Slim Aarons spent his life documenting jet setters, movie stars, and beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. In “The High Life,” the story behind some of his most iconic photographs come to light. We loved it and think you will too.
Women We Love is a chance for us to
interrogate sit down with the women in our lives whose style we love, work we admire, and heart we adore. We give them the celebrated Proust Questionnaire—which dates back to 19th-century Parisian salons—and throw in a few of our own. Grab a coffee, something to take notes with, and get to know the women we love as they ponder love, death, and the meaning of life.
Without further ado, Svenja Frisch.
What is your current state of mind? Enlightened.
When and where were you happiest? Driving home from my favorite beach club (Le club 55) into a setting sun with open windows, sandy feet, wet hair, swimsuit, and blasting “Champagne Supernova” (obviously singing along).
What is your greatest fear? Public transportation.
What is your greatest extravagance? Only one? Silk pajamas.
Which quality do you most desire in a pair of jeans? Absolutely no stretch—stiff as a carton box.
Which quality do you most desire in a man? I love a great cook.
Which quality do you most desire in a woman? Humor.
What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue? Modesty.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impatience.
What is it that you most dislike? Queuing. Aka standing in line, for the American readers.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Loulou de la Falaise (1947-2011). She was best known as Yves Saint Laurent’s muse, confidante, alter ego—and the virtuoso behind all his famously flamboyant accessories: towering fur toques, clanking bronze cuffs, necklaces strung with coral. Adventurousness typified not only her designs but also her approach to the art of living, in homes of distinguished pedigree in England, Ireland, France, and Italy. Her style had nothing to do with money, and everything to do with taste and imagination.
What is your most marked characteristic? My laugh. I giggle a lot, it’s very high pitched.
In which season do you feel most beautiful? Fall…because of the golden autumn light.
What do you dislike most about your appearance? My forehead.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Acquire a better posture.
Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be a better singer and fluent in french.
What is your favorite occupation? Day dreaming.
On what occasion do you lie? When the situation requires a lie.
Who was the last person that gave you flowers? My neighbor.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To be less neurotic, they remind me of characters in a Woody Allen film.
What is your most treasured possession? The rings my parents gave me for my 21st and 25th birthday. I never take them off, not even to shower.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Simultaneously surviving puberty and high-school.
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and our shared appreciation for Rihanna.
Who is your favorite fictional hero? I only have real heroes.
Ok, who is your favorite real hero? My great grandfather.
Where would you like to live? On a small farm nearby Ramatuelle, France with chickens and maybe two goats in my garden. On the weekend, I’d live in pajamas and cook for my friends. We’d have the grandest of summer parties until the early mornings, dancing barefoot to Fleetwood Mac.
How would you like to die? Dancing barefoot in my garden in the south of France.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Maybe a yacht?
What is your motto? Santé!
by Eric Twardzik
Kids can be cruel. A select few possess a preternatural gift for it. In hindsight, the first revelation of this truth was when a student entered the classroom with newly prescribed glasses. In the early 90s, few things could be as socially damning to a prepubescent as a prescription for corrective lenses.
“Pointdexter.” “Geek.” “Milhouse.” And that unimaginative mainstay, “Four Eyes.” Since age 13, Fred’s been in glasses. At 16 he realized he could turn what was a liability into an asset and enthusiastically adopted a bold, tortoise acetate frame. Since then it’s been a 20-year revolving door of thick tortoise specs. They’ve become a signature of sorts, growing larger with each passing year.
The latest sojourn on that pilgrimage is Kirk Originals, a crafter of sunglasses and optical glasses that are designed in London and then painstakingly made by hand in England, Italy or France (three countries that know a thing or two about style).
The company’s DNA goes back to 1919, the year its namesake founders chose to leave behind the garment and button business for the eyewear one. Kirk Originals came about in the 1990s, when a trove of mod-era Kirks were discovered in a trunk.
“It was based on that find,” says Gordon Ritchie, Managing Director of Kirk Originals. “That was the ethos of this company—we were going to recreate the original shapes and designs from the 50s and 60s.”
Liam Gallagher wore Kirk Originals during his famed Glastonbury Festival performance in 1994, and soon pairs were decorating the nose bridges of Morrissey and Mick Jagger. Ritchie has a psychological explanation for their success.
“Those elements of classic styles are timeless. It’s like they’re embedded in our psyches.”
The mid-century, architectural designs of the Made in England collection by Kirk Originals were enough to make us fall in love—even before we heard the story of their construction. It begins with cellulose acetate, the plant-based, nearly mystical synthetic compound used by the best eyewear makers. The type Kirks uses come from Mazzucchelli 1849, an Italian maker with six generations of experience.
From start to finish, each pair of glasses is made by a single craftsmen. The process begins by hand-dyeing the acetate, which is then cut into shape. Once the desired shape has been achieved, the acetate is heated and pressed in a mold to build the bridge.
Then the real fun starts: the shaping and carving of the glasses with a hand file, which takes a full 72 hours and ends with smooth, remarkably round edges. The thickness of the acetate—an impressive 8mm—makes such shaping possible, and allows the temples to be installed without any visible pins, thus preserving the ultra-clean, modernist look. The process ends with enough buffing and polishing to turn the final product into a reflective surface: perfect for a discreet teeth check after broccoli rabe.
After all of that, the glasses are finally in our hands. But when we position them on our noses and tuck the edges behind our ears, brushing away errant locks of hair and adjusting burglar caps, we’re not ourselves anymore. The rounded edges of the Mason channel David Hockney as we venture to the bodega for Advil. The Aviator-style Reed allows us to be Steve McQueen for an afternoon, no chase scenes required. The Harvey in tortoiseshell turns a coffee run into a live-action remake of North by Northwest.
Kirk Originals aren’t simply accessories that block UV rays or make cocktail menus in dimly lit bars readable. The dedicated carving process transforms each pair into something more: a disguise. And as any moonlighting private eye can attest, selecting the right disguise is key.
by Eric Twardzik
The appeal of the French bistro is eternal. From the pages of A Moveable Feast to that semester abroad, we relish those homey dining rooms where the steak comes rare (or raw, in the case of the tartare) and the roast chicken is never a compromise. New York is blessed with an institution that upholds those same culinary traditions alongside a history that could only have occurred in a very specific time and place.
Even if you haven’t been to The Odeon, you’ve seen its sign. Since first opening in 1980, the Tribeca restaurant has beamed its name through a 29-inch blazing red neon sign that’s appeared on the cover of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City and cameoed in SNL’s opening credits of yore. More recently, it surfaced as a tattoo on Lena Dunham’s hip (for whatever that’s worth).
Its identity was blurred between bistro and diner. Here you could dine on food prepared by a chef trained by nouvelle-cuisine founder Michel Guérard, and witness John Belushi partying with his fellow cast members deep into the night. The interior matched that schizoid energy: an imposing Art Deco bar with red leather swivel seats sat next to white tablecloths, modern furniture, and bow tie-clad servers.
Odeon regular Andy Warhol once rhapsodized on the democratizing tendencies of Coca-Cola: “…the president drinks coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke too.” The Odeon in its heyday was something like that, but in restaurant terms. You could stumble in for steak frites and witness Tom Wolfe folding a napkin over his white suit trousers, or Jean-Michael Basquiat tasting the Côtes du Rhône he’d just ordered.
Thankfully, this landmark did not become another CVS or Chase bank. It shines resolutely on Broadway, with rather minimal changes to the decor (aside from deceased or vanished regulars). It also hasn’t traded-in its American bistro charm for some flash-in-the-pan culinary trend. You can still celebrate success with steak tartare and a French 75, or mourn your decisions of the night before over a gruyère-oozing croque monsieur and a merciful Bloody Mary.
One day, hopefully far from now, that light will go off. But until that day comes we’ll continue to cherish its glow, sazerac in hand.
145 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013
“Style does not come to you unless you pay attention to it.”
It is no secret that looking good, or actually looking right, is not high on the cultural curriculum of the American male. That’s a shame, really. This sartorial epidemic can partially be attributed to most men’s lack of style icons, or muses—whether it be one’s father (the ideal), celebrities, or simply a stylish gentleman. Personal style starts there though...muses; individuals, characters, or attitudes (past and present) you are drawn to.
We’ve recently employed—and consequently become addicted to—Instagram’s story “highlights.” One highlight in particular, labeled “Muses”, effectively collages images of our, well…muses. Stanley Marcus, former Neiman-Marcus president and CEO, believed that good taste could be acquired through environment and education, that the eye could be disciplined to differentiate between good and bad by a constant looking process. And that’s what it’s about, a constant looking process that eventually becomes a matter of instinct.
by Eric Twardzik
The idea of writing—not to mention reading—a printed book of manners feels almost self-consciously anachronistic in this day and age, like an Oberlin freshman devising an independent field of study around blacksmithing. Leave it to David Coggins, the author of Men and Style, to produce a slim volume of “essays, advice and considerations” that not only feels of the moment but beyond it. If we’re all following his wisdom on smartphones and social media in five years, modern society would be a much more pleasant place.
From a design standpoint, the book itself is a pleasant experience. The tone is set by the minimalistic illustration of Coggins on its cover, sporting his trademark beard and hat. The author appears throughout the book in a series of humorous and sometimes surreal scenarios, like a cartoon Virgil guiding our journey through modern etiquette. While Coggins does most of the talking, guest opinions from the likes of Todd Snyder and our friend Pastor Curt Benham are sprinkled amid the pages, most enjoyably in the series of black-background pages titled “Grievances."
A good deal of the book is focused on the still fuzzy topic of digital etiquette. Rather than acting as a scold, Coggins appeals to our better nature. In a subchapter titled “Distraction in Focus,” he asks us to consider whether our constant device-checking means we aren’t fully present in the company of friends. He warns against the contagious effects of one smartphone emerging at the table—soon everyone else is checking Instagram too—and delivers his counter: “I’ve adopted a policy that if a friend takes out their phone I just wait in silence until they’re finished. This usually communicates that they are interrupting the flow of what we had been sharing.”
Yet it’s not all smartphones and social media. Other chapters address timeless concerns of personal style. In the subchapter “At Home: Domestic Gods,” Coggins makes the case for the personalized domicile, again asking readers to aspire to something greater: “You are an individual, a thinker, and have even watched a Truffaut film on TCM. Your home should reflect that. You don’t have to live in a mood board for an interior design magazine, but when people visit your apartment they will definitely take your measure by it.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Men and Style author has dedicated a chapter to style, and it’s filled with gems worth sticking on the refrigerator door. We heartily concur with “There are many ways to make an entrance at a good restaurant, the opera or a smart party, and being underdressed is one of the least desirable,” as well as his adage that “If you want one thing in your closet to wear to make a good impression then get a blue, unstructured sportcoat.”
While it appears in the same chapter on style mid-way through the book, the claim by Coggins that “…when your life, livelihood and sense of style align, it’s a powerful place to be” just as easily could have been the book’s coda. There’s no doubt in our minds that Coggins inhabits such a sphere, and we hope that the advice in this volume will help more men get there.
What we love: vintage Tiffany bow earrings, F.E. Castleberry made-to-measure navy doeskin double breasted blazer, vintage Coach bucket bag with hand-painted monogram by Fred.