Thursday, September 30, 2010

Naval Savoir Faire

Now that autumn is making a swift apearance for us up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter just around the corner, I believe one of the essentials of the male wardrobe is the humble pea coat/jacket.

Although first appearing in the late 19th century and worn by sailors, the jacket has retained the hallmarks and characteristics of its original design so that it has become a classic. Originally designed by Navy men to endure the harsh, cold temperatures that many of the men faced on the seas, they have become a classic.

Pea coats usually navy blue in color are characterized by broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, often large wooden or metal buttons, and vertical or slash pockets and the heavy worsted wools they are constructed from.

I find Navy surplus jackets to be the best and have had the same one for years, alternating buttons, between the original and gold for a more dressy look. I love the original buttons with the recessed anchors. Of course I always (85% of the time) stick to the classic navy blue, however I think other colours work quite well such as beige or grey.

As with any classic piece of clothing the style has been always open to interpretation with the lines being changed, lengths shortened or lengthened and decoration added as in the examples below. However no matter what a designer does to it, it is always a classic, full of savoir faire.

*French Connection

* Sonia Rykiel


*Richard James bespoke

Communist Savoir Faire

Oscar Niemeyer has always been a favourite architect of mine. His buildings and interiors always remind me of a James Bond (Sean Connery) film set, and I am sure this is where Bond’s set designers drew some of their inspiration from.

I, love architecture of all various types and styles from baroque to modern, and this is one building that presses all my buttons for modernist architecture.

Oscar Niemeyer’s stunning headquarters for the French Communist Party in Paris was commissioned in the late 1960s — a time when the Communists enjoyed great popularity in France.
Niemeyer was a committed Communist, and waived his fee for the design of the building. The headquarters building was built in the early 1970s on a site formerly occupied by workers’ housing at Place du Colonel Fabien in the 19th arrondissement, an area known for its Communist sympathies.

A white space age like dome rises from the forecourt of the building in front of a sweeping glass façade. This dome forms roof of the building’s main conference room, a space dominated by hundreds of hanging metal ceiling tiles, which give an ethereal effect that is constantly changing with the light.

What is wonderful is that most of the original furniture still remains in the main foyer and in the conference room. Walls and spaces can appear almost brutal at times however these are broken up by the use of timber shuttering used in the casting of the concrete.

Communism seems to have been rather stylish in Niemeyer’s world. I am just wondering how much his fee was and how much the building was to construct, as this is luxury with an edge!

It was kind of ironic that New York menswear designer Thom Browne chose to show his 2010 collection for men inside one of the meeting rooms with rows of long tables and little French and American flags at each place.

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