Brute Foundations

Oak has been a favorite Brooklyn style oasis for some time but this season they have really outdone themselves by laying down a severe gauntlet and casting an undeniable lure.

The chestnut brown sneaker boot hybrid is F-troupe.

The black leather combat boot with asymmetrical denim panels is from Jeffrey Cambell's new footwear line First.

Leather jacket with flannel sleeves is from Gar-de.

Big in Japan


Censure and Sensuality

Gerard Damiano passed away today. Damiano is best known for directing the X rated film Deep Throat, a pornographic tale of a woman in search of an orgasm of her very own. Her doctor tells her that she is a unique creature, that her clitoris is located in throat. There's some fellatio and then the heroine goes off on her quest to achieve sexual satisfaction and love (fellatio).

Deep Throat opened in theaters to controversy which focused such a spotlight on the movie that it became a cultural icon. The phrase deep-throat inserted itself into our vocabularies for good but the controversy stayed with the film’s creator for years until charges of “obscenity” were fired.

The aim to obscure erotic and pornographic literature and film ironically fosters conversation and attention. The conversation has many branches from repression to subversion, topics which have been relevant to all forms of entertainment, art, and artisanship. Underground culture thrives and is embodied under the shadow of censorship. From those shadows emerged sadomasochism, and role-play.

Surprisingly in many ways sexual discourse is as defined by the censure as it is by its aesthetic rebellion. The paths of opposition are so well defined that anarchy has become its own brand or institution. That’s why designers like Betony Vernon fascinate because they rupture bifurcation between sex and fashion. Vernon creates jewelry with erotic functions, rings that tickle and that absorb body heat for pleasure’s purpose which defy the singular operation that fashion has come to embody. So few have taken a route like this that it proves censorship is more powerful than the old punk reactionaries anticipated. Censure defined the avenues of rebellion.

Porn has of course degenerated in the past three decades in part due to the democratization of the industry by video tape. The look and quality of the works have become largely disposable. The function of porn to stimulate is often radically separated from its ability to amuse and entertain. Its more obvious effect of arousal has become its only product where in the past erotica and pornography were also cozy with talented illustration and interesting filmmaking techniques. To build a spine between sense and thought allowing some humor and intelligence into the fold once again is the difficult task of the new pornographers. Pornographers such as Alan Moore and Melinde Gebbie who authored the graphic novel Lost Girls a grown up perversion of the Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Alternative Porn tries to inject different looks and more sophisticated framing devices for raunch. Ultimately, all mediums deserve a good shake down. Even the dirty ones which play their own special part in our lifestyles deserve to be treated with some care.


Weather Underground

Miami's pseudo tropical climate is giving my wardrobe a hard time. Very few things I own seem to work in this damnable heat and persistent rain. My shoes are especially out of place. If only shoes could be cool and waterproof at the same time...

Oh how I would love to get my hands, or feet, on a pair of these Acne for Tretorns.

Personal Touch

Jarman emerged onto the world of film as a production designer for one of my favorite films The Devils (If you can get your hands on a copy, do so). Later he directed Carvaggio (1986). I have read that he created a film that follows the life of Ludvig Wittgenstein. I can't wait to sink my teeth into it.

The wrinkled and worn looks hit the runway for Burberry's Spring 09 show. The show "Crumpled Classics" was inspired by the personal style of groundbreaking artist Derek Jarman. Bucket hats and fisherman's coats suggested a man in his element. The deconstructed outwear spoke of both comfort and fragility. Bailey took the design house into personal territory with looks that are at once contemporary and nostalgic. The soft, deconstructed sportswear pieces are wonderful reinterpretations of the Burberry staples.

Stark, Raving

Okay so my favorite television series Mad Men has closed for the season. There have been disturbing rumors going around that the series might not return for a third season. Mad Men has received Emmy awards and gained the affections of the critics, but it has not gained a large audience in comparison with the paint-by-numbers forensic cop dramas that dominate TV-land.

I was very pleased to read that Weiner has no intentions of leaving the show! In fact some say he may be negotiating to ensure a fourth season. So while the real world may be going to shit at least Mad Men is on the right track.

If you haven't for some reason caught Mad Men yet you are missing something special. Mad Men is a drama about Don Draper an advertising guy on Madison Avenue set in the 60s. His company Sterling Cooper is populated with well-rounded characters, their repartee is slick, funny, and as per the era politically incorrect.

In fact one of the best things about the show is the way it approaches social themes without being preachy. There is no messiah figure in Mad Men who brings all the right progressive ideals. In fact the protagonists are often sleazy examples of bigotry, racism, sexism, and misogyny. Yet at the same time they are human. Some of the strongest characters in the series are the women. Joan Halloway, Peggy Nelson, and Betty Draper all showcase different facets of women in a time hostile to freedoms we take for granted.

But for all the social and political themes the show explores at its root Mad Men is sexy and stylish. The characters live lives that seem at times luxurious, free, and simple and other moments reveal their lives to be nightmarish and stifling. What is most consistent is the details of 60s lifestyle. The references summon nostalgia that is constantly tempered by the drama.


The Challenge

Work-wear has shifted onto the centerstage of men's fashion. Functional pieces in menswear have been in the dark for too long. Take the Mackintosh for example. This simple jacket, often constructed from garbardine, has been around since the 19th century. It serves a practical purpose much like a wool sock, or a knitted scarf, but the Mac is also a brilliant design icon. It is both traditional and modern with pure clean lines that fit perfectly in a futurist landscape.

It wouldn't be a stretch to compare an item like the Mac to the classic t-shirt or the blue jean. It is a basic item and can fit into any wardrobe. It has permanence and usefulness. A man's wardrobe should be built around essential and functional pieces like these.

There will always be a naysayer against fashion and etiquette ready to wear sandals in the rain. But for most of us these pieces connect us with our past, we wear them as if we are wearing history. The old gives us a steadiness to launch into the present. Classic style and its timeless pieces allow a context to venture into unseen territory. Classic pieces provide a counterpoint and appositional complement to startling new ideas, silhouettes, and revolution.

Every well composed icon was once the upstart challenger and every well composed icon can be new again.