Saturday, October 15, 2016

Scott: The Iconic Writer's Bag by Bleu De Chauffe

Sometimes things are not easy. Let me explain that to you:  Even that might not be easy ! Writing about a writer,  when not being a writer:  Not easy!  
Writing about craftsmanship, when not being a craftsman:  Not easy !  Well, what to do then when writing about a writer’s bag ? Focus on the writing, or focus on the craftsmanship ?
So I consider it to be that the writer’s bag contributes to the writing quality. And I accept that the fine craftsmanship is an ode to the famous writer. That being said, the writer appreciating the craftsmanship, he’s an educated man after all.  And knowing for sure that the craftsmen know their trade.
"The easiest way to get a reputation is to go outside the fold, shout around for a few years as a violent atheist or a dangerous radical, and then crawl back to the shelter." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

But me, appreciating both of them, the writer and the craftsmen, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Bleu de Chauffe….. well, let’s say the writer’s bag grabbed my attention immediately. And that’s just because there is some ‘heritage’, there’s a story to it.  And you all know I love heritage and stories…
An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
.And it goes like this:
“Evan is American. For his girlfriend’s birthday (she's a writer) he's looking for a handbag to offer. Keeping an eye on the internet for this special present, he suddenly bumps into a very unique item: Scott Fitzgerald's genuine bag, embossed with his name and address of his publisher.  Being a fan of Bleu de Chauffe for years, Evan gets in touch with the brand in order to evaluate the feasibility of personalizing one of their bags like Fitzgerald's.  Although they were not able to reply positively to his request at the time, they found the idea amazing. They then decided  to re-edit the Fitzgerald's bag, offering the possibility to personalize it by embossing initials in the leather, like a timeless engraving.”
Made of the strongest French vegetable tanned leather, Scott, the writer's bag, is the Bleu de Chauffe's must have. It's iconic ! Very elegant, it can be both a hand and a shoulder carry. The twist lock is unconventional yet very stylish. Thus, this bag can hold a laptop up to 13 inches. Very handy in times of cyberspace everywhere… The inside departments are accessible, modern and convenient. The Bleu de Chauffe label, signed and dated by the artisan, is sewn on an inside felt pocket. A personal touch I appreciate a lot.
Handmade in France from vegetable tanned leather.   Today, more than 90% of leathers in the world are tanned by chrome tanning and heavy chemical components. Bleu de Chauffe approach is different. Their leathers are vegetable tanned which ensure a better quality and sustainability of the leather, a soft natural touch, and a patina which gets nicer years over years.  
And that’s what makes a bag like this special. After a while, some years, it looks like it has a story to tell itself ! Featuring: 
- Full grained leather. Vegetable tanned and water resistant. It look soft and smooth, yet is sturdy and tough.
- Removable leather strap and comfortable leather shoulder pad lined with natural felt, to protect the clothes you will 'hang it over'.
- Leather handle for comfortable hand carriage. Strong, and I'm sure it will form to my hand. Traditional attachement to the bag itself, in a way I like it.
- Inside removable felt pocket. Will become very handy, since personal attachement to the bag will certainly grow.
- The exclusive”Bleu de Chauffe” design of the twist lock. Strong, and attached with real screws, not just 'stapled'.
- “Bleu de Chauffe” Logo with brass finish, inspired by the 20th century French faucets. The work-wear signature. A nice detail !
SIZE:   38 cm x 28,5 cm x 7 cm  /  Suitable for 13-inch laptop.  Detachable adjustable leather shoulder strap with felt lined shoulder pad. Single leather top handle. Front flap with buckle and hook closures. Vegetable tanned organic leather. Hand-applied coloring may vary slightly. Coloring changes with use. 
Internal patch with name of artisan and date of production ! Removable cotton canvas pouch with snap button closure. Unlined, yeah, the tough manly finish and look.

A bag to be cherished. A bag for a lifetime, and… why not, make it a heritage piece !
Just watch ‘The” Great Gatsby’, and from time to time look at the writers bag,… It’ll make you understand F. Scott Fitzgerald a little bit better……..  and appreciate the craftmanship of Bleu de Chauffe ...
More information on a French company that still trulu understand quality, craftmanship, the use of natural materials. Honoring a writer, on demand of a client, with the respect he earns, by creating a writer's bag that is built to last !

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Crownhill Shoes: Premium Grade Double-Monks

The double monk shoe. Well, it still remains a controversial model, still now when even the big retailers finally give in and present it as a new fashionable model. Well, let me tell you: ….it isn’t.
To make a short story short:  Nobody knows when the monk shoe was invented,  but it was established on a wider front in Europe during the High Middle Ages (ca. 1000-1350 BC) when the monks, who earlier mostly had worn sandals, started using the model a lot. 
So that’s where the name comes from. Mostly used as a work shoe, since it protected a lot more and was more comfortable to work in than the sandals of that time. The buckle or buckles (even at that time the double buckle version existed already!) made it look quite a lot like the more traditionally worn sandals. Now, let’s make a big leap from this time into the future…into time. Single monks have always remained, yet the 2-buckle version has always been continued by John Lobb and Edward Green. 
I myself drove to Paris at age 18, to get my first pair. And that’s 30 years ago…. Affordable decent versions were hard to find afterwards, so whenever they crossed my path, I just had to have them.
In the beginning, the shape of the last looked quite conservative to me
Anyway, my latest pair comes from Crownhill Shoes. And that’s not an English brand. It’s Spanish. And handmade. And has a Rendenbach sole. And has a cool name: “The McQueen”: (All their 'Premium Grade' shoes have a famous person's name attached to it)
"This model is a humble tribute to the “King of Cool”. This is a shoe with race and overwhelming personality as the man who gives name. The McQueen fits perfectly when you combine them with narrow leg pants just whose low friction shoe. This way you get to emphasize the elegant shoe upper and details of the double buckle, the distinctive touch of this model."
As usual, quality shoes arrive in a quality cardboard box, silky paper wrapped, as well as some soft-cloth luxury shoebags. Inside….. what a pleasant surprise. A double-monk as the classic double-monk is supposed to be. 

"Crownhill’s Premium Grade Line shoes are made of boxcalf from the best tanneries in the world as Haas, Degermann, D´Annonay, Weinheimer, Roux, Museum calf, Zonta and Ilcea. This guarantees a color, texture and smell hard to match. " And that's noticable for sure !
All the details of the shoe are taken care off to the fullest, a prove of this is that the shoe seams on the Rendenbach sole are hidden and that the thread is coated with pure beeswax to close the stitch and thus makes the bottom of the shoe completely sealed. 
The butterfly or violin Rendenbach sole. 
The extremely durable and ultra-flexible 4.5 mm thick soles ar manufactured by hand by John Rendenbach, tanned with oak roots and bark, and finished with oil for  months to give it more elasticity.

The tip of the sole has extra wear-protection with copper nails

 Maybe hard to see but the insole has a soft foam layer for extra comfort, placed under a soft black leather. For added comfort.
Inside you have the premium-grade label, stitched-in. A very nice detail. And every true gentleman likes details. It's also an aknowledgement of quality.

So after wearing for a few weeks now, I must say that at first they were very thight. I normally have a size 43, and got a pair of 43's. So far so good. Yet they were so snug they kinda hurt a bit on my left foot. But hey, I've had that before with the best shoes I have ever had. And I'm sure most of you have had that as well, with standard size shoes (not bespokeà. And now, they fit me like a glove,... pure comfort ! They've formed and adjusted perfectly. Anyway, just remind that in my opinion, they fit a bit small. I think that in the 'Premium Grade' line, the foam added under the inner sole might cause that.
When polishing the shoes, you notice that the leather is indeed of the better kind. And after wearing them intensively for a few weeks now (yeah, I know it's a though test), walking a lot with them, even on rainy days, you'll notice the quality.
My conclusion: Crownnhill Shoes from Spain is yet another pleasant discovery. A real 'Premium Grade' shoe, for a very attractive (not-so-premium) price ! Some fashion brands position shoes at that same price level, but can not even cope in the nearest with the quality offered by Crownhill Shoes. Once again it has been proven that true quality shoes, coming from a real cobbler, or shoemaker, are well worth their money.
The nails on the heel are not only proof of a well finished heel, but also an aesthetic eye for detail. 

Excellent finish and superb detailing, quality materials used for a solid construction. And classic iconic models that are built to last, that's what Crownhill Shoes is all about.  
More information on their website:  Sure worth a visit, you'll be surprised, if you are a shoe-afficionado.

Read about Rendenbach leather soles here, and you'll understand why the better brands, as is Crownhill Shoes, use this leather. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rendenbach: A name that rings several bells with shoe afficionados


The traditional method of oak-bark ground-tanning has prevailed through four generations of leathermaking at Rendenbach. Our undaunting dedication to this environment-friendly tanning process has been well rewarded: with a product of first class quality that is robust and yet extremely flexible, waterproof and yet breathable. JR-Leather is notably hard wearing, dermatologically kind and exceptionally comfortable to wear.


Making good shoes great:

Throughout Europe as well as in the USA, Rendenbach products play an integral part in the manufacture of exclusive footwear.


Dye section

Tanning begins with the dye section. Stripped of its hair, the hide undergoes a slow surface tanning over a period of about four weeks, opening its fibers to absorb the tannin. The hides are passed through several pits, connected in a closed circuit through a system of pipes and containing different concentrations of tanning fluid. The hides themselves hang on frames and are moved manually from one pit to the next on a daily basis.

The second stage of the preliminary tanning involves a pit half filled with tanning fluid. The hides are submerged in the fluid with a layer of the shredded tan substances between each one. They remain here for approximately six weeks, after which the procedure is repeated in a second pit.
Oak-bark ground-tanning

The oak-bark ground-tanning is an extremely gentle process taking place in old, three-metre deep oak lined pits. During the course of this process, tannin is absorbed into the hide binding and conserving its protein-structures. Nature supplies the main ingredients for the tan mixture used in traditional oak-bark ground-tanning; primarily oak, spruce and mimosa bark as well as valonea fruit.

Traditional oak-bark ground-tanning is a process involving biodegradable tanning agents such as bark and fruit. This ecological tanning method results in an especially long lasting and dermatologically kind product.
Leather with the JR-Brand label is waterproof and extremely abrasion resistant, tough yet flexible, very comfortable to wear and optically distinguished by its attractive grain and warm, woody colour.


The charactaristic benefits of JR-quality with the brand label:

·         consistently durable
·         a smooth fibre structure that enables an accurate trim
a naturally elegant grain 
·         a smooth fibre structure that enables an accurate trim
·         a naturally elegant grain 
·         natural impermeability
·         specific light weight
·         inherent stability
·         extreme durability
·         absorbs sweat
a    active airing and antiperspirant properties

      More info on

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A view on the Neapolitan shoulder...

Some of you prefer made-to-measure suits or bespoke suits, so you may have already heard about the so-called infamous ‘Neapolitan Shoulder’? But just in case you haven't - let me tell you a little more about it. Let’s check what one of Naples most known tailors has to say about it.
Photo & design by Lino Sentiero
‘There are three things that can distinguish a Naples-made or Naples-inspired coat shoulder. The first is a lack of padding. The second is a pleated sleevehead. And the third is what the Neapolitans call the spalla camicia, or “shirt shoulder”.’  - Luca Rubinacci
Technically, in Neapolitan jackets, there is next to no padding supporting the shoulder, whereas English ones provide varying degrees of support. Most Italians like a small, high armhole, into which they will hand-sew the slightly larger sleeve head. This creates minute puckers in the cloth, which delights fans of the Neapolitan way. On Saville Row, they consider this however ritual suicide.
Most Neapolitan coats have minimal or even no padding at all, because they are meant to be ultra soft and give their owners comfortable moves. Non padded shoulders have to be measured in increments of 8ths or even 16ths and that's the reason why they are almost never seen in ready-to-wear. Neapolitan shoulders are more sloped, soft and rounded and they need a really good tailor to make them perfectly fit the man's shoulder line.
Exclusive ? 
'Pleated' sleeve heads in this case means that the upper sleeve is deliberately cut much larger than the (typically very small) armscye. After that the excess cloth is fed into the scye as the sleeve is hand-set into the body of the coat, which can not be done by machine. When the sleeve is completely sewn, that extra cloth is gathered and puckered around the scye, which looks really beautiful according to Neapolitan style lovers, but is done for comfort and freedom of movement. This makes the classic Neapolitan coats more attractive, having in mind that they usually have very small arm holes, very close shoulders, and relatively lean bodies. The Neapolitan shouldered coat can be worn all day and is suitable for almost every occasion. Spalla camicia or 'shirt shoulder' means that both strips of seam allowance are folded in the same direction - back under the shoulder.

The History:
As it is said…..The Neapolitan Shoulder was originally invented in Naples by an unknown tailor by mistake. He cut the sleeves larger than the arm holes and they didn't fit properly, which created some obvious creases that puffed out from the shoulder seam and down the sleeve. Shortly after that, some local dandies started to adopt this style and it became a trend throughout the men's community in the city. Nowadays this is 'the coolest and most sought after type of shoulder for men's jackets and shirts' to some. .
There are three main things, which distinguish the Neapolitan shoulder:
- lack of padding;
- pleated sleeve heads;
- spalla camicia ('shirt shoulder').

Experts say that the Neapolitan shoulder is:

'the quintessential element for exceptional fit on a jacket'.

Why Gentlemen Should Polish Their Own Shoes

Carpentieri Profumi: A perfume revelation from Calabria

A perfume can attract others and also change the energy frequency of the people and environment around you. I believe you can use a sent to create an emotional pathway with someone else’s energy centers:  Their brain, heart and sex receptors, igniting the senses. You can directly alter their state of mind and body through this scent.  It sparks a subliminal key to attraction.
Carpentieri Profumi is not a fancy perfume brand. Nor fashionable or trendy. No ultra expensive marketing campaigns or packaging. Nor crystal bottles…..  It’s not even hip or trendy either…… So what then makes it worth writing about ?
Tradition, craftsmanship and passion. And that’s enough for me !  Carpentieri Profumi,  was started in Calabria, Italy, by two brothers in 1967. And since then, their production processes have not changed. That  gives the perfume therefore a quality that is unsurpassed.
The whole Carpentieri family is very true and faithful to the old Calabrian traditions and they use the local plants, such as fresh olive blossom, blooming  jasmine, cedar flower and pure bergamot  - being that the Carpentieri family is involved in the whole production process, they are able to manufacture custom made fragrances to individual clients. 
Being it a personalized perfume, an interior scent or fragrance (bottega della essenze), a solid perfume (containing 0% alcohol), bathroom products ….
 The pyramid of fragrance
The olfactory notes in perfumes are used to describe the odors that can be perceived at the time of the application of a perfume. The olfactory notes are divided into three classes; the top notes (or capital notes), the heart notes (or middle notes) and the base notes. Any grouping of olfactory notes indicates the group of odors that can be detected depending on the time spent by the application of a perfume. The combination of the three groups of notes constitutes the olfactory pyramid, which serves to describe the aromas.
San Giorgio Morgeto

TOP NOTES Perceived immediately after application of a perfume, the top notes are tiny molecules that evaporate quickly. Correspond to the first impression and develop and enrich gradually joining the middle notes which are the dominant notes of a perfume. The odors that are part of this class of notes are usually described as "fresh," "assertive" or "sharp." The components that form the generally strong odors top notes, however, by the very volatile composition. Among the top notes can be found substances citrus (lemon, bergamot, tangerine, orange), or herbaceous (sage, rosemary, lavender).
MIDDLE NOTES They held most of the top notes. Their fragrance needs time to develop, and are those that determine the character of the perfume. They emerge as soon dissolve the top notes, so their appearance can take from a few minutes to about an hour later. The heart notes make up the central part of a perfume, and generally are softer and enveloping the other. Among the classic examples of middle notes you may be cited perfumes derived from the flowers (rose, jasmine, lavender) or spices (clove, cinnamon, nutmeg).
BASE NOTES The smell of a perfume that appears when about to disappear the smell of the middle notes. The base notes intensify the character of the perfume and give it the seal, as they act as "controlling" the different evaporation speed of the top notes and middle notes. These notes need more time to develop, but they last longer than the others. Therefore the base notes are perceived by the user of the latest perfume but are those that resist longer than all. They are often balsamic notes (myrrh) or woody (cedar, patchouli, sandalwood).
Antichi Profumi
In this house, perfumes, and fragrances are made with a craftsmanship that compares to passionate Italian winemaking.  The quality of the product is reached with a passion, after a search of combinations, based on ancient proven knowledge. Then, after testing over and over again, smelling an smelling over and over again, …. Only then, is a product ready for production.

So if you’re interested in a pure perfume or fragrance, made to your specific specifications, or conceived by them, this house will prove you right. I’ve worn a few of their perfumes, and always gotten compliments.  The ‘Cedro’(cedar) for example, I scent I would never have chosen, if I didn’t smell it first. An amazing air of Mediterranean spirit surrounds you immediately.  Or the ‘Fior d’Ullivo’ (olive blossom). My daughter got stuck on it immediately.  Or the pleasant smell of the ‘Bergamotto’ eau de cologne. An all-time favourite is the Calabrese perfume.... Refined classics ! 
"Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower." - Charles M. Schwab

My conclusion, if you go for the pure product, this is where you have to be. They hold very long as well.  And what’s a pleasant side effect is the fact that they are a small family business , and their craftmanship is still available at very affordable prices. Especially when you take the quality and originality in account. This, to me, an exclusive product ! Autheticity at heart, or should I say, .. the nose...

For inquires and/or orders, please contact Ms. Caroline Ingmar :

“...a woman not yet seen, but whose perfume accumulates on the horizon like a storm cloud.” 

 Fernand Dumont, région du cœur et autres textes

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