Men’s Fashion Styles: Fall Fashion Essentials.

It’s my favorite time of the year again…..Awesome Autumn. Which means sweaters, scarfs, boots, cords and jackets. Here are some of the essentials that a gentleman should not be without this fall.

upload5755904828521506510The button down Wool cardigan is a gents best friend in these mild cool temperatures. Both stylish and distinguished, and a great alternative to a jacket or light coat!

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The Navy Blue or Beige Trenchcoat.

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The Ubiguitous Chelsea Boot! In black or brown you can’t go wrong with this cool footwear. Brilliant worn with jeans or slacks.

The practical Peacoat! Casual sophistication whether you are racking leaves, or just strolling over them.

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Brown or beige corduroy’s not only keeps your legs warm on those cool autumn night, but also can be worn with practically anything!

The timeless leather jacket. This fall essential goes without saying anything at all!

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The trusty turtleneck. It doesn’t matter what color or style of this knit you wear, it will always make a stylish statement!

These basics essentials should always be present in a man’s wardrobe during the autumnal season, as core items which transitions into winter to stay warm and stylish for the whole season.

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What’s in your Autumn capsule wardrobe?

 

Restaurant Review: Brunch at Rendezvous Harlem.

It was a late Saturday afternoon in Harlem and I’m walking down on FDB (Fredrick Douglas Boulevard) towards Central Park. I’m quite late (about several weeks Late) to brunch but I’m in no hurry as it is only a little bit after 3pm, and I still have about three quarters of an hour before brunch ends at RENDEZVOUS HARLEM. Now I first stopped in for a drink about two months ago (Chardonnay of course) while walking by with a friend who spotted two of her former co-workers sitting on the patio at this modern French bistro, and we decided to join them for a spell.

41895202_466591317083323_283934562747154432_nI was very taken by the chic interior design inside, and the Chardonnay was better than most places in Harlem these days, so I gave my card to the manager Joseph and told him that I would return in a week or two and do a review on the food.  Joseph told me that he would love for me to return and review the brunch, after giving me the bad news that they just ran out of Chardonnay. Well after the Fashion Week madness, and other reviews, as well as scheduling conflicts I find myself returning to keep my word.

20190817_185305I walk in and head toward a table on the far left of the restaurant, and Joseph walks over to greet me while giving me that “I’ve seen you somewhere before” look. So I say to him “you do remember me, don’t you?” and handed him my card. Immediately he recognized me and said “Welcome back Monsieur Strange! It’s been awhile?” Indeed it has I told him, things have just been a little crazy I explained, but being a man of my word I am now here for the review. Joseph bids me to sit at a place of my choice, so I sit at a table where I can see everything (at the far left) and he brings me over a glass of Champagne and a brunch menu.

20191026_152738I scan the brunch menu and decided to start with the HOME SPREADS: olive tapenade, eggplant caviar, and sundried tomato pesto which is served with bread.

20191026_153010And for the main, I chose the “BENEDEICLICIOUS” their take on the eggs benedict, which is two poached eggs over brioche on ham with hollandaise sauce, and served with home fries.

20191026_154021The eggs benedict was quite delicious, (I must admit) which is sort of a brunch stable for me when I brunch, but instead of the traditional “English Muffin” the poached eggs and tasty ham slices was placed on top of a very thick piece of garlic brioche bread, which played upon my palette with tangy delight. In fact the brioche bread was so thick, I had a bit of difficulty stuffing it into my mouth, and made a little bit of a mess on my sports jacket, but I didn’t mind at all as I already did that with the home spreads. Out of the three home spreads, I enjoyed the olive tapenade and the eggplant caviar the most, however do not think that the olive tapenade was not good as well, for it definitely was.

20191027_112705As I was enjoying this fabulous meal and cozy atmosphere, I noticed that the wax paper in my bread basket was a facsimile of a French newspaper, so I removed it from the metal basket to take a closer look at it. It was such a wonderful prop that for several minutes I actually thought that I was sitting in a modern quaint bistro in Paris.

20191027_113224My French is not what it was when I was 14 (I could actually hold a conversation then) but I did my best, and it was a very welcoming addition to my dining experience, and added a little “Je ne sais quoi” as I continued to have my palette stimulated by this dish that I had so many times before, but felt like the first time.

20191027_113038I also took a few moments to observe the other patrons seated in the bistro, and they seemed to be having the same relaxing experience that I was having, you could just tell that they were quite satisfied being here.

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After I finished my phenomenal meal, I ordered a glass of Chardonnay to kick back at my table and enjoy the view of the interior (and from the lovely window) of this very relaxing albeit small, but comfy restaurant, and that’s when Joseph presented me with a treat in the form of a Crème Brulee!

20191027_113429A fitting ending to my brunch experience at Rendezvous. Every part of my meal was made to perfection (along with great care and love) as I could not find one single flaw, (Yes I looked, I’m a restaurant critic!) in the food, service, bathroom, or beverages so I have no choice but to give this French bistro very high marks along with my upmost recommendation. Joseph (the general manager) was very on spot with a glass of seltzer water and a napkin to clean off my jacket, as I mentioned before about the mess I made of myself. The charm and professionalism of Joseph, and in fact the whole staff is something to aspire to, even the busser was quite a gentleman.

The food here was so good that I asked if I could look at the dinner menu, and was very pleased with what I perused. Returning here to review the dinner menu is an absolute must! This place has such a romantic vibe during the day, I can only imagine what that would be like at night for dinner!

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Now I could go on and on about how much I liked and enjoyed this place, the food, and the excellent performance of the staff…….. So in closing I will just say Bonsoir!

20191027_113254Rendezvous is located at 2072 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem.

The Otherworldly Origins of All Hallow’s Eve: Why do we Still Celebrate This Ancient Custom?

All Hallow’s eve (Halloween) has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It’s ancient beginnings as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and, lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

250px-Halloween_SwedenThe Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter. 

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“By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.”

cemetery-2802233_1280-1280x640On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead.

7_b86jdxIt is widely believed today that the church was to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

 

All Hallow’s Eve Migrates to the U.S.

By the 1920’s and 1930’s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950’s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young.

“The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter inside.”

In the late 1800’s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-together’s than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

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In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

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“Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.”

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treater’s have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past, and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday with luck, by next Halloween—be married.

Ancient Halloween Rituals: “The ignorant believe that there is no such night in all the year for obtaining an insight into Futurity.”

The Burning nuts:

“Take two nuts and place them in the fire bestowing on one of them your own name;on the other that of the object of your affections. Should they burn quietly away,side by side then the issue of your love affair will be prosperous. But if one starts away from the other the result will be unfavorable.”

Eating the herring:

Just before retiring to sleep, eat a raw or cooked salted herring, and in your deams your husband or wife that is to be yours , will come and offer you a cup of water to quench your thirst.ting the Herring.

Measuring the Bean Stack:

Go three times round a bean stack with outstretched arms as if measuring it. And the third time around you will clasp in your arms the shade of your future partner.

Eating the apple at the glass:

Provide an apple for yourself, and when the clock strikes midnight, go alone into a room where there is a mirror. Cut the apple into small pieces, throw one of them over your left shoulder while advancing towards the mirror without looking back, proceed to eat the rest of the apple pieces, while combing your hair CAREFULLY before the mirror. While thus engaged the face of the person you are to marry will be seen peeping over your left shoulder in the mirror.

1835463“The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.”

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“Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle. Each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.”

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Any way you look at it, Halloween or All-Hallows-Eve has it’s origins and history steeped in the spirits of the dead, divination, and magic rituals for protection or to secure a glimpse of a future spouse.  But why do we still celebrate this centuries old arcane holiday?

                                                                                                                                                            FB_IMG_1551110687046-1024x498Perhaps Halloween allows us to deal with our shadow-self’s, and affords us an opportunity to gaze and dance with the sexy dark side of our very own nature. So we all hide behind a mask and get to live out that part of the “other” which lurks inside just above the conscious level of our own perception.

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Or maybe we just want a chance to see who we are going to marry in the following year!

 

References:

Spence, Lewis: An Encyclopedia of Occultism.

LOC, Jack Santino For. “The History of Halloween or Samhain, Day of the Dead.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2019, thoughtco.com/history-of-halloween-or-samhain-1992402.

 

Fashion News: Barneys Could Close all Stores by Next Week.

According to the Wall Street Journal Barneys has brokered a deal in the amount of $271 Million yesterday with Authentic Brands that would protect the luxury fashion retailer from low court auction bids and total liquidation. The restructuring deal would close both flagship stores in Beverly Hills and Madison Avenue in New York, as well as the remaining five stores.

shutterstock_456679807-1A “Stalking Horse Agreement” was reached in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue and Authentic Brands, which owns Aeropostale and Nine West to purchase Barneys yesterday. Under this “type” of purchase agreement Barneys can select the buyer to prevent low bids at a court auction. Barneys can continue the auction up until Oct 24 for other bids, however if no other bids are made, Barneys will go with the Authentic Brands deal which will close all seven stores.

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If no other bids are made by the deadline and the deal with Authentic Brands goes through, Saks Fifth Avenue will open mini versions of Barneys in it’s stores and take over the online operations according to the Wall Street Journal.

So there is a chance that Barneys may live on as a part of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Fashion News: Afound: H&M’s New Discount Marketplace.

In June 2018 H&M launched it’s latest outlet brand Afound.  With a concentration on online/digital market as well as few select brick & mortor stores in Malmo and Stockholm.  The indepenent brand is expanding in Europe, starting with the Netherlands.

kurppa_hosk-afound-15-1024x683Afound has embraced a “long -term” strategy to expand to the rest of Europe by first establisting itself in the Neterlands as a starting point, with the intial step of introducing a digital online marketplace in the Fall of 2019.  “We believe we have the opportunity to fill a favorable position. The Dutch customer is an astute customer and one we believe will warmly welcome our concept of offering really good deals on products that are already produced – such as overstock, in our marketplace”, Joanna Hummel the marketing director said.

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Afound will soley focus on products that are “already produced”, such as Men’s, Women’s, and childrens clothing from “well known brands”, as well as lifestyle items and shoes. H&M brands include COS, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories, H&M Home and Arket and now Afound.

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This latest discount outlet venture Afound opened six stores last year, and launched it’s online market presence in the Autumn of this year. As part of it’s retail strategy, it will not open any more Brick & Mortor locations, and will concentrate and build it’s online market which sells fashion at discounts up to 70% in an effort to reduce stock.

H&M which is the 2nd largest fashion group behind Inditex (Zara).

Forever 21 Hits Rock Bottom: Files for Bankruptcy.

Last Sunday on September 29th Forever 21 officially filed for Chapter 11 protection, and is hurting for cash which is evident as they had not paid rent on a host of their stores, and in city malls. They announced that they will be closing over 300 locations overseas, and about 178 stores in the U.S. but plan to still operate stores in Latin America and Mexico.

closing down saleKnown for their fast fashion knock-offs of the latest designer styles from the runway, young shoppers are turning their back on the disposable cheap garments (which only lasts for a couple of wears) that they say are a danger to the environment.

On Sunday night the company released a letter to customers stating they have not yet decided which U.S. stores they will close as of yet, as they wait for the outcome from negotiations with landlords. “We do however expect a significant number of these stores will remain open and operate as usual, and we do not expect to exit any major markets in the US”.

In a news release the executive vice president of forever 21 Linda Chang said that filing for Bankruptcy protection “an important and necessary step to secure the future of our Company, which will enable us to reorganize our business and reposition Forever 21.”

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy PaperworkForever 21 has stated that they have secured about $275 million in financing  from JPMorgan Chase and additional capital from TPG Sixth Street Partners in the amount of $75 million to continue to operate normally while restructuring. The company’s Canadian subsidiary is also covered under the bankruptcy protection.

Forever-21-store.jpg_22126342_ver1.0_1280_720The failing fashion brand has also released a list of the stores that could close under the bankruptcy. According to court records filed on Tuesday, it may be possible for all of the 178 U.S. Stores to remain in operation.

On Sunday Forever 21 said this to it’s customers: “Once we complete a reorganization, Forever 21 will be a stronger, more viable company that is better positioned to prosper for years to come. We look forward to continuing to provide you with the great service and curated assortment of merchandise that you expect from us.” According to Business Insider.

logoHusband and Wife team Jin Sook & Do Won Chang founded the company in 1984 after emigrating to Los Angeles from South Korea prior in 1981. When they first opened the company it was originally called “Fashion 21” and their first store made $700,000 in sales in the first year of opening.

 

Downtown Fashion Week New York: Fashion & Entertainment Show.

I was contacted by the performance & recording artist Damion Anthony who told me that he would be performing at the Downtown Fashion Week New York show on September 27th, and would like me to come and cover the show as well as his performance (as I only seen him perform live once). I expressed that I would love to see him perform again (and cover the show). On the day of the show I was sent two V.I.P. tickets to the event and made my way to Times Square that evening to cover the show, but more so to see Damion’s singing and dance routine.

received_525931524650143(Damion Anthony: Downtown Fashion Week New York)

20190927_175143(Damion Anthony)

For those of you who have not heard of Damion Anthony, he is an Indie recording artist of the pop/reggae/fusion music genre as well as a high energy performance dancer. He also appears in Amanda Holley’s first music video (tommy boy records) Feening. Damion known for his energetic dance moves, and outfits always deliver a great performance of song and dance.

20190927_174037As I sat in the front row waiting for the show to start, I spotted Damion in the back chatting with members of his dance troupe and walked over to greet him and offer words of encouragement for his two set’s he was about to perform. I returned to my seat with anticipation for the entertainment segments of the show, and of course the fashion.

The show opened with a female Dominican dancer, which was very lackluster followed by an Indian Hula Hoop dancer that was a bit more entertaining and interesting I thought to myself, as the main performance of the entertainment segment would be Anthony and his dancers.

20190927_182028After a few sound and music snafu’s, the fashion show commenced, and while some of the designs was not any thing special really, the models were all quite stunning.

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Now while the female models were all quite beautiful, It was the male models that gave more swag and attitude while walking down the catwalk!

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20190927_185034While this fashion show was not bad, and the entertainment portion was able to fill in for what the other parts of this lacked, it was Damion Anthony’s performance which really brought fashion week excitement to this show.

20190927_194839I left after Damion’s set and will wait for February 2020 Fashion Week to give you more coverage of the fashion week world in the new year. See you then!