Mont Blanc Rollerball pen

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Launched: 1924 – the first Meisterstücks were launched.

It was a Hamburg banker, Alfred Nehemias, and a Berlin engineer, August Eberstein, together recognised the signs of time and decided to produce pens, back in the 1906. A short while later Wilhelm Dziambor, Christian Lausen and Claus Johannes Voss took over the business and the foundations for the modern future of Mont Blanc was set.

Their first model, Rouge et Noir, was launched in 1909 and in 1910 the pen which was to give the company its new name, “Mont Blanc” was debuted. The Meisterstücks (or “masterpiece” in English) was first used in 1924 on Mont Blanc’s fountain pens.

Modern Meisterstücks include fountain pens, ballpoints, rollerballs, pencils, and even a highlighter pen. Unlike vintage Meisterstücks pens, modern variants are usually constructed from a composite resin as opposed to celluloid and bear most similarity to the Meisterstück designs of the 1950s. However, in keeping with the previous models using higher-end materials, such as precious metals, these are available under the sub-brand of “Solitaire”.

The company was acquired by Dunhill in 1977 and today forms part of the Rupert Family’s Richemont Group alongside Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Baume et Mercier.

I love writing whether that is tapping out on a keyboard with a minimal number of fingers or long-hand in my scruffiest writing. My poor handwriting is made legible by me using my Mont Blanc Rollerball. I use the fine refills and something miraculous happens making my sort of Doctor scribble like fine calligraphy.

I am lucky enough to have owned a fountain pen – the big fat one, several pencils and usual ball point pens in the Mont Blanc Meisterstuck range I even very happily received a leather sleeve – like a cigar tube a number of years ago that is branded with the Mont Blanc snow-flake and carries at least four pens.

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Would you like your own Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Rollerball? I cannot recommend this wonderful pen more highly. Click the following AMAZON link – MontBlanc Meisterstuck Rollerball Pen – Black

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Photo courtesy of Mont Blanc

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Ray-Ban Wayfarers

Founded 1937 – Ray-Ban Wayfarers were launched in 1952

History: The iconic Ray-Ban sunglasses brand best known for its Wayfarer and Aviator models, was founded in 1937 by Bausch & Lomb, a US medical equipment manufacturer corporation, based in Rochester, New York.

In 1929, Lieutenant General John MacCready of the US Army Air Corp, asked Bausch & Lomb to create aviation sunglasses that would reduce the distraction for pilots caused by the intense blue and white hues of the sky. A major concern was goggle fogging up causing blindness at high altitudes. The prototype in 1936 was refined and remodeled with impact resistant lenses and a metal frame to become the Ray-Ban Aviator, which was patented in 1939.

In 1952, Ray-Ban created the iconic Ray-Ban Wayfarer using plastic frames with the now standard G-15 green and grey being introduced in 1953.

Described as “The Intersection between Culture and Fashion” the past fifty plus years have made the Wayfarer very popular through numerous references in popular culture including being worn – virtually always – by Jack Nicholson, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, being name-checked in a song “Boys of Summer” by former Eagle, Don Henley, and being reimagined in the New Wayfarer with a slightly softer eye shape.

The range of available colours and patterns celebrates the iconic and timeless design of the Ray-Ban Wayfarer; it also permits clear self-expression. This includes the work of the You-tube vlogger, Casey Neistat, who’s pair of Wayfarers are subjected to extensive customization including white spray-can paint and the removal by angle-grinder of telltale logos. However, they continue to be unmistakably Ray-Bans!

In 1999, Bausch & Lomb sold the Bay-Ban brand to the Italian group Luxottica for a reported $640 million.

Photo by Luxottica

Lacoste Shirt

Designer: Rene Lacoste

History: Already a successful tennis player winning seven Gland Slam titles in 1926/27, Lacoste found traditional ‘tennis whites’ too restrictive and uncomfortable. Watching his friend, George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley, playing in a more practical pique-cotton polo shirt he had a great idea. Commissioning an English tailor to make a few shirts they were soon the choice of many.

Lacoste debuted his shirt at the US Open in New York City in 1926. In 1927, the result of a successful wager he’d made with the French Davis Cup captain, he was given an alligator-skin suitcase that he’d seen in a Boston store. Christened “the Alligator” by the US press, in France their contemporaries nicknamed him “the Crocodile”. His friend Robert George embroidered a crocodile onto a blazer that Lacoste wore for his matches.

Retiring from tennis in the early 1930s, he and André Gillier started La Chemise Lacoste to produce his crocodile-branded shirts. By the early 1950’s the Lacoste tennis shirt arrived in the USA being trailed as “the status symbol of the competent sportsman,” an attempt to establish Lacoste in the upper echelons of society.

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My Lacoste shirt: I was, apparently, a gifted tennis player at 12 or 13 and my parents thought that best to see me develop my talents with regular lesson with a man called Blenkarn – who’d been involved in the coaching of the British Davies Cup team. To me is seemed essential to wear the right motivational tennis shirt so my Grandmother – an inspiration woman and very enthusiastic shopper – bought me one – a yellow one, well it was the 1970’s. Nostalgia aside, rolling forward several decades my own kids wore as youngsters the same Lacoste shirts as worn by my wife and her siblings on their many visits to southern Europe, still colourfast after more than 20 years and still iconic whether or not you had any talent on the tennis court.

Your Lacoste shirt😕

Photos by Lacoste

Barbour Jacket

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Founded: 1894, in South Shield’s in North East England, as an importer of oil cloth by John Barbour.

History: John Barbour’s grandson, Duncan who joined the Barbour business in 1928, was a keen motorcyclist. During his tenure at the company, Barbour became the originator of waxed cotton motorcycling suits and jackets.

Although the thorn-proof “the Bedale” jacket debuted in 1980, the definitive “the Beaufort” jacket, which was designed by Chairman, Margaret Barbour, was featured in the Barbour range for the first time in 1983.

Although the company moved to Wimbledon (in SW London) in 1916 it returned north to Simonside, South Shields, in 1981.

Barbour’s classic wax jackets are still manufactured by hand in the factory in Simonside and each year over 100,000 jackets are processed – including jackets returned by delighted owners seeking a repair and reproofing service.

J Barbour and Sons Ltd hold royal warrants from HM Queen Elizabeth 2 and HRH Charles, Prince of Wales for “waterproof and protective clothing”. The Household Cavalry Polo Team is a brand ambassador for Barbour.

My Barbour  Jacket: I believe I have had a total of three Barbour jackets. My first in the mid 1980’s which parallels an era that’s was typified by this essential Sloane Ranger classic. I am not sure I really identified with this urban tribe but we’d all wear them on stormier evenings propping up the bar at the White Horse (aka “the Sloane Pony”) in Parsons Green with corduroys trousers and fine brown brogues. My second became an essential part of my commute from SW London too the West End really before the strides that London has made in terms of improving public transport. In the mid-1990’s we were all taking to scooters to avoid the dreaded commute to work. My preferred steed was a Vespa ET2 (see more) – 50ccs of pure liberation – but depending on the drenching I’d alternate my Barbour with the longer Drizabone (see below). Now my third incarnation, now with a zipped in lining is likely to be seen on a dog or beach walks but it is scheduled for a return to the Home of Barbour for a repair on the arm and reproofing. Whilst not all will understand those who love these jackets will appreciate the waxy smell and slight inflexibility but in the rain they really do shine.

Your Barbour Jacket?:

Photo by Barbour

Levi‘s 501

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501’s were seen as work-wear for much of its first sixty years being rechristened ‘blue jeans’ in the 1950’s.

Jacob Davis, a tailor, was approached by a workman’s wife asking for a stronger pair of trousers. He sought a solution to pocket and fly tearing experienced by workers using his denim trousers by applying copper rivets to the stress points of the garment. He then went in search of a partner to help make these early examples.

Levi Strauss was a dry goods vender who had sold Jacob the denim he needed for his early samples. They joined forces and the production which following its the grant of Patent on 20th May 1873  for “waist overalls” heralded a massive success.

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In 1886 the Two Horse leather patch was first used and added to the overalls.  In 1890 the Patent passed into the Public Domian, meaning the company lost their exclusive over riveted denim. As a result the company introduced the “501” as the definitive version of their denim work “waist overalls”, with copper rivets and the Two Horse leather and later the “leather-like” patch.

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By 1936 the Red Tab appeared. These ingenious and other design elements have ensured that Levi Strauss have been able to seek protection for their design against cynical copying. The company spend million of dollars annually protecting their Intellectual Property Rights.

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Always at the heart of youth culture, the universal appeal stems from its integrity, a loyalty to the original design, the highest quality denim and sturdy manufacture.

I have loved Levi’s jeans since a teenager. Whilst the waist band may have expanded – and indeed contracted on various occasions due to mad cabbage soup diets etc – I have been through zip-fly, yellow label and 360 degrees back to red-label button-fly 501.

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They are simply my favourite jeans that have seen me through endless concerts and music festivals. Dylan at Blackbush in 1977 (that included sleeping on Waterloo Station concourse due to a missed last train), to Glastonbury mud-caked, U2 and the Rolling Stones at Wembley to Mumford and Sons at Benicassim they have simply been more than a wardrobe anchor.

Today they combine perfectly with classic shoes, an Argentinian woven belt and a great shirt and/or jacket – depending on the season – for London creative business meetings. Less Revolution and more Evolution my 501s – and I now have several favourite pairs – are still beautifully made, ooze classic iconic style and are, above all, hugely dependable.

Would you like a pair of Levis 501? Click this AMAZON link to buy your own iconic jeans click the Amazon link below the image: 

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Levi’s 501 Original Fit Men’s Jeans, Blue (Onewash), 34W x 30L

The essential Argentinian belt can also be added here by clicking the Amazon link below the image – make sure you get the right length!

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Carlos Diaz Mens Womens Unisex Argentinian Brown Leather Embroidered Polo Belt (85 cm/ 32-34 Inches)

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Photo by Levi Strauss