Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang

I've been in the workshop for two whole days now, finishing up my "sautoir/parure" which imagines the jewellery which Chanel (probably with the help of Fulco Verdura) would have designed for "Maria", the robot in the Fritz Lang's "Metropolis". As with all my work like this, I do a lot of research and found that Chanel had some very wise words on the subject of jewellery, some of which became very important in the creation of this piece.

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 31

Her most famous proclamation was probably "A woman should mix fake and real. I love fakes because I find such jewellery provocative..." and in this piece, I've mixed real pearls with fake, rather as she did herself. The very large (18mm) pearls on the chains above are "shell pearls", made by implanting balls of shell into molluscs and allowing them to lay down a layer of nacre over them; the smaller pearls are natural cultivated, though the dark blue ones are dyed.

Many people don't realise that her statement continued, "...I find it disgraceful to walk around with millions around your neck just because you are rich. The point of jewellery isn't to make a woman look rich but to adorn her; not the same thing."

This statement really made me think about my own work, about how I use found materials in the context of traditional "fine jewellery", mixing high and low, real with fake, precious with worthless. She also said - sniping at Cartier - "A jewel should not be meagre". It is no surprise that I find myself drawn to her work. It also makes the following review of my work especially flattering:

I was brought up in an environment where jewellery for men were limited to either a watch or a wedding ring. This simple view on the genders separation towards bling bling was shattered, when running into this man. 
The Justified Sinner's attempt to revolutionise and change the way we view men's jewellery is no different to the way Coco Chanel accelerated women's trousers as a fashion piece. What fun would it be if everyone did the same thing? If Coco Chanel can give women a chance to make a fashion statement then why should men not take the same opportunity, when being given it by The Justified Sinner. 
- Daniele Junker 
As a parure, the piece shown above is made up of many elements which can be reconfigured in a number of ways:

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 30

There is a main chain with connecting elements, featuring a steel cog set with a dark turquoise tourmaline; a pendant made from a discarded CO2 cylinder, set with rubies and garnets and hung with used sewing-machine needles from a derelict factory in Clydebank; a pair of earclips (in keeping with the 1930s feel) set with bright, pale aquamarines, pearls and pink quartz; three silver, pearl, chrysoprase, dumortierite and pink quartz chains and; a brooch made from two steel cog elements found in Pittsburgh, used sewing-machine needles, sterling silver and set with a pale bluish amethyst and four natural raspberry-pink spinels.

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 32

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 33

Here the piece is entirely assembled as a sautoir with the rear pendant shown. The brooch can be pinned on to stop the piece from moving or it can be worn loose as an element on the chain.

The brooch can also be worn alone or with other elements attached:

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 36

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 34

And the chains can be endlessly reconfigured:

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 37

Note the use of the earclip as a decoration on the left upper section of the chain.

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Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - 41

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Both the earclips become a pendant.

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The three chains worn separately.

I am really pleased with this piece, another one ticked off on my list of unfinished pieces to finish.

Oddly enough, I have just received an email asking me to make a pair of Chanel-inspired, Verdura-style Maltese Cross bangles. Can't wait!

Christmas orders are coming in now. I've also been making a pair of iron and amber cufflinks:

Amber And Iron Cufflinks - 2

In keeping with my nomination as a man of some style, I've just taken possession of my latest commissioned piece of clothing, a "Hollyhood" by the wonderful Silvia Pellegrino at Chouchou:

Wearing The "Hollyhood" - 1

I first saw these at the photoshoot for SupBrooch, blogged a few weeks back. Stew was wearing one and when he first pulled it out of the bag, I wasn't really sure about it but after we did the shots and he showed me it being worn, I decided I had to have one, so contacted Silvia. This is the one she made me, using black Harris Tweed and grey Italian herringbone denim. Although she makes them primarily for women, I absolutely love the academic-monastic feel of them and I am going to have to get her to make me another one in earth colours!

Wearing The "Hollyhood" - 2

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kevlar, Beards and Coco Chanel!

Since I last made an entry here - eleven days ago, which is, I know, remiss - so much has been going on, with my birthday right in the middle.

The aftermath of the Scottish Style Awards was one very unstylish bump on the head when I took a box of the top of a cupboard and a roll of steel-reinforced kevlar fell from it. The edge caught me and I ended up scuffed:

A Sore Head

Fortunately, it healed rapidly and I could get to work again. Most of the time has been spent working on my commission from Poppy Porter for a piece of jewellery based on the song "Futurism" by Muse, which you can read about in my previous blog post here. I finally finished this commission this week and I'm very pleased with it.

Futurism - 34

Futurism - 37

More importantly, Poppy is pleased with it!

As last Saturday saw my birthday, I went through to Edinburgh to a @scotstreetstyle event at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh, run by the man behind "ScotStreetStyle", Gordon.

"Decembeard" Event At Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh - 1

I met him indirectly through the Scottish Style Awards and as I mentioned in my last post, we met up a couple of weeks ago to discuss Scottish fashion, style, humour and politics. The Harvey Nichols event was more of a social for the "Movember" charity but also a networking meeting and it was good to be able to connect with some of the other people who are making and shaking Scottish street culture; it was also delightful to be able to say that the people who are making and shaking Scottish street culture is broadly mixed in age and that as I was celebrating my 49th birthday, I was NOT the oldest person there!

As you would expect at a "Movember" event, there was a lot of facial hair and it was touching to see that even the chic women got in on the act:

"Decembeard" Event At Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh - 4

Kirstin modelling a paper moustache, earlier in the week.

My friend, Simon, was there, looking out for interesting people to photograph:

"Decembeard" Event At Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh - 6

And I met another guy who uses Voigtländer legacy lenses on Micro-FourThirds Cameras!

"Decembeard" Event At Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh - 7

The excellent Lewis of the Glasgow Beard and Moustache club, of which I will soon be a member. (Gary, to his left, is not laughing at a suit jacket, rather at someone small who is obscured by the jacket and being photographed by Lewis.)

After this, I headed off with my friends Mark and Jeff to my favourite Malaysian restaurant in Edinburgh, Kampung Ali where Mark drank "bubble tea" for the first time!

Bubble Tea

He also pointed out this bad graphic on the way:

Aieee! My Face Has Melted...

Now, I know it is meant to be "cute" but to me - and Mark - this just looks like Santa's head melted!

This week has ben workshop week for the students and they've been making loads of great things. I will post pictures the week after next when their Christmas sale opens in the college. Although this should be a time when I can get a bit of time at the bench, they've been super-busy this year and I've not managed to get much done, about which I cannot complain.

Now that "Futurism" has finished, I can move down the list and find that the next project to complete is one of those which I started and abandoned and which I determined in August I would complete before allowing myself the luxury of starting completely new projects, my fantasy piece which imagines what might have happened if Chanel had designed costumes for Maria in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis"...


Taking on board Chanel's 1932 fine-jewellery collection -  which featured many pieces which could be reconfigured into different types of jewellery - as well as the themes of decadence, robotics and the occult from the film, I decided to re-invent the "sautoir" necklace:

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - WIP - 19

This uses some cog-type elements I found during my 2012 visit to Pittsburgh, as well as - naturally - sewing-machine needles. I am especially pleased with the brooch-pendant element:

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - WIP - 25

Set with a very oddly-coloured amethyst and deep raspberry-pink spinels.

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The piece will re-configure in many different ways and still has to have one more chain and a pair of earclips added.

Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang - WIP - 26

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Foray Into Fashion

Scottish Style Awards

Last night was the event of the "Scottish Style Awards" for which I had been nominated as Scotland's "Most Stylish Male". I am really glad to be able to report that although I found the nomination - and the fact that I was presenting a prize - highly stressful, I did enjoy myself enormously, thanks in part to my chic and intelligent "plus one", Janine Bonner who is looking good accessorising with my "Ich Gaben Keine Gold Fur Dieses Eisen" collar.

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 1

I should explain that Dingo point-blank refused to go with me and, after about two minutes of being in the place, I realised that he was right and would have hated every moment of it. I won't deny that I was exceptionally apprehensive and driving to the event was hazardous as I could barely focus on controlling the car, never mind dealing with other road users and I have to apologise to anyone I encountered on the journey there.

Immediately I learned of the nomination, I had decided - on the back of conversations had at the Craft Scotland conference earlier in October - that I was going to wear a wholly handmade-in-Britain outfit and here it is:

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 2

What I'm wearing -

Jacket - Harris Tweed, made by Alan Moore at Ten30 design. Alan normally designs womenswear but this is his first foray into menswear, commissioned by the Harris Tweed Authority and worn by me for the first public showing;
Kilt - Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts, made from organic tweed from Mull (the wool is undyed and is the natural colour of the sheep);
Socks - Hand-dyed Scottish wool by Natalie Fergie, hand-knitted by Judy Wilmot;
Shoes - Trickers brogues;
Waitcoat - Linen by Sir Plus, made from reclaimed scrap fabric;
Shirt - Cotton, by Susannah Hall;
Cravat - Printed, woven silk from the Cravat Club;
Belt - Handmade in Edinburgh, from Gordon Nicholson's kilt shop;
Jewellery - including belt-buckle, by me.

I have to thank David at Grey Fox Blog for his suggestions for menswear made in the UK and Susannah Hall, Natalie Fergie and Judy Wilmot for customer service above and beyond excellent in providing some of the clothes on incredibly short notice.

The event was held in the incredible and prestigious venue of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, a museum which is held dear to the hearts of people in Glasgow and, it seems, has ever been thus. One of the advantages of going to something like this is that you can be quite cavalier with the exhibits and we were:

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 4

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 11

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 9

There were, of course, cocktails before we kicked off:

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 5

And lots and lots of blogging and tweeting action!

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 7

Here we can see the enthusiastic, stylish - in Obscure Couture - and charming fashion blogger, Sheri Scott making a post. I cannot thank her and fellow enthusiast Claire Stewart for making me feel more relaxed as the paparazzi "red carpet" moment approached (yup! I had to pose on the red carpet). In my opinion, two of the four most stylish women present at the event.

It was good to meet people I already knew at the event too and the ever-playful Howie Nicholsby, who made my kilt and who was also up for the nomination of "Most Stylish Male" had a startling trick up his sleeve. Here he is, with Janine, wearing one of his kilts made from a specially-commissioned tweed, showcasing my cameras excellent low-light capabilities:

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 8(a)
(Janine would ask me to point out her Vivienne Westwood shoes!)
He insisted that I also take a flash photograph:

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 8(b)

The tweed has been woven with a reflective material through it. Remarkable! Perfect for cycling, not that I can imagine cycling in a kilt.

We all trooped downstairs for dinner, where the catwalk-stage awaited:

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 13

Now, gentle reader, I have to say that if I had been wearing a hat, the time has come for me to raise it and to allow the little fellow of the Apis family to buzz on her way, because although I very much enjoyed the event, it was seriously marred by one thing. The compère.

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 12

This man - who not only thinks it acceptable to wear a grey suit with brown shoes, a turquoise tie and a yellow pocket-square (and there are more horrors to come) - is one of the sleaziest, most lecherous, most boorish, most banal and utterly untalented people I have ever had to listen to. He would have been booed off stage in a working man's club. What possessed Mary, the organiser, to book this "malignant homunculus" - a phrase borrowed from WTFFashionShark's brilliant political and fashion blog this week -  is beyond me. From openly leering at the women to making off-colour comments about Liam Gallagher to singing like Vic Reeves as the pub-singer, this man had absolutely no sense of embarrassment and left large swathes of the audience cringing on his behalf. Who is he? Good question... His name is Mike Keat and despite the wonders of Google, I'm still not really sure. I am, however sure that he was utterly dreadful.

Rant over, though there will be one more comment about this!

Dinner was served - an excellent dinner, to be sure and the vegetarian food was not the usual cop-out nonsense of "pasta bake" or "mushroom stroganoff" -  and I found that Janine and I were seated at a brilliant table, sitting next to Irish Times journalist, Rosemary McCabe on one side and Leroy of "Diary of a Clotheshorse" on the other, as well as some other great people, the names of whom I didn't get. It was actually nice to be seated with other people who couldn't understand how some of the awards went where they did and who were appalled by Mr Keat.

It was on with the awards which were much like any other awards ceremony: the nominees are put on the screen, the names read out, the people presenting the prizes walk onto stage and read out who won, the person who won then comes onto stage and collects the prize. Couldn't be simpler and it was really good fun, during which people in stylish jackets cheered:

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 24

And a large man in a kilt tried on his partner's transparent raincoat:

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It looked good on her. This table, next to mine, seemed to be having quite the best time of all the tables!

One of the most genuinely stylish women at the event is the unbelievably chic Pollyanna McIntosh and it is a real shame that she didn't win anything herself, though she did present the prize for the "Most Stylish Retailer" to "Strathberry" in Edinburgh.

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 15

Needless to say, our leering compère made distasteful, sexist, sexual comments about her.

I was presenting the "Most Stylish Menswear Designer" prize and we had a fashion show to showcase the works of the designers of both that and "Most Stylish Womenswear Designer".

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 22

During the fashion show, Keat found time to change into what he quite correctly observed to be his "Harry Lauder" outfit, claiming some spurious relationship to the music-hall turn of a bygone era and making himself even less stylish and more farcical than before.

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 23

The womenswear prize went to Judy R. Clarke, and is well-deserved. I had to present the menswear prize:

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Along with Emma, who's surname I didn't get and for which I apologise. The prize went to Gianni Colarossi for Duchamp which was, for me, somewhat disappointing as this company seem more mainstream and aren't - in my opinion - as interesting as some of the other nominees such as Cathal McAteer at Folk, Kestin Hare at Common People or Patrick Grant at E. Tautz (and who I thought would win). I'm not really complaining, however, as they make all their clothes in the UK and are to be applauded for that as well as for challenging the pallet of male fashion.

Next up was the award for which I was nominated, that of "Most Stylish Male". Most of you will already know that I didn't win but I am not at all bothered by that as it was such a blast to have been nominated and to have attended the event, as well as for it to have generated a lot of interest in my work. Here I am on the screen!

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The prize went to Martin Compston, a young actor who has been getting a lot of recognition since his appearance in the film version of Irvine Welsh's book, "Filth".

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Part of the reason I've found this whole thing so stressful is that I am not an actor, not a public persona in the way that someone like Martin is. He is used to being looked at and being personally judged for his performance. For me, my work is usually what people know about me first and they can judge that, which I am happy about. If someone doesn't like my work, it is impossible to take it personally but if someone doesn't like me, what I am wearing, how I choose to look, that is personal. This is also a large part of why I don't mind not winning and also why Howie and I could find it both flattering and funny.

The end of the night was approaching and founder of the awards and one-woman powerhouse, Mary McGowne took the stage to give a vote of thanks before the final night of the award.

Scottish Style Awards 2013 - 30

The final award was the "Special Achievement Award" which was presented by this feisty lady , Miss Honey Dijon and whom the whole table agreed should have been the compère for the night. She would have been amazing as her energy and humour just thrilled the room:

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The award went to Andrew Fairlie, chef at Gleneagles Hotel and apparently the longest-standing holder of a Michelin Star anywhere in the world, which is pretty impressive. He also gave the most down-to-earth, funny, warm speech of the night and it made for a brilliant end:

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After which, we gathered up our gift-bags and left.

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It's over!

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Further to last week's photoshoot, the images appeared in the "Scotland on Sunday" magazine along with an article about a "Maverick Metalsmith"! I rather like that. Thanks to Ruth Walker for the text and, of course, Simon Murphy for the images. There are links to all the participants in the previous blog post here.

Men of Style - 1

Men of Style - 1

My mum, of course, wanted to see the article and hear all about the awards, so I "remixed" the outfit for daywear!

Style Awards - Day Variant

Other than that, my friend Wing Mun Devenney's new book on soldering came out, containing lots of work by friends and colleagues of ours, as well as many Crafthaus and Flickr friends:

The Art Of Soldering - 1

The Art Of Soldering - 2

Work continues on "Futurism":

Futurism - WIP - 18

Some of the chain is started now.

And finally, I went to see Hawkwind! Click here to go to their Web 1.0 website...


Last time I saw them was in 1978 in the Glasgow Apollo and I can honestly say that their concert last week was better. Better sound quality, better variety of tracks, more together. There is always a danger in re-visiting old favourites but this was wonderful, right down to "Silver Machine" in the middle of the set!