Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ecorkhotel in Évora, Portugal, by José Carlos Cruz Architect

Portuguese architect José Carlos Cruz has unveiled photographs of his Ecorkhotel, the first hotel in the world with external walls clad entirely in natural brown cork. 

Located one hour outside of Lisbon, and five minutes from the city of Évora (a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1986), the complex is surrounded by olive tres, holm trees and cork trees, and it features a resort with 56 private residences, restaurants, a spa and a gym. Inspired by the typology found in the Portuguese villages of the area, the residential  areas lead to a central courtyard that offers services and public spaces, including a large outdoor pool with an adjacent bar commanding views of the enveloping landscape.

Photographs courtesy of José Carlos Cruz Architect

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

In Search of the Perfect Pair of Men’s Transitional Shoes

When it comes to how manifestations of fashion and style are cherished by men and women, one thing that certainly keeps both genders living in worlds apart is the appreciation of shoes. From my experience and constant interrogation of the role that footwear plays in our daily dressing and accessorising routines, men tend to see shoes as practical ways to protect and adorn their feet whereas women tend to see them as demonstrations of taste and style choices. In fact, I would dare say that most men would rather have one elegant single pair of shoes that they could use for most days of the week and as for many hours of the day as possible (unlike women who generally thrive on the diversity of shoes that they can wear).

With this viewpoint in mind, I embarked on a search for the perfect example of men’s transitional footwear, or that ideal pair of shoes that men could wear on most occasions (ranging from the night out with friends in a bar to a business meeting or a formal social event). Even though it has been popular for quite a few seasons, the monk strap shoe remain one of the most successful styles in men’s shoes, and one that straddles the sartorial demands and expectations of the vast majority of social situations. So much so that there are hardly any footwear brands that do not include a single or double monk strap shoe as a central feature of their seasonal catalogues. In a way, the monk strap shoe is the man’s footwear equivalent of the woman’s Little Black Dress, or that perfect item that can be worn with confidence and comfort throughout the day and during the night.

After researching dozens of monk strap shoes with price tags ranging from the economical to the astronomical, I came to the conclusion that the Dorset Strap Black Leather Men’s Formal Shoes by Clarks is most probably the perfect pair of men’s transitional shoes. Even though Clarks remains a challenging label often identified with ‘dad’s shoes’, a close analysis of its most recent collections reveals two or three models that always stand out for their elegant design, and the Dorset is certainly one of those successful examples.

Combining a tailored look with Clarks Plus underfoot technology and hairsheep lining for comfort, the Dorset features an upper made from smooth black leather burnished to a mid-shine and fastens with a black metal double buckled strap for a contemporary finish. After I got hold of a pair, I was impressed (as I always am with Clarks shoes that incorporate the renowned Clarks Plus cushioning pads) with how soft they felt while walking down the street. For a few days, I paired my Dorsets with dark blue denim jeans, relaxed grey khakis, and even with a black and a navy suit, and I always got compliments. 

If there was anything that I would change to make this the undeniably perfect pair of shoes it would be narrowing the width only just slightly and make the tip a tad less rounded. However, if you are on the lookout for that ideal pair of men’s shoes; and if balancing price, comfort and style is important for you, I would not hesitate to recommend having a look at the Dorset Strap men’s soes by Clarks. You might find yourself not wanting to buy another pair of shoes (at least not for a while…).

Photographs © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Boxfresh: Celebrating 25 Years at the Helm of Street Style

When something good steadily coexists with your routine for a significantly long period of your life, it is easy to forget the origins and history of this quietly loyal companion to just focus on enjoying what it offers. So when it came to my knowledge that Boxfresh had completed its 25th anniversary a few weeks ago, it took me a while to realise the magnitude of such longevity within the temporal dimensions of the fashion realm.

Founded back in 1989 as a store in London which sold exclusive American brands such as Carhartt and Penfield, Boxfresh swiftly acquired a reputation as the sole destination for alternative clothing and fashions that were hard to find in the British capital at the time. To celebrate this history, the brand create ‘25’, a capsule collection of clothes and footwear that evoked its own heritage of US sport and street inspirations while adding touches of European sophistication to it.

I was fortunate to have access to a few of the pieces in this much-anticipated collection, and was impressed with how Boxfresh explored new tailoring dimensions while resorting to a simple palette of black, white and silver grey across key pieces such as crew neck sweatshirts, T-shirts, sports pants, trainers, and baseball shirts. Overall, ‘25’ offered oversized tops, loosely boxy shirts with extended tails, and reflective 3M applied to garments alongside airtex, nylons and heavy weight loopback fabrics. 

With the ‘25’ collection demonstrating such impressive sartorial nous, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Boxfresh would be quietly planning a new role as creator of trends and designs for London. And if that were the case, I would certainly be looking forward to 25 more years of innovative collections by this clothing and accessories powerhouse.

Photographs courtesy of Boxfresh

Friday, 8 August 2014

Valentino Store in New York by David Chipperfield

Luxury fashion house Valentino has recently opened its largest ever retail space. Located at 693 Fifth Avenue in New York City, the new 20,000 square foot flagship store was designed by British architect David Chipperfield, who has worked on other projects for the Roman fashion brand.

The store houses Valentino’s womenswear, menswear and accessories lines across three floors where grey marble coexists with black steel, aluminium and brass. Two other Valentino stores (one in Aspen, Colorado, and the other in Miami’s Design Distric) are scheduled to open this year in the USA, a market that accounts for approximately 25% of the label’s global sales.

Images courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects