Monday, February 23, 2015

Leyva Belts: Top quality belts from Andalusia

The A. LEYVA S.A was founded by Antonio Leiva, a tailor by trade, in the early 1960's and started as an entrepreneurial project with the objective and vision of offering a product based on quality and good customer service: Fine handmade leather belts and accessories.
The Leyva company started operating with the latest advances in technology about eleven years ago. Thanks to an important commercial network, set up nationally and abroad all over the world (they always had an international vision) , the company has managed to position its creations in the best and most elite fashion shops.
Their philosophy is based on three pillars: Quality, Design and Diversity. And no need to say that, because they always keep that in mind, they have been able to achieve fame and prestige on the international stage. The craftmanship, and respect for traditional craftsman practices and leather-working experts make every detail a true piece of jewelry.
 
Nowadays they use state-of-the art technology to design and project as well as computerized cutting machinery. Distinctiveness stands out in the design of each of their collections giving a unique personality to every belt. Their belts are of a very selective quality, made of the finest materials and undergo strict quality controls that guarantee their beauty and durability. If properly cared for, the leather will look even more beautiful throughout time, that's for sure. And that's what I like, because fine leather is a noble material. 
They have several different collections: 
DESIGNER
This collection is designed for a man with urban and modern style. There is a touch of minimalism in the collection that adds to its modern, cosmopolitan look.   continue reading here
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Testing online bespoke tailoring: Monte Carlo Tailors from Bangkok

Well, sooner or later it had to come to this. Ordering bespoke tailoring online, and, well... in Asia. A matter which already has lead us to a lot of discussions in Europe. Some say 'Do', others say 'Don't'. And both sides put a definite 'definitely' with that. So, we checked it out.
It is a clear matter that if online tailors charge U$D 150 or U$D 200 for a bespoke suit, you cannot , or better said, 'may not expect' a decent quality, considering not only labor costs, which might be cheap as hell in some places, but there's also the matter of fabric. If the labor is that cheap, we might ask ourselves questions about the craftsmanship of that cheap labor, and when it concerns fabric, .... Do I need to say more ? Anyway, first question that arose: 'What country to choose ?', if that might matter on our quest, and what price category.... To me the country didn't matter, since we're ordering online,... who cares anyway, and second to that, what price category ? Certainly not the cheapest ones, because I already knew that that wouldn't be satisfactory to me at all anyway.
 
So, browsing away one night, I stumbled upon "Monte Carlo Tailors" in Bangkok, Thailand. According to www.traveller.com, an Australian Online Travel newspaper with a decent reputation and large audience, it is one of the first addresses to visit when in Bangkok. 'Monte Carlo Tailors isn't a cheap option, but the staff do provide fantastic quality and service.' That's what they say. So her it was suddenly: I got triggered ! The link of the article is to be found here: http://www.traveller.com.au/hey-big-spenders-2azsl
So, that caught my interest. Because everybody knows that there are a lot of differences in quality and service. The dashing name 'Monte Carlo' intrigued me as well. In my opinion at first, it had to represent top quality and style, otherwise why associate with a stylish exclusive venue like the capital of Monaco, which I happen to like a lot. Ooh coincidence, coincidence... ) Or it must be a cheap way to mislead and attract customers with a fancy name.
When checking out their site vigorously, I quite quickly found out they know what they are talking about, surely when they explain the difference in quality/price: Basic, Medium and Exclusive. When ordering a better fabric, it's only logic the finish is better as well. So with this concept, they cater to most people's needs.
I, on the other hand, had to play different. For a bespoke suit, I wanted something special, something that stands out of mediocrity, if not by quality, then by looks. I choose a 'crimson red' fabric. One of their basic range. But, thanks to the willing cooperation of Mr. Raja Gulati, it was offered to me with the Exclusive finish.
Some might say that fabric is the first choice, and you need to get the best you can afford or want , and I agree fully. But it's easy to order the best and most expensive option, and then expect a good product. And also the fact that I wanted a suit that stands out of the crowd. Red would do fine;. But red wasn't available in the Exclusive categorie. Also taking into consideration a blend: I happen to sit in my car between 3.5 and 4 hours daily..... the choice seemed obvious. The more expensive fabrics would wrinkle too much, and resist too little, because they are too delicate. Common sense over heart. Common sense won easily.
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Always on the lookout for the best recipes: We hereby give you the excellent recipe from Raymond Blanc (a clasic cook I respect so much) for seared scallops...: Recipe from 'Kitchen Secrets' by Raymond Blanc. Click here to purchase book.
A dish very much inspired by simple Indian spicing. I use a high-quality Madras curry powder sourced from my local Indian supermarket and I suggest you do the same. If you do not have time to make the cauliflower bhaji accompaniment, this is a lovely, elegant dish in its own right.

Preparation: 40 mins, plus 1 hour infusing.
Cooking: 20 mins.
Special equipment: Blender.
Ingredients Required
For the scallops
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Meet Mr. Ignatious Joseph from the infamous Ign. Joseph shirts

Belgian Dandy had a pleasant conversation with Mr. Ignatious Joseph, shirt-maker 'extra-ordinaire'. And we do have to share that with our readers ofcourse...
BD: Mr Ignatious, first of all the basic question,...your passion for shirts, where does it come from ?
IJ: ... I have had a passion for fine clothing since my childhood as a colonial subject of Her Britannic Majesty. My father was a minor civil servant in the colonial administration, which also meant that the British style of dress was prevalent at home. Sri Lanka is a hot place and that has always meant, even when maintaining the rigors of the British dress code, one has to have a comfortable shirt. There was no such thing as "casual Friday" in my father's day. Passion comes from an intense involvement either     ....   continue reading here
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Alexander Kraft: The Charismatic International Style Icon

Belgian Dandy had an interview with Mr. Alexander Kraft; Sotheby's Realty France CEO, fashion brand ambassador, musician, author, gentleman & connoisseur and international style icon.
 
BD: Mr. Kraft, you're a prime example of a 'man of the world' who has lived and worked around the globe, and now divides his time between Monte Carlo, Berlin, Provence, Paris and Palm Beach. Can we conclude or assume that your jet-setting lifestyle is also reflected in your elegant and sophisticated wardrobe ?

AK: Of course, my lifestyle is reflected in my wardrobe: I am travelling practically every week of the year, I have business interest in the real estate-, fashion, music – and art – industries, and I have various homes in very different locations; as a consequence, I have to have outfits for all these different places and occasions. In cities such as Paris, London or New York, I dress differently, more formally, than in Monaco, Palm Beach or Provence, where I favor a much sportier, informal wardrobe. The common denominator is, I hope at least, a certain elegance that I try to bring to every outfit, be it a bespoke 3-piece-suit or a simple jeans-and-blazer combination.
Most of my wardrobe is rather formal in style and consists mostly of three-piece-suits in my favorite colors blue, grey and brown, and different shades thereof. I add interest to my bespoke suits by having them made in a lot of different patterns and materials. For example, I often choose fabrics with pinstripes, chalk stripes, window pane - or Prince of Wales – checks. Moreover, I have many suits of a very similar color and cut, but in wools of varying weight or in other materials such as cashmere, cotton, linen, tweed, corduroy or blends thereof. But I also love more informal outfits, and have a great variety of blazers and sport coats, slim cotton trousers, cashmere sweaters and polo shirts.
Thus, I am prepared for different climates and occasions... whilst being able to mix and match my outfits while traveling.
BD: Apart from your famous navy blue bespoke suits, what is your favorite outfit? And why ?
AK: If I go on a quick trip and I have to reduce my luggage to the absolute minimum, I often chose the following 2 favorite outfits: For formal occasions, a 3-piece-bespoke suit in dark blue; for travel and informal occasions, a combination of white/beige trousers with a soft, unstructured sports jacket in grey or light brown. With both, I wear blue and white striped shirts, a dark knitted tie, a vintage watch and either slim, dark brown bespoke loafers or Tod's driving shoes. With these 2 outfits, I am appropriately dressed for approx.. 95% of all occasions, and I can actually combine the elements of these outfits with one another, thus giving me at least 4 different looks.
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