Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweater Weather

My apartment is cold and drafty this evening, and I had to put on one of my favorite sweaters. It’s a navy blue shawl collar cardigan—a hand-me-down from my father. He always wore it in the winter time when he was replacing golf club grips in the drafty workroom at his pro-shop. There are even a few drops of hardened glue (or cement) inside one of the pockets. Sweater weather has begun, and Mr. Peacock is dreaming of new cozy chunky knit cardigan sweater with a shawl collar. Here are some of my favorites on my wish list.

This soft, chunky cable knit cardigan (a blend of cashmere, lambs wool, nylon and angora) is at the top of my list. I love the oversize buttons—they give this “traditional” sweater a modern twist.

Mr. Peacock adores this colorful reverse stitch knit cardigan with corozo nut buttons. Turning a traditional fairisle sweater inside out inspired this colorful pattern. This colorful hand knit sweater would be very welcoming on a gray winter day.

This chunky black and brown sweater looks like it has a shawl collar, but is actually a hoodie. How cozy would that be on cold and windy autumn days? It also comes in a gray and brown version.

This dark gray "grandpa sweater" has a shawl collar and pockets just like grandpa’s, but an off-center zipper front modernizes this beauty. It's also available in a light gray.

I love the color combination of this beige wool sweater adorned with swallows and folkloric design. The wrong colorway could have easily made this sweater a bit kitschy, but this palette shines with sophistication and personality.

This black and white wool cardigan looks like a beautiful handmade vintage sweater. The chunky zipper pull makes it modern and functional.

You don’t’ have to herd reindeer to appreciate the pattern on this contemporary cardigan in tones of gray.

Mr. Peacock always looks forward to sweater weather and wearing sweaters, m
aybe it’s due to growing up in a cold climate with snow. What are you looking forward to wearing this autumn?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Emile Norman Treasure

Last April, Mr. Peacock wrote about the extraordinary artist Emile Norman. I received a very lovely email from a reader whose husband was good friends with Mr. Norman, and had commissioned an elephant and cherub (which is in the likeness of Emile’s partner Brooks).

Here's a shot of the stylized elephant by Emile Norman. Thanks Sue for sharing your wonderful Emile Norman treasure!

A sad footnote:
Mr. Peacock was saddened to hear the news that Emile Norman passed away of natural causes last Thursday. Actress Jill Ekenberry, who produced (along with her husband actor Michael Tucker) the documentary, Emile Norman: By His Own Design, told the Los Angeles Times, that “he designed his life as well as his art.” Michael Tucker said, "The way he looked at his art and work was a calling. It flowed through him. He was the purest artist I ever met." Thank you Emile Norman for your inspiration to be true to yourself!

Will Ferrell's take on health care...

Will Ferrell's film, Land of the Lost, fell short of expectations earlier this year, but this satire on the health care reform makes up for it. Thanks Will Ferrell!


Friday, September 25, 2009

From the journals of Mr. Peacock...

I’ve kept journals, or should I say “scrapbooks” for decades now (yikes-time flies). They’re not really a journal in the traditional sense, but more of a visual diary of my life. I've always been obsessed with assorted bits of ephemera and magazines (I work at them and buy them). I admit I can be somewhat of a pack rat too. As I’ve mentioned before, I was always a gypsy and moved around many times in my life.

One day I started gluing everything that I liked into my sketchbook, and I’ve never looked back. When I would move—all I had to worry about was my journals, instead of stacks of magazines and boxes of ephemera.

I know many people enjoy keeping similar cut & paste journals. I find the actual act of clipping, gluing and collaging to be very therapeutic and relaxing. I try do constantly maintain my journals, but sometimes I get behind on keeping up with my “paperwork.” In fact, right now I’m behind a few months, but I’ll eventually take a weekend and plow through my “stuff” and get caught up. Over the years I’ve even had some intimate friends become frustrated, and almost jealous, at the time I spent maintaining my journals.

My journals have been like a close friend to me over the years. I turn to them when I want to escape, to be cheered up, or if I need a bit of inspiration. I can tell what year I created a journal just my thumbing through the pages. It always takes me right back to where I was at that moment in my life—much like a written diary for some folks.

I’ve purchased the same size hard-covered 10.5” x 13.5” Canson hard cover sketch books year after year. I've had some red covers & white covers, but most are black covered.

I always put a “title” on the front of each journal that sums up my mind-set at the time. I’m not too precious when I work on my journals, no straight lines or perfect layouts here; they’re just for me. I can tell you I've gone through cases and cases of glue-sticks over the years.

The IKEA Billy Bookcases in my living room nicely store some of my journals ( above-on the bottom two shelves behind my sofa).

I’ve never tallied up how many journals I’ve filled over the years. They’ve been in storage, lost, stolen, and regrettably I sold some journals.

Above: I like the way some of my "vintage" journals are getting a patina and discoloring from time.

Almost 20 years ago, I sold some to a shop owner that purchased rare books and magazines. When you entered the shop you had to check your bag. The shop owner peeked at my journal as I shopped. When I retrieved my bag he asked me what my book was and I said it’s my “journal.” He asked if I had anymore and said he would be interested in buying them. I told him I didn’t sell my journals. However, when I needed some quick cash I took a few back and sold them. I don’t even remember how much I got for them, but in hindsight I wish I had kept them.

I'll probably continue to keep making my journals until I die, although, unfortunately I'll run out of space to keep them. Many pages of my journals are naughty, and I can't share them here, but over time I will share some more "G" rated pages from my journals (and photograph them better).

Do you keep a diary, journal or scrapbook of your life and thoughts? Or do you have a ritual that inspires you at the uninspired lulls in life? Whatever you do, I hope you have an inspiring weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Peacock in Brooklyn…

Photograph by

Dennis Cahlo is a Brooklyn based musician and aspiring composer, originally hailing from Staten Island. He chronicles his quest for great menswear and the importance of well-fitting clothing on his blog, Made To Measure. He candidly shares his experiences about getting his clothing tailored and purchasing bespoke pieces.

This well-groomed and elegant peacock favors classic menswear pieces in navy blue and grays. Underneath his well-tailored wardrobe Dennis is building a collection of colorful tattoos. His goal is to have full sleeves in the next 2 years. His latest tattoo is a Geisha pin-up girl.

Mr. Peacock: When did you acquire your first made to measure item in your wardrobe?
Dennis: Believe it or not, my first made to measure suit was done by Indochino about a year ago (above and below photo show custom suit details). After that, I find it very tough to go back to off the rack. Although Hugo Boss is one of the only OTR that usually fits me perfectly straight away.

How would you describe your own style?
Cary Grant having lunch with the male cast of Quadrophenia—with a quick visit from James Dean at the table.

Above: Dennis looking classically elegant in his tux with his custom shirt from Alexander West. As Dennis summed it up, "Once I put it on, I had the full realization of just how good the fit is. Every part hugged by body perfectly and there was no need at all for tailoring."

How old were you when you realized you were a peacock?
Growing up Roman Catholic I had to have a communion. My mother bought me my first all white suit and I absolutely fell in love with the idea of getting "dressed up." I stared in the mirror for a while thinking of how great the suit looked and how confident I felt in it. It was all very natural; like a second skin.

Above: Lean and mean in his tailored suits...and take note of his sliver of a pocket square—perfectly folded.

Do you have a favorite menswear designer or brand?
I tend not to discriminate. To me, it's never about the brand or designer. It's all about the fit. I can find stuff from a “no name” that fits better than Prada...or have it tailored perfectly.

Do you have a particular item of clothing you're obsessed with?
As a matter of fact, yes. Anything in navy blue! I have 3 navy jackets, 3 navy suits, navy slacks and many pairs of navy socks. I don't know what it is about that color but it makes me feel so good when I wear it and it can be combined with many patterns as well as solids.

What's your favorite item in your wardrobe
My favorite item (at the moment) is a pair of DKNY cap toe oxfords I found for $30. They go with virtually everything in my wardrobe from jeans to a tuxedo.

Above left to right: His favorite cap toe oxfords; $89.99 beauties from Alfani; and a bargain pair of vintage wingtips.

Do you wear vintage clothes or only "new" clothes?
I definitely like to marry both elements into my wardrobe. New is great, but sometimes you come across an old pair of Cordovan shoes sitting in a junk shop/thrift store that may just need a resoling, shine, and some shoe trees to bring them back to life. Those $8 treasures with an extra $14 investment are sometimes more gratifying than anything you can find new.

Style icon?
David Bowie (below: a dapper Bowie—then and now, with his wife Iman).

Tote bag, satchel or messenger bag?

What would be your dream purchase right now?
I would buy a Townhouse in Brooklyn.

Above: A peek inside the tidy and organized summer wardrobe of Mr. Cahlo.

Any sartorial disasters you can share?
I used to have blue hair, braces, and wear over sized clothing in High School. I was a total disaster, but at least I was punk rock.

Any menswear trends you adore? or abhor?
Adore: Fitted suits, shirts, and slim line shoes. 
 Abhor: Flip flops!

Above left to right: Dennis casually attired, yet still looking very polished, wearing boots and a leather jacket—a gift from his girlfriend; and a $30 washed cotton jacket from Urban Outfitters.

What city has the best-dressed men?
It's a toss up between Rome and Milan.

What are your favorite fashion magazines?

I'm very middle of the road with this. I subscribe to GQ, Details, and I am very fond of Menswear Magazine (by Fairchild—note from Mr. Peacock...does anyone know if they're still publishing this title?) when I can find it. I read more blogs these days just because the opinions are more real and not sponsored. I love GQ but how many men can honestly afford a $500 pair of cashmere socks?

My father only wore black or gray cashmere socks! They're definitely a luxury item Mr. Peacock can't justify. What are you looking forward to wearing this autumn?

This season I am very into heavy tweeds, muted colors, work boots, medium weight suits, and long over coats...and my favorite wool-driving cap!

Any style advice for fellow peacocks?
a. Define yourself by yourself.

b. Do not fall into trends, but stay current.

c. Always go for the proper fit. (ie...If you squeeze into a suit too small, you will look like a sausage).

Above: Dennis toasts made to measure menswear (it's water, not vodka).

Mr. Peacock couldn’t agree more about proper fitting clothes for any gentleman's wardrobe—and the importance of a good tailor, and finding brands that suit your body type. I also admire Dennis’s tenacity at consistently upgrading and editing his wardrobe—and his commitment to amassing his tattoos. Stop by Made To Measure and take a peek at his advice (and trial and tribulations) with bespoke clothing and tailoring. Thanks Dennis!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Color My World...

(click image above to enlarge)
Mr. Peacock loves colors! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of black & white, but colors can really influence your mood—they make me happy. Peacock icon David Hockney always uses color to accentuate and enliven his artwork. These brightly colored goodies are homage to Mr. Hockney and his exuberant use of color throughout his career.

1) You can receive a subscription of 25 different colors each month for 20 months—for a total of 500 different colored pencils. Each color has a name and story—there’s even a color called “Peacock”! I would love to see what David Hockney would create with these 500 colored beauties.

2) This brightly striped wool blend sweater with muted bands of heathered grays could have been inspired from one David Hockney’s “jumpers” from the 1960’s.

3) Mr. Peacock stayed at a lovely hotel in London and this beautifully woven "travel thread kit" was in my room. I was so enamored by the beauty of this woven band, that I’ve never pulled a single thread from this kaleidoscope of threads. I use it as an inspirational talisman when I need a jolt of color creativity. You don’t have to stay at hotel to get your own, you can order your own Travel Thread Kit here.

4) When I was about 7 years old, I was obsessed with the Lillian Vernon catalog. For those of you unfamiliar with Lillian Vernon, it was a mail order catalog (more like an oversize pamphlet) with very inexpensive gifts and “useful” items for your home. Many of the items could be personalized with your monogram or name. I convinced my mother that I needed the pencils with my name printed in gold ink for school—and she ordered a set for me. I was very proud of my personalized pencils—I didn’t even want to use them. You can still order a set of 12 personalized pencils from Lillian Vernon for only $4.98.

5) It’s not always easy to find good men’s socks that come in colors beyond black, gray, navy or white—but Happy Socks has every color for men and women. They make me think of David Hockney’s mismatched colored socks.

6) I couldn’t show colors without showing a necktie. This tie’s palette of colors look like they were taken from a Hockney painting from when he lived in Los Angeles. I like the bright stripes of yellow, pink, red and green contrasting with the navy on this elegant tie.

7) A peacock’s wardrobe isn’t complete without some sort of striped wool scarf. This scarf would brighten even the grayest winter day.

8) You could use your colored pencils and make a drawing inside each these 12 bright colored and patterned blank notecards—and mail them to your friends.

9) The colors of these rugby shirts remind me of something Mr. Hockney would have worn in the 1980’s. You can wear one now. The red rugby has a number 7 on the back, and the mustard striped rugby has a number 12.

What colors makes you happy?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eccentric Talent—David Hockney

The weather in San Francisco has been up & down lately. Last week we had a heatwave, and then this past weekend we had extreme lighting and thunder. It was a bit gloomy on Sunday and it made Mr. Peacock long for the color and exuberance of the artist David Hockney.

As a design student in the late 80's, Mr. Peacock had a workshop with Mr. Hockney at the International Design Conference in Aspen (above). There were no more than 20 of us (all students) sitting in a circle with Mr. Hockney. Design icon Mr. Milton Glaser moderated and hosted this 2-hour talk session held outdoors in the round.

Above: "Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy", 1970-1, acrylic on canvas. David Hockney painted this portrait of his friends the fashion designer Ossie Clark and fabric designer Celia Birtwell. She was a model and muse for Mr. Hockney for many years.

Mr. Hockney was talking very softly and I couldn’t focus on what he was saying—because I couldn’t take my eyes off him! I guess I was a bit star-struck sitting just a few feet from this eccentric and talented icon.

Above: "Peter getting out of Nick's pool", 1966, acrylic on canvas.

Mr. Peacock was staring at every detail of his attire from his bleached hair to his mismatched brightly solid colored socks with suede Bucks. His appearance seemed a bit disheveled at first glance, but at a closer look he was very elegant and put together—like an slightly wrinkled tuxedo shirt.

Above: "Self portrait with Blue Guitar", 1977 (you can get a poster here).

Mr. Hockney chatted with me and my pal Allison for a moment—and kindly signed a book for me. The book is nowhere to be found at this moment (I also had more photos that I stuck inside the book, for safe keeping). I’ll post them later, if I find them. Allison and I felt liked we had touched greatness—and were so inspired!

This is what Mr. Hockney looked like when I heard him speak. His blond hair had a few cowlicks poking about, with large eyeglasses framing his sparkling blue eyes.

Mr. Peacock loves this photograph by artist Peter Schlesinger (Hockney's longtime friend) of Cecil Beaton and David Hockney—notice the mismatched colored socks!

Mr. Hockney’s art pals included Andy Warhol (above 1976)—and peacock Derek Jarman.

He was born in England in 1937. The allure and lifestyle of California drew him to Los Angeles in the 1960’s—eventually moving there in the 1970's.

David Hockney starred in this quasi-documentary, A Big Splash, in 1974 after his break-up with Peter Schlesinger. He plays a painter who’s lost his will to create after an emotional breakup.

David Hockey’s signature look of blond hair, large glasses, and bright colors and patterns (stripes, polka dots) is as iconic and colorful as his large body of artwork.

Another Man magazine paid homage to David Hockney’s iconic style using model and stylist extraordinaire, Gary Card, wearing the highlights from the Spring 2008 mens collections.

Mr. Peacock loved the layout, but would have liked to have seen a lit cigarette somewhere (he still smokes), and some mismatched colored socks...and maybe a dachshund! He did his series on his beloved dogs.

David Hockney has returned to England and his new work is as dynamic as ever—graphic landscapes (working on a piece above).

Sadly after he painted this painting...

...the trees were cleared.

In 2008 he donated his largest painting to date, "Bigger Trees near Warner" (40 ft x 15ft), to the Tate.This amazing painting is comprised of fifty canvas panels, and was created outdoors, en plein air.

David Hockney is still a dapper gentleman with a sparkle in his blue eyes. Mr. Peacock admires the polka dot pocket square he's wearing above.

Above: At the Tate, he answered fan questions sent in on Twitter.

What impresses Mr. Peacock most about this talented 72 year old gentleman peacock is his enduring desire and commitment to create art, learn (and use) new technologies, and his general curiosity and love of life. Thank you Mr. Hockney!