Friday, January 30, 2009

Going Bananas

I don’t know about you, but Mr. Peacock has been going bananas from all of the mayhem going on in the world. I’ve put a moratorium on watching or reading any least for this weekend. In the meantime, I’m going to make one of my favorite stress busters—banana bread.

As a child, I was hooked into the advertising campaign for Sara Lee baked goods, “…nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”
Sara Lee wasn’t on our grocery list, because my mom didn't buy many processed foods—we never had soda pop in our house. I kept asking my mom to let me try Sara Lee (those ads sure do work on kids). She finally relented, but the next dilemma was what product to try, since I’m allergic to all legumes (chocolate, nuts, coconut, et all). She noticed their Banana Cake and read the ingredients and it didn’t have any nuts, so she bought one. Mmmm, and I loved it…dense banana cake with a cream cheese frosting. I think I devoured the whole cake in a couple days. Maybe that's why I wore husky jeans at this age.

About a decade ago, I was feeling nostalgic and purchased a Sara Lee Banana Cake. What a disappointment! It was nothing like I remembered. It was actually disgusting—too sweet and really not much banana flavor. I guess my taste buds changed or the Sara Lee Corporation changed (cheapened) their recipe—probably both. And I don’t think they even make the Banana Cake anymore.

You can justify eating a slice of this Yummy Banana Bread because of the healthiness of the bananas and buckwheat flour—which you can purchase very inexpensively at a market that has a bulk section, like Rainbow Grocery or Whole Foods Market. I guess you could omit the buckwheat flour, but it really adds a unique flavor, nice texture and bit of color to the bread, which is what differentiates this recipe from your run of the mill banana breads. This bread tastes almost like my memory of the Sara Lee Banana Cake...only better!

Yummy Banana Bread
Makes 2 loaves—4.5” x 8.5”
Adapted from the wonderful cookbook, Brunch, featuring the recipes of the Five Points Restaurant in New York. Buy a copy here.

3-5 overripe bananas (about a cup of mashed bananas) save 1 banana (for the top)
½ cup buttermilk (I used lowfat)
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour, but you can use all purpose)
½ cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons of butter softened at room temperature (1 ½ sticks)
½ cups sugar (I used a little less than that)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons raw sugar (for the top)

1) Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bread pans, set aside until step #5.

2) Mash bananas in bowl with the back of a fork, it doesn’t have to be super smooth. You’ll want about a cup of banana. Make sure to save a banana for the top of the bread! Stir in the buttermilk with the mashed bananas and set aside.

3) Place flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix well.

4) In another larger bowl, cream the room temperature butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla and one egg at a time until well incorporated. Add half the dry ingredients and mix in. Add half the banana/buttermilk mixture and mix in. Repeat until everything is incorporated, but don’t over mix it!

5) Divide the batter and spoon equally into the 2 prepared bread pans. Smooth out the top of the batter. Peel the reserved banana and carefully slice lengthwise into about 5 thin slices. It’s okay if the slices break apart a bit. Divide the slices equally and place on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the raw sugar generously over the bananas.

6) Bake at 350 degrees on the middle rack of your oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, depending on your stove. Test for doneness—knife inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean. Let it cool for about an hour. This cake is best at room temperature and will keep a day or two.

The raw sugar sprinkled on the banana becomes caramelized during the baking process and adds a rich banana flavor to the moist and dense crumb of this Yummy Banana Bread. Use the least ripest banana for the top, because it will be easier to thinly slice, and use the darkest skinned (the darker the skin, the deeper the banana flavor) bananas for the batter. Remember it makes 2 small loaves, so you can enjoy one now and freeze one for later. Make a batch of this Yummy Banana Bread this weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Keepin' it Surreal

Salvador Dali left us 20 years ago this month. To honor his memory, Mr. Peacock is keepin’ it surreal with some inspirational goodies for your home. Every home, whether it's modern or traditional in style, needs a bit of whimsy... but remember a little dab will do you.
(click image to enlarge)

1) This sweet Kiss Seat, by Heller, is made from a soft molded polymer resin and is perfect for both indoors or outdoors. It’s inspired by Salvador Dali’s famous lipstick-red Mae West sofa from 1936. You can order a one seater Kiss here. It’s also available as a two seater Bocca loveseat here.

2) The warm golden glow from this Jeeves bowler hat pendant light would make any dandy swoon. Mr. Peacock wants a pair for his bedroom. This dapper pendant light is also available in a top hat version, with a silver interior. More information here.

3) Who doesn’t need an extra hand around the house? This resin Grab Hand Hook is perfect for holding house keys and wandering USB flash drives. Mr. Peacock has a similar porcelain hand in our entry way, and that’s exactly what we use it for. Buy one here.

4) Whenever I’m in the kitchen of my chef friend, Sharon, my eye always focuses on her enchanting lifelike artichoke candle. It was given to her as a gift and she "didn’t know what the hell to do with it," so it graciously sits in her kitchen. This Artichoke Candle would add a bit of whimsy to your home, wherever you place it. Plus, you’ll be able to use it whenever the electricity goes out. Order one or two here.

5) This chic Hand/Foot Coffee Table with a glass top is by one of Mr. Peacock’s favorite artists—Pedro Friedberg. This one of kind beauty is available here. Mr. Friedberg also designed a Hand/Foot occassional table—take a peek here.

6) Leave it to Vivienne Westwood to design a beautiful trompe-l'oeil rug of "trash" (labels, bits of boxes, etc…). The palette of this Wool Rubbish Rug, taupe with pops of red and yellow, would add a warmth and coziness to any room. Mr. Peacock wants one for his entry way. More information here.

7) Who doesn’t need a giant black foot (more than a yard and half long) in their home? This iconic Foot Sculpture is not upholstered, but covered in a kind of polyurethane varnish which is sprayed onto the piece of foam mold. You can sit on it, but it’s really meant to be a dramatic oversized objet des art. It was designed by, Gaetano Pesce, in the late 1960’s as part of the “UP” series (UP 7) for the furniture company C&B Italia (later B&B Italia). You can contact B&B Italia for more information.

8) This life size postmarked French Envelope Tray (3” x 4.75”) would be perfect for catching loose change or keeping stamps for real mail. It’s a bargain for only $16.00. Order one here.

Be sure and take at peek Mr. Peacock’s postings on peacock icons, Piero Fornasetti and Tony Duquette, for more surreal objects and furniture ideas for your home.

Adieu to Domino

The rumors are true, as everyone found out yesterday—Domino magazine is being shut down. March will be the last issue of this shelter (home) magazine and the website will also cease to exist. One of my favorites, House & Garden, closed in 2007, as did Blueprint. Since then Cottage Living, Country Home, Country Living, Home, O at Home, Vogue Living have all shut down...and now Domino.

Mr. Peacock loves magazines and grew up on magazines. My mother got me hooked at an early age. She also loved magazines and always kept a spare magazine in her glove compartment of her car—just in case, usually a Vanity Fair. It really saddens me to watch so many magazines close. It was always such a treat to buy a magazine and savor it over the month. I guess times have changed, due to the internet. People no longer have the same relationship to magazines as they used to.

I worked in the art department of many magazines for different publishing houses for about 10 years—including Condé Nast. My heart goes out to all of the hardworking souls who stayed late and gave their blood, sweat and tears (yes, there’s tears every issue) to make sure that each magazine issue always hit the newsstands on time—who are now looking for another job.

Grace Bonney, at Design Sponge, summed it up wonderfully on a comment she made under her Domino posting yesterday. She basically said that publishing houses need to change the way they produce magazines. To paraphrase Grace, “...cut staffs down to smaller sized, do away with bloated salaries, cut photo budgets’s time for the publishing industry to get lean and mean.” I agree! They need to rethink how a magazine is produced, and how it relates to the website.

Unfortunately, once a magazine is shut down it’s usually over. But never say never, House & Garden was shut down in the 1980’s (as HG) and relaunched in the 1990’s, only to be shut down again in 2007. Maybe once the publishing industry gets the balance right between their web content and the printed magazine, one of the closed shelter titles could be relaunched down the road. Mr. Peacock hopes that a new, and even better, shelter magazine will rise from these economic ashes and launch in the next year or maybe two. Stranger things have happened…

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Peacock in New York City

Bart Boehlert is a writer in New York City with a specialty in fashion, style, and the art of living. He has worked for W magazine, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, and is now writing projects for fashion designer Elie Tahari and fashion PR firm LaForce + Stevens, and a luxury car campaign for CondeNet. His blog, Bart Boehlert’s Beautiful Things, covers clothes, art, style, travels—all of his favorites.

Mr. Peacock: How would you describe your style?
Bart Boehlert: Kind of a mix of classic American and Edwardian vintage and bohemian hippie. There is a sense of ease.

MP: What are you wearing in the photo? (see photo above)
White shirt: Barney’s New York
Knit vest: Brooks Brothers
Scarf: Dries Van Noten
Jeans: Levi’s
Shoes: Gucci. Love these Guccis; they lace up on the side.

MP: How old were you when you realized you were a peacock?
BB: I have a photograph of my sixth grade graduation and I remember what I was wearing very distinctly—a cotton khaki double-breasted jacket, olive green pants and an olive green Rooster print tie. (see photo below)

Mr. Peacock loves the white carnation in the lapel. How dapper is that for your 6th grade graduation?!

MP: Where did you grow up?
New Hartford, New York, upstate, a suburb of Utica.

MP: Do you remember a favorite clothing item from when you growing up?
BB: I had a pair of gladiator-style sandals from Nichol’s department store.

MP: What's your favorite item in your wardrobe?
BB: Currently, this Dries Van Noten scarf that I bought in Paris.

MP: Do you have a favorite menswear designer or brand?
BB: Paul Smith and Etro, I go for the bohemians.

MP: Do you have a particular item of clothing you're obsessed with?
BB: I like shoes and scarves. You can wear a white shirt and jeans but if you have on beautiful shoes then you have style. I love textiles, and a small scarf at the neck offers a nice way to add a handsome fabric.

MP: Do you wear vintage clothes or only "new" clothes?
BB: Clothes are new, and I have a few vintage scarves.

MP: Who is your ultimate style icon?
BB: Cary Grant because everything he wore was perfect and elegant and natural, and that’s hard to achieve. (see photo below)

The impeccably dressed Mr. Cary Grant, holding a lavender aster which will presumably be placed in the lapel of his jacket. You can buy similar cuff links here.

BB: Gerald Murphy, the American expat who lived with his family on the French Riviera in the 1920’s, because he turned his style and the way he lived into a work of art. (see photo below)

Gerald and Sara Murphy posing somewhere in the French Riviera. You can get a shirt similar to Gerald's here.

MP: Who or what has influenced your style?
BB: Looking at art and nineteenth century paintings, and looking at books on fashion history.

MP: How has your style changed or evolved over the years?
BB: I am more interested in styles that go back in time—collar band shirts, tuxedo pants, French cuffs, a silk scarf.

MP: What city has the best dressed men?
BB: Paris.

MP: Any trends you adore? Abhor?
BB: I personally am not a fan of the new big white sunglasses for men. Also, men’s black square-toed shoes are not a good look.

MP: Do you carry some sort of totebag/messenger bag?
BB: I have a great brown canvas messenger bag with an orange lining from J.Crew.

MP: Your blog is called Bart Boehlert’s Beautiful Things; how can someone make the world more beautiful?
BB: Consider the things around you—your clothes, your home, your garden, and think, “How can this be more beautiful? What adjustments or changes can I make here?” On a larger scale, I’m a big believer in manners, kindness, and tolerance.

In addition to his "Beautiful Things" blog, Bart Boehlert also has a blog with samples of his writing. Take a look here. Mr. Peacock especially enjoyed Bart's profiles on style legend, Polly Mellen, and his tribute to the late Pat Buckley. Thanks Bart!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Jazz Age

Mr. Peacock’s parents sometimes had their differences, but one thing they didn’t disagree on was their love of blues and jazz music. Most of my friends grew up with their parents listening to The Beatles (my older sisters played them though) or The Rolling Stones, not mine, they listened to the blues and jazz. I occasionally will hear a blues or jazz song and not know who the artist is, but I know the song because it’s buried in my brain somewhere from hearing it at a young age. Other kids' parents in my neighborhood would go square dancing or go to church potlucks when they went out socially, but not my mom and dad—they would frequently go to night clubs and private parties to hear the blues and jazz music.

I occasionally accompanied my parents, as a child, to hear live jazz, usually when my older sisters or a babysitter weren’t available—and always at a supper club type of venue. My mom would dress me up in a little suit, usually with a bow tie. She would instruct me before we got to the night club to be quite and sit still, and be polite if anyone spoke to me. My dad didn't like me chattering at the table, especially when the music was playing. My parents would order a fancy dinner and the dishes usually had some fancy monogram or logo on them. My mom would drink daiquiris, while my dad would drink dry martinis. I was allowed to order as many Batman or Shirley Temple cocktails as I wanted. The cocktail waitress would usually bring me an extra dish of maraschino cherries. I remember people (friends, golfing buddies or the band musicians) always coming over to our table to greet my parents and they usually would comment on how cute I looked in my outfit. It was very boring for me at the time to sit still and watch my parents talk and party with their jazz friends, while the bands and singers performed. I still have a problem sitting still and not talking for any extended amount of time—which drives my partner crazy, just as it did my father. I think it’s because I’m a Gemini.

My parents were a stylish couple. As a small child I remember thinking my mom looked like some glamorous movie star when she was dressed up. She’d usually wear a black cocktail dress with some very minimal diamond or pearl jewelry. She had (and still has) amazing porcelain skin and luxuriously thick dark hair and would only wear a little mascara and red lipstick for make-up. My dad would dress in his usual palette of black and gray.

One of my father's favorite blues/jazz performers was Dinah Washington, who tragically died at age 39, from an accidental overdose of diet pills. As a child I would sit on the floor next to my dad while he polished his alligator shoes—listening to Dinah Washington records. He had seen her perform live and owned many of her records.

My parents were friends with jazz clarinettist, Peanuts Hucko, and his wife, singer Louise Tobin (who had been a big band singer, previously married to big band legend, Harry James). My parents would frequently socialize and party with Peanuts and Louise at their jazz niteclub, The Navarre.

Here’s a clip of jazz legend Sarah Vaughn. I remember how excited my mother was when she met Miss Vaughn in the early 1970’s.

This clip is from the movie Lady Sings the Blues. My mother loved Billie Holiday and one of her favorite films was Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross—which was based on the life of Miss Holiday. My mom wore that record out, playing her favorite Billy song—Good Morning Heartache. She also had a huge crush on Billy Dee Williams.

Here’s the trailer form the recent documentary of one of my favorite jazz performers, Anita O’Day.

My parents had many fun stories about their night club and party experiences, but it didn’t interest me as a child or teenager hearing about old jazz musicians. I now wish I remembered (or had written down) some of those crazy jazz stories—the few I remember are to provocative to repeat here. I thank my parents for instilling in me at an early age a love of blues, jazz and live music.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Visual Genius of Piero Fornasetti

Piero Fornasetti was a regal and dapper peacock born in Milan, Italy in 1913. He was an artist and visionary who loved illusion and decoration. He collaborated with various architects and designers on everything from furniture to dishes.

Above left to right: Roman Foot umbrella stand, wallpaper, vintage umbrella stands, vintage and new lacquer trays, Adam (of Adam & Eve) plates—6 shown from a set of 12.

Mr. Fornasetti’s production of everyday objects and furniture is probably one of the largest of the 20th century—over 11,000 items.

Above left: Mr. Fornasetti standing in front of a wall of Themes & Variations plates. Start collecting the plates here.
Above right: Fornasetti wallpaper inspired by the wall of Julia plates. Order some here.

Most people are familiar with Mr. Fornasetti’s enigmatic face of Julia, part of his Themes & Variations series. He supposedly found this classic female face while glancing through a 19th century magazine and created 500 variations of her features on different everyday objects, including the eponymous plate.

Detour Design recently launched the first of three titles, of a limited edition animated collection (see sample above) interpreting Fornasetti's Themes & Variations. There are 7 tracks of purely visual animation that loop or play individually on your flat screen television. Each Blue-ray disc, in this edition of 3,000, comes in an elegant lacquer box with a hand numbered, engraved card. Buy one of these compelling animated artworks here.

Mr. Fornasetti was intrigued by various themes including: hands, nature, playing cards, man, woman, the moon and sun.

Above left to right: Magazine cover illustration, sun chair in white, sole fabric, sun cube, a sun chair in gold.

Above left to right: The printed word as a theme from the 1950's—table-cloth, napkins, plates, cutlery, even the flowers pretend to be newspaper, porcelain paperweights imitating hats made of newspaper.

Mr. Fornasetti created thousands of items including: lamps, screens, fabrics, pillows, plates and dishes, furniture, ashtrays, scarves, umbrella stands and many other objects.

Mr. Peacock prefers the original vintage Fornasetti items, however, there are many authentic licensed reproductions available too. Here are a few of Mr. Peacock’s favorites:

Mr. Fornasetti collaborated with Gio Ponti (another design genius) on decorating many furniture pieces. Mr. Peacock’s dream Fornasetti piece would be one of his Trumeau Chests—vintage or reproduction, it doesn’t matter! I love Fornasetti’s two-dimensional architectural interpretations on these three dimensional Ponti pieces! Buy one here.

This Fornasetti Rug and Tapestry (above left to right) would be brilliant in Mr. Peacock’s living room. More information here.

Art critic, Philippe Daverio, tours Piero Fornasetti’s Milan studio/apartment (originally designed in 1930) and chats with his son, gentleman peacock-Barnaba Fornasetti. The video is in Italian. Even if you don't understand Italian, this video tour offers a rare visual glimpse into the world of Fornasetti. Barnaba is perpetuating the Fornasetti workshop tradition, continuing the production and reviving the most popular pieces, creating new ones, renewing hand crafted production, in collaboration with industries which manufacture under license.

Above left to right: Decorative panel from the 1950's, a self portrait, a phallus drawing from a collection of around 100 from 1945.

Mr. Piero Fornesetti is a peacock icon of formidable talent who brought his dreams and creative genius through the design and decoration of everyday objects. There are numerous Fornasetti books available here. His timeless works of art are a celebration of fantasy, illusion, and the imagination. Thank you Piero Fornasetti!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mood Indigo

Is the world making you feel blue?
Don't fret, we have a new President and spring will be here before we know it. In the meantime these indigo blue goodies will give you some inspiration:

(click image to enlarge)

1) This indigo beauty is made in the same factories as the famous Goyard luggage. It’s made with premium Japanese Denim and saddle leather and would be a very chic weekend bag for quick getaways or even just a short trip to the gym. For more information click here.

2) These two-tone blue and white socks are reminiscent of a Missoni sweater. It’s very fashionable now for men to bare their ankles, but Mr. Peacock still appreciates a nice pair of socks. Get a pair for yourself here.

3) Men have an unlimited choice of black and brown belts, but how often do you see a nice blue belt? Leave it to Marc Jacobs to offer this economical ($32) navy blue leather belt. This belt is also available in “natural”—which would also look great with jeans. More information here.

4) Mr. Peacock is swooning over the authentic 1930’s retro styling of this Sugar Cane Work Shirt made with premium 9-ounce Japanese selvage denim. It’s all in the details and this shirt has plenty of exquisite details including: a double-button tab collar, triple stitched seams, ventilators at armpit and upper shoulders, octagon-shape bakelite-style buttons, and a red selvage edge on the darts at shirttail seams. It sure beats any of the faux retro styling offered by chain apparel stores—and the price is a true value for a shirt of this quality. Order information here.

5) The humble and iconic blue and white paisley bandana is elevated to a new level with this silk version by Rogue’s Gallery. It would look fantastic, worn casually around your neck with your workers shirt (see item #4). It’s on sale too—buy one here. If you prefer one without any words or branding, you can get a similar one here. Or you can stick with the real deal here. Careful, don't style it like a Crips.

6) Mr. Peacock would be tap dancing on the stars in these Lanvin shoes made with dark denim and black leather. These denim & leather oxfords would look equally nice paired with more denim (ie... jeans) or with a nice pair of dress slacks. Order a pair or two (Mr. Peacock wears a size 10) here.

7) This pair of enameled black & white magpie pin badges aren’t colored blue, however, these little birds would look fantastic pinned on an indigo denim jacket. Order a pair here.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy 95th Birthday Aunt No-No

My maternal grandmother’s sister, Mildred, turns 95 years old today. Aunt Mildred has outlived her sister, her spouses, her friends and all of her cousins—and she's also outlived her own children and spouse's too. Aunt Mildred currently lives on a farm in Ohio, where she’s lived on and off throughout most of her life. She's still sharp as a tack, but she can no longer manage to live there by herself and it's very lonely too.

Above: A 1950's holiday card with a photo of the farm in Ohio.

Mildred's granddaughter, Cherie, and her husband, have a very large house on 4 acres, so they're moving Mildred to live with them at their place, where she will have her own entire floor in their house. My cousins are going to sell the farm, which has been in the family for generations.

Above, left to right: Aunt Mildred in the 1930's, Mr. Peacock (wearing a jacket in black watch plaid with a red bow tie ) with my mother and Aunt Mildred in the late 1960's.

Aunt Mildred was living out West for a while when Mr. Peacock was a toddler and would babysit me—to help out my mom. I wasn’t really a bratty child, but being a Gemini, I was a handful of constant energy and curiosity. I wanted to taste, try and touch everything I could get my little hands on—and I still do. I had my stomach pumped after “trying” a bottle of pills, my sister Carmella watched me eat a grasshopper once and I’ve had too many stitches and scars to even mention here on this blog. To top it all off, I was like the “boy in the plastic bubble” as a child and allergic to almost everything—animals, chocolate, grass, et all. So babysitting me wasn’t always a simple matter. Aunt Mildred is a very calm, petite and elegant person—and she's had the same basic look and style for at least 50 years (whereas my grandmother always desired to be more hip and change her look with the fashion of the times). Mildred was very crafty too, and always had her projects displayed in her house and would tuck little porcelain animals inside the pots of all of her houseplants. All of these "things" were very enticing to Mr. Peacock. Aunt Mildred would never raise her voice at me—she would calmly say to me, “No, no…” If she saw me trying to climb on something she would say, “No, no.” If I would try to get my little hands on her porcelain animals, “No, no…” “No, no…” “No, no…”

Above: This t-shirt illustrates what Mr. Peacock constantly heard from his aunt, when she would babysit, no.

One time when my mother came to retrieve me and go home, she told me to say goodbye to Aunt Mildred and I blurted out, “Bye Aunt No-No.” They both laughed and it became her nickname from that day on. I continued to call her Aunt No-No until I was an adult. We recently chatted on the telephone and she asked me if I remembered what I used to call her as a child...and I immediately said, “No, no…” and we both laughed.
I've received a birthday and holiday card, with a check enclosed from Aunt Mildred—every year since I was a child. So Mr. Peacock would like to wish Aunt No-No a very Happy 95th Birthday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dream Totes

Above: Bottega Veneta promo photo for it's Intrecciato line of woven leather goods, with the German born model, Eugen Bauder

Mr. Peacock has had crush on this men's woven leather tote-bag, by Bottega Veneta. Mind you, the size and style of the tote would be fantastic, however...

I’m usually schlepping an overloaded tote bag on the subway to meet clients and it gets a complete workout. I think I would feel like I was babysitting a small child if I used this chic Intrecciato Tote, and need to keep an eye on it wherever I went. I prefer something more utilitarian that’s durable, but still has a nice silhouette...but in the meantime, I can dream about this Bottega Veneta tote bag.

This Filson tote is a brilliant bag—it’s durable, functional and smart looking. You can buy one with or without a zipper top. Order one here or here.

I would use either of these bags this spring and all the way through summer.
Above left: I love the navy canvas, with brown leather trim, on this bag. The detachable web striped handle adds a preppy touch and the leather bottom adds durability. You can buy one here.
Above right: This blue nylon bag with black leather trim has just enough of a color blast, without being overbearing or too feminine. The bag has a detachable strap, so you can use it as either a tote bag or satchel. More information here.

Above left: This whimsical "Superhero Coal Bag," has quirky line illustrations of superhero gear printed on tarp cloth canvas. Don’t worry, it’s reversible, so if you’re feeling in a solid traditional mood, you can flip it to its solid black side.
Above right: Mr. Peacock has always been fond of L.L. Bean tote bags, especially the styles with zipper tops—you can’t beat them for the price and durability. When you're traveling, you just zip it closed and toss it in the overhead bin. You can buy this olive drab Hunter'sTote Bag here, with either an embroidered deer, trout, turkey, or wood duck.
I love leather totes, especially after you "break them in" and they get a rich patina. These two bags aren't cheap, however, they would last for years.
Above left: Mr. Peacock loves typography, and these embossed numbers on this beautiful leather tote are irresistible. I also like the adjustable buckle-style handle. You can buy one here.
Above right: This clean structured, moss colored tote, by Phillip Lim, comes with a detachable canvas shoulder strap. Click here for more information.

Although, I admitted I prefer a utilitarian tote bag, these two luxury tote bags are tempting.
Above left: This Saint Louis tote, by Goyard, comes with a matching portable small wallet—perfect for glasses or an iPod. It's made for a ladies, however, in a dark color palette, this simple structured tote bag could also be appropriate for a gentleman. Click here for more information.
Above right:
This large flat leather tote, by Rick Owens, is very chic—with its zippered pockets and embossed ridge-like details on the front and back panels. If you really want to splurge, you can buy one here.

This past autumn, Mr. Peacock was using a fine wale cotton corduroy tote. This bag was given to me ages ago and I sewed on a blue jay patch I found at the flea market. It has been a very durable bag...and it’s washable too.

Designer Man, Richard Haines, uses a tote...while Matt Fox, from the Fine and Dandy Shop, prefers a vintage briefcase. What do you use—a tote bag, messenger bag, or briefcase?