Jeremy Brett, quintessentially.
Jeremy Brett, quintessentially.
Small is beautiful, but it’s also a good excuse to try out our new macro lens, hoping to pick up the minutiae of detail otherwise lost to the human eye. First up is a collection of crowns, all bullion hand embroidered in wire thread and velvet, on military broadcloth backings. These all happen to be Queen’s crowns, not the more angular King’s crown found for instance on the Air Ministry stamps of WWII when King George VI was on the throne.
The fineness of stitch and complexity of the design can only be fully appreciated ‘up close’ and makes you realise the skill involved, especially when considering they were hand-sewn probably in a dark basement somewhere just off Savile Row.
In 1837 Augustus Siebe, German born but living in England, developed a Diving Helmet which sealed airtight to a rubber suit. The closed suit connected to an air pump on the surface and thus became the first effective standard diving wear of its time. Rewarding Siebe with the moniker “father of deep sea diving”.
Founded by Augustus Siebe and his son in law Gorman, Siebe Gorman and Co. were a British company that developed diving and breathing equipment designed for commercial diving and marine salvage projects. The Augustus Siebe helmet gained a reputation for safety during its use on the wreck of the Royal George in 1840. The combination of safety and design features became the standard for helmet construction throughout the world, some of which were incorporated into the design of modern-day space suits.
Slightly obsessed with these first generation of deep sea divers – in our minds every bit as courageous as those later men and women that would take on the challenge of Space Travel. It was with great pleasure that a recent buying trip to France uncovered this fine collection of diving wear. Dealing with the bends, poor visibility, restricted movement and the fear of unknown sea monsters and giant squid – the experience of the sheer claustrophobia of a 19th century diving suit was in some small way improved by the matching Submariner knit, scarf, long johns and sea socks – all bearing the Siebe Gorman helmet logo.
What can be more appropriate at this time of year than the autumnal shades of a Harris Tweed two-piece gamekeeper suit. A traditional Scottish design it features distinctive styling such as the cut away front, a shorter body length and the scalloped and glove stitched pocket flaps. Partnered with a kilt and sporran it conjures up images from the film Mrs. Brown or The Shooting Party.
Interestingly the jacket shape is not too dissimilar to some of Vivienne Westwoods House of Mud designs, even some of Christopher Nemeth’s creations. Very Buffalo!
Whilst it Our recent attentions have temporarily turned in favour of preparing to launch the SHOWROOM Publication Vol.II. Yep, it’s with the printers and will be in stores in the not too distant future. For those unfamiliar with this, last year we published a ‘conceptual mood and reference’ project packed full of moody style shoots, obscure scribings and curious doodlings. Such was the fantastic reception, we did it again.
Alas!, more on that later as we gather momentum by revisiting the archive of Lawrence W Dagger. Dubious 1920s New York detective/Steak House owner Larry Dagger first came to our attention when Douglas Gunn returned from a buying trip to America. In a grubby plastic bag buried at the bottom of a heap in a junk shop, he found an extensive, seemingly autobiographical, scrapbook detailing the extraordinary life and times of a quite remarkable character. Douglas’ account of the file is prominently featured in SHOWROOM Vol.II. (Vol.I is available to order here).
Here is a closer look at the mugshots and criminal identity cards that made up such an interesting part of the archive.
A recent Vintage Showroom find – A 1940s running vest and wool warm-up sweatshirt from the University of Washington.
Before the expression Type II became fashionable, denim afficionado’s and those in the know simply referred to this classic Levi’s 507XX jacket as a Number Two. Number One being the first model and having one pocket, Number Two being the second and having, you guessed it, two pockets.
Simple as that, 1,2, 3, bish bosh.*
Not dissimilar looking to a Victorian torture device, we recently stumbled across this leather coursing leash. The device is designed to quick-release sight-hunting canines (as opposed to scent-hunters) to capture and kill ‘game’. It is, oddly, rather intriguing and a perversely attractive form.
The collars of the leash are held in place by a split-pin attached to a length of cord which runs through the main leash, out the other end and attached to handle. Pulling the handle will pull the split-pin out of the fitting and thus releasing the two dog-collars (photo illustrations below), freeing the dogs to go off and do their worst.
Everest pictures and Yetis, what more could you want from a post! Some two years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first (confirmed for all you Mallory enthusiasts) climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, a small team including Hillary in the party made a Reconnaisance Expedition to Everest. Captured here in this recent find from a Times Special Supplement in 1951 we thought we should share…
Autumn 1951, The Himalayan Committee of The Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club sent a small party to investigate the south-western aspect of Mount Everest. As a side of the mountains that can only be approached through Nepal, this had meant rare privilege for the team to be granted access by the government.
Whilst the idea of looking for a way to approach to south-western face was not new, how far it had been entertained by the earlier expeditions of the 1920s is unclear but after the discovery in 1921 by Mallory and his companions of what appeared to be a relatively straight forward route to the summit from the East Rongbuk glacier, little serious thought seems to have been recorded in finding another line of approach. Step by step, as the Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition thrust and cut it its way towards the ramparts of the most impregnable fortress on earth, Mr Eric Shipton, the leader, sent back his progress reports for publication in The Times.
It was never the intention of Shipton’s party, of four English climbers and two New Zealanders, to attempt to climb the great peak itself. Everest is the ‘inner keep’, or donjon, of a gigantic system of fortifications, in which each ward beyond ward, has to be successfully overcome. Even the outermost ramparts have to be approached through many miles of rugged and trackless country, so that any attack must be planned with strategic elaboration parallel to a great military operation – and with the same impossibility of precision since the opponents dispositions are imperfectly unknown. Victory cannot be expected in a single campaign…
Established in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1866 by Civil War veteren Charles Masland – the business was making carpets, including, throughout the 1920s, carpets for the groundbraking Model T Ford cars. Carpeting remained the primary business until 1940, a year before the US joined WWII, when its mills were turned over to the war effort and the production of various canvases and foul weather gear for military use. For this, it even scooped the Board of the Army and Navy’s Excellence Award.
Post-war production eventually returned to carpeting (mid-1950s) but not before Masland successfully turned his looms to the making of outdoorswear, a continuation from the war featuring military touches – the cotton duck fabric is reinforced using leather and suede patches on all the usual ‘heavy-wear’ area’s (cuffs, knees, elbows etc). The mid-1950s saw the company start to trade outdoors-wear under the name of Wood + Stream.
This recent cache of the complete volumes of The West End System of Cutting offers a fascinating insight into the ins and outs, the do’s and dont’s, and pitfalls of late Victorian tailoring. Informative engravings guide you through the difficulties of cutting for ‘disproportionate figures’, the corpulent body and those of a ‘large seat’!
Some of these late Victorian styles of cutaway jackets are now making a comeback thanks to Mister Freedom and the Victorian Gaucho-cum-street urchin look, riding on the tail coat of Steam Punk.
(Look out for an Oscar Wilde lookalike in Engraving V looking particularly Aesthetic in a double breasted lounge suit type affair).
Or, the funny little patterns that emerge in old Indian blankets if you stare at them long enough. A colourful cornucopia of squares, crosses, zig-zags, and triangles in bold graduated colourways that make these so graphically appealing, and sometimes mesmeric.
Virtually a Ralph trademark for years, others are now latching on to their beauty, and they still provide inspiration for many designers, even Dr Martens have recently collaborated with Pendleton Woolen Mills.
In the right interior setting they seem to evoke a nostalgia for a bygone era of pioneers, settlers, traders and tribes, a Romanticism of the American Old West, of bedroll campfires, cosy log cabins, even the decor of the Overlook Hotel.*
Here’s a nice Sealed Pattern Royal navy jumper, smock, crackerjack top dating from the First World War, or to give it it’s proper name ‘Jumper, Duck’, referring to the heavy linen sail cloth it is made from. This is the garment template, the quality standard from which issued items had to adhere to, and seems to originate from ‘Experimental Establishments, Woolwich and Shoeburyness’. It bears the large linen labels and wax seals of the Clothing Inspection Department and judging by the dates it stayed in War Department stores from 1920 to 1961.
Founded in 1791 by Samuel Peal, Peal & Co. were shoemakers of great repute with a far reaching global client list that included crowned heads of Europe, Presidents and Hollywood royalty, such as Rudolph Valentino, Fred Astaire, Mr & Mrs Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Steve McQueen amongst others.
These Second World War private purchase officers boots have the original Peal’s “S.P.” shoe trees, gold foil blocked logo inside and hobnail soles, and have taken on the patina of polished prize-winning conkers.
Jacket’s, Jungle 1945. This British Army womens WWII jungle shirt is eerily reminiscent of the McLaren Westwood ‘Seditionaries‘ parachute shirt, even down to the rubber buttons. The belt looped through the epaulette, the removable sleeves, and the stamped ‘GAS FLAP’ all add to it’s Punk ‘bondage-like’ appearance. The shirt also features wrist buckles, pleated chest pockets, and reinforced shoulders. Completely mint and unissued it’s a great example of the humble origins of some of Punk’s iconic DNA.
* Vintage Seditionaries / Sex Parachute Shirt with iconic silk Karl Marx patch by Malcolm Mclaren and Vivien Westwood & Only Ararchists Are Pretty – image sources unknown.
Words Simon/ ATP Shirt photos Nic Shonfeld
Here are a few snaps of our limited edition cover edition book by photographer Nic Shonfeld, whom we commissioned to shoot the book for us. Nic has been working closely with us for over a couple of years now and we think the images in the publication are a credit to his understanding of ‘us’ and what we ‘do’ within our industry. You can see more of Nic’s photos on his website here: nicshonfeld.com
You can order a copy of our limited edition collectable cover by clicking the link here:
The Seventies weren’t all bad taste. Even Savile Row had to move with the times, grudgingly I’m sure, whilst still employing the techniques of tailoring and cutting, and hand finishing that exemplify this bastion of a bygone age in a small corner of London’s West End.
This Huntsman suit from 1972 is a prime example, still displaying impeccable cut and fine tailoring, whilst also exuding a little of the elegance and panache of the era. One button single breasted jacket with side vents and functioning cuffs, flapless hip pockets, bottle green silk lining, and hand stitched buttonholes of course. The trousers are flat fronted with cavalry pockets, a belt tab, and a slight almost imperceptible flare to the leg.
We have not suddenly harked back to the Thatcher years and a Norman Tebbit-like rallying call for the unemployed. Instead we wanted to show a recent find relating to that famous of Lancashire rivalries, predating Fergie and Mancini by some 70+ years.
Karrimor and Carradice; makers of fine cycle bags from the 1930s and 40s…
When the ‘Home Guard Manual of Camouflage’ by Roland Penrose, a lecturer to the War Office for Instructors to the Home Guard, was first published in October 1941 the prospect of a German invasion on mainland Britain was seen as a very real and probable threat. As a Quaker and staunch pacifist his influence in the development of camouflage techniques during WWII is fascinating, though in his own words “The author makes no claim to their originality, many of them are as old as warfare itself”.
A nice bundle of selvedge denim aprons from the golden age of American labour. Brass grommets, bar-tacked and pocketed, double stitched etc. With the re-launch of Carter’s we thought we’d show some original examples. Both practical and useful, these shouldn’t just be the preserve of coffee barista’s, and aloof waiters, so let’s try and bring back the humble apron.
Nearly, but not quite…
What’s not to like about this? Stripes, Fair-Isle, glorious beard, vintage camera…
Paul McCartney getting back to nature, going native on the beautiful island of Mull post Beatles.
Original 501s hidden rivets all singing all dancing improvised (allegedly) for the runway back in 90s with GUCCI tags and hardware making them either worthless or priceless depending on your point of view!
As worn by British army commandoes during WWII, like in the film of the title, a ribbed reinforced sweater with shoelace neck drawstring. This one has the broad arrow on the label, and interestingly is dated 1953.
In the same year Ang Nima, a sherpa on the 1953 Everest Expedition is seen sporting one, in this portrait by Expedition photographer Alfred Gregory. Not new territory perhaps but an insight into the longevity of military pieces in a non-military context.
words SM / photo Nic Shonfeld.
As a follow on to the Beethoven sweatshirt craze piece, here is another famous instantly recognisable face worthy of being on a sweatshirt. He happens also to be wearing a very nice V fronted vintage sweat. Perhaps if Ludwig Van was around in the 1950s he too would share Alfred’s taste in American casual clothes, now there’s a thought.
The title, of course refers to the change of the clocks, British summertime extra daylight and all that. But thinking of Spring, what can be better than a classic Ivy, plaid, trad, preppy windcheater, blouson, golf jacket type affair.
A staple of the Spring wardrobe, perfect with khaki chinos, madras, bucks, university sweats, you get it.
Whether it be a London Fog, McGregor, Campus or Champion, here are some details to look for…
The USAAF World War II-era survival radio transmitters (SCR-578 and the similar post-war AN/CRT-3) carried by aircraft on over-water operations were given the nickname “Gibson Girl” because of their “hourglass” shape.
The ‘Gibson Girl’ was the personification of a feminine ideal as portrayed in the satirical pen-and-ink-illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a 20-year period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States.
“Andy was back real skorry, waving the great shiny white sleeve of the Ninth, which had on it, brothers, the frowning beetled like thunderbolted litso of Ludwig van himself.“*
The whole Beethoven sweatshirt craze started in 1962 as an advertising campaign for Rainier Ale, created by Howard Luck Gossage. An original ‘Mad Men’ Ad man, he was known as the ‘Socrates of San Francisco’, an advertising visionary who preached from a converted firehouse, his ‘anti-advertising’ style captured the zeitgeist, and he’s also credited with introducing Marshall McLuhan to the world of Media.
Jane Fonda sporting the look. This one is dated 1977 and is available in the shop now.
*Taken from A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Words by SM.
2012 sees the return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London after a 64 years absence and we are looking forward to it being a Golden Year!
It seems strangely ironic that when the Olympic torch last came here in 1948 for the official opening, the UK was recovering from the ravages of World War II and the games were christened the Austerity Games due to the disastrous economic climate that presided in the country. That time around it had been due to the ravages of WWII as opposed to a bunch of merchant bankers in the City, and if you are wondering that is indeed rhyming slang.
“the important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well” Pierre de Coubertin (founder of modern Olympic Games)
With that said we would like to return you to a summer 60 years ago…..
Words by Douglas Gunn
Customized 1980′s MA1 Bomber from The Vintage Showroom shop archive.
£POA (Merc not included).
While three’s a crowd, some things are just better in pairs. Strawberries and cream, Lennon and McCartney, Eric and Ernie….
Some details that just work well together such as the double pocket snaps on a paratrooper jump jacket (American or Belgian, take your pick) and the twin zips on the front placket of the US original, not only look good but are there for a reason. The pocket snaps expand to the fullness of the pockets, the twin zips hide the riggers knife, that can be accessed by either right or left hand if the paratrooper’s canopy is fouled.
This Japanese lightweight mohair tunic, with a shot silk lining, is full of interesting titbits, most notably the beautiful hand tailoring techniques and its plethora of pockets and flaps.
We’re not trying to promote inter-governmental rivalries, honestly. We just thought we’d display some Air Ministry and War Department stamps alongside each other for closer inspection, that’s all!
Introducing the Duxbak Pakbak. Granted it was patented in 1926, so not very new, but we only just found the patent label nestled under the poachers pouch back pocket. A kind of envelope type bellows expandable affair, similar to the later integrated backpack found on the US Army WWII Mountain Jacket.
The rest of the jacket features other innovative details such as the wide split double hip pockets, scalloped fly front, and double ply outer sleeves. Always nice to find the unexpected tucked away, hidden from view, until now…
LEvis 501XX capital E oxblood red tab, hidden rivets, v stitch, blah blah blah…
Lots has been written about vintage denim in recent years, and for obvious reason. It’s the stuff we live our lives in. These pairs, arguably from the Golden Age of denim design, the 1950s, are the perfect synthesis of belt loops, bar tacks, buttons and rivets. The basic design had undergone several stages of evolution by this point to arrive at the near perfect package; the template for the basic 5 pocket jeans model still in use today, much copied and emulated the world over. Just don’t wear them in Texas, real cowboys wear Wrangler’s!
Two recent finds that juxtapose so well. This was going to be posted last week but we held back due to the recent trouble. Note the repaired stud marks on the truncheon. They don’t make them like that anymore…’coppers‘ that is.
A plaited neck hanger, an unusual but discreet yet considered design detail. Simple. Beautiful.
Some more jingly-jangly dingle dangle key ring clippy hanger things in the shop again.
Perfect for this weather is this recently unearthed treasure trove, fresh as the day they were made. A stock of saleman’s sample shirts, all with the distinctive CC41 Utility mark.
These Pucci-esque pastel colour Aertex polo’s and candy stripe Egyptian cotton poplin collarless shirts in smock ‘popover’ style, or fully buttoning, seem incredibly modern.
We have just made some more of our vintage key clips, re-using antique belt leather, objets trouvé, and chunky metal hardware. Ideally hung from a belt, you can clip whatever you like on them, keys work particularly well. Available now in the shop, but grab them fast they won’t hang around for long (yawn).
Hand stitched lovingly with patience, tight, precise threadwork. A real thing of beauty, that graces only the finest bespoke tailoring…
These college sweaters and cardigans, or lettermans, are unashamedly American, and so unlike English collegiate tailoring. Casual, colourful, Pop, sportswear, adorned with an alphabet of loop stitch embroidered letters denoting frat houses, colleges, teams etc.
More Peter Blake in their graphic typography than Warhol, they are just one essential element of perfect preppy Ivy League garb.
When you start to look at things long enough patterns start to emerge. This week it’s chevrons. They seem to be everywhere…
*Detail of the under collar of a British Army khaki tunic.
Read the rest of this entry »
Various sizes, makers and composition, we think nautical stuff is perennially de rigeur.
A true Frankenstein creation. This early 60s RAF pressure jerkin is a real monster. It features a plethora of pockets, and is held together with asymmetric zips, press studs and even bits of string. Life imitates art, as they say.
A recent cache of antique Japanese textiles. Whilst geographically thousands of miles apart from American denim, spiritually at least, we feel they inhabit the same tonal indigo world… or at least they do in our new denim showroom! Each piece has been lovingly repaired and patched by hand over several generations.
Though the shop is still moving chunky cables, p coats, and all things down (topped up from our recent North American road trip!), and the weather shows no signs of changing for the time being. Our customers are seemingly a long way from thoughts of Spring. The showroom however is in full Spring/Summer mood, and with the help of some amazing photo albums recently found, we return to long forgotten Summers and thoughts of Spring…
Around this time last year we had the good fortune to purchase a jacket that we had been hunting/discussing/obsessing about for sometime. The Holy Grail of wax cotton jackets known as an Ursula Suit or Admiralty Suit. One year on from our initial posting regarding the suit, the story still excites and fascinates us, and it is still the unquestionable favourite in our collection.
A little worse for wear this morning and with no appointments, I just could not face the mountain of paperwork that I should have been tackling. So instead I decided to trash the showroom. Every few months a red mist seems to come over me and when I come to I find myself surrounded by heaps of clothes that I have piled on the floor. I then get the fear that I will never be able to get things back together again. So some 8 hours later things were almost looking as good as they had when I walked in, but at least my head felt better. Some recent finds inspired the following along with archive images that we have been looking through of the Battle of Britain 70th anniversary this year…. Read the rest of this entry »
As always around this time of year, we find ourselves in the midst of a heatwave looking longingly to the nights drawing in and the temperature cooling so we can crack open our Autumn Winter collection. This year is particularly interesting for it seems that for both us and the majority of our customers, inspiration is coming from a snow capped landscape. From Shackleton to Scott, Mallory to Bonington. The back drop moving as the era, from the Artic to Everest to the Cresta run of St Moritz, there is a growing fascination and interest. One that we are more than happy to indulge as it has been something that we have been hooked on for a while. So with London feeling decidedly muggy, try and stay cool and enjoy!
“Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?” ….. “Because it’s there” George Herbert Leigh Mallory 1886 –1924
This is my only nod towards the sorrow of the last few weeks. It felt like an omen when a week before the start of the World Cup we found a 1966 final program and two ticket stubs. How wrong could I have been!
New balls please… Read the rest of this entry »
Not exactly made by Will Mossop, but by John White in 1941, these beautiful boots are somewhat of an enigma. Made from ‘rough out’ leather, they bear the War Department’s broad arrow, or ‘crows foot’, stitched into the top surface of each boot. One could speculate that these were for military prisoners, possible Officer Class? John White were the largest supplier to the War Department of military footwear during WWII, but these are the only such example we have found.
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