Friday, 29 August 2008

Ladage & Oelke

Hamburg's grandest menswear shop is Ladage & Oelke, which exemplifies the anglophile mode of the city. It's located in a colonnade near the town hall, with several smart cafes outside.

Inside, suits and jackets are displayed in old fashioned wooden cupboards. In Style and the Man, Alan Flusser described it as "so fuddy-duddy it's charming".

The range of outerwear is well-chosen for a city close to the North Sea. Duffel coats are a speciality of the shop and there's a good range of rain coats and quilted jackets. They also have an excellent selection of umbrellas. Perfect for the drizzly weather I've experienced every time I've been to Hamburg.

The shop has good range of English shoes, with a large range of Crockett & Jones sold under Ladage & Oelke's private label and a well-edited selection of Edward Green shoes.

Neuer Wall 11

Thursday, 28 August 2008

New Dunhill store in Mayfair

Alfred Dunhill is opening a new store in London on August 30 and the builders are working furiously to get everything ready.

The shop is on Davies Street in Mayfair, just off the top of Berkeley Square, in what used to be the Duke of Westminster's London home. Dunhill promises "the ultimate in masculine luxury and retail lifestyle", offering their full range of clothing and accessories. The shop will also house a bar, private screening room and barber.

The silver lettering on the arch is, I think, a mistake. I would prefer some plain black lettering, or maybe an engraved brass plaque to the side of the archway.

Workers installing some sort of fibre optic lighting between the flagstones in the courtyard.

I'll report back after they open.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Free and Hanseatic City

The Man of Mode has returned from a short trip to Hamburg.

This city-state has one of the most impressive settings of any northern European city. It's built around two lakes: the heart of the city is clustered around the smaller Binnenalster, with the larger Au├čenalster extending away into the residential parts of the city.

It's a prosperous city, and quite stylish in a buttoned-up sort of way. It is a very anglophilic place, and Barbour jackets, tweeds, quilted jackets and Land Rovers are much in evidence. That might also be due to the weather, which tends to be damp and drizzly.

The city made its fortune as a trading centre, and was one of the largest members of the Hanseatic League. Even today, Hamburg remains incredibly proud of this history. It's not the "City of Hamburg"; the full name of the place is the "Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg".

Hamburg is still a major port, but containerization has meant that the old warehouse district, the Speicherstadt, hasn't been used by the major shipping lines for a long time. Instead, the neighbourhood is full of small businesses that have carved out space in the old buidings.

The area still has strong links with international trade. There are many carpet importers, most of which seem to be Iranian.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


I couldn't resist posting this. It's a pair of handmade toy rabbits -- 1930s, American. Judging from the picture, they're in wonderful condition. And it's an exceptionally well-dressed gentleman rabbit.

Listed on 1st Dibs, the website for antiques dealers. Warning: they're very expensive.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

A Sicilian snack

The Man of Mode whipped up a large batch of risotto for lunch today, with some fresh peas found at the grocers.

There was plenty of rice left over, so I decided to try making arancini. This is street food, Sicilian style: balls of rice, usually with a savory filling, then rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. Arancini means "little oranges", and the finished product is a similar size and shape (and colour) to the fruit.

The last time I had arancini was in a down-at-heel cafe in Catania, after a slow journey from Palermo. They're a great snack.

The most common fillings in Sicily are meat (arancino con ragu) and mozzarella. I used a bit of taleggio cheese, which was left over in my fridge from another meal, and which worked nicely.

I improvised a recipe, but if you want to follow instructions, there's a decent looking recipe on the Waitrose website.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Brooks Brothers Fall 2008

Brooks Brothers have rolled out their ad campaign for Fall/Winter 2008, and it's the best work I've seen from them for a long time. The black and white photographs, taken in Central Park, sum up the best things about the brand. It's all about smart city clothes, traditionally-cut suits that don't leave you worrying about the vagaries of fashion, and elegant casual gear for a weekend in town. Then add an extra large helping of big city glamour, with images of skyscrapers rising above the trees of Central Park.

It's self-consciously retro, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's a million miles away from the hideous rhinestone-studded t-shirts on sale at their Las Vegas store that I've written about previously.

The details are artfully done. The first photo above looks could have been taken any time in the past half century, with a very simply-cut suit, pocket handkerchief in a TV fold and a pair of clunky bluchers. The second shot has an alligator handbag, tweed hat, and an impromptu football game in the background. I also adore the dog on the right side of the picture. The third shot is perhaps the most cliched, but I still think it's a strong image.

As a footnote, I find it interesting that Brooks is running a big ad campaign with photos of Central Park and trumpeting their affiliation with the Central Park Conservancy. Paul Stuart, Brooks's more stylish neighbour on Madison, produced their winter catalogue last year full of photographs taken in the Park, which also had a tie-in to the Central Park Conservancy.

Hats from Lock

I was wandering around Jermyn Street and St. James's today and noticed numerous people, at least half a dozen, carrying around hatboxes from Lock. Is there a big event coming up that requires hats?

Friday, 15 August 2008

Electric cars

I have seen the future . . . and it's a clown car.

With oil still trading far above the $100 per barrel mark, electric cars are all the rage. While petrol fuelled hybrids like the Toyota Prius get most of the attention, there are also a few models available that just run on electricity. These cars have some major drawbacks: they are very small, they have a limited range (under 50 miles), and they must be plugged in for several hours to recharge the batteries. However, those factors are perfectly tolerable in a city car that is designed for short trips around town.

These little 2-seaters may look a bit clownish, but they're quite practical for a short commute or shopping trips in central London.

Some local councils in London are promoting the use of these cars by offering free on-street parking. Electric cars are also exempt from the 8 quid a day Congestion Charge. An article in this week's Economist notes the popularity of these cars, and the efforts by local governments to encourage their use, although it comments that many of these benefits are now being cut back.

The best perk I've seen is on Berkeley Square. The City of Westminster has installed several charging points that are free to use for drivers of electric cars; drivers just pay a nominal annual fee for a key to turn on the juice. With petrol prices at record highs, I can't think of anything better than having the local government pay to power your car.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Observed in Mayfair

With all the recent comments about David Hicks on the design blogs, I thought I would mention this. I was in the post office on Albemarle Street in Mayfair yesterday (which must be the poshest post office in London), and noticed the most immense parcel addressed to "Ms. India Hicks, c/o The Lady Pamela Hicks . . .".

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Vintage watches go mass market

There's been some comment lately on the fashion/design blogs about the vintage watch on sale at J Crew. Mrs. Blandings was one of the first to spot it: a gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an Oyster bracelet.

This watch was worn by the models in the catalog photographs, with a discrete note alongside that a vintage watch collection is available on the J Crew website (image below borrowed from Mrs. Blandings).

J Crew is not the only mainstream retailer going into the vintage watch business. Rugby, the cadet branch of the Ralph Lauren empire that targets a preppy, collegiate demographic, is also getting into the game. About a month ago, they announced that their East Hampton store will carry a selection of vintage watches.

Rugby is aiming a little lower than J Crew: vintage Timexes and the like on grosgrain straps (images below from the Rugby website). However, I expect this is a more promising strategy. J Crew gets to flash a classic gold Rolex in their catalog photos, but their vintage watch "collection" looks like a single item. And it has already been sold - they've taken it off the website.

Expect to see more vintage watches at J Crew, but they'll look more like the selection from Rugby. The J Crew men's concept store in Tribeca will definitely go big on this look. For women, they may mix in a few daintier cocktail watches. However, a vintage man's watch (smaller than modern watches) is just the right size for a woman to wear.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Red Bull Air Races

The Red Bull Air Race World Series is an international competition for aerobatic pilots. The races are held in cities around the world, with championship points awarded for each round in a format similar to Formula 1 motor racing.

The London round was held this weekend, over the River Thames in Docklands next to the O2 (formerly known as the Millennium Dome). Qualifying rounds were held on Saturday, with the finals on Sunday.

The pilots race against the clock, flying through a slalom course of inflatable pylons. The agile, lightweight racing aircraft make extremely tight turns as they wind their way through the course. Certain slalom gates must be crossed with the aircraft wings horizontal, but others must be crossed with the aircraft in "knife angle" position, with the wings in vertical position and the wingtips pointing directly up and down.

It's a remarkable display of flying skill, with the pilots rolling the planes left and right in a split second as they weave in and out of the gates.