Wednesday, December 19, 2007


On Dec 10th, The Barking Irons had the good fortune to attend the premier for P.T. Anderson’s latest film, 'There Will Be Blood'. I would like to offer up a brief impression of the film for those who are yet to see it.

'There Will Be Blood' takes place in the western United States during the 1890’s. It's inspirations were partially based on Upton Sinclair’s novel ‘Oil!’, which is now out of print and quite difficult to find. Anderson wrote the screenplay which sees the anti-hero Daniel Plainview go about his affairs in pursuit of oil, money, blood kin. However these elements are dipped in metaphors for an altogether vibrant comment on men, capitalism, religion and manifest destiny. The main study, I believe, is focused on a man who’s veins course with oil. A capitalist so fully consumed that he ceases to be human. You can see a desire in Plainview to find his blood or his kin or even someone he can trust, but instead he devours the people around him with his saw-toothed anger and his unforgiving standards.

That being said, the character study of Daniel Plainview is nothing short of a spectacle. It is a trance inducing warp that displaced me in such a way I felt genuinely frightened at times. This is also in part (quite largely) due to Daniel Day Lewis’ performance. To that, I’d have to say watching this almost sequel performance to Bill the Butcher, but obviously different and with better direction, should make other performances blush by comparison. It is stunning. The film's score is nothing to forget either. Composed by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, the music is at times out of frame and almost abstract. Period sounds of strings and percussion lead you into emotions. Instead of laying on top of the acting and cinematography, the compositions sometimes precede the impending sequence by minutes. This was a brilliant plan. Much of this film reminds me of Citizen Kane, heralded as one of the greatest films ever made. And even from a layman like myself, I can say that this film, this performance is so important that it should be talked about for decades.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Bear Mountain area, New York. As unlikely a place as ever to find landmark evidence of a big impact on menswear. But hark! This is no ordinary place. This is sacred ground of the Algonquin’s. Home of the Bear they called it after the great Sachem (chief) P’Tauk-Seet (the Bear) pronounced (Tuck-Seet). A village exists here that has held a legend in mens fashion for over a century.

But before this story unravels itself lets take a trip back to England in the 1880's. The Prince of Wales has commissioned Henry Poole & Co. to tailor a special smoking jacket hybrid for him that will allow him to attend semi-casual galas without going through the ritual ‘top & tails’ routine of high class dinner-wear. It is rumored that the then Prince (Edward VII) had his eye on a young Cora Potter from America. Cora was a beautiful southern girl born in New Orleans and married to one James Potter of New York (Cue J. K. Rowling fans). Although Potter was not a wizard, he was a successful coffee broker and a highly influential dinner club founder back in the states. Thus in 1886 he and his wife were invited to attend a ball at the Prince's Sandringham, Norfolk estate in the UK. When James Potter asked the Prince what would be appropriate to wear to such an event, the Prince referred him to his custom tailor to get fitted for his newly designed dinner-wear. A ploy to get time alone with Mrs. Potter?

Funnily enough, Cora did not return immediately to America. She stayed behind in England to pursue acting, while James returned to New York to continue his business and social presence. In New York, James Potter wore his new outfit from the UK all around town and at his private dinner club near Bear Mountain. Customers at the popular dinner spot Delmonico's were noted to constantly ask where the attractive new attire was from. Most of the time, Potter’s dinner club was sighted as the area of attraction for this mysterious and new garb. Consequently Potter’s dinner club which was located back northwest of New York City was given credit for the uprising of this trend. P'tauk-Seet-Tough (Tuck-Seet-Toe) or Home of the Bear by that time (1870's-1880's) was known as Tuxedo, New York. Rather by chance or by the winds of fate, Edward VII, Cora & James Potter, and Algonquin Sachem P'Tauk-Seet had all played a hand in inventing the American Tuxedo.

Barking Irons has pioneered what we call the Hester Polo combining elements of the American Tuxedo shirt with a fine jersey polo shirt for several seasons now.

Cora Potter died in 1936. Upon leaving England in the late 19th century Oscar Wilde is quoted to say "With regard to Mrs. Brown-Potter, as acting is no longer considered absolutely essential for success on the English stage, there is really no reason why the pretty bright-eyed lady who charmed us all last June by her merry laugh and her nonchalant ways, should not--to borrow an expression from her native language--make a big boom and paint the town red. We sincerely hope she will; for, on the whole, the American invasion has done English society a great deal of good. American women are bright, clever, and wonderfully cosmopolitan. "

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Last friday, the good old boys at Barking Irons kicked off an entire weekend of amazing deals & steals with an evening of jazz-age pomp at their hauntingly beautiful loft space at 161 Bowery. The news was spread by Thrillist, Urban Daddy, Time Out NY, Daily Candy, and a host of independent bloggers (thanks). Apple-tinged Dark & Stormy cocktails flowed throughout the affair while old time Dixieland jazz quartet brought down the house.

Shoppers were escorted to the 4th floor in a rickety old manuel elevator by a short, disheveled-looking operator called "Mr. Moy" who speaks nary a word of english, but is quite wise beyond his years.

Once safely landed on the fourth floor shoppers were drawn into the jumpy rhythms and flighty clarinet of the jazz players and a lively bunch of lower-east-siders picking through all manner of fine sportswear including copious t-shirt styles, classic hoodies & flannels, and dashing Fireman Pea coats, all laid out like a feast. The smell of rum & ginger hung in the air and the evening rollicked on in the tempo and grandeur of a speakeasy of the roaring twenties.

But there may be no need to speak-easy about this affair. With the resounding success of this sample sale, Barking Irons is considering keeping the retail set-up throughout the holiday season so folks from California to New York Island know exactly which pit on the Bowery to stumble into when in need of some fine threads & a grand ole'time!