SHOP TACTICS WITH TOM CHAMBERLIN


Tom Chamberlin killing time while having a suit measured in Kent, Haste & Lachter
– Photography by Foxall Studio & Elodie Nizon

Tom Chamberlin is the editor of men’s style bible, The Rake. Impeccably dressed and perfectly coiffed, Tom started out in television working on The X Factor, where he says: “I basically made tea and was an all-round dogsbody, even though it was a pretty amazing and dysfunctional entry into working life.”

Later, whilst having his hair cut at the barbers, he picked up a copy of Finch’s Quarterly Review and instinctively knew he wanted to work there. “It was witty, intelligent, beautiful and took the kind of irreverent tone that I like,” says Tom who was taken under the wing of its then editor-in-chief, Nick Foulkes. “No one has had a greater impact on how I work, dress and look at life today,” he says of his former editor and mentor.

 

In 2014 Tom joined The Rake. The renowned gentleman’s magazine had just moved from its home in Singapore to offices on London’s Upper Brook Street. As editor, Tom and his team have successfully built the brand, predominantly using front covers and interviews mixed with rich content and a good online strategy to become a leader in the field of men’s luxury publications. As for being slap bang in the middle of town, Tom adds: “Mayfair is at the epicentre of what The Rake is all about. I am very lucky to have my favourite places on my office doorstep.”

Meanwhile, the newlywed is gearing up for his next big challenge, fatherhood. And with a baby boy due any day now, Tom is already planning shopping expeditions to Mayfair, just as his father did with him. “My father taught me everything there is to know about the longevity of classic style from an early age,” he adds before taking us through his favourite addresses below:

 

Kent, Haste & Lachter, 7 Sackville Street

Terry Haste is my tailor, my mentor Nick Foulkes introduced me to him in 2010 and no experience since has been more thrilling or rewarding than having a bespoke suit made with him. He is to my mind the finest tailor in the world. Terry’s style mixes structured and unstructured tailoring which somehow takes into account both my psychological and physical needs. After all, clothes are meant to be an expression of self.  It also helps that he, John Kent and Stephen Lachter are tremendous fun to work with.

 

G.J. Cleverley, 13 Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street

Shoes are a small (large) obsession of mine. I have big feet and that causes problems because you can ruin a look with clumsy, large shoes. When you go somewhere like Cleverley, a company that my father took me to when I was 16 to buy my first pair of proper shoes, you get every tradition of British craftsmanship at its best. I was hooked from then and have since been on a mission to trick people, through footwear, into thinking I am halfway elegant. Cleverley’s ‘Hague II’ loafers are, as far as I am concerned, as good as it gets.

 

Ralph Lauren, 1 New Bond Street

Ralph Lauren is a genius and a master of the Mise-en-scène. Here you will find my two favoured labels of the Ralph Lauren family. The sartorially led Purple Label which has the most wearable ready-to-wear suits for someone my size (and frankly most other sizes too). Then we have RRL, which could hitherto be found on Mount Street but has its own section in the store. I absolutely love the nostalgia for any of the many eras it is inspired by, Twenties Chicago, the Old West, Fifties Americana, the designs are imaginative and evocative and easy to chew up the day looking around.

 

Bellamy’s 18, Bruton Place

This is my favourite restaurant in London, or anywhere else. Gavin Rankin is the patron mange ici proprietor and knows how to run an establishment properly. He cut his teeth as the general manager of Annabel’s when it was actually good and he was also Mark Birley’s right-hand man. My wife has dreams about the smoked eel mousse but I recommend the fish fingers, not joking.

 

Davidoff of London, 35 St. James’s Street

Another vice that Nick Foulkes got me into is cigars. Nowhere is there a better riposte to anti-smoking legislation than Davidoff of London. Father and son team Edward and Eddie Sahakian, are two of the most generous and kind men in any industry I work with. They give very freely of their time and have encouraged a loyalty so engrained in me that even buying a cigar in a foreign country fills me with guilt. I do not drink, so cigars are my one vice, one that has become my most dedicated hobby.

 

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CABINETS OF CURIOSITY

When British outerwear brand Belstaff decided to build its archive from scratch, it enlisted the help of Doug Gunn, co-founder of The Vintage Showroom.

These days, every good fashion brand knows the importance of a sharp edit.  And while it counts to have a well-curated shop floor, it also makes good sense to put the company’s design archives in order. Cue the rise of the fashion archivist. These experts plunder the company vaults to find valuable pieces and scour the globe in search of missing treasures. Such is the job of Doug Gunn. As co-founder of The Vintage Showroom – an Aladdin’s cave of menswear pieces spanning most of the 20th Century based in Covent Garden – he is charged with chronicling Belstaff’s past.

“There are few brands globally with such a rich history and Belstaff’s 90-plus years have seen countless cultural and geographical changes which have reflected in the company’s evolution,” says Gunn. “For a costume historian such as myself, it is a real honour to work for such an iconic British brand.”

A sample of Doug’s findings can be seen at Belstaff’s Bond Street store. The mini exhibit stems from a broader 150-piece archive created to coincide with the brand’s centenary in 2024. The glass display cabinets hold a variety of items from a 1930s tent – a reminder of Belstaff’s early days as a producer of protective fabrics – to the moto-culture of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. One section is specifically dedicated to Belstaff’s coloured and striped leathers, which along with the seminal 1971 film “On Any Sunday” starring Steve McQueen, is part of the inspiration for its latest men’s collection. Other retro elements can also be seen in the current women’s capsule line inspired by Belstaff’s latest brand ambassador, Liv Tyler.

Meanwhile, there have been some lucky finds along the way, including a wax trail master jacket which was purchased at the auction of Steve McQueen’s estate. A heavy gabardine rider’s coat, which George Formby gave to a dancer one night in Manchester, also made its way into Doug’s hands. It came with a handwritten note in one of its pockets from the lady in question to say she had been working in a theatre production with Formby and having stepped out without a coat, he gave her this.

“I look for the romance behind the brand stories,” adds Doug. “Luckily I have been buying vintage clothing for twenty years, so I knew that a lot of the Belstaff pieces that we wanted existed and where to find them. There were also pieces that I didn’t know about such as a leather rider’s coat from the 1930s and that’s pretty amazing.”

In addition to discovering early Belstaff logos, Doug would use slanted pockets, zips and rivets to date each piece accurately and form a timeline. The 1960’s saw the start of the first real injection of colour. This is evident in a ladies’ turquoise rubberised Scooterjack jacket from the same era. Of course the leather has also come a long way since Belstaff’s beginnings. As Doug says: “The leather in the 1940s and ’50s was really aimed at motorcyclists whereas obviously now, as the brand has progressed, the leather quality has improved greatly. It has much more of a luxury hand to suit a more refined silhouette.” And with that he is off, no doubt in search of more unique finds.

Belstaff, 135 -137 New Bond Street – belstaff.co.uk

 

ART OF THE REVOLUTION

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The Royal Academy’s latest exhibition, Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, showcases great works from this turbulent, yet dynamic period in Russia’s history.

In an age when mass demonstrations and slogans prevail, it’s rather fitting that an exhibition showcasing early Soviet art should march boldly into town. Such is the case of the Royal Academy’s latest exhibit; Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932

The show commemorates the centenary of the Russian Revolution and is arranged thematically, beginning with the revolutionaries. Boris Mikailovich Kustodiev, Bolshevik, 1920 for instance depicts a giant figure of a freedom fighter holding a red banner and striding high above the spires of a town. Fantasy, 1925 by the celebrated Soviet painter and poet Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin meanwhile, shows a man astride a red-coloured horse – its coat the colour of the revolution, its message one of hope, of galloping into the future.

Alexander Deineka, Textile Workers, 1927
Oil on canvas, 161.5 x 185 cm
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
Photo © 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
© DACS 2016

Marc Chagall, Promenade, 1917-18
Oil on canvas, 175.2 x 168.4 cm
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
Photo © 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
© DACS 2016

Boris Mikailovich Kustodiev, Bolshevik, 1920
Oil on canvas, 101 x 140.5 cm
State Tretyakov Gallery
Photo © State Tretyakov Gallery

Russia’s proletarian worker heroes are celebrated in a section labelled ‘Man and Machine’. This series of posters, paintings, films and textiles boast of industrial strength and prowess. Textile Workers, 1927 by Alexander Deineka shows women in simple slip dresses going about their business in a bobbin factory. I’m struck by the way in which this scene has been painted, the stark interior and the women’s understated clothes looks almost of the now. Elsewhere, Lyudmila Protopopova’s A Cup for Serving Tea carries a jaunty cogwheel print that you can imagine finding at Heals.

Paintings in the designated peasant category are also sublimely minimal and abstract. Here, farmworkers as exemplified by the Russian painter Kazimir Malevich, lack facial features to symbolise a sense a loss of identity. Malevich was himself an early pioneer of geometric abstract art. There are also works by more familiar heavyweight artists dotted around the rooms. These include Marc Chagall’s Promenade 1917-18 and Wassily Kandinsky’s famous Blue Crest painted in 1917.

Lyudmila Protopopova, A Cup for Serving Tea, 1931
Porcelain, height 6.4 cm
The Petr Aven Collection
Photo © The Petr Aven Collection

For me though, the ultimate jaw-dropping moment occurs in one of the gallery’s smaller rooms – home to Vladimir Tatlin’s glider. Suspended from the ceiling and crafted from steamed and bent ash wood, it plays to the artist’s fascination with bird skeletons and insect wings. As the piece gently revolved around the room casting ethereal shadows onto a white canvas backdrop, I was utterly transfixed; so much so, I could have watched it silently rotate for hours. Instead, I drift back out into the real world intent on keeping this newfound sense of calm for as long as possible.

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 runs until Monday 17th April at the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House Piccadilly.

Posted in Art

Bond’s Best – Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera

There’s a lot to like about Leica’s new slim-line digital camera. For starters, it wouldn’t look out of place in any contemporary design museum – such is the beauty of its sleek German aesthetic. The chrome finish in a choice of black or silver is further proof of that.

Then there’s the speed factor. The M10 is the fastest M-Camera that Leica has ever produced. Priced at £5,600, body only without the lens, you would expect nothing less. Its generous 2GB buffer memory, and continuous shooting at up to five frames per second along with a next-generation processor, make fast work of any fleeting moment.

So, put down your mobile phone, tablet and any other second-rate photo-taking device. Once you hold the M10 to your eye and remind yourself how good it feels to look down a lens and hear the gentle ‘click’ of the shutter, you won’t look back.

Leica, 27 Bruton Place