Tag Archives: London

Autumn, lambswool and corduroy

The season for dressing in proper cosy-wear is finally upon us. Autumn is here. More or less. There is hardly anything I enjoy more than to open my wardrobe and get all the corduroy trousers and lambswool sweaters out. To be able to wear the garments of autumn, thick high quality fabrics in bright colours, is as wonderful as enjoying a really good vintage Bordeaux. At least to me. For some reason it is as if the world becomes more alive, the weather becomes almost tactile. You can almost drink the air, taste the wind. Magnificent feelings.

Someone asked me the other day where one buys the best corduroy and sweaters. He also asked about tweed jackets, though that is a different kettle of fish entirely. That’s a topic for another day. But when it comes to proper cords and lambswool, nowhere is as good as Cordings of Piccadilly in London. imageI have searched for other brands all over the world, but no one can compete. In my opinion. When other, however great, brands try making cords they seem to misunderstand what a corduroy trouser is. What the fabric is all about. You simply can’t make a regular trouser, choose a nice looking corduroy fabric and apply the same idea you use for a regular trouser. The result is always a hybrid of weird fashion mixed with classic style but none of the two makes any sense put together. A bit like these Levi’s 511 made in a rather garish corduroy quality…



You need a certain width in a cord trouser, but not too much. If too much is used, they will look like an old mans trousers on a young mans body. If you happen to be a young man, that is. That is a look no one wants. Absolutely not the designer, and least of all you. You need an exact balance between width over thigh and calf, a proper cord trouser needs to be comfortable (that is, after all, the whole point of the garment), and the fall of the fabric that is decided by the weight of the cloth. That perfectly balanced effect you can get either by going to your tailor and have a pair made, or you can buy them at Cordings. In my view, the latter is to prefer. It will save you some money, better used for your next bespoke suit.



The range of colours to choose from is great too. There are all the bright yellow, red, pink, puce etc. that I love. But there are also the more discreet moss green, brown and so on. If one happens to prefer slightly more discreet nuances. A wonderful detail that makes the trouser sit perfectly on your hip is the extra strengthened waist lining plus the adjustable waist band, corrected with two buttons on each side on the outside as seen above. Details that has taken decades to perfect, and which we as customers can now enjoy.



After a post like this, I guess I should write about just Cordings too. Their range of jackets, shirts, ties, socks and cuff links are worthy of their own blog post. But that’s for another day. And I forgot about their lambswool sweaters that are the best in the world, too. Well, well… Now, go hunting for a proper pair of cords gentlemen!






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Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Gents Fashion, London, Uncategorized, Vintage, Young generation

…writing, art at home…

I am forever lost in the world of Art. In so many ways. And I love it. Just like Dante’s alter ego in The Divine Comedy’s opening lines of Purgatory, I find myself lost. He found himself lost among the tall, dark trees, lost in his middle age. I, on the other hand, find myself lost among paintings, ink sketches, water colours, reference books, auction house catalogues, antiques, artist biographies. It is a fantastic way of being lost, since the feeling makes me search and explore. I want to learn more, see more, find more. Ponder on what art and beauty gives us. On what it means. Revel in being adrift on the sea of fine arts.


A small part of the reference library in my study. I can’t function without these books.

Having spent a fair amount of time writing a two-part article on art for a recently started magazine, I got thinking on what kind of art I surround myself with. What am I looking at when I’m at home? When walking through a corridor, walking out of the bedroom, sitting at my desk? What am I dreaming of acquiring to hang on my walls? To someone like myself even, who spends his life in the fine arts, it can easily become just a fascination. The hunt for another object or more knowledge on art becomes a way of life. It is easy to forget what’s around you.

Hard at work, but extremely rewarding as always.

Hard at work, but extremely rewarding as always.

When working, I don’t have any big paintings hanging around me. Just the books on the shelves in the study. They supply me with over 100,000 pictures if needed. Whichever period of art, whichever architectural movement, I can find something on most topics among all the books. But as a reminder of previous periods in life, I have two small postcards stuck to the window-frame. One of Paris, by van Gogh, and one of Amsterdam painted by Monet. The postcard over London, what feels like my second home town, has disappeared in a recent move.


At times the personal has to come before professional pride. Also for an antiques dealer and art historian.

One of my favourite periods of art is Early Romanticism. It’s stretching from about 1790 until the late 1830s. It was a great period for Northern European artists travelling to the southern parts of Europe. There they learnt to handle light, shades, and got the oportunity to learn from the old masters visiting museums. The water colour became a medium for professional artists as well as for amateurs. Up until now it had not been an accepted medium for professionals. This makes the late Regency period, also called Empire and Biedermeier style in interior design and pictorial arts, very interesting. It is today possible to buy high quality water colours from the years around 1800 for almost nothing. Quite incredible really, but the style isn’t very fashionable for the moment. It was up until ten years ago. And will soon be again. For sure.


Another favourite is this little adorable cherub by Johan Gustaf Köhler, painted in Munich in 1836. He was Carl Larsson’s teacher in sketching at the Academy.


Water colour from 1806, painted by Sophie Tersmeden, hanging in the bedroom.

So what is someone like me dreaming of? Oh, a lot of things. But a few weeks ago I found a painting I felt I could not live without. But I forgot about the auction, and I guess that was just as well. The painting didn’t sell cheap. It was a beautiful oil painting of a passage under Colosseum in Rome, painted around 1815 by the father of the Danish “Golden Age”, C. W. Eckersberg. It sold for €24,000 which meant it almost doubled the asking-price. If I’d only had the money, and remembered the auction,  the painting would be hanging in my dining room now. I know the perfect wall! But until I have the oportunity to buy that kind of art, I will carry on leafing through my books for more knowledge and constant inspiration.

The latest in a pile of inspirational reads, "Ann Getty: Interior Style"

The latest book in the huge pile of inspirational reads, “Ann Getty: Interior Style”

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Filed under Antiques, Art, Auction Houses, Culture

In search for a World past

It is a bit pretentious to say that one is looking for a world passed when what we have really is amazing. Fine, we can complain about the wars going on, the consumerism, the stress, that today’s news are yesterday’s news etc. Though, every time I think about the Georgians, the Victorians or even the Edwardians I say to myself  “thank God we have penicillin, that the child mortality isn’t 40% any more, that a lack of coal won’t kill my family”. Because to be honest these are simple things we seem to forget easily when dreaming about the good old days of an untouched, virginal, more honest world.

I am happy to admit that the architecture, the art and music of bygone eras can be more appealing to the eye and ear. I also dream of the untouched countryside that seem to disappear more and more for each major supermarket opening their “24/7” monstrosities. Still, we are the ones who let it happen. If we create the need, the companies will be there filling their pockets by “supplying the needs of the modern lifestyle”.

After having been away from the UK for almost six months now I look back on my time there with love and affection. I hope to be able to go back one day, one way or the other. One of the things that fascinate me most with that country is their relationship with their own past. There is a love-hate relation to the Victorians that surprises me. Why this hatred towards the people who created the world they (and big parts of the Western World) live in? Imagine London without the houses from the mid-late 19th Century. Imagine the North of England and Scotland without the power and grandeur from the industrial revolution.

But maybe that’s why? Since the momentum of that era is gone forever, it is hard to find an identity in a world that no longer exists. The society and cultural climate that once was, isn’t any more. And now they need to find a way of accepting it. Of accepting the realities in a hierarchical society with incredible social differences and an antique educational system which is so elitist the elite who’ve partaken can’t see why it could possibly be wrong.

Maybe this is where they ought to look? By accepting the problems and dealing with them, maybe you can let go of a dark social past that still lingers in every nook of the British society. Because at heart, like most Brits if you give them the chance, there is warmth, passion and even love for your fellow man in the British society. Even in a Tory.

But, as long as the society chooses to look away from the facts of the hardship, unfairness and reality of it all, the only thing that will remain is the disrespect and hate towards the old, Victorian society and outdated values that still rule one of the most interesting countries in Europe. Let it not be like that. Embrace the past and see it for what it is, and what it can give us today. And then: move on. Just don’t touch the old architecture.

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Filed under Architecture, Art, London, Longing

Where is home?

Constantly travelling. Always in new accommodation. Never your own furniture. Never sleep in your own bed. You know, the one you bought six years ago to suit your length, weight and your spine perfectly? It’s in storage somewhere with three complete homes shipped from different parts of the world.

You never know when to be able to move “home” again, all depend on where the work is. It is tiring sometimes, to never know for how long you’ll be staying in a particular place. Will it be for three months? Maybe two years? Or, maybe this is where “home” will actually be from now on? God only knows.

But still, a freelancer’s existence is exiting. It gives you experiences that hardly anyone else gets early on in their career. You see new places, get to travel far and wide, enjoy the hospitality of new colleagues and friends from the most diverse backgrounds, both ethnic and geographic.

The new cuisines you get to try, oh can they not be the most interesting? You try food you fall in love with immediately, some grows on you, and some are simply inedible. Not to forget: languages. You learn a phrase here and a word there and all of a sudden you’ve picked up another language.

I think for me though, what stays with me the longest is the beauty of a place. Sometimes the cities or towns you visit are appallingly boring and you can’t wait to get away. However, the times you spend in major cities and beautiful countryside settings can be enormously rewarding.

Being able to walk in the Cotswolds on your day off, or take a stroll along the Seine before you need to be at the theatre for an afternoon session is just incredible. It is such a grace to have the opportunity of seeing all these places and spend prolonged periods of time abroad. To get to know new countries and cultures, and still being payed to be there. Isn’t that just amazing?

Still, home is always home. The saying my home is my castle couldn’t be more accurate when you spend months, sometimes years, away from the warmth of your own home. But I’m sure that one day I’ll be able to unpack all those boxes and take out all the furniture of storage. To once again be able to create my own castle, wherever that might be.

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Filed under Amsterdam, Architecture, France, Gothenburg, London, Paris, Sweden

Coffee in Amsterdam: part 7

Is this the best coffee house in Amsterdam then? No, not when it comes to the coffee. There’s no reason beating around the bush. Latei on Zeedijk 143 is not the best coffee in town. Good, but not great.

It is, however, one of the most characterfull places I’ve visited since moving here. It is situated by Nieuwmarkt , just at the end of Amsterdam’s China Town district.  Walking past, it looks like a really tacky junkshop at first. But if you give it a second or two you see that it is full of chic students and an arty clientele. Full of horn rimmed glasses and knitted, if terribly expensive, sweaters that are just the right shade for bohemia.  If you see what I mean. I’ve never seen so many intellectuals crammed in such a small space in my life. The only thing that beat this, if only just, is probably the photographs of Sartre and de Beauvoir sitting with friends in Paris in the 1960s.

Latei don’t just serve coffee. They also sell vintage bags’, dinner china, glasses, chandeliers and quirky stuff you really don’t need but could kill for ‘cause it’s just so cool. In general I don’t care about cool, but after having found this place I do.  How will I survive without a 1970s freestanding cigarette lighter? I just have to do my best. Or go back and buy it. It’s only €7.50 after all. The atmosphere is what makes this place so great. As I said above, the coffee is good but not world class. For my second order I actually couldn’t be bothered to order another coffee. Instead I opted for the freshly pressed orange juice and a croissant. The juice was really nice and, believe it or not, the croissant was a dream. Really buttery without going soggy. I have to try one next time as well to see if it was just pure luck or if the croissant level is consistently high. If it is, that’s just another reason to come back here often. The staff is sweet, helpful and what seems to be the standard requirement in Amsterdam: good looking students working extra. Over here I’ve hardly seen café staff over the age of 25. And as long as the service standard is high, I could not care less.

With its white walls, overwhelmingly bright wallpapers and lime green windowsills this is one of the quirkiest but nicest places I’ve been to. London included. A place like this in London would have been way under the standard I expect from a place serving food and drink, but here it smells nice and all is clean and fresh. For this I love Amsterdam. If you’re looking for a nice place to relax and read a book (as long as it is not by too common an author) this is where you must go.

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Filed under Amsterdam, Coffe Houses, Coffee, Food and Drink

What’s wrong with the socks guys?

For ages have I tried to understand why guys (and I don’t mean gents but normal “guys”, “blokes”, “lads” or what-have-you) who generally dress quite well seem completely oblivious about what they wear below their ankles. And I’m not talking about shoes this time but socks. Technically they might stretch above the ankle, I guess, but you get the idea. Socks is a statement, something you can use to define yourself and your belief in good quality clothing. They should be a business card, but more subtle. You don’t shove your socks in someone’s face after a board meeting. Or at least I hope you don’t. Regardless, nice socks are garments to be remembered by.

Nothing make me happier than walking along a busy street somewhere in the world and all of a sudden see a great, bespoke suit and a flash of a red sock. In particular if it’s a navy blue suit. It takes me ages to refocus after that. Having said that I can’t stress enough how awful I find it with dark socks to go with dark suits. They should be banned together with the flesh coloured sock. Never ever is there a situation in life where a flesh coloured sock is ok. Never.

As mentioned above socks can be used to put that extra touch to an ensemble that otherwise would have been great but now rises to another level. Coloured socks should be used to enhance what you’re wearing. A dark suit is just that if dark socks are worn with it, but if you wear a colourful pair it becomes a good-looking suit. The contrast makes it interesting, gives the ensemble life.

So, please guys, make an effort from now on? No one would be happier than me.

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Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Gents Fashion, London, Socks

A double-breasted suit? Really?

Can one really wear double-breasted suits if one isn’t the Prince of Wales, under 50 and not a puffy banker? If you would have asked me last week I wouldn’t even have bothered answering such a silly question. Today though, I’m slowly warming to the idea that, maybe, it doesn’t need to look that bad. And it’s all thanks to Jeremy Hackett. As always. Once again has he found a classic, gentlemanly way to make the double-breasted suit look good. Or not just good, great.

He justifies it with saying

… Now it is more softly tailored and more relaxed, the shoulder is narrower and the coat length shorter, somehow it looks new and fresh and distinctly smarter and I believe there is a whole generation of men who have never worn this style and therefore are unaware of its historical baggage.

“Its historical baggage” referring to the awful look we recognize as the sleazy-stock-market man of the early -80s or the estate agent look of the early -90s (they have always been a bit slow the estate agents, haven’t they?). And who knows? Maybe Mr. Hackett will once again manage to squeeze in an article of clothing that not many other designers have payed attention to for quite some time, and we will feel that we cannot live without in a year or two. Because to be perfectly honest here, a double-breasted suit really can look quite dapper, wouldn’t you say? It is a shame that it has been out of fashion for so long and I’m really looking forward to get one sooner rather than later.

I guess this is what appeals to me with really good quality gents fashion. The timelessness of it all. That there are garments that can be brought back, reinvented, styled up and then we think “gosh, why did it take so long for this to come back?”. Most of Jeremy Hackett’s clothes are like that. Like if you buy a suit on Savile Row. You know that it can be kept for ages and it won’t look tarnished or as if you’re completely out of touch with fashion. Rather the opposite. These are suits, shirts, shoes or what-have-you that are almost over and above fashion.

However, I must ad that the double-breasted club blazer, you know the dark one with brass buttons galore, just isn’t convincing yet. Not even the Hackett ones. I know Mr. Hackett himself thinks it the most basic garment in any gentleman’s wardrobe. I’m not convinced though. But, I’m looking forward to how he can reinvent it! It might happen this year or it might be another ten, but I know that if anyone will make it happen it is Jeremy Hackett.


Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Gents Fashion, Hackett, London

Coffee in London: part 4

White Cross Street, EC1. Pitch 42. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where I realized for the first time that there was amazing coffee to be had in London. Well, it might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. I clearly remember that crisp February morning a couple of years ago. I spent quite a lot of time in the area at the time and when another place I used to frequent was closed I thought I might as well try this newish place. It didn’t look much to the world, but I remembered some Aussie colleagues of mine having raved about it, so what’s the harm in trying, eh? After that it’s all blank. I remember thinking “what the f*** is this amazing brew? Why haven’t I tried it before toda…” And, yeah, then it’s a blur, followed by a mist and then – blank.

Already then had I slowly started to see the pattern amongst baristas in London; the two camps either favouring Square Mile Coffee Roasters or Monmouth Coffee. To be perfectly honest I can’t remember which sort they used back then, but I know that today it’s Square Mile Coffee that is favoured. Surprising, wouldn’t you say, with a location like that…

This stall has become almost a cult among City workers and artists alike. It doesn’t matter if you come from one of the biggest law firms in England, a bank (which maybe, but just maybe, should have collapsed 18 months ago), from the nearby Barbican or a rather famous music conservatoire on nearby Silk Street. Everyone is queuing like brothers and sisters eagerly awaiting their shot of the thick, brown and perfect nectar on offer by Gwilym Davies or one of his splendidly dexterous baristas. That Gwilym was the World Champion Barista 2009 isn’t a secret to anyone, but that he chooses to keep on promoting this simple stall is a grace to humanity in general and caffeine addicted City dwellers in particular.

Quite obviously I can’t rant about an interior when it comes to Pitch 42, but what is so funny with this place is that White Cross Market is one of the busiest little streets in London around lunchtime. I’m not going to write too much about the surrounding stalls, at least not in this blogg entry, but let me just say that to find a perfect croissant to go with your coffee of choice is not hard. Not hard at all in fact. There is a buzz and an almost electric vibe to White Cross Street around 12.30 that will make any taste buds go wild. All the Worlds kitchens are represented here and most of them are simply outstanding compared to any lunch restaurant in London. Mind you, not all, but most. And the croissant, you wonder? Well, there are so many artisan bakers offering goods from the world of Ceres that I can’t even begin to describe them all. You just have to do what I do when it comes to these things; go there and explore. Don’t be there much later than 1.30pm though since many of the stalls tend to run out of food. In particular in good weather. And if you go, please give my love to Gwilym et. al.

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Filed under Barista, Coffe Houses, Coffee, Food and Drink, London, Uncategorized

Coffee in London: part 3

London Review Cake Shop. Yep, that’s where I ended up today. How? God only knows. But I’m glad I did.

Admittedly this isn’t as much a coffee connaiseur’s place as the other ones I’ve recently visited and written about. Don’t get me wrong, the coffee is good. Not just good, it’s miles better than what you get at the normal coffee-chain / corner-shop kind of place. And, once again, it’s the famous London based roastery (I’m not even going to mention their name this time, scared for you guys thinking I’m sponsored by M*******. Unfortunately that’s not the case) that’s providing the beans.  The cappuccino I ordered arrived promptly and at the standard you can expect. However, the little extra “something” was missing. The foam wasn’t the way I prefer it. Not as smooth and clean on the palate as I’m used to when a very good barista makes it. Not that I want to be overly fussy or anything. No, I just want the best there is. Is that too much to ask? The espresso base was very good though so all in all I was happy with my drink. Just not ecstatic.
The carrot cupcake was heaven though. Unfortunately they’d run out of the famous lavender one I really wanted to try, but if they are better than this one, well… I just have to go back and try at a later stage I guess. What a pity.

What really makes this place such a nice haunt is that it is what it is in it self.  No excuses. Since it’s adjacent  or immediately attached rather, to the London Review Book Shop on 14 Bury Place, it creates a very nice and relaxed atmosphere. When I was there it wasn’t particularly busy so those of us there were basically just sitting reading and drinking coffee. Since Bury Place is one of the streets just off Great Russell Street, where British Museum is situated, you get a lot of regular Londoners who enjoy a peaceful coffee and want to read a paper or magazine instead of the buzzing student crowd. This makes it a nice place for some relaxed down time with any kind of written medium, really.

The Cake Shop’s interior is different from the other places I’ve written about over the last few days as well. When you’ve found your way in via the History section in the book shop you’re met by a very contemporary till made of light faux wood of indescribable origin. On the side of the till is a glass display full of lush cakes, pies and sandwiches. The cupboards behind the till are almost IKEAesque in their plainness. But it doesn’t look bad. Not bad at all. It works well for this kind of place. It isn’t trying desperately hard like so many other London coffee houses are right now. They give you what you need, neither more nor less. For a place where you want a good coffee and some time to think, as well as the possibility to browse among books galore, this is where you should go. It is bright thanks to the big windows facing Bury Place and a fairly high ceiling. It’s also got a big outside sitting area during the summer.

For a Sunday afternoon like today, this was the ideal place to go. And in top of it all, I got to spend time among an abundance of new hardback titles which is always divine in this paperback infested world.

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Filed under Art, Coffe Houses, Food and Drink, Italy, Literature, London, poetry