The Effervescence Of The French Touch

audrey_french-style

“Some claim the French Touch is in the tap water…”

I was invited to a charming bistro in a discreet Paris location to discuss The French Touch. At the table were a distinguished cast of cognoscente, whose names I am not at liberty to divulge.

Table talk centered on the essence of style over fashion, craftsmanship over mass production, i.e. made in ailleurs. There was the occasional chest beating and lament. Hey, Paris has a latin soul, but it was nothing a few cocktails couldn’t cure. The general consensus was that identifying The French Touch is like a sea dragon riding the wind.

These people I might add were not hide bound bores, but designers and players in the luxury sector. Off the record, one comment was: “Luxury brands like any other retailer deal in bottom lines. Fashion is a world driven by constant and persistent change.”

It is sometimes true that creatives try to cajole, persuade, and market their wares non-stop to an ever-fickle public looking for the next big thing. Where the concept of timelessness was once a by-word for quality, today luxury is the effervescence of shooting stars. Take a journey over to Louis Vuitton on the Champs-Elysees showcase, and engage with the current zeitgeist.

Although I have nothing against profitability, we must not confuse sales figures with taste or style. Real style is intangible and is intrinsic to a person’s persona. The concept of The French Touch is not any different. It is easy to identify, but quite difficult to replicate. It is as one lovely figure among us stated, “a state of mind”. The French actress, Marion Cotillion encapsulates the French touch to perfection in Woody Allen’s film, “Midnight In Paris”.

Just imagine you are dining with Lea Seydoux. She is sheepishly looking at you with those hypnotic eyes, and then says in that most Parisienne of voices: “Mon chou would you care to share a bottle of Foufoune“.

If this happens to you, you are done for. Cuite.

For those who aspire to capture this look, study Audrey Hepburn for guidelines. Although she was not French, she was not born in the States either. There was something quite mystical about her persona, which still captivates audiences. The term I would use to describe her is elegance. In her film with Fred Astaire, she causally remarks, “I am not beautiful; I have a funny face.” Ever the gentleman, Fred Astaire responded, “What you call funny, I call interesting.”

Audrey knew she had allure. Her clothes personified her character not the other way around. She was an ambassador for Hubert de Givenchy, and wore his clothes with panache. However, because her beauty was so natural, she was just as much at home in a pair of Levis. This is not just style but real class.

Three years ago, Ines de la Fressange published La Parisienne, and the book was an instant best seller in France. The book oozes with the style voice of one of Chanel’s former key models and taste trendsetters. Today, Ines is 50-something, and just as captivating as she was in her 20s. The book stands as a style guide to good taste for any contemporary woman, who wants to let loose her own version of The French Touch.

Visitors and designers alike claim that in this city men and women dress better than many other urban environments, and embody a certain je ne sais quoi. That “something” is well articulated in Ines book. It is also lovingly captured by the fashion photographer, Scott Schuman on his trend setting blog entitled, The Satorialist. Scott has the uncanny knack for capturing style across age groups. He demonstrates how personal and organic French style, really is. Every one can look great; it is a question of attitude, not money. His photographs make you drool. On his website, he features a whole ream of pictures taken in Paris, which give you a good feel for the French vibe.

I have another dear friend who claims that The French Touch is in the tap water. Drink the water at will he laughs and “voila”. Here, I am not so sure. The “Chateau Robinet 2014″ is barely drinkable. Perhaps, the water he was referring to, came from Reims in bottles, labelled, Bollinger. Baudelaire claimed that all French women had beautiful legs because they spent half their lives walking up and down countless flights of stairs.

weekend_french-style

“When stars get in your eyes…”

Someone remarked to me just the other day that everyone should have an uncle called “Christian”. It is true that Dior had certainly added to the modern vocabulary of contemporary woman. His feel for shape and color were unique. He knew how to drape fabric across a woman’s body, letting the woman’s body speak with its own voice, not necessarily calling attention to the clothes. Elegance is always a point of subtlety.

A contemporary style trend gathering more steam has been the craze for French vintage military field jackets, and those sailor’s shirts manufactured by St. James. The Lycée crowd has taken it up in spades, and it has spread to other circles throughout the heart of the BoBo-land. Designers have been borrowing concepts from vintage military clothing for ages; Jean-Paul Gautier is just one of the most successful.

Another key give away that your style code needs adjusting is when your clothes are too tight. This is not style, sorry. This is bad taste. Clothes should always be adjusted and be your size. Forget what the inner label says. Use a tape measure.

Want to laugh?

One of our global readers was recently asking what is the best colour for shirts. At first glance, I thought this was a philosophical question. I was about to consult my annotated copy of the Analects by Confucius, and caught myself saying, “Wait a second. Colour is personal”. The French like the Italians are fond of blue and white stripes of assorted versions. This design has a causal preppy style and can be worn with or without a tie. Speaking of ties, the bow tie has made a smashing comeback. This would have pleased my father no end. I find that bow ties are not only great in summer, but can also pass muster all year round. In case you would like to start fostering a collection, why not head over to Charvet near Place Vendome. Talk about the French Touch!

Article Title: Effervescence Of The French Touch
Photograph source: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on style | design | culture | art | food |

Red Herring |
is the digital communications agency under the WCW Group. Our expertise lies in brand journalism, blogging with the purpose of content creation, sparking emotion. Inspire your audience, which generates action with meaningful results. You needn’t be half-baked or smoked, although we should all be living near Goldeneye in Jamaica.

If you are looking for well-connected and passionate Community Managers to work your social accounts, RedHerring can evangelize your brand via social platforms. Our aim is to combine original high-quality content, with curation and community to gain distinction.

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Shake Your Bodhi

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“Do a little dance, make a little love… Shake your bodhi.”

Career change is pregnant with possibilities. “Do a little dance, make a little love…” shake your bodhi, shake your bodhi. Call it compensation for survival. It’s the perfect time to develop generosity and goodness. To give rise to bodhi, you must make the first move yourself. Do not expect the phenomenal world to come to your door with a magical bundle.

Like with all new projects, there is the aspect of uncertainty. Most of us can get caught up in the whirlpool of daily life and its responsibilities. There is constant pressure and demands. Your head can buzz at the best of times.

Giving rise to bodhi will take effort and determination. Above all, you must make time. Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for you either. Claiming you are too busy is just a mediocre excuse. Face the music and just get a bit more organized.

Perhaps you can squeeze in a few moments to read up on the subject. If that is not enough, the average person becomes confused when the terms “spiritual” and “worldly” come into play. These concepts are compatible not opposed to each other. Start with a cup of Kings Oolong. By doing so, you are ready for clarity.

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“When you are contemplating your inner light…”

Now take a moment and think. Do you know any one not living in the world? Of course, you don’t. Even people, who walk the spiritual path live here. Nobody can afford the luxury of dislocation. First, it is risky. Secondly, you will cut yourself off from reality. To foster the bodhi, you need fertilizer. There is no better fertilizer than the manure of experience. Forget all the silly distinctions about the spiritual and the worldly. These distinctions are best left to academics, who love to debate and argue over technical issues.

Even great masters created special environments to share their wisdom. They looked for the right opportunities, and used ready-made circumstances to make their points easy to understand and accessible. Masters handle situations the way they are. The best ones help their disciples to see without rose tinted glasses. Every one needs an entry point. Your daily experiences provide the material.

The universal law permeates everything. Even your average person is a position to give birth to his or her own bodhi if they have an open mind. Everyone has a starting point, and it is from here that we begin. We simply use the manure within us to let bodhi manifest.

You want to laugh? Anyone, who is conscious has bodhi. After all, bodhi is just a state of awareness. Use the potential you have. Even difficulty has potential because it can be made to serve a purpose. Anyone can feel their own breath and recognize their inward and outward flow of energy. The dynamics are eternal and self perpetuating. It is to coin a phrase, the essence of your own self. This is exactly what the famous Italian Renaissance painters so beautifully captured on canvas, in architecture, sculpture, and fresco. Remember the term “re-naissance” means rebirth.

One great sage once stated that we are in fact born twice. Once when we leave the womb, and secondly when we discover our true nature. This is why any season is so precious. It is nature’s way to show us that anything is possible.

Article Title: Shake Your Bodhi
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Tony Akanandasai is a regular contributor on | Talent Development | Career Management | Personal Brand Management | MBA Admissions | Life & Career Coaching |

Let Careo start by celebrating your success story. We hold to the principle that it is not how good you are, but how good you would like to become. We are honored to have been recommended across the French media in – Le Figaro, L’Express, Capital – and by Success & Career in Switzerland.

As Mahatma Gandhi stated, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”.

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Sound Branding Wired To Go

karl_sound-branding

“Om namo bhagavate guru gita strota mantrasya…”

Sound Branding is common sense. Quite simply, we are wired to go. It is said that the human ear reacts to certain sounds more than others. This is sound branding.

Sound, most notably music, triggers emotions, auditory pleasures, memories and associations. This form of brand management is a multi-sensory form of communication and a holistic corporate model, which drives perception. It creates attention with familiar associations and has the power to differentiate your campaign from the dross of mediocre media.

The first benefit of sound branding is that it enhances brand identity and loyalty. Sales will rise, and people will sing your song on the way to work. Take the memorable Intel or Coca-Cola jingles as key templates. There are others.

Who doesn’t recognize Harley Davidson’s distinctive and trademarked motorcycle exhaust sound? Or Kellogg’s cereal crunching? What this demonstrates is strategic marketing channeled by the power of sound. Firms committed to sound branding know that it delivers product personality.

The proliferation of digital media has only increased the effectiveness of the sound branding experience. Test drive the examples below to see that this is not so:

1) Bentley Motor Cars developed “The new sound of Bentley” — a stirring and thunderous soundtrack and the prelude to a potent new Bentley driving experience.

2) Hip boutique hotels such as Puro Hotel in Mallorca, whose beach bar has been voted one of the world’s 50 best by CNN Travel, surrounds you everywhere with lounge/chill-out genre of music compiled by its in-house DJ ‒ whether you open their website, choose to listen to their on-line steaming player, purchase a CD, relax by the pool sipping a passion fruit mojito or come nightfall, gather around to dance to their house tunes.

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“Ain’t we sweet…”

3) Fashion retailer, American Apparel geared for a ‘twentysomething’ audience, constantly plays a fast paced “feel-good” tempo type of music in the background streamed from its own Viva radio station – its official in-store music and audio network. As part of its overall store ambiance, it plays it live in over 160 of its retail locations worldwide. This feat has demonstrated its influence on shopper purchases resulting in increased sales.

Martin Lindstrom, branding expert and author of several books on the subject of ‘neuromarketing’, wrote in his book “Brand Sense” (on “Branding the Sound of Falling Aluminium”), that the Danish luxury audio/video brand, Bang & Olufsen, has raised the bar in the manufacture of corded phones with the Beocom 2 model phone ring tone. He is quoted stating:

“By refining this existing sensory touch point, additional brand equity is established, and a new aspect of the Bang & Olufsen brand is raised in the universe of the brand.” Birgitte Rode, CEO of Audio Management adds, “The difference between the BeoCom2 sound and other ringing tones is, that the Bang & Olufsen sound is human, it makes you feel at home, and it´s instantly recognizable.”

Iconic fashion designer, Karl Lagerfield once said that “Fashion and music are similar because music expresses a time frame as well.” Music effects volume and the good vibrations. Upbeat music appropriate for the evening will not appeal to morning customers enjoying their coffee.

Imagine you are launching an Italian-themed bar. Interject Italian vibes from artists such as Zuccero and Eros Ramazotti. If your theme is geared to a hip Bobo audience, include a driving beat from cutting-edge alternative and electronic artists.

Emotional Anchoring
Designing and implementing custom music and visual strategies emotionally anchor a brand to its clients. The purpose of branded digital music compilations is to turn your listeners into disciples of your brand. Every aspect of your custom CD speaks volumes about your brand. Think Colette in Paris.

That said, custom produced white label CDs place equal importance on print, media, and visual elements in addition to the music. Specialty music compilation companies such as Sonodea and Custom CD Corporation oversee all logistics related to custom branded CDs. They work closely with clients on everything from music themes to packaging. This ensures that the music resonates with their customers’ clientele and target demographics. Sonodea also creates sound environments for retailers, boutique hotels, and restaurants.

Sound Branding
A brand’s identity is comprised of visual, auditory and other sensory components that create clear client recognition. Music has the ability to seduce the soul, raise the spirit, and build social connections. Brand retention becomes child’s play with the right soundtrack.

Business like other domains has become show business. Brand image is all about experience, perception and differentiation. Sound branding is therefore, a fundamental part of the equation and the brand experience.

Article Title: Sound Branding Wired To Go
Photographs: (1) business of fashion, (2) curated by ES

About The Author
James D. Roumeliotis is an expert on luxury brand management based in Montreal, Canada. He is a regular contributor to RedHerring on luxury brand management and marketing strategy.

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Visit RedHerring Inspiration Board at Whitefield Consulting Worldwide

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When Shoes Speak Volumes

shoe_italian-bespoke

“When you want your shoes to fit like a glove…”

Shoes speak volumes. Women have always understood this. Think Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin. They even wear Uggs in the summer just to make a statement. Now, men it seems are getting into the act, and starting to give footwear the serious consideration it deserves. If you think this is silly, what do you think an interviewer looks at first? Your smile? No, your shoes. Shoes act as signifiers. In some circles, pundits claim they can tell where you went to school, social background, and even your degree of your professional fortitude.

With your credibility at stake, it is time to reappraise your footwear. Depending on the weather and situation, let your shoes radiate your personality. One dapper gentleman I know, Ignatius Joseph is never seen in the public eye without a shiny pair of red shoes. They are his professional signature and he is not even from Kansas. Real shoe buffs for example, never fail to miss Pitti Uomo in order to stalk out the next big thing.

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“Perfect for those rainy mornings in Paris…”

Not since the 1920s have gentlemen been so keen to re-examine their attire. Just take the recent craze for bespoke brogues. You won’t find a more perfect accompaniment to handcrafted suit. Now, I have fondled shoes across Europe. There are many fine practioners of the trade. Such artisans bring technical expertise and passion to their creations. The shoes, I appreciate most are inevitably American, English and Italian. Cognescenti recognize the difference between Goodyear and Blake construction. Choice depends on lifestyle and climate.

For example, if it is pouring rain, it is highly unlikely you will want to wear a pair of Berluti’s with their Venetian cured leather and blended colors. An LL Bean duck shoe might be the better option although this does look silly with a suit. Bass Weejuns are perfect for casual weekends, and if you are lucky you still might be able to hut down a vintage 1960s pair online. Speaking of vintage, a current hot item featured at Ralph Lauren and other workwear retailers are Florsheim gunboat shoes in pebble black grained leather circa 1950s. Fanatics where them sock less.

The granddaddy of bespoke without a doubt is Lobb in St. James’s London. The firm’s glittering list of distinguished clients would make a walrus blush. Fred Astaire was no slouch in his appreciation for tobacco suede Oxfords. Composer Cole Porter was a big fan as was Frank Sinatra.

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Once you become completely addicted to comfortable and well crafted shoes, the day will arrive when you want to go the whole-hog. This is when you take the road to bespoke. Were I to recommend one shoe maker to start, unhesitatingly I counsel Lobb, located near the great gate-tower of St. James Palace in London.

Entering this shop is entering another dimension. The premises are more workshop than glitz. In fact, although there is an area to be measured and shod, the bulk of the premises is taken up by craftsmen working busily at their benches on bespoke shoes.

Lobb has been a mecca for shoe cognoscenti for centuries. It has the hallmark of royal patronage and is surely an icon of real splendor. Discretion is the primal rule of the house. Names of the famous are just whispered secrets with a wink and a nod. However, you would be wrong to think that bespoke shoes are only fit for royalty and celebs. Bespoke shoes have more than street cred, they are built to last.

Unlike the best factory made articles, bespoke are unique to your feet. Certain people might come here to impress their peers, but why bother. Real gratitude will come from your feet. I know.

You may at this juncture be contemplating the great leap forward so it is just as well you understand what goes into crafting bespoke. After all, if you are going to eat noodles as the French say for several months, at least you will appreciate your sacrifice on the altar of perfection.

Once you have selected a model from the glass case on the right wall, one of the craftsmen, the fitter, will take your measurements. Do not be in a hurry. These are not sports shoes rapidly chosen. Time and patience is part of the pampering. Every feature of the foot is taken into consideration and is recorded on a sheet of paper tracing the outline of your foot. Afterward, you will need to wait on minimum 6-8 months for your first pair. What you will not see is all the work that goes into making bespoke shoes.

Take the last maker for example. Now, this chap is going to carve a wooden mold of your foot out of well-grained maple, beech or hornbeam into a precisely contoured model of your foot. It will include indentations, protrusions and all. Once this is accomplished, you will be placed to order at any time in the future even by email or telephone.

The next stage involves the “clicker”. This is the technical term for the person who selects and cuts the leather. Lobb simply gets the best leather that exists. The next pair of hands, which touches your shoes’, is the “closer”. He will sew, stiffen, line and shape the clicker’s pieces around the last.

The actual “maker” adds the sole of the best English oak bark tanned leather and the layered, riveted heel. Looking at the number of hand stiches gives you a deep appreciation here. The last process is to polish the shoe until it shines like you are a grenadier. Of course, you will want to order shoetrees to keep your shoes in pristine condition. Shoetrees are a must.

When your shoes are ready, you will be notified by mail. Collecting them will be a real treat. Once you put them on, you will understand what all the fuss is about.

lobb1_style

Mad Men at Lobb

Article Title: When Shoes Speak Volumes
Photographs: (1)(2) curated by ES, (3)(4) Mark Hebblewhite

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on style | design | culture | art | food |

Red Herring |
is the digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand. If you are looking for well-connected and passionate Community Managers to work your social accounts, RedHerring can evangelize your brand via social platforms. Our aim is to combine original high-quality content, with curation and community to gain distinction.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring Inspiration Board at redddherring.tumblr.com

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The Consumer-Centrics Of Guerrilla Marketing

lobstah_guerrilla-marketing

“Number 54, your lobstah is ready…”

Guerrilla Marketing is pure engagement. Like with Che Guevara, tactics must be consumer centric. This approach gives customers an opportunity to interact with products and services in creative and compelling ways.

The goal is to get consumers to emotionally respond. Having the power to deliver this type of revolutionary experience will make any campaign go viral. What could be better than spinning your social networks. Excitement clearly, generates any entertainment value. Viewers online vote via Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and the grandaddy of them all, Twitter. Inevitably, sales follow suit. You can capture your cohorts with contests, games, and videos.

Take a page out of the Oasis, soft drink site popular in France. Soft drink audiences never before felt so passionate about their beverage before. So much so that it is No. 2 in sales in several countries just behind Coca Cola.

Marketing guru Philip Kotler, in his classic book “Marketing Insights from A to Z: 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs To Know”, states that marketing or designing experiences around goods and services have many illustrations.

Classic Cases
Although Starbucks charges $2 or more to experience their coffee, many Americans consider this establishment an extension of their living room. Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café were specifically set-up with guerrilla marketing in mind. If its “only rock ‘n roll”, the Hard Rock Cafe under the spirit of its founder and original owner, Issac Tiggret, shows how the concert experience of your favorite acts is preserved aspic. Under the muted lights, Woodstock was more than event. It became a mind set for eternal youth.

On another level, take the tourist industry. The city of Las Vegas is built on a world of pure fantasy. Hotels, anxious to distinguish themselves, take on the character of ancient Rome or New York City, catering to crowds who wish to escape their everyday lives. The most famous example is the Sands. It is so steeped in mythology that clients clamor to be part of the glamor. According to sources at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, “everyone who comes to Vegas is a winner”.

The Disney Experience
If you take “engagement” to heart, then the recognized master is Walt Disney. It was sheer genius to create a world where either an adult or child could live out their fantasies. The Disneyland experience allows you to step into the American Wild West, visit the fairyland castles of the Grimm Brothers, sail on pirate ships throughout the Caribbean or participate in an Indiana Jones episode.

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“When your world is better than Fantasy Island…”

Disney world in Orlando is guerrilla marketing par excellence. Go with a five year old child and watch his or her reaction every time you pass a gift shop. They can touch, feel, and taste the experience and want to bring a piece of it home. Children don’t recognize that guerrilla marketing tactics are in play, but you will. Adults feel ambushed at moments with all the merchandising. However, even adults fall under the Disney spell, remembering their own childhoods. No need for illusion or 3-D glasses here. In such a universe, you become your own Avatar. Did you realize that tie-in products generate more revenue than the actual event at the box office? The Disney organization has proved the power of guerrilla marketing worthy almost of Che Guevara himself.

The Genius of Apple
Another cult classic is Apple. Product launches are seeded in internet innuendo and mystery. Then there is the familiar launch speech, sometimes with an advertising campaign guaranteed to bring forth the faithful. Non-believers are even persuaded. On the ground at the points of sale, the firm strategically installed a Genius Bar. Customer interaction is encouraged, which has revolutionized and humbled other all retail experiences. No one is excluded. Even non-tech savvy clients are welcomed into the fold. Apple cadres to a man and woman march forward as brand ambassadors eager to spread the word of their ongoing revolution.

Building Brand Loyalty
Building brand loyalty can be frustrating, particularly for non-creative corporates flogging products we all buy but do not have any sex appeal of their own. Toilet paper and dish washing liquid fall into this category. Examine the effective experiential campaigns of Procter & Gamble to see what is possible with a bit of imagination.

Take the case of Tide CleanStart mobile free laundry service, first introduced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Their initial goal was to provide clean clothes for affected families in New Orleans. The resilience and spirit of the people of New Orleans inspired Tide to expand the program. In October 2007, the firm brought their laundry service to Southern California, helping families affected by the wildfires. Collectively, Tide has washed more than 30,000 loads of laundry. The program is robust and geared to intervene elsewhere when disaster strikes.

Times Square and Toilet Paper
How do you successfully build an engaging brand story around toilet paper? Proctor & Gamble can tell you about the 20 free, deluxe Charmin restrooms opened in New York’s Time Square during the 2007 holiday season. the previous year, the Charmin holiday rest rooms served more than 420k people from 100 countries and all 50 states. The 2007 encore was a perfect encore.

However, free family-friendly restrooms and ample toilet tissue were just one part of the revolutionary brand story crafted by the Charmin team. Their front line team dressed up as dancing toilets, greeting people on the street. They were then invited to visit the Charmin Holiday Restrooms nearby. Visitors were escorted up escalators to a legion of smiling hosts all wearing Charmin apparel. Upbeat urban vibes were played in the background. The stalls featured Ultra Strong and Ultra Soft tissue. Afterward, guests were asked to vote for their favorite.

Experiential marketing should strive to:

• Deliver a meaningful benefit to the consumer
• Engage people in a memorable ways
• Be authentic
• Deliver relevant communication only where consumers can respond
• Succeed by using innovation to reach consumers in creative and compelling ways

Today’s Actionable Guerrilla Marketing Tactics
Whether it’s online or in the field, start a groundswell with your customers. All merchants offer products and/or services. The challenge of guerrilla marketing is to usher your customers through a memorable experience that yields long-term benefits for a remarkable experience.

Article Title: The Consumer-Centrics of Guerrilla Marketing
Photographs source: curated by ES for RedHerring

Author: James D. Roumeliotis is an expert on luxury brand management based in Montreal, Canada. He is a regular contributor to RedHerring on luxury brand management and marketing strategy.

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Visit the RedHerring Inspiration Board: RedHerring

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Who’s Your Tailor

selvage_tailor

“I’m not crazy about his tailor, are you…”

My first foray into the world of the bespoke tailor began when I was in my twenties. I was mesmerized by Savile Row and its craftsmanship. Fascinated with cloth, texture, and the art of sewing garments by hand, I came to appreciate how the stroke of a scissor could cut a distinguished suit. Going bespoke with the right tailor was never be about snobbery. It was about getting suits that were really my size.

As I matured, I recognised that clothes are an extension of your inner personality. Do you remember, Cary Grant in that Hitchcock masterpiece, To Catch A Thief? I rest my case. CG knew the value of the right tailor and so should you.

Dressing well is the price of admission to professional respect and personal dignity. There is nothing better than slipping into a bespoke dinner jacket as if it was a T-Shirt. Fred Astaire knocked people dead in the aisles with his relaxed American ease. Roger Moore always came dressed for dinner. Want to leave an impression? Take the time to care about what you put on your back.

When you go to an interview or client meeting, people do notice what you wear. Clothes should make you feel glamorous. Although everyone loves the vintage look, nobody wants to appear as though they just stepped out of an historical documentary.

Our attitudes towards bespoke has dramatically changed over the years. Previously, most of us wore the uniforms, demanded by our professions. If we loved jeans and T-shirts, we wore them in the garden or weekends not really in the public eye. This change in attitude, familiarity, and cross-cultural interaction has put paid to uniforms in some professional and social environments.

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“Of course, I love my Brooks Brothers suits…”

If you are dinning in the jungle or on a mountain range in Tibet, it is highly unlikely you will wear a DJ. However, if you relish this, you are guaranteed to turn more than a few heads with your bespoke distinctiveness. The dress down Fridays introduced by the Americans in the 1990s ended up in failure.

People lost their fashion cues and wound up looking silly. Causal chic took its place, and the Europeans, particularly the Italians are masters at this game. It was only a matter of time then before people rediscovered well-tailored and timeless clothes of the sort made famous by Hollywood.

Not too long ago, Savile Row famed for its outstanding bespoke tailoring stood on the abyss of being made redundant in a world where consumers lost the habit and patience to have tailor made clothes. Given the rise in prices due to this labour intensive craft, people were drawn to the inevitable sex appeal made transparent in luxury brand advert campaigns. However, ready-to-wear clothes with few exceptions never really fit properly. They are simply cut too tight.

One of the firms, which has led the rejuvenation of Savile Row, is Norton & Sons chaired by a Patrick Grant. With his keen eye for detail and good taste, Patrick embodies what makes a gentleman modern and classless. You can’t go wrong by taking on his style suggestions.

A word of caution: Once you take the plunge to wearing a tailor made suit, you are hooked for life.

Article Title: Who’s Your Tailor
Photographs: (1) beyond fabric (2) archival, curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on style | design | culture | art | food |

Red Herring |
is the digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand. Our expertise lies in brand journalism, blogging with the purpose of content creation, sparking emotion. Inspire your audience, which generates action with meaningful results. You needn’t be half-baked or smoked, although we should all be living near Goldeneye in Jamaica.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring Inspiration Board at redddherring.tumblr.com

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Flying The Barbour Flag

beat_barbour

“And the beat goes on…”

The first time I saw a Barbour waxed jacket was about twenty odd years ago on the back of a friend we referred to as Brother Knacker. It was a Barbour Bedale, had seen considerable use, and had a type of dress Gordon tartan lining. He looked like he slept in that coat. Judging from our lifestyle at the time, he probably had.

When it was cold, he’d zip in an acrylic fur lining to keep him toasty. The coat was gutsy, and looked great over his hand knitted roll neck fishing sweater from the Aran Islands.

When the Toussaint holiday arrived that year, he, myself and another dear friend, Brother Sea Lion took the train to Dieppe, the boat to Dover, and then another train through to Charring Cross Station in the heart of London. Yes folks, there was a time before the Eurostar. We were foot loose and fancy free. Our sole objective was to hunt down traditional English clothing of the sort you could only buy in the UK. Our second mission was to investigate every old pub with character in London. It was quite a weekend.

In those days, you could scoop up Harris Tweed jackets from Dunn & Co. for a song, and visit the original Hackett at Parsons Green. We even paid a visit to the original Swaine, Adney, & Briggs and Cording’s both on Piccadilly. With Noel Coward songs in our hearts, we swaggered around like three blind mice. Barbour did not work with Japanese or any other designer. They didn’t even have a freestanding store. They only sold through designated outlets. Today, I counsel visiting their London flagship located at Covent Garden.

My first impression of wax jackets was not their rugged construction, the chocolate cord collar or even the grouse pockets. It was the smell. It reminded me of old hardware stores in New England. Needless to say, both Brother Sea Lion and myself collared one of these jackets, and wore it proudly about. The military styling, the weight, brass snaps and zip spoke of deep seriousness and even of adventure.

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“When all hands are requested on deck…”

When we returned to Paris wearing these jackets, we popped into Kitty ‘O Shea. Heads turned and some blighter screamed out, “Who let in that wet dog”. The distinctive perfume of the coat, it seemed, was not to everyone’s liking. Much to our amazement, the coat caught on here and became all the rage. Then like every fad in France, the trend dissipated and the coat disappeared from the streets of Paris. The country set still wear Barbour, but to see them worn to work and in urban environments is unusual.

Two of the most-ballsy photos of icons wearing waxed jackets are of Steve McQueen and submarine commander George Philips of the HMS Ursula. The photo of Commander Philips is still used by Barbour because it best encapsulates the brands DNA.

The coat features top pockets, one at an angle and two lower skirt pockets. There is also a removable hood. The coat was such a hit, that it was commissioned for the Royal Navy in 1939. Shame they have never re-launched the coat for public consumption. If you crave a similar garment take a good look at the coat worn by Daniel Craig in the most recent James Bond film, Skyfall. It is part of the firm’s Beacon Heritage Series, and is literally flying out the door.

What is certain is that the craze for vintage work wear has given a new lease on life to Barbour wax jackets. As usual, diehards in Tokyo, Japan are spearheading the craze. One glance at the Autumn-Winter copy of Free & Easy: The Rugged Ivy Official Book and you will know why!

Article Title: Flying The Barbour Flag
Photographs: (1) archival, curated by ES (2) Barbour

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on style | design | culture | art | food |

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Career Management | Riding Your Wind Horse

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“Better sharpen your pencils on this one…”

Riding wind horse demands more than equestrian prowess. It requires being genuine. So how do certain personalities conquer the world riding wind horse?

Examine the case of Alexander The Great. He was ambitious, stubborn and determined. What did he really gain by conquering the known world besides saddle sores and a swell head?

As Aristotle’s principle student, Alexander believed he could ride wind horse. He rode hard and swept Persia in his wake. Next on his agenda were the desert sands of Central Asia until he came upon the Indus River. At the gateway to India, Alexander felt stymied. He had lost his sense of purpose. Trying to regain his composure, he sent out two men to uncover a personage of great wisdom, which they found in a nearby village.

Alexander questioned the sadhu extensively and became even more frustrated. Threatened with death, the sadhu replied, “You have the power to take away my physical body, but you do not have power over life and death. Only the Guru has this power”.

Intrigued by the Guru principle, Alexander spared his life. He entreated the wise one to return with his men to Greece. He remembered Aristotle’s discourse. Holy men of India are reputed to have unlimited powers Alexander craved. What he failed to see was that the sage did not ride wind horse power; he fostered the spirit of compassion.

The Indian sage agreed to Alexander’s request. However, he also foretold Alexander’s destiny. The sage recognized men who exercise absolute power feel invincible. They also have no taste for the true path of wind horse.

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“Putting the pedal to the metal…”

We need not make the same misguided mistakes. There is another path. The Tibetans refer to this path as riding wind horse of wisdom. It is the path of the sacred warrior where there is no violence. The principal of wind horse is best expressed in the following quotation by Lao Tzu:

“Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power”.

All warriors riding wind horse recognize the need for resilience. Training and preparedness give us the necessary reflexes to handle challenges. Attempting to ride wind horse without discipline is a dangerous exercise. It can cause the unwary untold suffering. It needs to be cultivated with awareness. Therein lies the trap. Certain personalities go for the dramatic power play. However, this path has no bells and whistles. There are either applause or bold strokes. Misguided riders just receive a heavy blow to their ego.

The key is to cultivate an invisible mala. These are the beads of gentleness, courage and self knowledge. Learning to radiate this goodness makes riding wind horse a sane proposition. Take for example, the wealth of openness. There is no need for luxury brand yoga mats or organic cotton kung fu outfits. Openness can not be fooled. It knows artifice from basic goodness.

Once I met a Buddhist monk sitting in the middle of a mountain stream. It was a hot summer’s day near Almora. I could feel his playfulness and approached. He motioned me to sit next to him. The water was refreshing and felt good.

“You must find your comfort zone. Observe the flow of water through my fingers. Never aim to grasp what cannot be held by the hand.”

“What can I learn from this gesture?”

“What you learn is to observe the inner sanctum of the closed fist. Unfurl your fingers thus”, he demonstrated.

“The hand is empty”, said I.

“Precisely”, he retorted.

Is this how we attempt to handle the wind horse of the unexpected?

Unwittingly, yes. The commonest pitfall every aspirant on the wind horse path falls prey is termed spiritual materialism. There is a universal tendency to see riding wind horse as a process of self-improvement. There is nothing to measure. It is a question of getting rid of what you no longer need.

“The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use,” spoke the buddhist monk, “even spirituality.” The trick is to let go of the desired result rather than mental persistence.

So instead of making a dramatic wish list of career or behavioural changes, start with just observing your nature. Let go of conflicting ideas and the wind horse will reshape your reality. The only barrier is overcoming fear. Dealing with fear is a complex phenomenon because it raises the issue of insecurity.

The more you fear, the more incapacitated you become. You become frozen in action and it becomes all-consuming if you don’t let go. Do not mistake fear for adversity. This was pretty sound counsel the monk shared.

When fear dissipates, you experience a wave of self-confidence. Alexander didn’t understand this principle. He suffered from false pride. Fear plagued his every step. His leadership was based on force not the mobile force of communal ownership for decisions taken.

Whatever you do, do not go through the motions of riding wind horse. Life does not imitate art. Life is not an action movie or video game. It just is. If you really want to accomplish something worthy of your energy, then it is advisable to execute a strategy of selflessness. The more you give, the more you will receive in return. This is not the law of supply and demand. It is a higher law, and it registers every act of selfishness.

Will you be completely understood if you pursue riding the wind horse of compassion?

Perhaps not by everyone, but then you will not mind. You will have discovered your own inner strength. Gratitude will arise from your heart. Adversity will no longer seek to cross swords with you as you gallop to the beat of a different drummer.

Article Title: Riding Your Wind Horse
Photograph: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on | MBA Admissions | Career Management | Personal Brand Management | Talent Development | Life & Career Coaching |

Let Careo start by celebrating your success story. We hold to the principle that it is not how good you are, but how good you would like to become. We are honored to have been recommended across the French media in – Le Figaro, L’Express, Capital – and by Success & Career in Switzerland.

As Mahatma Gandhi stated, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”.

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Choosing A Signature Fragrance

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“More than just belonging to the skull & bones club…”

In an age when we look for personal distinctiveness, mass market fragrances lack character. Why any one of us would want to smell like another person has always been an anathema to me. Fragrance should inspire mystery and romance. They carry an insouciance of luxury with the power to excite. It is also a billion dollar industry. The stuff of which dreams are made.

For those with discerning tastes, there are alternatives to mass market offerings known for their sophistication. What can be more luxurious than something which is ephemeral? Talk about leaving a signature beyond you, nothing can match a wisp of fragrance.

Fragrance brands may not advocate free sex but they might as well with their glossy campaigns and not so discrete visual language. Fragrance also has the power to heal. Think of Patrick Susskind’s wonderfully intoxicating novel, Perfume.

Simply put, fragrances are provocative. They have the power to incite and conjure up animal magnetism. Fragrances can even provoke nostalgia. Think of Marcel Proust and his sensual description of dipping a madelaine into a cup of fragrant lime blossom tea.

The best fragrances have the power to capture a story with your name written on it. As Marilyn Monroe once stipulated, “The only thing I wear to bed is a drop of Chanel No.5″.

On a more innocent level, do you remember when your mother baked that delicious Tarte Tatin how the house was warm with cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, butter, and sugar?

I am not suggesting dabbing hot apple pie behind your ears after a shower, but you get the idea. Our nose knows how to conjugate collateral associations. In my own experience, places and people are linked to fragrances. Think of roasted chestnuts on the street corners of New York. When you splash on Aqua di Parma are you reminded you of your last Tuscan holiday baked in Mediterranean sunshine?

Now imagine a perfumer who can capture the romance of places you adore. Enter one of this business sectors favorite scions: Frederic Malle. His boutique is discretely tucked away on the rue Mont Thabor, a small back street a coins throw from the rue St. Honore. Here you will uncover the rare scents of The Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle.

The decor is pure design and it is easy to overlook. You almost feel as if this is clandestine rendezvous. There is no crowd here. Just personalized attention with access to exceptional fragrances. Each one has its own assertive personality and comes in a flask, which betrays the minimalist styling of the bottle.

Frédéric Malle, the grandson of Serge Heftler, the founder of Dior Perfumes, launched this unique perfume concept store. Steeped in tradition, his expertise has found voice in his and in the team of contemporary noses who make some of the loveliest and most compelling fragrances available anywhere.

When I first stumbled into this shop, the Zen like décor struck me. I marveled at the uniqueness of the fragrances on display. Most men find commercial fragrances either too banal or too feminine. They want something more than bay rum or other typical splashes. At this unique address, your search will come to an end.

Take for example, Geranium Pour Monsieur, which conjures up the veldt in South Africa. Here geraniums have an all-together sharper and peppery smell to the planter box variety. When the leaves are rubbed between your fingers, they emit a hint of mint. There is even a wisp of resin and woody tones. The fragrance is fresh and sophisticated.

Dominique Ropion one of the perfume industry’s great noses created this beguiling scent. His perfume consists of geranium from China, mint, aniseed, spices such as clove and cinnamon, sandalwood, and a large dose of white musk. You are guaranteed to turn a few heads if you wear this, but in the best sense of the term.

Another great concoction is his Vetiver Extroadinaire. The result is warm and earthy but unlike any other vetiver on the market.

Angelique Sous La Pluie has been designed by another great nose, Jean-Claude Ellena. At first “taste” it seems like a splash of gin and tonic. The second wave introduces you to juniper berries, cedar and sandalwood. This fragrance does not claw. It is in fact an ethereal wisp, ideal for summer.

Home Fragrances
Home Fragrances have become quite popular and particularly scented candles. Unlike grandmother’s sachets of lavender, FM has impregnated rubber mats to be put in a drawer or closet. The technique is quite hi-tech. There is one by Carlos Benim, which is called “Saint des Saints”. The name alone called me like a lark as if on a pilgrimage to the mystical East.

The smell is otherworldly. It is as if he captured the odours of an ancient temple in India with the animals and incense dealers out front. I can almost taste the ancient stones riddled with hot red dust. Smelling this fragrance, I almost had a LSD flashback. All that was missing were the monkeys and the 47-degree heat of Delhi.

Choosing a perfume is so personal. Nobody can choose one for you. Many of us have tried hundreds and wound up disappointed. One thing is certain if you visit this amazing boutique. You will come away with a scent likely to become your personal signature. Call it your fragrance of collateral associations.

Article Title: Choosing A Signature Fragrance
Photograph: pellegrino castronovo

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on style | design | culture | art | food |.

Red Herring |
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Tailoring Under The Volcano

solito_Italian-menswear

“Good evening Mr. Bond…”

Naples is a town of passion. There are the views, the food, and the fabulous tailoring. From a sartorial point of view, this town is paradise. It has craftsmen and women making some of the most beautiful hand made garments I have ever seen. Take for example, Gennaro Solito and Anna Matuozzo. Witnessing their passion for tailoring and craft is reason enough to pay this city a visit pronto.

Considering that passion is on permanent display in these Mediterranean streets, there are several topics, which can illicit the strongest emotions: beautiful women, pizza, and clothing. Recent sightings of contemporary Venus de Milo, I will leave for another discussion. Suffice to say that Sophia Loren was not a fluke. Just think, this town has more tailors than you can shake a breadstick at.

The most famous is undoubtedly, Mariano Rubinacci. This house does great work, and takes credit for inventing the soft shoulder. Personally, I counsel visiting another less well know gentleman by the name of Gennaro Solito. Many people I know actually prefer this house for its traditional approach to men’s tailoring. Unlike Rubinacci, Gennaro and his son actually cut every jacket and trouser on the premises.

They not only share the same cutting board, the price for their garments puts bespoke in range for any professional who holds a decent job. The value for money is outstanding. For the price of one suit from Rubinacci, you can order two from Solito. This is indeed a grand bargain. Everybody in the Solito family is a tailor. That should tell you something about this institution’s passion for grand pedigree.

It must be said that Solito’s suits are unique. They are also the closest to the drape style of Frederick Scholte, who clearly inspired what is called the art of Neapolitan tailoring.

In an age when certain people think that “slim” is a hallmark of taste, Solito has the opposite, and I must add, more refreshing approach. The coats have a generous drape across the chest and tight armholes to go with the silhouette. He does not like padding of any kind in the shoulders. He also favors wider lapels and a high gorge. The end result is a coat you will find easy to wear and extremely comfortable.

His philosophy about clothes is pure passion: “I like to create honest products. I think that the ratio of quality to price in my clothes is exceptional. Two years ago, the world entered a financial crisis and I think this made people think what the meaning of quality was. They realised that what matters is handcraftmanship and products which last.”

When you think about these statements you return to a genuine definition of what is real luxury. Real luxury is personal and made by passionate people who not only love what they do but also have the ability to share their passion with others. Unlike globalised name brands, “democratisation” is an the attitude. It should not be the dumbing down of quality peppered with spiked prices to pay for lavish advertising campaigns.

Anna Matuozzo started out working for Mariano Rubbinacci. She then launched her own business back in the 1990s. She is gentle, a charmer and exudes a generosity of spirit. Her shirts are like no other you will ever wear with their extremely soft collars. Unlike other bespoke shirts, her collars are never fused. They are made with layers of cloth and sewn together by hand, including the buttonholes.

The style of the cut features a large sleeve head and narrow armhole. The soft curve gives you more movement and the cuff follows the curve of your wrist. She stated, “The principles that define Neapolitan tailoring also define our shirt making. Our garments are light and fluid”.

Although there are 8 people present in the workshop, measurements are taken by Anna or her daughter. The choice of fabrics is startling. She uses cloth from the best Italian mills such as Carlo Riva, which are ideal for warm climates. You will certainly want to order a dozen. Although unnecessary, you will undoubtedly give into temptation.

Another great shirt maker to check out when you are in town are those made by Salvatore Piccolo. His shirt vision is different. The collar is a high-spread and his sleeves feature innovative flourishes such as an elbow dart. Go in and try one on. Salvatore’s mother presides over the hum in the workshop. She says, “The shirt is an expression of the mood of the man. When you are feeling more powerful, you can use a certain style and colour; when you are feeling playful, you will wear something else.

So if you are ready to get off the treadmill of mass consumption, plan a long weekend to Naples. Treat yourself to the craftsmanship of some of the finest artisans working anywhere in Europe today. While, you are here in Southern Italy, why not throw in a few extra days and bask in the glory of the adjacent islands.

Article Title: Tailoring Under The Volcano
Photograph: Solito

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on style | design | culture | art | food |.

Red Herring |
is the digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand. If you are looking for well-connected and passionate Community Managers to work your social accounts, RedHerring can evangelize your brand via social platforms. Our aim is to combine original high-quality content, with curation and community to gain distinction.

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Visit RedHerring at redddherring.tumblr.com

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