Sunday, June 27, 2010

Francisco and Parq

There’s no need for playing games. I only really noticed Parq the precise moment that Parq informed me that it had noticed me. It’s that old mental process (and so human) that makes us give back to those that treat us nice. Like the overdosage of sympathy that we start to feel about someone that gives us a sincere compliment or that shows availability to help us, it was also after Francisco proposed me an interview that I got more interested in perusing those pages. And, funny enough, that's where it all starts, in the sense of touch. The feeling is good, and so are the paging and design. But truth be told, of all magazines dedicated to urban fashion and culture – that could only be a more complete way of saying “style”(because "style” is not only defined by what we wear, it's a generic attitude glued to an aesthetic assumption by which behaviors and desires are oriented) – we couldn’t expect otherwise. But it’s not only the cover that works well. The content does too. Like a boomerang, with a starting and ending point at fashion and going through architecture, design, cinema, music and any other form of art. Even the advertising seems to be ruled by higher standards of quality or simply good taste (if you think I’m exaggerating, just check out the magazine and then we'll talk). But for some people this publication can pose a serious problem – it’s free. As we well know, a vast majority of the population only values the products and services for which they have to pay but I don't remember ever seeing someone making a comparison between the quality of the Berardo Collection and what they are (not) charged at the entrance... Parq is good. There! And you can find it in some of the hippest places in Lisbon. In stores, coffee shops and artsy venues. And also in Oporto, Coimbra, Aveiro or Évora. And I can only congratulate Francisco Vaz Fernandes and all those people that collaborate in Parq. Oh, and by the way Francisco, I wasn’t the only one to be convinced. My mother became a fan too

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yesterday I caught these two doing this...

And "this", from what I could tell, can be seen here

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Do Homem™ *

[To Mr. João Mineiro. Because behind big companies there are always big collaborators. Those of you who know San Giorgio know exactly what I’m talking about]

In the showroom. That’s where the suggestions for the next Fall/Winter were. And that’s where these pictures could have been taken. But in the almost 2 hours that I was in Diniz & Cruz I didn’t only hear about coats and ties. I also heard about people. And I met them. From the cleaning ladies to the sales agents. From the warehouse guys to the tailors. From the line responsible to the heirs. I don’t know how many hands I shook, how many times I nodded my head or how many times I smiled. I guess it were the enough times needed for suggesting that these pictures were taken, not near the pieces I'll want to wear next Winter, but in the production floor, near those that give life to this collection. That’s Mr. José Manuel Cruz in the picture. Mr. José Manuel Diniz, his namesake, is missing. The two, along with Mr. Fernando Diniz, founded Diniz & Cruz 38 years ago.

None of them suspects and we must recognize that the number won’t impress anyone, but it was 5 years ago that my relationship with this company started. I was going to have my first real job. The training stage was about to begin and I needed a suit. The rite of passage to a suit and tie in the life of a youngman still using a youth card isn’t always easy and, since I couldn’t avoid it, I was determined to live it in the most pleasant way. I praise my patience at the time since I searched all over town for the perfect suit. There was not a retailer where I didn’t enter, asked, tried or simply snooped around. I realized that a small number of brands absorbs the vast majority of the offer and I came to a simple conclusion: the market has more that just one or two interesting brands. I could easily name you half a dozen. But I’m not here to tell you about what I like or simply tolerate. I’m here to tell you what I like the most, of what are my preferences (I suspect that’s the main advantage of writing to myself).

“That suit is ours”. That was the first thing Mr. Cruz told me when I got near. It hadn’t been difficult for me to do this courtesy and I wasn’t surprised that he noticed. Among the 14 suits and coats that I have in my closet, only 2 are not Do Homem. I had been wanting to visit their factory for quite a while now. You see… I’m not an annoying person, but I’m one of those clients that can be a little bit insistent. In Lourenço & Santos, a store near the old Condes Cinema, I once insisted that the buttons of a coat in the Do Homem new collection had been sewed a centimeter above of what this brand had accustomed me to. The sales assistant thought that I was crazy and politely nodded while trying to convince me otherwise. The man was partly right (I do have a certain level of craziness and my mother is the first one to admit it), so I called the Diniz & Cruz factory telling them what had happened and to provide them my feedback. Marx said that the struggle between the classes was the engine of change. I’m a bit more obstinate and think that what makes things change is the feedback that people receive when it comes to their work. I asked them if I could visit the factory and they told me that I could visit a store in Largo da Graça that belonged to them and that would be the ideal place for my questions and to have an extended sample of the brand. The store is San Giorgio. That's where I found Mr. João, to whom I dedicate this post and Mr. Horácio, the fourth person to appear in this article. San Giorgio recently went through some improvement works and reopened 3 weeks ago, with the same Portuguese pavement entering the store, but with a new enchantment. The truth is that the visit cost me more than I expected but we already know that’s the risk we take when we enter such a store.

The Diniz & Cruz Group has two brands, Do Homem and Dalmata. I won’t talk about that second brand because it’s directed for women and all I know about it are some fancy catalogs. But the first brand is my trademark. And I remember Mr. Cruz looking at me with a provocative look and saying “our coats are probably the best coats in the world”. I laughed and replied that he didn’t have to waste time with me because, for good or bad, I had been convinced long ago. I was delighted to visit the factory, to know the “production line”, “cut area”, the “pressing area” or the warehouse and live the normal day of a production unit of that size. I followed the several stages of the creation process, I saw the future collections and discovered beautiful patterns that are never sold in Portugal because, as I was told, nobody buys them here. Those same patterns are exported to some of the most famous stores in Paris, London or some Italian cities. And I was also pleased to know that “my” brand was reopening another store. Lourenço & Santos (remember the store I mentioned above?), where I would religiously stock on knit ties. I haven’t come back yet, but I’m planning to. Now believe what you want. Tell you about my favorite brand, my favorite store or of the old store that reopened is not just free publicity. This blog is too dear to me for that. This post, I assure you, is nothing but a friendly advise.

* Trademark belonging to Diniz & Cruz Group

Monday, June 7, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ci vediamo Milano

Out of time. I had always been there out of time. In August the heat swallows, kills, dries. The continental climate turns the peak of Summer unbearable and, like in any metropole away from the sea, the city dies. Some supermarkets close and, as strange as it may seem, some hotels too. Water, as an element, is practically non-existent. The sea is far away, there is no river and the only thing remotely similar to lakes are three channels opened centuries ago and that are incapable of hydrating our body and spirit. Add to that the unbearable sun that seems to melt the tar. It’s not famous for being pretty and, when compared with so many Italian gems, it is not. But what Milan lacks in beauty it makes up in magnificence, sobriety and cosmopolitism. And that’s what I found in May that I had never found in August. This cosmopolitan city, filled with sleek and sophisticated Milanese that, at the same time, are not very friendly. They assess our hair, our skin tone, the cut of our coat, the color of our pants and our shoes and we only receive a smile from them if we convince them that we’re worth it. To me the biggest difference in the way Italians and the rest of the world dress is that thin line that makes a certain accessory an essential item to some and something completely superfluous to others. And we can tell that from a tender age, like a cultural characteristic in all of them. Men, women, rich and poor. Most kids wear a bracelet, a necklace, a hair band or a scarf in the jacket that most English, Portuguese or French kids would consider completely unnecessary. The global village does not allow striking differences regarding a beauty pattern, a style or whatever. So it comes down to details. And that’s were these guys excel, both men and women. If you please allow me, that old slogan by Mr. Azzaro fits like a glove to describe Milan, “for men that love women that love men”. And when I think about it I remember the person that would play the dandy part perfectly. Let me present you Luigi, in one of those Augusts when I mistakenly visited Milan. Unlike August, I already miss May and from what I can see, Camilla misses it too