Thursday, April 29, 2010

Galeries Lafayette

Nice ad, from the Galeries Lafayette:

Monday, April 26, 2010

French Sailors

Date and photographer unknown, but a nice shot of two French sailors.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Navy Recruitment Posters

Navies from around the world use marinières and vareuses (or smocks)for their recruitment posters. Like the US Navy, top and below
The French Marine National:


The Dutch Koninklijke Marine:
or the (Nazi) German Kriegsmarine:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Anthony Quinn and Anna Karina

Anthony Quinn and Anna Karina on the set of Guy Green's 'The Magus'. 1976

The Magus concerns a young Oxford graduate and aspiring poet, Nicholas Urfe, who takes up with Alison Kelly, an Australian girl he meets at a party in London. In order to get away from an increasingly serious relationship with her, Nicholas accepts a post teaching English at the Lord Byron School in the Greek island of Phraxos. 
This provides a convenient "escape" for Nicholas as the affair with Alison gets more serious than he had hoped for. Bored, depressed, disillusioned, and overwhelmed by the Mediterranean island, Nicholas' hobbies include contemplating suicide and taking long solitary walks. On one of these walks he stumbles upon the wealthy Greek recluse Maurice Conchis, who may or may not have collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War, and apparently lives alone on his island estate.
Nicholas is gradually drawn into Conchis' psychological games, his paradoxical views on life, his mysterious persona, and his eccentric masques. At first these various aspects of what the novel terms the "godgame" seem to Nicholas to be a joke, but as they grow more elaborate and intense, Nicholas's ability to determine what is real and what is not vanishes. Against his will and knowledge he becomes a performer in the godgame, and realizes that the enactments of the Nazi occupation, the absurd playlets after de Sade, and the obscene parodies of Greek myths are not about Conchis's life, but his own.

film version was released in 1968, directed by Guy Green, and written by Fowles. The adaptation, however, was greeted as a failure. Woody Allen said "If I had to live my life again, I'd do everything the same, except that I wouldn't see The Magus."

Monday, April 19, 2010


These Breton style shirts have the shape of the artist's skull imprinted on them. I found these pictures through a web search and couldn't trace the author. 
Looking for skulls and stripes, I came upon this web site though; great project and going through the massive amount of skull-related pictures, I suddenly noticed how close a Breton shirt and a skeleton's ribcage really are...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Guy Cotten

In 1964, Guy Cotten and his wife came up with their famous waterproof cloth. Coated cotton oil skin fabrics were available at the time but weren't very comfortable and were famous for damaging easily. The Guy Cotten fabric was tougher, more comfortable and remained lightweight, a revelation for dockworkers across the globe.

Guy Cotten, the craftsman, became a salesman in the evening and on Saturday morning, marketing his goods from boat to boat in the harbours of South Finistère.

The late 60s saw the emergence of sailing clubs, but nobody at the at time had come up with the ideal outerwear for the sport. The founder and director of the Rosbras Nautical Center, Yvon Hemery, wondered aloud, "How is it that noone's come up with a jacket that's as waterproof as the pea-jacket and at the same time as practical as conventional jackets?" Guy Cotten took up the challenge... within a few days, students at the center were testing the first oilskin jackets to have a double strap, which closed by slidin
g a plastic zipper on one side and using velcro on the other, the Rosbras jacket was born.

Today the company has grown to produce over 150 pieces and their garments are still the choice of fisherman and sailors in the know worldwide.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I-SEA-STRIPES in the New Zealand Press!

Daan Kolthoff
STRIPE ATTRACTION: Daan Kolthoff, complete with beret and Breton shirt.

Think of a Breton striped shirt and many would picture a stereotypical image of a Frenchman wearing a beret, a cigarette dangling from his lips, a glass of red wine in his hand and a baguette under his arm.
However, Daan Kolthoff's Breton Project reveals that this simple shirt has had an enormous history and has been worn by everyone from soldiers to prostitutes.
Kolthoff keeps a blog that explores the origins and history of this humble piece of clothing.
With his Beret Project growing to an unexpected success with more than 20,000 visitors from 110 countries, Kolthoff knew there was a group of people interested in timeless fashion, and so he started the Breton Project.
"I decided to run this project because the Breton shirt is a timeless piece of fashion, an icon of the arts and film world, and I believe there are many people who share this fascination," he said.
While Kolthoff was working in medical emergency aid in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Chechnya, he saw Bretons worn by the military and civilians, and managed to buy some.
He now imports them on a small scale from a factory in the Ukraine to sell on, for enthusiasts and as alternatives to the extremely expensive French-made ones.
"It was an eye-opener for me to find these shirts widely used in the former Soviet Union," he said.
Through the beret and now the Breton project, Kolthoff has (virtually) met many interesting people, from Maori kaumatua and film directors to scientists and writers.The Breton blog is at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quite a political incorrect picture

The French were masters in the production of recruitment posters - some beautiful pieces of artwork originated in the 1920's and 1930's. 
But these days, what country would dare to use this phrase on it's recruiting material? (Without the Navy - No Empire). 

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City. First active from 1965 to 1973, their best-known members were Lou Reed and John Cale, who both went on to find success as solo artists. Although never commercially successful while together, the band is often cited by many critics as one of the most important and influential groups of the 1960s.
The Velvet Underground first gained a degree of fame and notoriety in New York City in 1966 when they were selected as the house band for Andy Warhol's Factory and his Exploding Plastic Inevitable events. The band's lyrics challenged conventional societal standards of the time, and broke ground for other musicians to do the same. The band favored experimentation, and also introduced a nihilistic outlook through some of their music. Their outsider attitude and experimentation has since been cited as pivotal to the rise of punk rock and, later, alternative rock.
The Velvet Underground: Sterling Morrison, 
Moe Tucker, Lou Reed, Doug Yule
Their 1967 debut album, titled The Velvet Underground & Nico (which featured German singer Nico, with whom the band collaborated) was named the 13th Greatest Album of All Time, and the "most prophetic rock album ever made" by Rolling Stone in 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the band #19 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time"

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Marinière in Fashion

Coco Chanel first elevated the humble striped Breton top to style status. In the 1930s she designed and wore a striped marinière with palazzo pants - a look adopted from French sailors. 

Since then many designers and style-setters have followed suit. Brigitte Bardot was a fan, wearing hers barefoot and pouting on a breezy beach. 

Edie Sedgwick teamed hers with black tights and nothing else, while Jane Birkin wore hers with faded flares, and just about every singer from Debbie Harry to Chrissie Hynde to Patti Smith has worn one since. Bananarama wore theirs with baggy Levi's. More recently, Kylie Minogue has incorporated them successfully into her off-duty look and Alexa Chung is making a play to become the new patron saint of Breton tops.

And it didn't do it for women only, of course - it's a sailor's garment, after all; Pablo Picasso, James Dean, Iggy Pop and Kurt Cobain have all succumbed. Karl Lagerfeld often reinterprets them for Chanel, Japanese label Comme des Garçons shows the Breton as a constant in its collections, and Jean Paul Gaultier uses them as a cheeky reference to his national dress in the way that a Scottish designer might play with tartan.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

La vareuse est la version "chic" de la chemise

...meaning that the smock is the chic version of the striped shirt...  But I don't know about that; I guess in times when both were solely worn by seafaring men, there may have been some truth in that, but since Chanel and Gaultier it may well be the other way around.

Either way, both share a very similar history and use. The smock (or vareuse, in French) is a long-sleeved tunic with a front slit for easy dressing, originally made from worn out sails, sewn by sailors.
The original fisherman smock is made of a strong woven cotton material and has two characteristics : a front button closing the tunic from the inside and one or two inside pockets (so one couldn't get caught by anything aboard the ship). 

The smock originates, like the striped shirt, in Brittany, but also has a long history on the British Coast - made in the fishing-towns of Essex and Norfolk.
And, much more than the striped shirt, this smock was adopted by navies around the world. Likewise with painters and potters - the smock proved to be an ideal garment for work with paint and clay (painter's smocks often have a number of outside pockets sewn-on).

Monday, April 5, 2010


telnyashka (Тельняшка) was the Soviet, and now Russian, version of the Breton shirt; a dark blue and white striped, long sleeved shirt or singlet worn by sailors of the Navy, the Airborne Forces (cornflower-blue and white), the Border Guards (green and white), the OMON and Spetsnaz Groups of the MVD (red and white) and the Russian Naval Infantry (black and white). 
For the soldiers and seamen the telnyashka is a symbol of great pride, best exemplified by the famed Soviet sniper Vassili Zaitsev. Zaitsev was a sailor in the Soviet Pacific Fleet who volunteered for army duty in the Battle of Stalingrad, but despite transfer to the army refused to give up his Navy telnyashka because of the pride it engendered. 
A popular saying presents telnyashkas as an attribute of 'real men': "Нас мало, но мы в тельняшках!" (Nas malo, no my v telnyashkakh — We are few in number, but we wear telnyashkas!).

Single thread knitting is the standard military-issue variant, but double and quadruple knittings for increased warmth

are also produced. The quadruple telnyashka was originally developed for military divers to be worn under their dry suit.
The tradition of Russian/Soviet ground troops wearing a naval uniform comes from Soviet Navy sailors who fought on the ground while under siege during World War II.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Andréa le Goff

à bientôt
These pictures I bought as postcards, some 10 years ago, while on holidays in Brittany and always planned to "do" something with them - I love these scenes. I guess sharing them on this blog is a good first step...
Finding out more about the artist proved difficult; her name is Andréa Le Goff, but apart from her name, age and residence 'somewhere in Brittany', I know nothing about her. 
I found her own picture on My Space though and a good number of other paintings - many depicting the Breton striped shirt.