Sunday, 14 December 2008


A few more photographs from the Man of Mode's recent trip to Hungary and Poland. This time, some images from Krakow.

Friday, 12 December 2008

More Soviet era statues

After my previous post of Socialist Realism and the statue park in Budapest, here are a couple more communist era statues.

Marx and Engels, in the Alexanderplatz in Berlin. In the background stands the partially-demolished Palast der Republik, the former parliament building of the DDR which also housed restaurants and a bowling alley. It stands on the site of the Stadtschoss, the Prussian-era royal palace in Berlin, which was badly damaged during the war and what was left was pulled down after the war. There are now plans to rebuild the palace at the same location.

Lenin, in October Square in Moscow. Apparently this is the last remaining public statue of Lenin in the Russian capital.

There is also a statue park in Moscow with various Soviet era works. I'll post some pictures of that in due course.

Does James Bond hate architecture?

An article from the Guardian on the architecture of James Bond, describing Bond's hatred of modern architecture in particular. It also argues that Quantum of Solace has the best architecture of any Bond film.

Guardian article

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Paul Stuart

Paul Stuart store exterior, photo from NY Times

The NY Times has a story about Paul Stuart, the clothier and haberdasher on Madison Avenue. It's one of the Man of Mode's favourite shopping destinations in New York.

The store is next door to Brooks Brothers, and it feels like a more stylish, more upscale version of Brooks. The shop is decorated with antiques, including a large Flemish tapestry next to the entrance. The Times describes the overall appearance as being like "the giant walk-in closet of an Illuminati Grand Master".

Their selection of ties is stupendous, with an especially good selection of silk knit ties in every possible colour. They also have an excellent range of bow ties, if that's your thing.

Paul Stuart suits are cut in an elegant hybrid of Anglo American styles. The jackets have some shape at the waist, but are still relaxed and not too fitted. Most have side vents. The trousers are the best cut I've found in ready-to-wear, with a very elegant line -- again, falling somewhere between the looser American cut and narrower English style.

Cashmere navy blazer from Paul Stuart

Notably, their suits are available in the widest selection of sizes in the City. Not only do they offer short and tall sizes, but they also have medium-tall (something I've never seen elsewhere) and extra-tall. They also stock jackets in odd-numbered sizes, so if a 41 medium-tall fits you best, this is the place to go.

A couple of criticisms.

First, the article mentions the sweaters and ties in odd colour combinations. I find that their autumn/winter collections are always very nicely put together, but their spring/summer clothes invariably have some real clangers. It's usually strange mixtures of pastel colours, which might be OK in Palm Beach (probably their target demographic), but which don't appeal to me at all.

Second, the staff in the store can be very overbearing, even downright pushy. Most of the sales staff are incredibly charming and helpful, but I've had bad experiences with a few who were much too aggressive.

The store design doesn't help in this regard, making it difficult to browse without the help of a salesman. Downstairs, all the ties are all in glass cabinets -- although I've always found the sales staff here to be excellent. Upstairs where the suits are kept, the salesmen hover by the top of the stairs, and the floor manager immediately assigns a salesman to each customer who arrives. There are some first rate salesmen here, but there are a few who are way too pushy for a store like this. The hard sell, used car salesman approach doesn't work here, and Paul Stuart needs to take a closer look at a few of the people who work upstairs.

NY Times article - "Restraint feels right, doesn't it"

Paul Stuart
45th and Madison
New York

Monday, 8 December 2008

Socialist Realism

Like many other cities in eastern Europe during the communist era, Budapest was filled with socialist realist statues. These works glorified the proletariat and the Red Army "liberators" of Hungary, as well as the usual statues of Marx and Lenin.

Most of these statues were pulled down quickly after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. Hardly surprising after Hungary's experience under Soviet domination, including the Russian invasion of 1956.

Most cities destroyed their old communist statues, melting them down to make something more useful. However, Budapest had the foresight to preserve the old sculptures and put them on show in a statue park outside the city.

The park is marketed as pure communist kitsch, but I think that sells it short. There is a certain grandeur to these statues -- many of them are huge. But some of them are also successful as works of art, despite the political message that inspired them. I think my favourites are the first one shown above, which is an incredibly powerful image, and the last one below, with the repeating characters of the proletarian militia.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


A few photographs from the Man of Mode's trip to Budapest. It's a wonderful city, with grand Hapsburg era buildings befitting its former status as the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. There are coffee houses, sumptuous thermal baths and a first rate opera house - where I saw a excellent production of Aida.

Szechenyi Baths, located in the City Park.

Hungary has many fanatical chess players, and some of the thermal baths even have poolside chessboards. These characters are fitting in an impromptu match at the railway station, with a chessboard propped up on the ticket barrier.

A furniture shop in the Jewish quarter.

Puppets for sale in the Christmas market.

Thank you to Heavy Tweed Jacket and The Epic

Just returned from my travels. I'll be posting some photographs in due course.

I was catching up on email and taking a quick look at a few blogs, and I noticed that Heavy Tweed Jacket has added The Man of Mode to his list of recommended blogs. Many thanks - much appreciated.

Edited to add:

Also many thanks to M. Lane from The Epic, for his generous reference to The Man of Mode. For anyone not familiar with that site, I highly recommend it.