Welcome to the festive edition of The Register, Favourbrook's monthly trove of engaging reads, inimitable style, loveable vices, guilty pleasures and fascinating curiosities. As you may have noticed, Christmas is almost upon us (depending, of course, upon which tier you're in), which would ordinarily prompt a panicked last hurrah to the shops to engage in the headless merry-go-round that is Xmas shopping. One good thing to come from being cooped up at home for so long is that the majority of us will be well ahead of schedule, having gorged on a digital retail feast. But for those of you who haven't yet started yet, be sure to check out our Christmas Gift Guide. You'll find plenty of treasures for both yourself and loved ones, from small accessories for sartorial types to serious investment pieces for a discerning wardrobe.
Not to focus on contagious diseases, because we've had quite enough of that this year thank you very much, but one of the greatest profiles ever written revolves around one man's sniffles. Gay Talese's seminal piece of New Journalism - Frank Sinatra Has a Cold - was written in the winter of 1965 for US Esquire, in the days when magazines actually published readable content that you could get your literary teeth into. After multiple requests for an interview rejected, the always immaculately dressed Talese hung around in Los Angeles to see if he could get close to the notoriously unforgiving crooner, who along with the cold, was approaching his 50th birthday.
"The most distinguishing thing about Sinatra's face are his eyes, clear blue and alert, eyes that within seconds can go cold with anger, or glow with affection, or, as now, reflect a vague detachment that keeps his friends silent and distant."
It's a brilliantly observant piece of writing that became the seminal example of the New Journalism movement. It gets under the skin of Sinatra the man, exploding the myth of Sinatra the legend, and worth every minute.
I know, we're biased, but we can't help thinking that we have the best gift guide in town. Where else can you find amazing investment pieces for elegant men and women under one digital roof?! Whether you're looking to treat yourself (God knows you've earned this year) or want to surprise a loved one with an outstanding gift, we've curated an eclectic guide to ensure there are smiles all round. From timeless formalwear to investment-piece womenswear, our garments and accessories make for very generous gifts that will be forever cherished. If you require any advice at all, don't hesitate to get in touch with our brilliant staff who know the collections inside out and will be able to steer you in the right direction.
Only the most humbug of Scrooges would deny that Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is his Christmas guilty pleasure. The last of Tchaikovsky’s three ballets, it was first performed in December 1892 - and is loosely based on an E.T.A Hoffman story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It was first presented at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, and we've managed to scour the festive trenches of Youtube to find a contemporary arrangement performed at the exact same theatre.
If Tchaikovsky himself wasn't particularly fond of the ballet adaptation, his critics were absolutely reviled by it. The composer would not live long enough to read a good word about it, and yet it has become the most frequently performed of all ballets. So clear a space in the sitting room and perform your best pirouette (we find mid-afternoon sherry to be an excellent performance enhancer) or put it on in the background as you prep the Brussels sprouts. Either way, it's a thoroughly pleasant way to pass the time at Christmas while pondering how you yourself would look in tights (don't think too long on it).
RACING GREEN VELVET
MARINE VELVET COTTON
Velvet lends itself extremely well to winter events. There's something about the rich dense pile that provides a sense of warmth and luxurious comfort, especially when cut in a classic silhouette such as a dinner jacket or smoking jacket. It feels like home on the one hand, while still being incredibly sophisticated on the other, hence why we love slipping it on around the holiday season. This year, we've created a number of jacket styles in a variety of velvet tones that brilliantly complement the seasonal colours. There's a stunning forest green that catches the light beautifully, whereas a more muted tobacco brown makes for a unique addition to a black tie ensemble. Plus you'll find classic black, navy and burgundy options, too. From smoking jackets to DJs, you'll find some truly great investments here.
Christmas is a time for generosity, and for Kingsley Amis that premise extended to drink. Like Amis, we'll all no doubt indulge in a tipple or seven over the holiday period, but unlike Amis, we'll probably not think too much about it. The raconteur on the other hand, approached the invocation of the wine and spirit fairies with great gusto and no little existential forethought, providing countless funny quips and timeless advice in this brilliant book. For the author of Lucky Jim, getting drunk was a pleasure, and getting others drunk a matter of public service. Page after page contains Kingsley's nuggets of wisdom pertaining to the grand tour of inebriation: “If you want to finish the evening with your usual number of fingers, do any cutting-up, peel-slicing and the like before you have had more than a couple of drinks, preferably before your first,” or, “Up to a point go for quantity rather than quality. Most people would rather have two glasses of ordinary decent port than one of a rare vintage.” It's an hilarious read, especially his dissection of the metaphysical hangover, which may prove a handy manual for some of us this season.
SERENA STRAIGHT DRESS
LOUISE DRESS NAVY DAVENPORT
SERENA LONGER CIRCLE DRESS
The social diary of 2020 will not be one that any of us look back on with fond memories, but that needn't put a dampener on the holiday season. We can all still have a Christmas to remember (albeit following the government's social distancing stipulations!). Even if you're just hosting family at home, the season of goodwill is also the season of dancing around in your favourite dress to the heady beats of messrs gin and tonic. We'll leave the drink prep to you, but will gladly help in sourcing the party dress! This season, we have some stunning silk Shantung styles that bring glamour and sophistication to a party look, or for a bit of playfulness, our Louise dress in silk devore chiffon (pictured above) is the very definition of fun. Alternatively, our Serena circle dresses are beautifully feminine and are most definitely designed to twirl in incorrigible whirligigs of dance (clear all furniture to the corners of the room before deploying your repertoire of moves).
Admittedly, we're not sure if we're doing you an immeasurable service here or presenting you with the stitch-up of the year, but perhaps against our better judgement, we have discovered what must amount to the biggest Christmas playlist ever assembled. There's over a week's worth of festive tunes, with all of the classics (Mariah, Wham et al) plus hundreds of alternative songs from as diverse a musical assortment as you could ever imagine. Think Elvis, Marvin Gaye, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Jose Feliciano, Barenaked Ladies, James Brown and, well, you get the idea. Hit play on the 24th and turn off shortly before the mental breakdown takes hold.
George Plimpton with Elaine at Elaine's. Alex Brandon/Associated Press
While not pertaining to even the slightest hint of Xmas festivity, we couldn't resist including this delightful 8-minute recording of the late New York-aristo writer and bon viveur George Plimpton as he recalls a wonderful story of giving an auction winner a star-studded walk through the legendary NYC eatery Elaine's, which became a sort of de facto clubhouse for the writers of New Journalism. Plimpton, who helped found The Paris Review, was mostly known for his sports writing (and taking part in the very sports he wrote about), to which he brought a keen literary eye, boyish enthusiasm and no little old-world erudition. He's everything the world isn't now. Glorious George.