Monday, 27 April 2015

Rooftop Elevation: Original Penguin, Nettle House, London

For the launch of the new collection from Original Penguin, I worked alongside my friend and fellow Sartorial 7 member Chris Benns to shoot some imagery to reflect the British sensibilities within the brand. Mr Benns, who is also the talented Mens Fashion Editor of Hunger Magazine, has an incredible eye for detail, realising the designs in a whole new way. Surprisingly, this is the first time we've worked together, so I sat down to ask him a few questions about how we got to the end result. See what we created on the rooftop of Netil House in Hackney on an overcast London day below.

After much discussion on concept, we landed on a London skyline as the backdrop. Can you remember how we got to this point?

The London Skyline was the perfect back drop for this project. Not only do we have some of Europe's most iconic buildings on the distance but the city itself is an inspiration for so many. I'm very fortunate to have grown up here but so many others long to live in the Capital. It's the centre of so many creative industries and not only attracts people from the rest of the UK but also from around the world. With this in mind, when we discussed the shoot we thought that having the skyline as the secondary subject was perfect to show how this Original Penguin collection integrates seamlessly into London life.

I totally agree and what I loved was how the styling took us to a very British urban place also. Your layering was spot on to feel contemporary yet real. Can you explain more how you manipulated that element of the shoot reflect the collection?

It was important for me that the shoot itself stood out as a clear reflection of the designs. Obviously it's an American brand but many of the items fit with the British aesthetic by fusing staple men's pieces such as the polo that we all rely on daily. Some designs may appear classic in form at first glance then reveal details such as the reflective button placket that you showed really well in the final imagery. They are multifunctional - can be used for evening and day, and it was this that we picked up on, wanting to capture the idea of translation or movement. I loved your resulting images which included movement within them. In some this is very literal and you see the clothing reacting to this where technical elements really shine. In others you have the ability to really take in some of the finer details where the movement is more subtle.

Can you describe how we landed on Lew as the model for this shoot?

As you know, casting is really crucial for strong images. We wanted to find someone that truly embodied my perception of the Original Penguin consumer: young, athletic and handsome. Someone aspirational but relatable. Lew seems to fit that role perfectly.

After numerous occasions to being in front the camera together with the Sartorial 7, it was the first time we were both behind. How did you find our first time working together in a professional capacity?

It was great fun! Of course, I've been an admirer of your work for some time so I was great to finally get on set and collaborate creatively. It's always nice go work with who understands and respects what you want to do and also brings concepts to the table. The result is a true mix of creativity that has worked out beautifully.

Angelo Flaccavento: Porte de Saint Cloud, Paris

Saturday, 25 April 2015

GarconJon meets Simon Kuzmickas

I first spotted Simon K, Established model, outside the Topman Design show in January at London Collections: Men. He instantly caught my eye with his skin tight jeans, 60s hair cut and Mick Jagger pout. It became apparent that he's more than just a pretty face though, having moved to London to study photography and inventing his own genre of music he calls "fuzzy jazz". We caught up on a sunny Spring afternoon in South London to shoot film together and chew the fat.

Simon wears his own clothing and Timex Weekender watches throughout.

Simonas Kuzmickas, Agent of Thought

Describe yourself in 5 words

I'm happy to be glad.

What's your star sign?

I am a Virgo, but I don't really believe in that stuff anyway.

When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a banker. When my dad broke the news that I would have to wear a suit everyday and it suddenly lost it's appeal. I quickly changed my mind.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I grew up in Vilnius Lithuania and straight after finishing school I moved to London. I currently reside in Fulham, just up the road from river Thames.

What's great about Fulham?

Its just a nice area, there are lots of cool pubs, bars, shops etc. I have been living in a lot of very sketchy places in London so it just feels good to finally settle down somewhere nice. Also it is quite central and its easy to get around town on my bike, it takes roughly five minutes for me to get to Kings Road and then from there everything is pretty close.

You moved here to study photography, why did you chose London?

Well I tell people that I came to London to study, but in reality I think I just wanted to have a bit of an adventure, and London seemed like a good place, since I speak the language and also I knew some people who lived here already and it was just like: "why not, lets do this". Plus the music scene here is amazing which always attracted me.

What do you miss most about Lithuania ?

Definitely my family and my mates. Well the weather is nice too there.

You told me you play fuzzy jazz - what do you mean by that?

Well I think contrast is one of the best tools of expression, so mixing mellow jazz melodies with sort of over driven fuzz tones result in very interesting sounds. Also its because I have sort of a vintage guitar amplifier, and once you crank it up the signal starts getting distorted and you get sort of a fuzzy sound. I also enjoy playing around with different effects units/pedals.

Who do you respect most in music?

Its very hard for me to pick favorites. I don't really have a favorite record but I enjoy listening to early electric blues records like: Elmore James, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker. All of this sounds particularly good on vinyl. In terms of more contemporary music one of my favorites are the Libertines album "Up the Bracket".

The watches you're wearing are taken from the "Weekender" collections, how do you spend your weekends?

It's always different. I guess I am a spontaneous person. I just do things, whatever comes to mind. If the weather is nice I go out and see what kind of trouble I can get myself into.

Leave us some words of wisdom...

Mind is like a parachute, it only works when its open!

To see the full shoot, click below. The complete Timex Weekender collection is availale to view at

Thursday, 23 April 2015

GarconJon meets Mark Hunter for Brooks Brothers

There are very few times in life where I've felt starstruck but holding the gold medal of Olympic Rower Mark Hunter has got to come close to that feeling. He may have achieved greatness but his humility and charm is powerful with his attention now turned to motivational speaking and his work as Programme Director of London Youth Rowing. I travelled to Henley on Thames to shoot him at his rowing club, photographed as part of a series of profiles for Brooks Brothers on iconic American menswear. Mark is the second of the series, keep checking for more and see the rest online at

Mark Hunter MBE, Retired Olympic Gold & Silver Medallist in Rowing

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? My younger years were spent is the East End of London before moving out to Essex when I was a teenager. I became interested in rowing and the sport then took me to Henley-on-Thames for over 20 years which was quite a change. I'm back living in London now so I've gone full circle!

Describe yourself in 5 words? Easy-going, Determined, Driven, Passionate, Articulate

What's your star sign? Cancer

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid I dreamt of playing football for West Ham, but once I realised my skills weren't up to standard I decided I wanted to become a physiotherapist. It was only a matter of time before the Olympic Dream got my attention!

As a child who was chronically unfit, I always admired others who were naturally athletic. How did you first get into sport? I've always enjoyed participating in a variety of sports. My parents
were sporty and we enjoyed going to matches or tournaments together. Their support has been something very special. I'd just started rowing in 1992 when I had the privilege of meeting Sir
Steve Redgrave as a 14 year old and I got to hold his 3 gold medals. That's when I started to catch Olympic fever.

There always seems to be a defining memory for successful people - something that switched them on the right path. Was meeting Redgrave that for you?  I knew I wanted to go to the Olympics when I first watched it in 1992, watching TeamGB win 2 rowing gold medals and seeing them on the podium, hearing the national anthem and watching the Union Jack being raised. It really captured my imagination, and I knew what I wanted to achieve! When Lottery funding started in 1997 it made it possible for me and many others to become full time athletes, which was very motivating. I wasn't fully funded until 2001 but up until then I was working full time and training around work.

If you hadn't got the funding what was your career plan b? It was all about the Olympics! Luckily, it worked out.

See the full interview below.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

GarconJon meets Darren Kennedy for Brooks Brothers

With classic American brand Brooks Brothers owning one of the best menswear stores on Regents Street, it's understandable that some of Londons most stylish gents love the brand. This month Brooks Brothers asked me to document these men for a new series on and after a good chinwag on set, I couldn't resist but ask my own questions for GarconJon. In the first of the series, I caught up Darren Kennedy over a coffee at Hawksmoor Spitalfields to talk about life as a broadcaster in the digital age and the extended American family the Irishman has. A group which includes President Obama.

Darren Kennedy, Broadcaster and Writer

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I'm a true Dubliner, I was born and bred in the city. And despite the fact that I spend most of my time in London these days, Dublin will always be my home at heart.

You may be a Dubliner but I know you've travelled some in your time. In your opinion what's the best place to live and why? I've lived in Paris, London, Toronto and Bordeaux but in terms of quality of life I'd say Dublin really is up there with the best. It's actually a fabulous city to live in. I know I'm biased but it's the fact the city is a very manageable size with the sea, the mountains and the countryside are all within bicycle distance from the centre. When it comes to weather, Los Angeles offers a tempting combo of city, sun and beach.

Describe yourself in 5 words? Happy to laugh at myself!

What's your star sign? Capricorn and I've been told I'm typical - practical, loyal and determined once I set my mind to something.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up I wanted to be a vet. I was fascinated with nature and wildlife. My favourite programmes to watch were David Attenborough documentaries and I used to image myself travelling to the Galapagos Islands. I've yet to make it but I will one day. As a result our house was like a menagerie with cats, dogs, birds, fish, turtles, frogs... you name it, I tried to keep it as a pet. I went through a stage of wanting a pet lamb, despite the fact we lived in the city! My veterinary dreams perished when I realised I'm actually very squeamish!

As a Scotsman, I always find people have a curious response to my nationality – particularly in the States. What do people say to you when you first open your mouth and find out you're Irish? I travel quite a lot to the States and so many people there have such a strong affinity with Ireland - even Obama has Irish roots for God's sake! Americans can be funny and on occasions one or two have tried to convince me that they're more Irish than I am - despite the fact they may never have set foot on Irish soil. I find it endearing to be honest. The funny thing is, no matter where I find myself in the world, I never seem to be far from an Irish connection. Over the decades my countrymen have travelled far and wide, so most people are very receptive when they hear the accent.

See the full interview by clicking below.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Studded Eagle: Le Marais, Paris

Leather motorcycle jacket on the streets of Paris, emblazoned with silver studs in the shape of an American eagle.

Devil in the Details: Le Marais, Paris

Blue work overshirt with navy bucket hat and polka necktie on the streets of Paris. See another look from this gent outside the Hotel Westin here.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Classic Carman: Quai Saint-Bernard, Paris

A driver in Paris dressed in a classic grey single breasted suit, with unbuttoned white shirt and black car coat.