Justin in Indochino

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Justin-at-Trinity-duo

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I thought these portraits of Justin, snapped in the graveyard of Trinity Church in Newport last spring, would be fitting on Halloween.  He was giving his brand new suit a test run that day and certainly looked dapper!  Here’s what Justin (a.k.a. Sartorialist Extraordinaire sent to earth from a time long past with a fountain of knowledge of all things vestments) had to say about it:

“The suit came from Indochino, a custom suiting company that makes made-to-measure suits, which fall somewhere between off the rack clothing and truly tailored, “bespoke” clothing.  Made to measure suits are generally more expensive than off the rack, but offer a better fit and more opportunity for customization.  Suits, particularly jackets, are a highly tailored garment (I like to think of them as edging into the territory of sculpture), and an off the rack garment just can’t fit the shape and contours of the wearer properly.  Many are deliberately cut to accommodate as wide a range of body sizes as possible which creates a one size fits none jacket.  Made to measure suits are just that, a suit made to the wearer’s measurements.  Indochino offers measuring directions on their website, or you can have your measurements taken at one of their pop-up “Traveling Tailor” shops.  At the shops, not only will a tailor take your measurements, but you’ll be fitted with jackets and trousers in their standard sizes and adjustments notated along with your measurements.  These standard jackets and trousers are the best fit you could hope for off the rack, and the difference in the adjusted garment is noticeable.  The whole experience also gives you an hour to interact with an actual person, ask questions, and learn a few things about yourself.  Years ago, when I was measured for a bespoke suit in New York, I discovered that not only is one of my arms slightly longer than the other, but that I stand perpetually with one shoulder raised a little more than the other.  Everyone has these imperfections, and it’s the tailor’s job to compensate for these with a little extra length here, or a little padding there.  An 18th century tailor’s advice book instructs the tailor to observe his client as soon as he walks into the shop and to take note of the way he walks and stands, since we’re all libel to correct our posture when being measured and scrutinized.  If those flaws are hidden in the measuring, they’ll be brutally exposed in the wearing.  The attention spent preparing to make the suit brings the customer into the creative process, and reinforces the finished product as an investment (pun intended) with real value.
My three piece suit is a brown lightweight worsted wool with a blend of conservative and fashion forward elements.  Certain elements like the notch lapels and single back vent are very traditional, while the trimmer cut and seven button vest are a little more modern/harken back to earlier periods in men’s fashion. Indochino made the shirt as well.  I have trouble finding shirts that aren’t too short in the sleeve and too wide in the body.  This one fits like a glove.”

Nafplio

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I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since I took these photos in the Peloponnesian town of Nafplio.  I spent a week at my cousin’s summer home there while on school vacation.  The house, which had already been closed up for the winter, was an endless source of fascination for me and my camera, with crisp Greek light flooding in from one side and a little army of interesting things to capture posing in the half dark of the house interior.  I passed the week in a strange kind of meditation by myself, working on still lives, hiking up to the acropolis, and jumping in the increasingly frigid sea.  Since getting to the Peloponnese from the islands requires a lengthy combination of ferries, cabs, buses and walking, I didn’t feel like lugging my 5D with me.  These were all taken on my little 35mm Pentax K-1000 with Portra 160 film.

Friday Flowers

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I’ve been meaning to share photos of the altar flowers that I did for my gran’s memorial service for a while now.  I don’t mean to sound clinical about it, I just really enjoyed the process of putting together arrangements with a particular person in mind, and was determined to make them celebratory, and not funerary.  My grandmother absolutely hated store bought flowers, so that was a good starting set of parameters, and in the end, I spent one amazing and meditative day driving around Rhode Island, visiting places and people that she loved, to gather blooms.   My family rallied around the cause, allowing me to cut flowers from their gardens and greenhouses, and I also stopped to pick a few obliging wildflowers in the meadows and sandy roadsides along Second Beach.

I wanted the palette to be modern, anything but somber, and evocative of the sea, so I avoided dark green leaves (which make me think of funeral arrangements and 1-800 Flowers) altogether.  I also ditched the urns typically used by the church, which seemed so heavy-hearted and masculine, in favor of large Nantucket baskets.  I made three arrangements in all, two to match on the church altar, and one huge one for the tent outside.

To start, I lined the baskets (which you can get at Christmas Tree Shops) with thick trash bags and filled with Oasis wet floral foam and water, then cut the bags down to the rim.

Then I shaped the arrangements with filler greens, which gave me a base of lovely grey-greens.  I used the leaves of Baptisia australis (false indigo), which look a bit like olive leaves, unopened flower heads of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy,’ silver and fragrant Santolina (lavender cotton), and blue mop head hydrangeas- they had changed to the most perfect, pale jade green by that time!

Once the general shape of the arrangement was established, I added white Hydrangea paniculata.  By this point, the oasis was completely hidden from sight.  Then, to create dimension and keep things loose, I added the quirky, leggy blossoms and green seed heads of Queen Anne’s Lace.

For the finishing touches, the altar flowers got a few sprigs of my Granmother’s bright pink roses, plus wildflowers in dusty blush shades to integrate the color.  (One is joe pye weed, not sure about the other).  To the green arrangement, I added wild grasses and rose hips from Rosa multiflora gathered in the Norman Bird Sanctuary.

I also (laughingly and somewhat contradictorily) added some store bought roses in pale greenish white, leftovers from a party my aunt had thrown a few days before.   I still remember, at dinner, Mumma fishing food off of my plate when I was being a picky kid, or eating the marshmallow that I had just toasted to a crisp in the fireplace, saying: “I’d hate to see it go to waste!”