Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eurovision - Savoir Faire (or not)

Ok, I am going to go a little off topic here, even though you have to admit the following have some sort of savoir faire. I am not sure where it is hiding, but it is there!

With all the hype about American Blah (oops meant to write Idol), no blog on a song contest can be without a mention of the song contest to end all song contests – Eurovision. Funny how Eurovision has not really become popular this side of the Atlantic, when the rest of the world is watching on tenterhooks to see who will take the prize this year.

A bit of background for those Eurovision virgins. The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Brodcasting Union and has been held every year since its inauguration in 1956. Each member country submits an artist and song in the contest and the decision is made by votes from the other countries. One of the more famous winners of the contest has been ABBA.

Sometimes we see the great, the good and the riduclous, however this is pure entertainment. There is no drawn out torturous procedure, like Idol, which relies on votes from the general public (God bless their little cotton sox), who generally seem to vote for who is cute and not on singing ability. While America is sitting down on their sofas, with a bowl of ice cream watching a sing off between two contestants, the rest of the world is hosting Eurovision parties, drinking champagne, watching a sing off between the best and sometimes the worst that Europe has to offer and hoping that their favourite wins.

Some of this year’s entries are below. Mind you I haven’t labeled them so as to protect the guilty, however savoir faire in some form or another is there! As you can see contestants dont just rely on musical ability to make an impression. Maybe American Idol could take a few pointers?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Top Twelve Men's Fragrances with Savoir Faire

Why just limit one's self to a top 10 when as a gentleman you can have a top TWELVE! Here is a list of my top twelve men's fragrances. Unfortunately not all available, but you can at least find one or two of these, that will give you the edge!

Listed in no particular order as I will let you be the judge!

Snuff by Schiaparelli
Vetiver by Guerlain
Signoricci 2 by Nina Ricci

Gentleman by Yardley

Monsieur Lanvin by Lanvin

Monsier Balmain by Pierre Balmain

Ho Hang by Balenciaga

Habit Rouge by Guerlain

Gentleman by Givenchy

Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior


Vetiver by Carven

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Savoir Faire from Hardy Amies

I doesnt get any better than this!

Bespoke from Hardy Amies, London

On the Way Down Under with Savoir Faire

In a previous post on the SS. France I mentioned the two British Liners, Oriana and Canberra. Although all three ships were born of the same era and respectively were the flagships of their respective companies, the two British Liners were vastly different from the France. The France was primarily constructed for the luxury North Atlantic trade, while the Oriana and Canberra were built for the immigrant trade down under. With this in mind the interior decoration of the British Liners differed vastly from that of the France. Similarly the France displayed the best the French could offer and was a ship of state, while the British Liners displayed the best of British design in the early sixties. First I will explore the Oriana.

The Oriana entered service in 1961 for the Orient line on the down under Australian service. While not as streamlined as her eventual running mate she was still an attractive ship. Her interiors were strikingly modern taking on an almost clinical effect with the large use of plastics, Formica, glass and natural woods mixed in for good measure. This must have come as a rude shock to the wealthy Australians returning to the mother country for an extended vacation, who were more used to the chintzy kitsch of other liners doing the same run. If the wealthy passengers were in for a shock then the majority of immigrants travelling in Tourist Class must have had a coronary attack! The interiors were probably unlike anything they had ever seen before.

The interiors were light and breezy full of light and space. Artistic decoration seemed to be added as an afterthought to these spaces as there is very little of it. The designers relied on the form and line of the furniture to create comfortable spaces that would become home for the 6 weeks of the voyage.

Even though stark and incredibly practical the interiors were a tour de force in modern design. Everything was stripped down to its bare minimum as can be seen in the picture of the ship’s Tourist Class Stern Gallery. The room has a soft industrial edge to it which makes a beautiful space that perfectly suits the passenger’s needs.

The designers were not afraid to use colour, and the colours that they used were bold and striking which suited the form of the furniture beautifully.

The ship was primarily an outdoor ship with large lidos and swimming pools to suit the warmer climates which she would be travelling in. Windows could be opened allowing fresh sea breezes in.

I would think that if you were a young child, exposed to the wonderful wooden forms in the children’s play room for 6 weeks, that you would automatically grow up to appreciate form and function.
I just love the top of this bar here. A rather stained glass effect in what could have been a strip of bland formica.

With the Oriana good design and practicality was not a right, but available to all, whether returning squatter or new immigrant. You too while travelling on assisted passage to a new life in Australia, had some savoir faire.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Other Bond

For TJB at Stirred, Straight Up, with a Twist. Especially for you. If Mr Lazenby went on to make his 2nd Bond movie this is what we might have been in store for!

In the first few minutes of OHMSS, after a fight on the beach, Mr Lazenby aka MR Bond, uttered the line "This never happened to the other fellow" a reference to Sean Connery in the previous Bond movies.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chic Savoir Faire

When we think of fashion and haute couture in the 1930’s right through to the 1950’s usually only the big names such as Schiaparelli, Vionnet, Chanel and Patou come to mind. Most of these names live on in some form or another, with the rumours of a re launch of Schiaparelli on the horizon; these big names are coming more familiar to the main rank and file.

A name that should be more prominent than what is, is that of Molyneux. Edward Molyneux is the Givenchy of the 1930’s. After training with Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon) in London, he opened in Paris in 1919. From that period right up until WWII his house was the epitome of elegance, sophistication and refinement. He dressed European Royalty, the aristocracy, actress’ such as Greta Garbo, Gertrude Lawrence, and the wife of Somerset Maugham, Syrie, who was one of the leading interior decorators of her day.

He himself was a living advertisement for the style that he created – an idle, slim, elegant style that was always on the edge of dissipation. Along with Vionnet he became a master at creating incredibly fluid bias cut evening dresses that are timeless in their appeal. He banned all superfluous decoration on clothes and invariably worked in black, blue, beige or blue. An avid art collector he assembled an extensive Impressionist collection, of Picassos, Monet and at least 17 Renoirs.
Pierre Balmain was one of Molyneux’s earlier apprentices who went on to write in his autobiography that Molyneux’s was “a temple of subdued elegance… where the world’s best women wore the inimitable two-pieces and tailored suits with pleated skirts, bearing the label of Molyneux”
Unfortunately he retired in 1950 leaving his fashion house in the hands of designer Jacques Griffe. Luckily he did return in 1964 to open Studio Molyneux which was high end prêt a porter collection, which continued right through until 1977. Quite a few of the designs during this period were used by Vogue patterns, where you could run up your own piece of Parisian chic, and the little dresses from this period are chic! Still wearable today extremely elegant and simple.

So girls, break out the Bernina, find an old Molyneux pattern and be chic this summer!
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