Sunday, 24 May 2015

Universal Workers: Via dè Tornabuoni, Florence

Take me back to paradise city. In a months time we'll be back in Florence for Pitti with the locals (and David Keyte from Universal Works).

Bomber without Collar: Kingsland Road, London

The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Which Gola are you?

It's an unusual circumstance when I find myself in front of the camera, but when it does happen it's always for good reason. I was recently asked by Gola, one of the UKs oldest sportswear brands, to be photographed as part of their new campaign and after a visit to their showroom I found it hard to resist. Not only is their history dumbfounding, they're also big advocates of British manufacturing with a line of "Made in England" trainers - a cause close to my heart. More on that later, when I officially launch the new Man/Men project.

Digging a little deeper into the brand I discovered a rich background from their first small factory in 1905 to their domination of underground youth culture of the 1960s and 70s. It's that kind of heritage that no marketing budget can fabricate and something that really draws me in. As a huge fan of vintage design, particularly from British counterculture of the 1970s, I had to select the brown suede Harrier style as my Gola - it's a design that's as strong now as it was four decades ago.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

GarconJon meets Alexandre Molimard for Brooks Brothers

In the final installment of my Brooks Brothers interviews, I speak with a Frenchman in London, Alexandre Molimard. I first spoke with the talented eyewear professional in 2012 at London Fashion Week to discuss all things hirsute, and now 3 years on I've delved deeper to discuss style, culture and his daily routine. Alex is wearing a Brooks Brothers plaid blazer.

Alexandre Molimard, Eyewear Developer

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
 I grew up in central France, Clermont-Ferrand. If you don't know it, the Volvic mineral water label will give you a clue. The heart of Auvergne is one of the most beautiful regions of France with ancient volcanoes, lakes and gorges. The general landscape is so diverse. It has so much to offer people who love nature.  After 24 years I got itchy feet and felt the need to move onto somewhere new so I arrived in London. Since then, I’ve always split my life between London and Paris to get the best of both worlds. Living in two cities isn’t tough emotionally but it does take precision, both in your career and your personal life. It just requires an unusual commute.

How would you describe your job title?
 A short summary could be : what, when, where, with whom. I provide vision, direction and leadership. Once you have a vision, you have to spread the word in your business. My job is part of building something new. It is about building & managing relationships between my teams, between clients & the brands I work with, between products themselves and their consumers - for all of which communication is the key. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with very influential names. The process, to me, is way more important than the product itself.

What's your star sign? I’m a true bearded bespectacled Leo.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a lot of things. For the longest time I wanted to grow up to be an artist. I did every kind of art when younger: drawing, painting, music. I also wanted to be an actor and a journalist.

Describe yourself in 5 words? I am a creative, real, passionate, generous gentleman. And a dreamer. I think that's a reasonable summary.

How did you get ino eyewear? At 14 when I've had to wear a pair of glasses all the time. Without them, quite literally, everything looks hazy and indistinct.

Can a pair of frames change your life? It certainly improves your life quality and the way you see things. Then, the right frames can change your entire face. They can make a statement of beauty and sophistication. The superior craftsmanship and high quality will change your life in ways you never even dreamed possible, challenge your perceptions and even empower you to be yourself. Your glasses shouldn't hold you back from expressing the person you are. A pair of glasses or sunglasses is the single best accessory that you will ever own. Adding a pair to your wardrobe is the beginning of a whole new you.

As a dual-city resident, what are the 3 biggest differences between the two? Paris has more beautiful buildings in general, it is more 'quaint' and I think even long-time Parisians continue to notice and appreciate this in their daily lives. London is quaint too, in its own way: with its greenery, low-rise buildings and multi-centered character, it often looks like a village but doesn't feel like one, whereas you could say Paris is the opposite.  London often feels a bit bland, 'corporate' to me, as if all the variety of cultures present in London had just been reduced to their lowest common denominator. All the chain stores contribute to this bland atmosphere too. Parisians are, well, Parisians, whereas true Londoners are nowhere to be seen in London! Paris is fairly multi-cultural, but not nearly as cosmopolitan as London, because most of the non-French communities in Paris come from France's former colonies in North and Sub-Saharan Africa. They are largely French-speaking with cultures that are already strongly French-influenced.

London as a whole seems to be kept going by a form of raw energy. Paris is a bit more relaxed. It remains the Sleeping Beauty. And after all, to misquote Samuel Johnson, “When a man is tired of London, he can always go and have a three-star meal in Paris.”

As a Frenchman what does 'British style' mean to you? Sophisticated, traditional and practical, it is a synonym for eternal elegance and romantic classicism. British style offers a point of view aimed at utility and imagines a wardrobe in which to enter and then going straight to the point. A wardrobe without dogmatisms, a way of reconciling old fashioned and modern expectations of manliness. It embodies a new kind of modern masculinity based on timeless and iconic pieces. It’s a rediscovery rather than an innovation, a look at the modern world through the steamed up monocle of a more refined age. It is dedicated to all things sartorially British like well tailored suits from Savile Row, handmade brogues as well as bowler and top hats. I am a devotee of traditional British style, but I bring my own modern twist. I always bring in fun and interesting textures, prints, patterns, and indulgent flourishes of colour, be it through knitwear, ties, gloves, an umbrella or hats. As for "Made in England", I still believe in it. I really believe. I like things that are all built to last. My Grenson brogues were bought in the late 1990s and I wear them at least once a week. I polish them regularly and see no reason they won't outlive me.

See the full interview below.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

GarconJon meets Scott Fraser Simpson for Brooks Brothers

For the penultimate interview in the Brooks Brothers series I speak with Scott Fraser Simpson, a man who has dedicated his life so far to expanding his knowledge of menswear design through the decades. Scott wears a Brooks Brothers blazer and his own vintage items.

Scott Fraser Simpson, Vintage Collector 

What's your star sign? Scorpio or the year of the Snake.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? It changed so many times. From about 4 I wanted to be a horse rider, from 8 a primary school teacher, 13 a stunt man, 15 an Ad man and then by 17 years old I wanted to be a tailor. That's currently where I’m at and it seems to be working with my own colletion. &

Describe yourself in 5 words? Determined, entrepreneurial, collector, meticulous, proactive.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in Hong Kong until I was 13, then moved to Brighton (England) until I was 17 and now I’m living in South London.

How has living in different countries influenced you? I think that living on two sides of the world has made me a bit more inquisitive about what else was out there - Growing up I was fascinated by Chinese and Japanese style and the fastidious detail that they put into everything they do. When I moved to England my world was opened up to British subcultures, the depth of history and culture that came out of these scenes has kept me busy and interested since.

Best place to live and why? It may sound biased but it’s got to be London. The diversity and acceptance in regards to what you wear and do is just second to none I’d say. Music-wise you’ve got everything from be able to go to a Punk gig on the same night as funk club - it never stops amazing me and that’s why it keeps me here I guess. Saying that, New York has always got a little place in my heart and I’d be tempted to try it out, but I think I’d just miss all the British sensibilities that I get over here. Finally Berlin, I just got back after wanting to go for ages - I was blown away, the place was brilliant and really inspiring.

Where did your passion for vintage style begin? It started about 10 years ago. When I was about 14 I started to get interested in the 1960s Modernist thing. Living in Brighton it was something that you really couldn’t not be influenced by. I went to a small shop called Ivy’s in the lanes which is still there, known to most as ‘the dead mans wardrobe’. It's owned by a 70 year old guy who had mountains of coats, suits and bags. Here I scored, from memory, my first piece which was a Donkey jacket - a navy blue wool coat with tartan lining and leather patches on the shoulders and elbows, most commonly used by bin men in the 70s! Days later I'd returned to pick up some Macs, leather double breasted coats and shirts with elongated collar. I was hooked as all the items cost £5 each.

What's your favourite classic film? I’m not a film buff by any means, I’ve watched my share but I’d have to say it is Casablanca from 1942. There’s something about cream linen suits and hats that I just can’t get enough of, set in an era which I would arguably say was the glory days of menswear.

We both have a love of the Austin Healey – is that your ideal car? If you could own any what would it be? I can’t only say that my love for old things came from within, my Dad is very similar to me in ways and he was the person that introduced me to the world of vintage cars. When I was growing up, he would take me to school in his 1961 Austin Healey or 1959 Mercedes 190SL. I think although the Healey is up there in my favourites I’d probably have to go with the 300 SL Mercedes, which is the gull-wing version of the 190.

Best place in London to get a vintage find? It’s inevitable that vintage is getting harder and harder to find. I wouldn’t say that there are specific areas to visit but more specific shops. In east London you’ve got Hunky Dory, The Vintage Showroom and Levisons. West, you’ve got Black out II, Vintage Showroom and Reign. North, in Camden there’s The Vintage Collection, Dandy in Aspic. Haven’t been to Portabello market for a few years but there’s always something you can sniff out if you’ve got you eye in.

You’re wearing Brooks Brothers which is a classic American menswear brand, how do you think that fits into your life? Brooks is a staple of my wardrobe and has been for some time, so the jacket sits perfectly with what I wear. Soft tailoring on the jacket, 3/2 button roll jacket and with a quality cut that’s timeless. For me BB is synonymous with the classic 50s Ivy league style and culture, which is something I’m really interested in.

See the full interview below.

Savage Beauty: GarconJon meets The Next Generation

As part of my work with American Express around inspiration, I’ve identified three of London's most exciting new faces who embody the exciting creativity of Alexander McQueen in a number of different guises. The McQueen exhibition at V&A greatly influenced me, resulting in the Savage Beauty shoot from the Scottish Highlands, so now it's my turn to ask these gents what inspires them and drives them forward.

Chris Pollard, 26, Graphic Designer and Analogue Photographer

What led you to art? I’ve always been creative in some capacity, as a kid if I wasn’t doodling, building or making something, I was usually playing on Paint or trying to use design software. Luckily, my parents really embraced my creativity and were very supportive, taking me to galleries or giving me the resources I needed to develop. After school I went off to art college and it all just came together from there. Since then, I’ve wanted to learn and do as much as possible, be it graphics or photography.

What drives you? Without meaning to sound cliche, creativity itself is really what drives me. I get very restless if I’ve not got my head into a project, and find more often than not if I’m researching a concept, I will usually stumble upon something else of interest which will in turn go onto my long list of things to pursue.

Most exciting project to date? I’m torn between my first and most recent project. My first, a showcase for Savile Row at the V&A museum, was an interactive bespoke tailoring exhibition. I think both my creative partner and I can look back at that project proudly now, although at the time there were certainly a lot of nerves on top of the excitement.For my most recent project, in collaboration with a camera brand, I shot London Collection: men using their exciting new lens. The photos were showcased in a Soho Gallery space, which was my first solo show.

What's your biggest inspiration? I’m really interested in alternative print processes and historical photography at the moment. I love how much time and attention has gone into taking a single image. You can achieve such different results from a slight change in lighting, chemical reaction or composition. More generally, there’s so much content available online, lots of it through social media, that it's almost impossible not to find inspiration everywhere.

What's on the horizon for you? I think its going to be quite a hectic few months, my latest gallery will be moving to New York in July in time for NYFW Menswear. I’m still pursuing my Licentiate Award with the Royal Photographic Society in the near future, and of course I’m still graphic designing!

Follow Chris on Instagram at @cp_inallitsglory

Mark Livermore, 24, Visual Merchandise Manager

Tell us a bit about your passion for photography. Since working as a Visual, I’ve always been desirous for photography, appreciating the beauty of something simple, clean or textured. Working with clothes everyday, considering colours, fabrics and shapes influenced what I photograph. Magazines like Cereal and Kinfolk have always inspired me, not just for beautiful photographs but for settings and styling, both have a very distinctive style which I admire. I believe keeping it simple is key for capturing a beautiful picture.

How did you get into visuals in the fashion industry? Initially I had no interest in fashion, working in retail was just a job for money whilst I was studying. As I started to work with clothes more I gained an interest in outfit building and the visual aspect of inspiring someone. When I finished studying I decided I wanted to pursue a career in fashion. Working most recently with a fashion brand has inspired me to create a clear branded message. The minimalism of the brand has also influenced my lifestyle choices, what I wear, the places I visit and what I read.

What drives you? Working with positive people that love what they do keeps me focused and motivated. I’m a results-driven person, I’m aware of what I want to achieve and always seeking ways of progressing. Doing a good job and achieving the desired result is my primary motivation.

What’s your biggest inspiration? Visiting new places, meeting new people and experiencing new situations. As a kid I spent a lot of time on the south coast, it's the place where I'm most nostalgic, having a sense of clarity and serenity, a place where I like to observe. I’ve always found residents happier when living by the coast, especially Brighton where there is an eclectic mix of people. More so than anything else it's surroundings that inspire me, minimal spaces and effortless design. A few characters also spring to mind: David Lynch and Tilda Swinton not only inspire me by their art but also by their style.

What’s on the horizon for you? I’m currently working for a Swedish fashion brand as a Visual Merchandise Manager, however I will be leaving to pursue a career with an international luxury brand. I’m hoping to travel and expand with the company. In the future, I would like to continue to work on new projects with influencers that will help me evolve, and hopefully I'll take a hand in inspiring others too.

Follow Mark on Instagram at @MarkLivermore  

Craig McGinlay, 29, Actor 

How did you get into acting? It's a long story. I was working as a Sports Scientist, Coach and Sports Massage Therapist for the Commonwealth Games and they were filming an advert for the Games. They used athletes I had trained for the likes of swimming, boxing, cycling and judo, then when casting the weightlifter couldn't find someone with the right look. When they asked if I would step in and be the weightlifter for the ad, I did it. I was over the moon having not done any modelling or acting before. To be in involved in my home city Commonwealth Games ad was very exciting and an honour for me. From this I got signed to modelling agencies across Europe and shot various campaigns in London and New York.

Where did you get your first big break? A director contacted me last year saying he loved my look for the lead role in a short film he was directing and asked if could I act. My response was, "let me try" so I went along to this audition and was thankfully offered the lead role!

Best job to date? In September 2014 I went along to a casting for what I was told was a major whisky brand. I had no idea who was featured in the ad until I was offered a recall audition in London where I learnt that Guy Ritchie was directing and David Beckham was featured in the ad. To cut a long story short, I was offered one of the spots on the ad. Without a doubt working with Guy on a couple of different projects are the biggest achievements of my career thus far and I would welcome in a heartbeat any future opportunities to work with Guy and his team again. I cannot thank them enough for giving me the opportunity.

What drives you? I get excited about stepping onto set and going to work everyday is an absolute pleasure. I am driven to continue to develop my skills, learn, and progress as far as I can as an actor. I am aware that I have a long way to go but I am more than willing to continue to put the work in and I am dedicated to making acting my career.

Who's your biggest inspiration? Christopher Reeve was a huge inspiration for me growing up both on and off screen. He was Superman on screen but also an inspirational hero off screen. Acting wise and his approach to life is truly inspirational. An all round great man. May he rest in peace.

What's on the horizon for you? There are a couple of potential movie roles coming up for me once I finish filming the project I am on at the moment. I will be meeting directors in the coming weeks and months with regards to these projects, however my head is fully focused on performing well for the director I am working for at the moment on his project and I am enjoying every second of it. All top secret, very exciting stuff.

Follow Craig on Instagram @CraigMcGinlay