of Tony Soprano at his most gluttonous. In grown-up dresses that drown her frame, she looks 20 years older than she is, wandering around her showroom of a home. The leads, Gaia Girace and Margherita Mazzucco, are both remarkable, not least because they appear to be the same age as their characters, and have a lot of weight to carry.


When Stefano brings Lila back from their honeymoon, she is forced to sit down with her family, her face black and blue. She sits there as if daring them to ask. They all awkwardly ignore the bruises until, eventually, a friend walks in and is shocked enough to mention it without thought. She tells them she fell on the rocks, and the terrible relief is palpable: they know she’s lying, but this way they won’t have to confront it. Later, when she tells Lenù what happened, a tear slowly drips down her friend’s face. But the empathy seems to revive Lila, and rekindle some of what has been taken away. At the end of the opening episode, she seems ready to fight again.


Most big television shows are gorgeous now, thanks to a combination of technical advancement, the seemingly bottomless pot of money and the fact that, since TV is now considered cinematic, dominated by Hollywood stars, it really needs to look the part. But even by those standards, My Brilliant Friend is an exceptionally gorgeous show.


It takes its time when it needs to and zips through the parts where it does not need to linger. (I am ambivalent only about the depiction of a rape, which is part of the story, but the scene goes on too long, and seems unnecessarily cruel in its detail.) My Brilliant Friend is absorbing, gripping television that demands that you sink into it completely, closing off all distractions.

My Brilliant Friend: Season 2 | Official Trailer | HBO

Thursday 24 September 2020

The Unique Crombie 'Glen Tweed' Covert Coat


Glen plaid (short for Glen Urquhart plaid) or Glenurquhart check is a woollen fabric with a woven twill design of small and large checks. It is usually made of black/grey and white, or with more muted colours, particularly with two dark and two light stripes alternate with four dark and four light stripes which creates a crossing pattern of irregular checks. Glen plaid as a woven pattern may be extended to cotton shirting and other non-woollen fabrics.

The name is taken from the valley of Glenurquhart in Inverness-shire, Scotland, where the checked wool was first used in the 19th century by the New Zealand-born Countess of Seafield to outfit her gamekeepers, though the name Glen plaid does not appear before 1926. Glen plaid is also known as the Prince of Wales check, as it was popularized by the Duke of Windsor, when Prince of Wales.

In other words, despite its internationally known name (French prince de Galles, Spanish príncipe de Gales, Italian principe di Galles, etc.), the "Prince of Wales" fabric pattern is not a Welsh pattern but a Scottish one.



The Covert coat is very similar to the Chesterfield, but it was designed for hunting and the outdoors. Therefore, it had to be tailored from particularly sturdy material – the so-called Covert cloth, named after the covert bushes. It was designed to protect its wearer from mud, bush encounters, and of course the weather. For that reason, it had to be very heavy (29 or 30 ounces a yard), sturdy, and durable. Today, the fabric is not quite as heavy anymore, but it is still a tweed material made to last. It always comes in a brownish-green color because it does not show the dirt very much.


A Covert coat usually has the following:


Single-breasted with a fly front

Notched lapels

Made of brown-green Covert cloth

Short topcoat that is just a little longer than the jacket beneath

Signature four (sometimes five) lines of stitching at the cuffs and hem, and optionally on the flap of the chest pocket

Center vent

Two flap pockets with optional ticket pocket

The collar is constructed either of Covert cloth or velvet

Poacher’s pocket (huge inside pocket that can accommodate a newspaper or an iPad)


The rows of contrast stitching are a hallmark of the Covert coat and lend it a more casual flair. If you want an overcoat that will be your companion for the next two decades, you should consider this one.



Juliette Gréco - Sous le ciel de Paris ( 1951 ) // Juliette Gréco, Grande Dame of Chanson Française, Dies at 93

Juliette Gréco, Grande Dame of Chanson Française, Dies at 93

The muse of bohemian postwar Paris, she became an internationally known actress and singer.


The singer and actressJuliette Gréco in 1965. Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Gréco has a million poems in her voice.”


By Anita Gates

Sept. 23, 2020


Juliette Gréco, the singing muse of bohemian postwar Paris who became the grande dame of chanson française and an internationally known actress, died on Wednesday at her home near Saint-Tropez. She was 93.


Her family announced the death in a statement sent to the news agency Agence France-Presse.


For almost seven decades, Ms. Gréco was a loyal practitioner of the musical tradition known as chanson française, a specific storytelling genre of popular music. The songs are “like little plays,” she told The New York Times in 1999, adding: “They’re typically French. We’re a people who express our love in songs, our anger in songs, even our revolution in songs.”


She was the darling of critics, as well as of the intellectuals whose world she inhabited. Ms. Gréco’s ultimate rave review came from a friend, the Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who said simply, “Gréco has a million poems in her voice.”


Her signature hits included “Sous le Ciel de Paris” (“Under Paris Skies”), “Les Feuilles Mortes” (which English speakers know as “Autumn Leaves”), “Déshabillez-Moi” (“Undress Me”), “Jolie Môme” (“Pretty Kid”) and “Je Suis Comme Je Suis” (“I Am What I Am”).


In an essay for The Times in 1952, the pianist and composer Ernest Lubin analyzed Ms. Gréco’s greatness. He praised her “deep, throaty voice that ranges from a near whisper to raucous abandon,” her ability to “create a mood of astonishing intensity and conviction,” her stage presence and even her repertoire, with its “feeling for literary values.”


Juliette Gréco was born on Feb. 7, 1927, in Montpellier, France, near the Mediterranean coast. Her parents, Gérard Gréco, a Corsican-born police officer, and Juliette (Lafeychine) Gréco, who was from Bordeaux, soon separated, and Juliette was brought up partly by her grandmother. She was 12 when World War II began in Europe and 13 when Hitler’s troops marched down the Champs-Élysées.


Both her mother and her sister worked in the Resistance and were arrested and shipped off to Nazi camps (they survived); because of their association, Juliette spent a short time in a French prison. After the war, still in her teens, she lived alone in Paris.


With the help of a family friend, the actress Hélène Duc, she took drama lessons while working as a sort of combination hostess and bouncer at Le Tabou, a jazz club in the heart of St.-Germain-des-Prés, the Left Bank neighborhood that had become the city’s center of bohemian life.


During this time her habit of wearing men’s clothes, including rolled-up pants, was necessitated by poverty and made possible by the hand-me-downs of male friends who lived in the same pension. The style caught on.


Though she had yet to garner attention as an actress, her distinctive look — she dressed all in black, wore her dark hair straight and long, had thick bangs and liberally applied black eyeliner — got the attention of leading French photographers, who took and published pictures of her.


“I was becoming famous without really having done anything,” Ms. Gréco told The Guardian in 2006, “which is a very uncomfortable position.”


As a fixture in the neighborhood, she became close friends with some of the most admired philosophers and authors of their time: Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Boris Vian and Albert Camus. And, she said, she learned just by listening to them.


“I was all curiosity, but I felt I didn’t have anything to give in return,” she said. “I was at that age where all one does is take.”


By the time the renowned prewar Right Bank cabaret Le Boeuf sur le Toît reopened in 1949, Ms. Gréco had decided to try singing. She was offered a job helping to organize the first show and — after seeking musical suggestions from artistic friends like Jacques Prévert, Joseph Kosma and Sartre — she cast herself.


That was the beginning. The first song she recorded, “Je Suis Comme Je Suis,” was released in 1951. Her first album, “Juliette Gréco — Chante Ses Derniers Succès,” appeared the next year. But her star-defining triumph was her 1954 concert at Olympia Hall in Paris, after a tour of the United States and South America. During the performance she introduced “Je Hais les Dimanches” (“I Hate Sundays”), a new number by a young songwriter, Charles Aznavour.


Ms. Gréco had made her film debut even before her singing career began — as a nun in “Les Frères Bouquinquant,” a 1948 drama. She went on to appear in almost 30 films, mostly in the 1950s and ’60s. They included Jean Cocteau’s “Orphée” (1950), as Aglaonice, an astronomer-witch; “The Sun Also Rises” (1957), an American adaptation of Hemingway’s novel, with Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner; “The Roots of Heaven” (1958), a drama set in Africa, in which she starred opposite Errol Flynn; and “Crack in the Mirror” (1960), with Orson Welles.


Ms. Gréco sang the title song, on camera, in “Bonjour Tristesse” (1958). Her final acting role was in “Jedermanns Fest” (2002), a multinational drama with Klaus Maria Brandauer, and she appeared as herself in “Dan les Pas de Marie Curie” (2011), a French-Polish documentary.


She also made a lasting impression in a 1965 French mini-series, “Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre.” When it was made into a feature film in 2001, she was cast in a small role as a tribute to her influence.


Her longest and best-known romantic relationship may have been with Miles Davis, the celebrated jazz trumpeter, whom she met when he was appearing in Paris in 1949. Sartre reportedly once asked him why he and Ms. Gréco were not married. According to Ms. Gréco, Mr. Davis replied, “I love her too much to make her unhappy.”


In 2014, Ms. Gréco told The Guardian, “We saw each other regularly until his death” in 1991.


Ms. Gréco’s last album, “Gréco Chante Brel,” was released in 2013. She announced her farewell tour in 2015, telling the regional newspaper La Dépêche that retirement was “very complicated for me.” She said she did not want to create the sight of “an old woman hanging on.”


The last tour date was in May 2017 in Paris.


In her later years, Ms. Gréco was unapologetically nostalgic for the good old days.


“Today there is much less magic,” she told The Montreal Gazette in 2015, lamenting, among other things, the current distance between intellectuals and their students. “Things have changed. Perhaps the young have been taken hostage by money.”

Tuesday 22 September 2020

The P.G. WODEHOUSE FATAL ERROR DURING THE WAR .// VIDEO: P.G.Wodehouse after his Berlin broadcast: BBC4 Wodehouse in Exile


PG Wodehouse

 This article is more than 9 years old

Confronted with evil, Wodehouse made a ghastly error


Robert McCrum

The latest revelations about PG Wodehouse only serve to point up his naivety, not any dark intent on his part


Sun 28 Aug 2011 00.04 BSTFirst published on Sun 28 Aug 2011 00.04 BST


PG Wodehouse is a writer of genius whose plots teem with brilliant comic vicissitudes. Privately, he was also a lifelong connoisseur of the snakes and ladders of everyday life. "Isn't it the damnedest thing," he wrote to a friend in 1945, "how Fate lurks to sock you with the stuffed eel skin?"


The latest MI5 release of restricted files about wartime "renegades" has proved a big week for stuffed eel skins. It must be one of Fate's cruellest jokes that the creator of Bertie Wooster, Jeeves and Lord Emsworth should be so mixed up in the toxic afterlife of the Third Reich. As he might have put it himself, Wodehouse and the Second World War now seem as hopelessly scrambled together as ham and eggs or Fortnum & Mason.


Once again, the new "Wodehouse files" (actually just a few pages of dodgy Berlin gossip) provide an opportunity to hash over the "infamous" Nazi broadcasts and some long discredited accusations of "treachery" and "collaboration". Among the many ironies from this latest episode is the fact that MI5 itself concluded, after a thorough interrogation of Wodehouse in 1944, that he was innocent, though this secret verdict was never vouchsafed to the writer in his lifetime, another cruel twist in the tale.


Wodehouse confessed that he suffered "a great deal of mental pain" from Berlin. To his countless fans around the world, Wodehouse's wartime disgrace is a continuing source of anguish. The author of some of the most sublime comic novels and stories in the English language, they say, long ago paid a terrible price for something that he always conceded was "a loony thing to do". Why, they wonder, will this story not go away?


It's a fair question. When I published my biography, Wodehouse: A Life in 2004, I examined the record of Wodehouse's war in excruciating detail. I concluded, with MI5, that he had behaved stupidly and that, yes, some of his decisions were questionable. But there were no grounds for prosecution. None. This conclusion was widely accepted and generally recognised to be right and just. Yet here we are in 2011 reading headlines such as "Wodehouse's Nazi contacts" and "Nazi collaborator".


It's 70 years since Wodehouse made his broadcasts. Today, these five talks seem frivolous, inconsequential and not even very funny, the kind of amiable light humour you might expect to find on a 1940s wireless programme. The impassioned debate about their meaning seems as remote as the controversies of medieval theology, arguments that generate more heat than light and which, on closer examination, seem deeply insubstantial.


But there it is: Wodehouse has become shackled to the Third Reich like Prometheus to his rock. Periodically, he gets eviscerated by the vultures of the commentariat, even while a fair-minded consideration of his behaviour does not come close to carrying a charge of "treachery". Nazi Germany is always good copy, but I now believe that there is something archetypal about this story that transcends its historical carapace. This, surely, is the only explanation for its extraordinary persistence.


At the point, in 1941, at which Wodehouse was released from internment as an "enemy alien", he had already written most of the books for which he is remembered – Very Good, Jeeves, Heavy Weather, The Code of the Woosters and Uncle Fred in the Springtime – and been celebrated across the English-speaking world for his genius in a way known to few writers of the 20th century.


It was his success that placed him in France in 1940 (a villa in Le Touquet) and it was his fame that attracted the Nazis' attention, exposing him to a historic test for which he was ill-suited. It is another cruel irony of Wodehouse's story that the thing with which he was blessed – his inimitable lightness of spirit and self-protective flippancy – that betrayed him. His instinct to look for the joke in a bad situation was typical of his class and his generation. What he did not understand was that his fateful collision with the 20th century had put him in circumstances that were beyond a joke.


The Wodehouse saga has many tantalising dimensions – what serious propaganda advantage did the Nazis hope to extract from England's most celebrated writer?; why did Wodehouse agree to use Nazi radio? – but at its heart there lies the simplest, most existential, question of all: how, confronted with a terrible challenge from history, should a human being respond? Indeed, who among us, faced with an unthinkable evil such as Nazism, and a dreadful moral choice, could be certain of their response before the eye of eternity ?


The broadcasts throw up a lot of questions: why did the Nazis release Wodehouse from camp, on the eve of Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the USSR)? Did he make a deal? Why did he not flee at once to the safety of a neutral state such as Switzerland?


Behind these unanswered challenges from the historical record lurks a tragic dilemma, one that would have taxed the resilience of any artist, let alone one so temperamentally averse to confronting the serious questions of existence.


What Wodehouse was obliged to address, in Germany in 1941, at terrible personal cost, was a moment of reckoning unique in English literature, a simple question: what is the proper stance for an artist faced with overwhelming moral evil? How should the innocent individual conduct himself in his response to totalitarian tyranny? Is calculated levity an appropriate riposte?


Wodehouse's answer – his broadcasts – was a dreadful error of judgment and he always conceded a "ghastly mistake". It enraged Britain at war. It continues to disappoint and perplex us now and probably always will. Looking on the bright side, as Wodehouse was temperamentally inclined to do, this latest reappearance of Fate's stuffed eel skin will remind another generation about his oeuvre, approximately 100 of the funniest books ever written in the English language. Second World War: internment and broadcasts





MAY 25

At the start of the Second World War Wodehouse and his wife remained at their Le Touquet house, where, during the Phoney War, he worked on Joy in the Morning. With the advance of the Germans, the nearby Royal Air Force base withdrew; Wodehouse was offered the sole spare seat in one of the fighter aircraft, but he turned down the opportunity as it would have meant leaving behind Ethel and their dog. On 21 May 1940, with German troops advancing through northern France, the Wodehouses decided to drive to Portugal and fly from there to the US. Two miles from home their car broke down, so they returned and borrowed a car from a neighbour; with the routes blocked with refugees, they returned home again.


The Germans occupied Le Touquet on 22 May 1940 and Wodehouse had to report to the authorities daily. After two months of occupation the Germans interned all male enemy nationals under 60, and Wodehouse was sent to a former prison in Loos, a suburb of Lille, on 21 July; Ethel remained in Le Touquet. The internees were placed four to a cell, each of which had been designed for one man. One bed was available per cell, which was made available to the eldest man—not Wodehouse, who slept on the granite floor. The prisoners were not kept long in Loos before they were transported in cattle trucks to a former barracks in Liège, Belgium, which was run as a prison by the SS. After a week the men were transferred to Huy in Liège, where they were incarcerated in the local citadel. They remained there until September 1940, when they were transported to Tost in Upper Silesia (then Germany, now Toszek in Poland).


Wodehouse's family and friends had not had any news of his location after the fall of France, but an article from an Associated Press reporter who had visited Tost in December 1940 led to pressure on the German authorities to release the novelist. This included a petition from influential people in the US; Senator W. Warren Barbour presented it to the German ambassador. Although his captors refused to release him, Wodehouse was provided with a typewriter and, to pass the time, he wrote Money in the Bank. Throughout his time in Tost, he sent postcards to his US literary agent asking for $5 to be sent to various people in Canada, mentioning his name. These were the families of Canadian prisoners of war, and the news from Wodehouse was the first indication that their sons were alive and well. Wodehouse risked severe punishment for the communication, but managed to evade the German censor.


I never was interested in politics. I'm quite unable to work up any kind of belligerent feeling. Just as I'm about to feel belligerent about some country I meet a decent sort of chap. We go out together and lose any fighting thoughts or feelings.

— Wodehouse, in his Berlin broadcasts.

On 21 June 1941, while he was in the middle of playing a game of cricket, Wodehouse received a visit from two members of the Gestapo. He was given ten minutes to pack his things before he was taken to the Hotel Adlon, a top luxury hotel in Berlin. He stayed there at his own expense; royalties from the German editions of his books had been put into a special frozen bank account at the outset of the war, and Wodehouse was permitted to draw upon this money he had earned while staying in Berlin.He was thus released from internment a few months before his sixtieth birthday—the age at which civilian internees were released by the Nazis. Shortly afterwards Wodehouse was, in the words of Phelps, "cleverly trapped" into making five broadcasts to the US via German radio, with the Berlin-based correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System. The broadcasts—aired on 28 June, 9, 23 and 30 July and 6 August—were titled How to be an Internee Without Previous Training, and comprised humorous anecdotes about Wodehouse's experiences as a prisoner, including some gentle mocking of his captors. The German propaganda ministry arranged for the recordings to be broadcast to Britain in August. The day after Wodehouse recorded his final programme, Ethel joined him in Berlin, having sold most of her jewellery to pay for the journey.


Aftermath: reactions and investigation

The reaction in Britain to Wodehouse's broadcasts was hostile, and he was "reviled ... as a traitor, collaborator, Nazi propagandist, and a coward", although, Phelps observes, many of those who decried his actions had not heard the content of the programmes. A front-page article in The Daily Mirror stated that Wodehouse "lived luxuriously because Britain laughed with him, but when the laughter was out of his country's heart, ... [he] was not ready to share her suffering. He hadn't the guts ... even to stick it out in the internment camp." In the House of Commons Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, regretted Wodehouse's actions. Several libraries removed Wodehouse novels from their shelves.


On 15 July the journalist William Connor, under his pen name Cassandra, broadcast a postscript to the news programme railing against Wodehouse. According to The Times, the broadcast "provoked a storm of complaint ... from listeners all over the country". Wodehouse's biographer, Joseph Connolly, thinks the broadcast "inaccurate, spiteful and slanderous"; Phelps calls it "probably the most vituperative attack on an individual ever heard on British radio". The broadcast was made at the direct instruction of Duff Cooper, the Minister of Information, who overruled strong protests made by the BBC against the decision to air the programme. Numerous letters appeared in the British press, both supporting and criticising Wodehouse. The letters page of The Daily Telegraph became a focus for censuring Wodehouse, including one from Wodehouse's friend, A. A. Milne; a reply from their fellow author Compton Mackenzie in defence of Wodehouse was not published because the editor claimed a lack of space. Most of those defending Wodehouse against accusations of disloyalty, including Sax Rohmer, Dorothy L. Sayers and Gilbert Frankau, conceded that he had acted stupidly. Some members of the public wrote to the newspapers to say that the full facts were not yet known and a fair judgment could not be made until they were. The management of the BBC, who considered Wodehouse's actions no worse than "ill advised", pointed out to Cooper that there was no evidence at that point whether Wodehouse had acted voluntarily or under compulsion.


When Wodehouse heard of the furore the broadcasts had caused, he contacted the Foreign Office—through the Swiss embassy in Berlin—to explain his actions, and attempted to return home via neutral countries, but the German authorities refused to let him leave. In Performing Flea, a 1953 collection of letters, Wodehouse wrote, "Of course I ought to have had the sense to see that it was a loony thing to do to use the German radio for even the most harmless stuff, but I didn't. I suppose prison life saps the intellect". The reaction in America was mixed: the left-leaning publication PM accused Wodehouse of "play[ing] Jeeves to the Nazis", but the Department of War used the interviews as an ideal representation of anti-Nazi propaganda.


The broadcasts, in point of fact, are neither anti- nor pro-German, but just Wodehousian. He is a man singularly ill-fitted to live in a time of ideological conflict, having no feelings of hatred about anyone, and no very strong views about anything. ... I never heard him speak bitterly about anyone—not even about old friends who turned against him in distress. Such temperament does not make for good citizenship in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

— Malcolm Muggeridge, discussing Wodehouse's wartime broadcasts from Germany.

The Wodehouses remained in Germany until September 1943, when, because of the Allied bombings, they were allowed to move back to Paris. They were living there when the city was liberated on 25 August 1944; Wodehouse reported to the American authorities the following day, asking them to inform the British of his whereabouts. He was subsequently visited by Malcolm Muggeridge, recently arrived in Paris as an intelligence officer with MI6. The young officer quickly came to like Wodehouse and considered the question of treasonable behaviour as "ludicrous"; he summed up the writer as "ill-fitted to live in an age of ideological conflict". On 9 September Wodehouse was visited by an MI5 officer and former barrister, Major Edward Cussen, who formally investigated him, a process that stretched over four days. On 28 September Cussen filed his report, which states that in regard to the broadcasts, Wodehouse's behaviour "has been unwise", but advised against further action. On 23 November Theobald Matthew, the Director of Public Prosecutions, decided there was no evidence to justify prosecuting Wodehouse.


In November 1944 Duff Cooper was appointed British ambassador to France and was provided accommodation at the Hôtel Le Bristol, where the Wodehouses were living. Cooper complained to the French authorities, and the couple were moved to a different hotel. They were subsequently arrested by French police and placed under preventive detention, despite no charges being presented. When Muggeridge tracked them down later, he managed to get Ethel released straight away and, four days later, ensured that the French authorities declared Wodehouse unwell and put him in a nearby hospital, which was more comfortable than where they had been detained. While in this hospital, Wodehouse worked on his novel Uncle Dynamite.


While still detained by the French, Wodehouse was again mentioned in questions in the House of Commons in December 1944 when MPs wondered if the French authorities could repatriate him to stand trial. Eden stated that the "matter has been gone into, and, according to the advice given, there are no grounds upon which we could take action". Two months later, Orwell wrote the essay "In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse", where he stated that "it is important to realise that the events of 1941 do not convict Wodehouse of anything worse than stupidity". Orwell's rationale was that Wodehouse's "moral outlook has remained that of a public-school boy, and according to the public-school code, treachery in time of war is the most unforgivable of all the sins", which was compounded by his "complete lack—so far as one can judge from his printed works—of political awareness".


On 15 January 1945 the French authorities released Wodehouse, but they did not inform him, until June 1946, that he would not face any official charges and was free to leave the country.