Monday, 29 August 2011

The origins of the universe: God, time and evolution

Of course, at 17, and with no meaningful scientific qualifications to my name, I am merely wondering out loud, posing questions, and perusing articles on the origins of the universe and the existence of God.

The national geographic website believes the cosmic cataclysm that bore the existence of the universe as we know it. Supporters of the big bang theory suggest that some 10 billion to 20 billion years ago, a blast more powerful than ever seen before allowed the entire universe's known matter and energy — even space and time themselves — to spring from some ancient and unknown type of energy. The theory maintains that, in a trillion-trillionth of a second after the big bang, the universe expanded from a size smaller than your little finger, incomprehensively to form the constantly expanding and evolving universe.
 Scientist’s cannot be totally sure what happened after the big bang, if that is the cause of the universe, since the trillion-trillionth of a second where matter evolved into something more developed and functional than anything else in the universe, progress has continued at a much slower rate these past few billion years. This progress can be seen but it certainly leaves us crying out for an explanation to quote Richard Swinburne. This development, surpassing our concept of the most intricate and marvellous things we have ever seen or experienced, might support the theory of evolution, yet I don’t think I am alone in struggling to believe that such a co-ordinated and dependant world exists without a designer, a cause one might even describe Her as.

What has happened since the explosion/implosion, are all those that believe in the big bang proponents of the evolution theory? As a fundamental part to the big bang theory, constant movement and development since the beginning of the universe is one of few answers to how the universe is in its current state.

Time is also an instrumental factor, and is crucial for many when considering whether another aspect – in this case a cause – plays a role in creation. The Bible explains that the universe was made in six days, so fundamentalist Judea-Christians will take that as fact, whereas others believe that what we know as time does not apply to their God, as he is outside such a thing, thus enabling him to create the world in time more in sync with modern estimates.

Now the constraints of time extends to the time I have to write, whereby this long winded and ignorant rambling on the beginning of the universe (not time), has to come to an end. However I am sure that I will write again on a topic that constantly interests me, so you can look forward to another incoherent but fascinated entry on the origins of the universe.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Never too early to talk tweed...

Though this article might seem extortionately early, the world is moving so quickly these days that Harrods and Selfridges currently have Christmas displays on show. Whether you can bear to accept it or not, the end of summer is nigh, and with September, fall season comes into bloom. For the autumn/winter shows, designers have routinely used the more earthy hues that typifies the fall season. Tweed falls right into that category.
The traditional view is that tweed comes out in winter, when the temperature drops and we relate the material specifically to the country folk whose job makes a hard wearing jacket that keeps you warm a prerequisite. However, modern tailoring and materials have enabled the tweed jacket to crossover and become wearable in the city; where the weather tends to be a little warmer, the cuts a little sharper, and the softer fabric being more pleasant to wear.
Tweed: History
Tweed was first developed during the mid-1800s on the islands off the coast of Northern Scotland: the Isles of Harris, Lewis, Uist and Barra. This is where Harris Tweed, for many the standard-bearer for all natural textures, was created and perfected over the years – with local wool used to make tweed by hand. In an effort to protect its authenticity and originality, there is an Act of Parliament that states tweed cannot be made anywhere else in the United Kingdom other than on those small Scottish islands. One might infer that the government are choosing to protect an element of style, however far-fetched the idea may seem.
Tweed, in Scottish Gaelic, translates to mean ‘the big cloth’. The reason that tweed comes in many different patterns is due to the nature of the cloth; it is a weave rather than a fabric that exists with one irreversible and un-manipulative pattern. The roots of tweed can be found on the moors of Scotland, where it was worn by Scottish hunters as a form of camouflage, helping them blend into the surrounding landscape. Rather than hiding such a statement piece, these days one of the primary functions of tweed is to allow fashionable males like ourselves to stand out for all the right reasons. In this way, one can notice how the purpose of tweed has evolved over time, proving the cloth to be very utile.
Further evolution has taken place with regards to the adaptable aspect of tweed – once tweeds were so rough in texture that they would scratch your skin and make you feel uncomfortable, yet in modern versions the material has been developed so that is now softer and more flexible – adjusting to the requirements of the modern sartorial gent. For the most authentic variety, there is a reason Harris Tweed is so coveted and protected. The trademarked wool hand-carded, hand-spun, and hand-woven by individual crofters on Scotland’s Outer Hebrides is quite literally,where it’s at. It is a little rough on the outside, but consequently durable and waterproof. Make sure you find the Orb logo that has identified every piece of Harris Tweed for a hundred years, and you’ll know you’ve got the good stuff.
Tweed Look Book
Men's Tweed Look Book
Tweed: A Commentary
You would have to have been living on Mars for the last year to be unaware that vintage classics are very much on trend and prominent on the catwalks. Tweed, just like the aged style of choice for many of the infamous designers of today, partakes in the idea that ‘old is new’. Arguably, fashion is often like that. It consistently looks at the past in an effort to move forward, but such is the age of this fabric, that it existed long before the concept of highlighting trends by having stunning men and women show them off on an elongated walk. Thus, the description of tweed being new due to its ‘fashion’ age should not be celebrated. It is more like celebrating a 50th birthday – you give thanks for the fact that you are still living and have many fantastic memories. Tweed in my opinion should not be caught up in the hype of the modern-era; it should be respected and admired for standing the test of time, and the closets of many people – Timelessness.
There are many reasons designers have recently started to create more ready-to-wear lines, no reason less influential than the depression we find ourselves in at the moment. The focus on the catwalk seems to be on times post the second-world war (see the recent 50s and 60s trends), where the country was in the middle of an era that focused on conventional and consistent dress; conformism was high. However, buying tweed is a financially responsible purchase. With tweed, it is highly unlikely that anyone will regret purchasing the garment – for it is never out of style. Admittedly there may be seasons when it is out of fashion, out of the magazines and off the catwalks, but you can decide whether you want to be trendy or stylish. At the moment, you’re sure to be both. Tweed jackets are also among the most versatile jackets out there; they can be worn out in the woods, in the office or out on the town, and never look out of place.
  • Biscuit tweed skinny blazer
  • J.Crew Herringbone Linen Sportcoat In Ludlow Fit
  • A.P.C. Grey Stripe Tweed Overcoat
  • D&G Charcoal Tweed Shawl Collar Coat
  • River Island Tweed Check Suit Jacket
  • ASOS Slim Fit Tweed Check Blazer
  • APC Vest Tradi Grey Jacket
  • PS by Paul Smith Herringbone Tweed Duffle Coat
Bruce Pask from The New York Times Style Magazine comments: “There’s been more care paid to the practicality of tweed. I think the washed, unstructured look that’s been a big movement in men’s fashion in general — unconstructed jackets, jackets that are unlined or half-lined or washed-cottons — I think have made tweed more accessible and also more comfortable.”
As Pask alludes to above, no longer do these garments look or even feel like your grandfather’s lacklustre, standard tweed jacket. This has something to do with tweed’s decline in the 1960s when they were stiff to the point of being un-manageable, coupled with a weight so heavy that it was useless for those that wore it to keep warm, as it would wear them down. The fabric has been softened, the style brought bang up to date, with a tweed jacket being a great way to add texture and flair to your blazer collection.
Despite recognition that fashion is amongst the closet of our ancestors at the moment, as the highly-esteemed Mr Ralph Lauren says: “If you’re in fashion, you’re going to be out of fashion.” Yet such fabric simply adds a different dimension to the over-used ‘timeless’ phrase; a dimension that is far more acceptable and ordinary and even true to the definition – not quite like the fashions from the last twenty years.
  • Fred Perry Tweed pique polo
  • OUR LEGACY Grey Tweed Trousers
  • Clarks Originals Exclusive to ASOS Harris Tweed 1950s Desert Boots
  • Burberry Prorsum Donegal Wool Suit Trousers
  • maison martin margiela Wool tweed trousers
  • Comune Kristof Tweed Trousers
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Tweed Driving Cap
  • John Rocha Grey herringbone wool flap cap
  • HUGO BOSS<br /> Serian flat cap

Tweed Modern Wearable Look Book
How To Wear: Tweed
Tweed is an inherently outdoorsy cloth, and to play on that effect you want shoes that have roots within the same ideals. A round-toe suede or leather boot would work, as would brogue boots. Brogues in particular has roots firmly within country clubs and the countryside, where they were often utilised on hunting trips. These days however, they are more likely to be seen walking in the centre of your local city, such is the rise of their popularity within the fashion community.
Tweed with brogues, a modern take:
  • Paul Smith London White Classic Fit Shirt
  • Code Merino Cardigan
  • jasper conran Grey herringbone tweed jacket
  • PAUL SMITH - JEANS 460K-502 Dark Wash Jeans
  • Gucci Wool-Blend Woven Tie
  • Ray-Ban Tortoiseshell Classic 2140 Wayfarers
  • Burlington Grey Argyle Socks
  • KG BY KURT GEIGER Harper brogue shoes
On the subject of history and the great out-doors, going for a completely country inspired look is a easy way to wear the trend. Think earth tones and country inspired pieces mixed with more fashion forward cuts and silhouettes. In the look book above [top right] you can see exactly how to pull this look off effectively. Green, brown and khaki hues always coordinate well together, and by contrasting your tweed jacket against some modern fashion hiking boots and a pocket square, it modernises the jacket and brings the country look into the city.
  • POLO RALPH LAUREN A04-A3378 Faded Green Shirt
  • Herringbone Overcheck Jacket
  • A.P.C. Coin Pocket Trousers
  • KNOMO Warwick briefcase
  • H BY HUDSON Cajon Tan Boots
On the official Harris Tweed website, you will find many different garments and accessories available to buy in tweed. Purchasing a tweed wallet may set you apart from the crowd, whilst a waterproof bag may be a viable sensible option. Some items on the website, such as the ‘Harris bomber jacket’ really cut a modern edge to an otherwise traditional collection.
Pask again has something interesting to say on wearing tweed, in particular the mixing of tweed and other fabrics which he finds “most interesting.” He continues by observing that being clad head-to-toe in tweed can look “costumey”so mixing tweed with a denim piece is a look he advises. Wearing a tweed cap with a denim jacket that has a shearing collar might not work as it is crossing paths with a different era and style that represents two completely individual concepts. But keeping it simple with a good pair of indigo jeans and a glen-plaid check, coupled with a pair of tan coloured brogues will be ticking all the right boxes:
  • Canali Kei Prince of Wales Plaid Wool Blazer
  • Levi s 501 Selvedge Yard Straight Jeans
  • Arthur Tan Leather Shoes
As we learnt at the beginning, tweeds are composed of varying shades of yarn woven closely together, which gives the fabric a real sense of depth. Usually tweed is in a brown or green colour, although setting yourself a part is possible with ten different patterns to choose from. Glen plaid check is probably the most popular, followed by Herringbone. However to show some passion or even some patriotism, opting for the tartan pattern tweed would make something of a statement.
If you are thinking about investing in a tweed blazer, one way to coordinate it within your outfits would be to pick out one of the more subtle colours in the tweed and match it with similar coloured chinos or trousers. This attention to detail helps develop a subtle sense of style, where those who know what to look for and admire the details will appreciate the effort – whilst the others can just admire your tweed jacket!
As for wearing additional textures (other than denim) with tweed, wool or a fine-needle cord is about as far as I would ever go, though some of you might be far braver than I am, and if you feel confident then I am sure you can pull it off. In the look book above we see a great tweed and cord trouser combination [top left], which would look great this autumn/winter:
  • J.Crew Herringbone Linen Sportcoat In Ludlow Fit
  • bottega veneta<br /> Cashmere scarf
  • YMC Olive Classic Cords

Tweed is a fabric which is draped in history and tradition, which has been brought bang up to date for those looking to separate themselves from the crowd. Whether you opt for the classic tweed blazer, or something you can integrate without much thought – tweed trousers, accessories, polos and the like – it is sure to add another dimension and texture to your look. Modern tweeds are infinity more wearable and have moved away from the traditional country club look, enabling them to be worn by country folk and city boys alike. But what do you think?
  • Will you be investing in tweed this year?
  • If so, what will you be purchasing?
  • Have you already got on this trend? If so, how do you wear it?
  • Will this be a trend that really takes off this year?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Music Style: Hurts

Recently, many articles have explored and recommended the necessary attire to keep you dry for when the British weather surprises us again. In fact, it is possible that the very utterance of that word – rain – may have you watching BBC Two’s fascinating documentary on the British weather. I am aware this is probably just me – which is all the better for you guys – who can trundle on oblivious to the fact that we suffer 199 days of rain a year. After prematurely moving off the topic of this piece, it is about time I attempt to explain the crux of my critique. In some way, I have written this article to appeal to my infatuation with the sun and the greatest thing to come out of Manchester since Oasis, but more so to make you aware of the understated elegance of the dream duo that is Hurts.
Hurts are a relatively young band. Since their arrival on the scene in 2010, they have featured on The Guardian website in their “Band of the Day” section. As a result of their notable performances all year round, the band finished fourth in BBC’s sound of 2010. Thereafter, Hurts have become more and more prominent at festivals and on the charts. Their début album Happiness was released in September 2010, containing an impressive duet with eminent pop star, Kylie Minogue. Thus, it is no surprise that Hurts are performing at the major UK and European summer music festivals this year.
Festivals scream summertime, and having already made memorable appearances around Europe (with more to come), Hurts, amongst many other artists, are the standard-bearers of what is good about summer for many people. In their performances, the Hurts have made it clear just how much they value the aesthetics of both themselves and their sets. Importantly, Adam Anderson and Theo Hutchcraft believe in the less is more approach, which omits the sort of caution to the wind, throw on anything vaguely smart and go out to perform vibe. Such an attitude is communicated by the absence of a tie, leaving the top-button undone, and the addition of classic men’s jewellery. The end result is one that proves they are representing themselves by not conforming to the traditional form of sharp, formal dressing associated with a gentleman who is suited and booted.
Hurts: Not Your Typical Band
Recently, more and more column inches have been dedicated to their personal style. When GQ held an interview with the duo last December, they revealed their passion for fashion when Hutchcraft asked for “a comb and a suit as part of our record deal”, whilst Anderson requested a “fox umbrella”. A far cry then from how one might expect a band to dress on tour; shorts and t-shirt, a pair of espadrilles or boat shoes, perhaps even a straw trilby. Yet these two are not your typical males. For these two sartorial gentlemen, looking like your typical festival-goer is far from ideal:
The Hurts Live Style and Fashion
The Hurts clearly separate themselves from your traditional festival, indie or rock attire, performing at Latitude recently in a simple two-buttoned black suit. Dressing poorly is never on the cards with Hurts, and neither is over-complicating outfits – which states everything about the grounded, charming boys from the north. So frequently do they wear the same base to their outfits, one might think of them as boring. Yet as fashionable males (and readers of FashionBeans) appreciate, the key to this apparent bland, monotonous appearance is in the detail.
Hurts Look Book & Style Analysis
The Hurts Style Look Book
Whilst some artists are being praised for being ahead of their time and setting trends, Hurts are making their own waves in the music and fashion world by being the face of the stylish past for many people. For those retorting that they are bang on the 60s trend at the moment, you are right, but this is not them following the trend. I think that the Hurts will forever be adorned in such beautifully crafted tailoring, symbolising their own tastes – and that can only be admired. Such elegance is timeless, and their outfits consistently define such a term.
The base of their outfits is a well-cut suit, never in anything but a neutral colour. Combined with this industrious staple piece, fundamental to the Hurts look is a pair of well-polished, sleek shoes in a complementary colour, often in a basic Oxford style. As Hurts enjoy adding creative elements to their look, by wearing monk shoes you can really pull off the classical edge that the Hurts personify. These core pieces add to the ethos of being dressed agelessly.
Having a look at Ben’s article on tailoring with bold colours, it is possible to add this individual element by incorporating a splash of colour into the basics. Furthermore, it is very rare that either of the members of Hurts sport ties; both reject them as a matter of taste. This aids them in creating an informal look, more often associated with playing at concerts and festivals – perfect for when you feel like smartening up on a night out or for a relaxed summer event. It also enables them to add another dimension to their look by throwing on a scarf or a bow-tie. Similarly, the jewellery that can often be found round the necks of Hutchcraft and Anderson is a statement of individuality, enabling you to set yourself apart from the well-dressed gentleman on your right.
  • Black Two Button Slim Suit
  • Black Label Tailored Grey Double Breasted Suit
  • Wrath Jacket
  • Paul Smith London Two Button Tweed Blazer
  • John Smedley Belvoir Roll Neck Sweater
  • Caan H/s Shirt
  • ASOS 3/4 Sleeve Bound Neck Waffle T-Shirt
  • Kurk Geiger Bourbon
  • Trickers Regent Toe-Cap Oxford Shoes
  • Bridge Scarf
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Knitted Tie
  • SIMON CARTER Tie slide
  • D&G Twin Tip Round Steel Case Gents Dress Watch
  • Storm Dango Pendant Necklace
  • Bjørg Spinning Octopus 925 Ring

Adapting The Look – Colour
So we have seen that Hurts prefer to keep things classic, sharp and muted for their personal style. It is timeless, looks great and they are certainly well dressed, but the look is not for everyone. For those who may be slightly younger, have a more outgoing personality, or just like to experiment with bolder colours, there are ways to adapt this style of dressingwithout sacrificing the core principles.
Bold coloured blazers can be used to create a real focal point in your outfit (especially when paired with neutral trousers), whilst bright coloured basics such as tees, shirts and roll neck jumpers could be layered underneath neutral coloured tailoring to give your outfit some ‘pop’. More subtle ways to introduce some colour and flair would be to look for coloured accessories and footwear. Suede shoes in particular are great for spring/summer and come in every colour imaginable these days. They add to the relaxed formal look we are going for but add some interest and intrigue to your bottom half. Pair with a similar coloured belt or pocket square, and you suddenly bring this classic 60s look into the 21st century.
  • ASOS Slim Fit Chino Red Jacket
  • Lambretta Cool Light Wool Jacket
  • Jil Sander Men's Single Breasted Formal Milly Blazer
  • John Smedley Belvoir Roll Neck Sweater
  • Aqua oxford button-down shirt
  • Red lightweight cotton shirt
  • Andersons Deep Blue Leather Woven Belt
  • Jil Sander Cashmere Blend Scarf
  • Turnbull & Asser Silk Pocket Square
  • PSYCHO BUNNY Bunny gingham scarf
  • PECKHAM RYE Knitted tie
  • KG by Kurt Geiger Bleeker Suede Lace Up Shoes, Red
  • ASOS Suede Brogues
  • Florsheim By Duckie Brown The Suede Lace-Up Shoes
Despite an in-depth look into Hurts’ style, I hope I haven’t inspired you to under-go any drastic transformation in an effort to be just as cool as either of these two! Having said that, I hope you are able to take away pieces of their style which you particularly admire and integrate into your own dressing.