On a tip from the Instagram stories of my friend Paul Fournier, I picked up Nishiguchi Essentials 100, a bilingual compendium of the 100 articles of clothing and accessories that totemically compose the intrepid Shuhei Nishiguchi, the photogenic men’s fashion director of Japan’s directional department store, Beams. It is the sort of thing I love, a diverse collection of objects, each with their own particular stories and their own particular uniqueness.
Simon Crompton’s Bespoke Style is a shout from another period into the void that has been this past year. For the past decade, Crompton has been an infuriatingly disarming voice of intelligence and reason describing his various orders and experiences with makers of custom (and otherwise spousally unpardonably expensive) clothing and accessories.
We listened so often we memorized lyrics like the secret readers in Fahrenheit 451, at least the lyrics to the songs Stipe enunciated. Famously elusive, mumbled and indirect, many of his songs were like codes, with meanings no more than roundabout guesses. All that and more came back hearing that snatch of song, and reading Grace Elizabeth Hale’s incredible Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture. In it she not only clearly and thoroughly tells the fascinating story of the Athens scene around University of Georgia that gave rise to R.E.M. and so many other acts, she captures and conveys the liberation, joy and sweetness of youth.
Like Poole’s neighbor and contemporary Gieves & Hawkes, Poole has followed up a studiously dry, detailed tome from several decades ago with a heavier, flashier collection of pictures and monographs on famous customers, including their recorded lifetime spend at Henry Poole (with helpful conversion into current-day values) and signature garment.
I’ve been inspired to turn to The Sartorial Travel Guide by the inimitable Simon Crompton for a glimpse of what already seems like a very different time, one where we were free to move around without fear of killing or being killed, one where brick-and-mortar retail existed and was worth the journey.
Most books on dandies attempt to suggest they are all of many conflicting concepts of the word, so that the very least of the dandies they feature is not just an eccentric who fetishizes dressing well, but also, supposedly, a political revolutionary, an intellectual incendiary, and a retrograde elegant gentleman to (champagne-polished) boot. Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style, by Shantrelle P. Lewis, is not one of those books.