Yamakazi Attack

Hot on the heals of Burn’s Night-the annual feast celebrating the Scots poet, whisky and haggis comes hot news from Japanese interloper Yamakazi, the maker of fine Japanese whisky.

Treacherous though it may seem to a true believer in the virtues of Scottish whisky, malts from Japan are having their moment in the sun.

Suntory’s Yamakazi has announced the imminent arrival of its bespoke Sherry Cask (£200 for 70cl) Limited Edition. The 2013 was awarded the moniker of Sherry of the Year by Jim Murray in his 2015 Whisky Bible so there are high expectations for the latest version which will hit the market next Monday February 1st.

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Yamakazi Chief blender Shinji Fukuyo points out that he “did not blend the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 for the novice”.  The result is an uncompromising, intense and tannic brew with a richness exploding with dried fruits, dark chocolate and spicy notes and a long, sophisticated finish.

There are a total of 5,000 bottles released for the world market so get in quickly with your order.

 

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Time To Tone Up

Already the end of January beckons and the New Year resolve is weakening. What to do? Reboot and get myself some shiny new kit to exercise with.

If you’re looking for some really stylish (and yes quite expensive) exercise equipment to use at home take a look at the fitness products from Germany’s Hock Design.

Beautifully conceived and immaculately executed Hock uses only certified and sustainably grown wood, 303 grade non reactive stainless steel and Italian vegetable tanned leathers to create their dumbbells, hand weights, extenders, ropes and push up bars.

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They have wonderful names such as Robusto, Ropa and Pector and are gorgeous to look at and lust over.

The company was started in 2009 by designer Kristof Hock. Since then sales have quadrupled as the company has spread the word. Check ’em out.

hockdesign.com

Men Now Buy 20% Of All Luxury Handbags

A new study conducted by Bianca Mosca, known for its ultra luxury bags and accessories made from Louisiana alligator, reveals that so called “Man Bags” including totes, duffels, clutches, backpacks, messenger and bowling bags now represent one in five of all sales in the global $35 billion luxury handbag market.

Despite the reported slowdown in China and recent setbacks in the global luxury market the 2016 outlook for luxury men’s bags has never been brighter.

According to Bianca Mosca’s estimate the aggregate value of men’s bag sales by value has more than doubled in the last decade with men now spending over $7 billion a year on luxury bags.

Yet whilst volumes have been growing at 5% per annum the amount spent per unit has been climbing by 10% a year leading to the conclusion that men are spending substantially more on each bag they are purchasing.

The study goes on to forecast that global expenditure on men’s luxury bags will rise to $10 billion by 2020 with just under 9 million units sold.

A Bianca Mosca spokesperson said:

“A major part of the rise can be explained by the growth in the numbers of metrosexual men who are becoming more comfortable carrying handbags that are quite unlike the briefcases of yesteryear and are willing to spend serious sums of money to acquire a fashionable accessory”

A further factor impacting the prices of luxury bags is the pressure on raw material costs particularly for the type of premium exotic leathers used by Bianca Mosca. The price of first grade unblemished Louisiana alligator skins has increased by 12% a year for the past three years and is forecast to continue growing as demand for exotic materials continues to outstrip demand at the top end of the luxury market.

Bianca Mosca which this year is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding in 1946, will be launching a new range of men’s handbags, briefcases, weekend bags and clutches in Spring ‘16.

 

https://www.biancamosca.com

Inquiries: tim@biancamosca.com

de Grisogono’s “New Retro” Wristwatches

I’ll always have a soft spot for Fawaz Gruosi, founder of the Geneva based high class jeweller de Grisogono. Having created a modern legend known for it’s extravagant creations he has hit the proverbial nail on the head with his latest man’s wristwatch which he’s dubbed the “New Retro”.

The description “handsome” doesn’t do justice to this masterpiece seven years in development.

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The New Retro re-defines the category of non-round watches with a truly unique design that is at the same time both simple yet truly elegant and sophisticated. With inspiration from the 1950’s schools of watch design the new watch provides a panoply of views from which to observe the passage of time.

The black lacquered crown is cleverly positioned above 12 o’clock, a neat and thought provoking change from the standard location. The dial is easily readable with Arabic style numerals. Cut outs at 3 and 9 o’clock give the impression that both the dial and movement are somehow suspended.

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The movement is a black PVD coated mechanical type. The New Retro comes in five versions including Pink and White gold as well as Stainless Steel. All versions are sold with a square scaled alligator watch strap.

Prices start at $15,000 for the steel version.

 

 

Picasso’s Reviled Rival Revived

A new book written by my friend and fellow flaneur Nick Foulkes* attempts to revive the reputation of the French artist Bernard Buffet who was once as famous as Pablo Picasso.

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Born in 1928, Buffet studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His early work consisted of religious pieces, still lives and portraits. His first public showing was in 1946 following which he had at least one major exhibition every year.

By the end of the 1950’s he was as well known as Picasso which caused intense jealousy from his rival artist.

Pablo Picasso was sitting with his children on the terrace of a café in the south of France in the late 1950’s. Another artist arrived. “Look, there is Bernard Buffet,” said Picasso’s children. They jumped up and asked for the autograph of the young, handsome, awkward man who was – joint equally with their father – the most celebrated painter of the post-war world, a modern master who had made a colossal fortune from his work by the age of 30.

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After a meteoric rise to stardom, Buffet fell victim in the 1960s to a campaign of denigration in his home country, led, among others, by Picasso. The Spanish genius detested Buffet for rivalling his fame and certainly never forgave him for becoming a cult hero to his children.

Picasso’s mythical status, and commercial success, continues to grow long after his death. Buffet remained successful for half a century; up to a point. He was for many years a great favourite with non-academic lovers of art, otherwise known as “ordinary people”. In the 1970s, no middle-class sitting-room in Britain was complete unless it had a stiff-backed orange couch, a television on splayed legs and a print of a spiky clown’s face painted by Buffet.

He has also been consistently admired by art critics in other countries, especially Japan and the US. In France, Buffet’s reputation as a serious artist imploded in the late 1950s. Up to, and after, his suicide 10 years ago, he was treated by the French cultural elite as an object of mockery and contempt. His voluminous work – sometimes harsh, sometimes sentimental, using garish colours and bold lines reminiscent of comic books and cartoons – was “not true art”. Buffet, it was whispered, was a purveyor of kitsch, a mere faiseur (poser).

But he remained commercially successful and wealthy, and killed himself only because he had Parkinson’s disease and could no longer paint. Was Buffet a genius or a charlatan?

According to official French taste – and there is still such a thing as official taste in France – Buffet remains an artistic outcast; art school courses refuse all mention of him.The national museum of modern art, on the upper floors of the Georges Pompidou centre, has a large collection of Buffet paintings.

Opinions may, reasonably, differ on Buffet. He may not be to be everyone’s taste. What is extraordinary, something with no parallel in the history of modern French art, is that a painter should have been once so admired, and remain admired abroad, but fall so utterly from critical grace in his homeland.

In 1955, he was chosen by 100 critics as the most impressive young painter in the world. In 1956, he was given a spread in Paris Match in which he was presented as the “young millionaire painter”.

The late Maurice Garnier was a Paris gallery owner and a friend of Buffet until the artist died in 1999. He had exclusive rights to trade in Buffet paintings. M. Garnier believed it was Buffet’s lightning success and riches, just after the Second World War, which helped to turn the art establishment against him.

“He sold too well,” M. Garnier said. “He made a lot of money. He lived in an ostentatious way. The powers that be hated him for all that.” Buffet incurred, above all, the enmity of two of the great cultural figures of post-war France. The first was Picasso; the second was André Malraux, the writer who became President Charles de Gaulle’s minister for culture in 1959. Picasso would enter Paris galleries and stare at Buffet canvasses for hours, sometimes glaring in silent hatred, sometimes telling visitors how much he hated what he saw before him. Malraux also detested Buffet. M. Perier believes Picasso influenced Malraux, who knew little about art, but he says the culture minister’s motives for bad-mouthing Buffet were also partly political or art-political.

“Malraux was determined to re-establish the reputation of Paris as the art centre of the world,” M. Périer said. “He decided that the ‘abstract’ movement of the 1950s was the vehicle which would achieve that aim. Buffet was anything but an abstract painter. His success and his reputation threatened to muddle the argument that the future of art was abstract.”

Buffet also made another powerful enemy, or at least alienated someone who might have protected, and boosted, his career and reputation. In the 1950s, Buffet, then a homosexual, was the lover of Pierre Bergé, the man who later became the lover and business partner of the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. In 1958, Buffet had a spat with Bergé over his new friendship with the then debutant Yves Saint Laurent. Buffet took up instead with a young woman. Perier believes Berge would have reconciled the art establishment with Buffet if the young lovers had not fallen out. M. Garnier goes further and says Buffet attracted the enmity of several powerful gay figures in the art world because he switched his sexual orientation.

Sexual politics and artistic politics apart, is Buffet’s art any good? Does he deserve once again to be compared with Picasso?

M. Perier is cautious. “There is no doubt in my mind that Buffet is a great artist. Should he be placed on the same level as Picasso, as people did in the 1950s? Possibly not, but Picasso has benefited from a Buffet effect in reverse. Sometimes, I stand in front of a Picasso and I really cannot decide whether this is truly a good painting or whether I’ve just been conditioned to believe it is a good painting. “With Buffet, generations in France have been conditioned to say that he is ridiculous. Now, at last, younger generations are beginning to judge for themselves.”

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* The Invention Of The Modern Mega-Artist by Nicholas Foulkes.

Publication Date: January 14, 2016

The Five Best Wallets For Men

There’s something about the debut of a New Year that calls out for refreshing one’s wardrobe and accessories.

When it comes to wallets and cardholders there is a bewildering array of possibilities from the everyday leather and canvas up to exotic skins such as alligator and python.

Moti Ankari my colleague at Bloomberg Pursuits has come up with a great selection including iPhone Cases cases that double as wallets.

You can read his post here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-01-06/best-wallets-for-men-bi-folds-to-money-clips-to-iphone-hybrids