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Category: Books (page 3 of 6)

The Ivy Look

A copy of The Ivy Look finally arrived last week and I’ve been studying it continually since. The authors describe it best from the forward:

Think of this book as Ivy League: The Director’s Cut. An entirely personal edit of what we consider to be the very best bits – the main styles, the sharp dressers and the major retailers.

The surprisingly small book is full of great illustrations, ads, and pictures exploring different parts of the Ivy look and the icons that popularized them. Definitely pick it up if you find these things interesting.

Some favorite quotes I found:

Brooks Brothers was something else; in the heart of New York, it was a vast, oak paneled emporium full to bursting point with the finest Ivy clothing, pared down and laid out on tables to be viewed as though works of art. To me there were just that, each label sewn in in every garments that Brooks Brothers sold carried the words ‘Made in USA’, as reassuring to seekers of the Ivy look as an authenticated painting signed by Picasso.
– Graham Marsh

It is a wardrobe that bestows tradition and elegance upon those who were not born into backgrounds of tradition and elegance. It’s a quiet, decidedly un-flashly way communicating an appreciation for clothes with a connection to the great moments of twentieth century culture. It still means a lot to me that Miles Davis wore Bass Weejuns. I feel like I am part of that tradition. I am following in his footsteps.
– JP Gaul

Previous post: Reviews for The Ivy Look

The Last Gentleman Adventurer

It’s been published for some time now, but I finally got around to reading through “The Last Gentleman Adventurer” by Edward Beauclerk Maurice. In the book, the author recounts his experiences as an apprentice working for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the Canadian Arctic during the 1930’s.

The most memorable passages are about his everyday dealings with the local Inuit, particularly in how he describes their hunting techniques as well as culture – in one experience where he and his Eskimo hunting party are trying to free a trapped boat, but have to wait for the tide to come back, he introduces the notion of ‘Ionamut’:

The Eskimos came also to possess a shell of resignation, enabling them to suffer, with apparent equanimity, any hardships that might arise. This resignation often became a source of irritation between them and their southern companions when hunting or traveling together, for in such a situation as we now found ourselves, with a shrug of the shoulders the Eskimo would say, ‘Ionamut’ (‘It can’t be helped’), and settle down to wait, while his companions become increasingly agitated.

The book is an easy read and reasonably well written – pick it up sometime if these sorts of memoirs interest you. Related: An older review in the NYTimes by William Grimes.


Victorian Era Style, 1872

A selection of illustration plates found in the “Gazette of Fashion and Cutting-Room Companion”, a tailoring trade journal published during the 19th century in London. [Google Books]

victorian_mens_fashion_02 Read more

My Rugged 211

My Rugged 211 is a new book out in Japan by Minoru Onozato, the chief editor of Free & Easy, and it is essentially a visual reference guide to about 200 pieces of “rugged” clothing and gear from his own collection. Examples include well worn boots, some obscure military jackets, and a selection of surprising designer pieces sprinkled in. The two bonuses of the book: the photography is well done and Onozato focuses in on the details that make the items great, and that the text is published in both Japanese and English.

Is it a must buy? If you’re a vintage enthusiast, it would be a nice addition to your bookshelf, but for more regular folks I think the money spent on the book (it costs roughly $60-65 USD) would be better used on a few issues of Free & Easy instead, many of which will show some of the same pieces shown in the book.

If you’re curious on the format, several Japanese blogs have more pictures:

Where to find it: contact your local Kinokuniya bookstore.

Reviews for The Ivy Look

A new book called The Ivy Look was recently published over in Europe and reviews are starting to show up on the web.

From the Trad:

JP Gaul and Graham Marsh have make it their own again and this time they’re inviting everyone. The Ivy Look, like Take Ivy, is an appreciation of what many of us take for granted. Weejuns, button downs, khakis, Jazz, Horween cordovan. And unlike True Prep or the Official Preppy Handbook, the aesthetic here is a quiet whisper of traditional. What is best described as invisible but with style points for those in the know.

From modculture.co.uk:

Now I’m pretty sure both Mr Marsh and Mr Gall aren’t averse to talking about the appropriate rise of trousers, the hang of a jacket or the width of a lapel. The former has been a devotee of the look since mixing with stylish American illustrators in the early 60s, the latter a refugee from the 80s mod scene, inspired by Blue Note sleeves, vintage Esquire and the knowledge of Mr John Simons, a man who has kept ivy’s torch burning for the best part of 50 years. But they’re no fools either. As evangelists for the look, the pair have reined in the desire to preach to the converted, instead producing a fascinating introductory guide to the look, its history and its influence throughout the years and around the world.

From the Independent:

In the book there are numerous examples of how the Ivy look is best done. It’s Miles Davis in a green Oxford cloth button-down shirt on the cover of his 1958 album Milestones. It’s Steve McQueen in a pair of brown-suede crepe-soled boots in the 1968 film Bullitt. And it’s Paul Newman in 1956, displaying effortless Ivy style simply by virtue of his khaki trouser/corduroy jacket combination.

Also be sure to check out TinTin’s interview with the men behind the book (source of the image above). If you would like a copy you’ll have to go through a European bookseller for now.

The Call of the Wild Illustrations

Found after a long search: a special illustrated version of The Call of the Wild by Kyuzo Tsugami. First published in 1965, the book has a number of both color paintings and black and white drawings of scenes from the classic short novel – copies are hard to come by, but are luckily not expensive and should only set you back about $10 or less if you can find one.

Tsugami was a successful illustrator during the 60-70’s and worked on many children’s books for the Japanese and English markets on topics ranging from family life to dinosaurs.

call_wild_1 Read more

Twain Says What He Meant

The NYTimes has an article on the upcoming first volume of the autobiography of Mark Twain. The papers have been locked away for the past 100 years (previously only being available to researchers) and were recorded in the last four years before his death in 1910 – instead of writing it himself, he paid someone to copy down his thoughts on a wide array of subjects thinking it would be more entertaining for readers.

Wry and cranky, droll and cantankerous — that’s the Mark Twain we think we know, thanks to reading “Huck Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” in high school. But in his unexpurgated autobiography, whose first volume is about to be published a century after his death, a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the role of the angry prophet…

…About literary figures of his time, however, Twain has relatively little to say. He dislikes Bret Harte, whom he dismisses as “always bright but never brilliant”; offers a sad portrait of an aged and infirm Harriet Beecher Stowe; and lavishly praises his friend William Dean Howells. He reserved criticism of novelists whose work he disliked (Henry James, George Eliot) for his letters.

Critics, though, are another story. “I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value,” Twain writes. “However, let it go,” he adds. “It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and Congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden.

Continue reading more. The first volume is available for preorder on Amazon for just under $20.

Take Ivy Reissue Previews

Previews of the translated Take Ivy reissue are now showing up on the web from some lucky folks who were able to get their hands on advance copies, The Trad being one of them (they also talked him into doing a quick youtube video for it too – nice shirt tintin).

In addition, powerHouse books put up some images of the new version along with another video showing it off on their facebook page.

The rest of us will have to wait for another month or so until they start shipping, but until then you can always check out the Trad’s scans of the Japanese version.

King of Vintage

Rin Tanaka’s latest book “King of Vintage” documents part of the collection owned by Heller’s Cafe, a local dealer of very old clothing. Over two hundred items are shown, covering everything from sport uniforms to motorcycle jackets.

Get it from InspirationLA.com, Self Edge, or your local Kinokuniya book store.

Update 5/19: Men’s Mentore has some more scans.

Update 5/20: J.Crew is now selling it too.

heller_cafe_vintage_01 Read more

Steve McQueen’s Dark Side

The Times Online has an edited extract from a new Steve McQueen biography that is due out next month, which will focus on the actor’s rough background.

Steve McQueen was the last person in the world I expected to find in Cornwall. He’d arrived some time in the night at a house that the director Sam Peckinpah was renting in Penzance while scouting locations for the film Straw Dogs.

They weren’t friends. The rugged movie star had simply turned up out of the blue — dirty, unshaven and looking more depressed than anyone I’d ever seen. As I found out later, his first marriage was breaking up and his dream project, a film based on the Le Mans car race, had run into problems.

Peckinpah, however, was desperate to get rid of his unwanted guest and he was probably just as keen to be rid of me. Not yet 18, I’d met the director while working in the publicity department of the Cinerama film company in London and had persuaded him to let me observe him at work. By the time I arrived, overflowing with youthful enthusiasm, he’d come to regret his decision.

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