• Rowing Blazers

    Top Drawer | Music & Books  

    It is finished. The love letter Jack Carlson and I have been writing to the elaborately striped, piped, trimmed, and badged jackets, and the elite athletes and clubs to which they belong, is finally finished. What took three years, 237 athletes, and thousands of trans-Atlantic air miles to and from Europe can now be had in a 9" x 12 " coffee table book. Rowing Blazers is essentially a gentle curtain pull taking you inside the highly atmospheric boathouses, campuses, and trophy rooms of clubs around the world. In that same spirit, I will pull back a curtain of my own, sharing some of my favorite shots from the book with commentary you won't find in the 255 pages of Rowing Blazers.

    This portrait of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss was the first shoot Jack had scheduled for the project. We were driving up to Harvard and I remember thinking, "Couldn't you have picked less intimidating rowers for the first shot?" Not only was Winklevoss the only name I knew in rowing prior to this project, but there were two of them. They couldn't have been nicer and more enthused to be a part of the project. We had them in and out of five or so different jackets they had each accumulated over the years. Ever the consummate professionals. And no, we never talked about Facebook.

    The hunter green and navy color-way of The King’s School Chester jacket, worn here by Christopher Bartley, is my English jacket of choice. As audacious as the English blazers can be, this one is quite wearable off the river. It is the bold stripes of the English that fashion designers have so eagerly pulled from. Ralph Lauren reinterprets it every so often. However, the fit oft leaves much to be desired. Many rowing blazers are infamous for fitting poorly, looking as if it belonged to your ugly uncle.

    So we'd clip the jackets as I gently pushed my point of view through styling. I'd tie a four-in-hand knot on everyone (the only knot you really need to know before 40), jam pocket squares into jackets, and often throw my sterling engine turn belt around their waists in a pinch. I recall Christopher’s shoes that day being quite square toed so I threw my Nike sneakers on him to introduce a lighter athletic touch, finished off with a haphazard roll of his chinos (sans socks of course).

    I shot quite a few group shots for the book. The University of London’s heavyweight four is my favorite. With many of the athletes, I'd have only 45 minutes to scout the boathouse or campus, compose an idea, style the rowers, and then create the portrait. This made group shots particularly...challenging. Even more so when you consider after each shoot, location scouting became progressively more difficult out of a necessity for variety.

    As brilliant as most trophy rooms were, we limited ourselves to only shooting in a handful of them. This is why I'm proud of this photograph in particular, because the University of London boys were at the tail end of our shot list. Which explains how we ended up in a narrow hallway of their boathouse. The moment that light pouring through the large windows hit my eyes, I became fixated on shooting them in this space in between...the space in between the routine of the weight room and the romance of the river.

    Portraits in the city were rare but Matthew Kochem's is one of the few I shot in Manhattan. Despite being cut from the book, it is one of my favorites. It turns out to be this quiet dusk moment outside the Cornell Club in Midtown. It has a metropolitan feel that refreshingly gilds the raucous boathouses throughout the book.

    Jack Carlson has represented the United States at the World Rowing Championships and raced for Oxford in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races. In 2013, he coxed three different boats to first place finishes in all three of the traditional international rowing regattas: the Henley Royal Regatta, the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, and the Head of the Charles Regatta. The guy's amazing. A Boston native and an archaeologist by training, Jack is currently a Clarendon Scholar at Oxford University. It is Jack's immersion in the rowing culture that granted us uninhibited access behind the closed doors of this beautiful sport.

    Rowing Blazers is available at Amazon for $36.00. Tell your family, friends, and enemies. Thank you to each and every athlete who sat in front of my lens and to Jack for his vision and passion for this project.

    Sep 8, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Summer’s Whims

    Miscellany  

    Sep 5, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Varsity Blues

    Style | Prep Essentials  

    American sportswear is always in fashion, and for good reason. Our grandfathers threw together the leisurely look some 50 odd years ago upon returning to campus from war and we have only continued to refine the military-infused collegiate style that has become unmistakably American. Following the recent appetite for all things preppy, it is now taking on a more downtown edge. The varsity jacket is one of those pieces that is unapologetically athletic, not unlike saddle shoes or the pique polo. It’s youthful, all-American, and dripping in optimism. Dress it up with a shirt, tie, and trouser or take it down with just a fleece hoodie underneath. This navy satin jacket, with vintage inspired details (striped cuff ribbing and high set patch pockets), feels of the moment while delivering a rich palette for contrasting fabrics and textures. Work one into your jacket rotation this fall, just skip the letter patch this time around.

    Sep 2, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

    Food & Drink  

    My brain is starting to freeze. But I don't care. I press my tongue up against the roof of my mouth and keep going. With the precision of a master surgeon, I carve out the strawberry careful not to touch the chocolate or vanilla. The rectangle carton of Neapolitan is all mine for at least the next 17 minutes—my own private Heaven. The blacks of my eyes shoot around the kitchen between bites. Mom hates this—me siphoning the strawberry third before anyone else has a shot at it. Such is life with two younger siblings—the Neapolitan catered to everyone…and yet no one. The year is 1993.

    The obsession with strawberry ice cream that takes me at the age of 12 eventually leads me here, Van Leeuwen’s shop in the East Village. It’s my go-to spot in New York for ice cream. What began in a Greenpoint Brooklyn kitchen in 2008 is now scooped out of six ’88 Chevy Step Vans and three storefronts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Van Leeuwen’s commitment to celebrating all-natural ingredients is rapidly cementing their frozen concoction as the ice cream in the city.

    While strawberry is a classic ice cream flavor, it’s all too often ruined by artificial colorings and “natural flavorings” that come from sources other than strawberries. These are unpleasant but necessary ingredients when insufficient quantities of strawberries or bland-tasting strawberries are used. Yeah, that strawberry I fell in love with back in ’93, tainted love. It turns out it was a scientifically engineered bastardization of what God intended. And God knows ice cream, I assure you.

    Cutting corners is stomached by most in the industry, but for ice cream artisans and self-proclaimed foodies Laura O’Neill and the Brothers Van Leeuwen (Ben and Pete), it’s cringe-inducing. They do it right—only (fresh hormone and antibiotic free) milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and generous amounts of sun-sweetened strawberries. It is the freshest strawberry ice cream that has ever hit my lips…and it delivers a hell of a brain freeze.

    Aug 20, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Saddle Up

    Style | Prep Essentials  

    Sportswear is America's fashion child. It’s about living, and that’s where America has made its mark. In the early 1920’s, American golfers, following the Duke of Windsor’s lead, brought two-tone shoes to the greens long before they appeared on the feet of jitterbugging adolescents. Girls of the 1950’s typically paired saddle shoes with skirts, a white blouse and bobby socks. Although the normal coloration is white and black, today, they’re worn by both men and women in a variety of style and colors.

    Mark McNairy, Allen Edmonds, J.Crew and a handful of English cordwainers each have their take on the classic, but Ralph Lauren's are top drawer. Bench-made in Northampton England by Crockett & Jones (a renowned cordwainer in their own right), this particular pair are vintage at over 20 years old. Everything from the chocolate eyelets, to the tan shade of the saddle, to the silhouette of the toe (not too round but not too pointy) is just perfect. And then they're beat to hell. In tan/white, they subtly hint at the gentlemanly demeanor found on the links.

    Pair the brown variations with a multi-stripe sock from Smart Turnout. Come summer, lace them up sock-less with your shorts and summer-weight trousers. Whatever you do, just don't try to keep them clean.

    Aug 15, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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