Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Golden Age

A few months back,  I was on look out for a smokers desk top set. Not really even knowing whether exactly what I wanted was actually going to be for sale anywhere, or had even ever been made. The one company with beautiful smokers accessories dating back to the early 20th century was Ronson.

I've owned a fair amount of their  lighters over the years and honestly thought, there's nothing really special about these. And a lot of the time, picking pocket lighters up from Antique shops or even car boot sales they were near impossible to get working. Knowing only the basics lighter maintainance, (changing the wick, flint and filling the petrol up) it wasn't long before I had collected countless Zippos which are much more reliable and easy to maintain, but never looking elegant enough or a real prized design piece.

More recently however favouring aesthestics from the Art Deco period  over Mid Century design principles it was back to Ronson that I sought inspiration and was enthralled by the beauty of  their designs form and function. I was amazed by their Touch Tip lighter the most. Seen in the film The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor.

(the use of the Touch Tip is at 3 mins 15 seconds, if you don't fancy the 7 minutes)
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As I write this a  Touch Tip Lighter with Cigarette Dispenser below is currently on Ebay with three days left at £75.00. I have to be restrained from bidding though interested to see what it will actually go for.

The Ronson lighter company started as The Art Metal Works in 1886 by Louis V. Aronson, a gifted man who at 16 years old received a U.S. patent for a commercially valuable metal plating process he developed. The following year he moved his factory to Newark, New Jersey. Soon the company was producing a variety of high quality lamps, book ends, statues and other decorative items, prized today for their detail in the collector marketplace.

And so they went on designing, what probably are works art and what had to have a huge influence on Glamour in The Roaring Twenties and through the 1930's aswell.

A sure must for any serious Art Deco or Ronson collector "The Bartender" Touch Tip.

At present I own two 1930's Ronson case/lighters. The "Pal" and the "Patrician". Both fairly inexpensive considering their age and in full working condition. My favourite being the Patrician, with  it's obvious Art Deco shape and angles, it never fails to raise admiring glances and remarks while still being fairly masculine in jet black and chrome.

I was lucky enough to even buy it with my middle intials on!

With a new flat soon to move into, for me, 1920's design pieces are on the wish list. Being this beautiful how could they not be!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Smokers Wish List

These are some superb looking lighters, down on the wish list. The famous Ronson Touch Tips.

All complete of course with working "magic" wands.

The most sought after probably has to be the famous " Bartender".

Apparently a must for all serious collectors. And I suppose you;d have to be fairly serious to stump up a cool  £1000 to get your hands on one!

Though it would be pride of place of any Art Deco lovers.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

. . . . may I stay at yours for a bit . . . . ?

I don't like estate agents much. At all. Looking for a flat to reside in recently I found one which will suit, after trawling up & down stairs, through pokey corridors, smelly toilets, dirty shower rooms (not even bathrooms) & dismal entrance halls. I found the nice little place no less than three weeks ago. I've never known anyone to be as thorough with references as these Estate Agents. However the waiting is almost over, hopefully. Since then I have called in on two of my closest friends (they were when I moved in anyway) starting with " ah,can I stay at yours for a bit . . . ? No more than a week tops, probably".

This has been my home/bed since then.

Though it is a lovely 1950's couch, it's no comfy.

And having a house guest  can't all be fun, I know I'd struggle having one, even for a night. So many thanks to Mr Friedlander & Mr Kemble, though sometimes I think they don't even realise I'm there. 

Though, for these friends there have been a couple of benefits as having yours truly to stay. I do like things tidy. I love my clothes. I believe everyone should love there clothes. So I went & tidied up. In one particular bedroom, I couldn't see what colour the carpet was, for poor clothes, God forbid, being left on the floor, bed unmade. I heard somewhere that order is the virtue of mediocrity. If so then I am truly mediocre. The carpet became visible!

Socks were arranged, into "dress" & "leisure" & T Shirts rolled.

Towels folded, belts rolled & footwear arranged.

And, of course, shirts, tops & suits hung. I did honestly feel sorry for the poor whistle, with trousers creased flopping over a bowing plastic hanger. Tutut. Now hung on a wooden, with trousers pressed. Hurrah!

I love dressing spaces, a space to think about the day ahead & at the end of it to reflect. They're not really bedrooms to me. They're dressing rooms.

While I've been here, most of my clobber has been in storage so I haven't really been able to partake in Formal Friday as much as I'd have liked. Though happily, others have & the girls are pulling their weight also!

For a couple of weeks, the lovely Joanne Evans has been turned out fabulously!

Ruby Adams wonderfully elegant Fancy Friday

The very Vintage chic Jen.

The luscious Lisa Northover!

The wonderful Vintage Per Sempre owner, Leah Austen Rose.

Beautiful boutique What Alice Found owner Nick Grainger

Oh so chic Emily Fisher

And for the chaps, Deco owner Stuart Alexander.

Lord Jason The Barber Bailey

Luke Griffiths-Williams

And the Missus & I.

We can be found on Facebook under the group Formal Friday In Britain, the more the merrier so feel free to post your pics on that page if you decide to join the cause, rebelling against Dress Down Friday & going Formal instead. Hope to see you there!

Until I'm settled in to a nice new swanky pad, tada!

Monday, 2 May 2011

One's Albion In The Making . . . . .

What with the weather being balmy, the hottest of all Aprils in the last 350 years apparently, everything around me has almost never seemed so grey. A full week of peering out into a stark reality whilst not wanting at all to peer inside & begin to ask where a bout of  "Dreaded Dandy's Debauchery" came from? Not much was elegant, pretty much all, in truth was tragic.

In the last day or so, it is reflections on a couple of quotes from a certain Mr Horsley that the thought of getting up & dressed is once again inspiring me as it should, to go out into the world & start becoming the man I believe I was meant to be.

"Being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility which psychoanalysis is powerless to bestow."

Thank God for Sebastian.  

When what you wear directly influences how you feel, how you present yourself to the world & in all honesty, how the world perceives you. For it is a fact that it is only the shallow people who DO NOT judge by first impressions and appearances. So I return to colour of cloth to brighten up my visions of Grey.

Not many folks do this as well Le Sapeurs. A group of Gentleman from the Brazzaville region of the Congo.

“Le Sap is our essence,” explains sapeur Willy Cavory a leading practitioner of , Le Sape – The Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (The society for people of elegance and ambiance)- otherwise referred as the ‘religion of clothing.’

“ It is our way of life and not just the dressing,” he continues. “ It is how we express our individuality and our character. Along with our families, Le Sap, is our reason for being. “

That in itself is quite some statement, "it is our reason for being".

So much of their way of life is inspirational, coming from the most poverished & humble of backgrounds, there dress is in complete contrast to this and really is the finest celebration of life.

The movement was sparked by Congolese musician Papa Wemba, in the 1960′s and 1970′s, who had been inspired by European clothing and products that were eventually banned after Zaire’s independence. Due to political issues, his exquisite taste and “promotion of high standards of personal cleanliness, hygiene and smart dress, to a whole generation of youth across Zaire, essentially kept him an a controversial spotlight. These proud African men come in peace and are the epitome of a fashionable laissez faire, standing firm by their motto “Let’s drop the weapons, let us work and dress elegantly.”

The Sapeurs belong to Le SAPE which stands for the Société des Ambianceurs et Personnes Élégants. "Members have their own code of honour, codes of professional conduct and strict notions of morality. It is a world within a world within a city.  Respected and admired in their communities, todays sapeurs see themselves as artists. Each one has his own repertoire of gestures that distinguishes him from the others. They are also after their own great dream: to travel to Paris and to return to Bacongo as lords of elegance.

Photographer Daniele Tamagni's new book Gentlemen of Bacongo captures the fascinating subculture.

A few of their axioms:
  1. A Congolese Sapeur is a happy man even if he does not eat, because wearing proper clothes feeds the soul and gives pleasure to the body.
  2. A real Sapeur needs to be cultivated and speak fluently, but also have a solid moral ethic: that means beyond the appearance and vanity of smart, expensive clothing there is the moral nobility of the individual.
  3. When the Sapeur expresses himself through the harmony of his clothes, he is returning his admiration to God.
  4. A Sapeur does not shed blood. Your clothes do all the fighting for you, otherwise you are not fit to be called a Sapeur.
They all sound fine by me! The one chap below, I found an image of months ago, had cut out & fixed to his own board so standing next to a cigarette box, holds his posture with as much elegance as any man I've ever come across along with a self assured knowledge that his "reason for being" is unashamedly being fulfilled.

It is with hope that I may once again steer myself  toward  my own Albion, in a manner that could go unnoticed, though still adhere to  personal ideals that will clear the wreckage of my past, making amends & in as gracious manner as possible.