Dandy & Rose

Bespoke Western Shirts, Handmade in England


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Celtic or Knot?

One thing I love about working with Liberty prints is the complexity and depth of their designs.

This one, Gambier, is from their 2015 A/W range and I loved it so much that I bought a length ‘on spec’, hoping that someone would fall for it as much as I did. A couple of customers did, and they both commented that it looked Celtic. I agreed – that’s a thistle in the middle of the design, isn’t it? And look at that knot! Celtic, if ever I saw a knot!

I had a vague memory, though, that Liberty had said the design had Tudor connections. Now, I have had a fascination with Tudor history since I can’t remember when. Then, a few years ago, I started dressing as a Tudor in out annual torchlit November 5th procession here in Lewes and now I find that, when I am not thinking, reading about and making western wear, I am thinking and reading about Tudor dress. And making it. O, and wearing it, too. But only on November 5th.

anne-boleyn

So when I checked back on Liberty’s website and learned that this design was based around textiles in the paintings of Henry VIII’s court painter, Hans Holbein (1497/8 – 1543), I was intrigued. The dress history geek in me just had to go hunting.

I love Holbein. I went to an exhibition of his drawings of Henry’s courtiers at the Tate Gallery a few years ago and looking at them, I felt they could have been standing alive in front of me. Even the mightiest were made humble by his humanising strokes.

Here’s poor Anne Boleyn in her nightie.

1540-rome

 

It was Holbein who created the image of Henry VIII,  in all his bulky, murderous masculinity, that we still hold as iconic . So that’s where I looked for the motifs that inspired the designer of our Liberty print. It turns out that the central motif is not a thistle but a pomegranate, a symbol in Tudor times of fertility and abundance. In 1540, when Holbein painted this portrait  of Henry, he wore a coat made from fabric decorated with a stylised pomegranate design, so we would all know what a fertile and abundant man he was.

 

But I think the actual inspiration for it must have been a portrait of one of Henry’s close friends, Sir Henry Guildford (1489 – 1532). Sir Henry was at one point the King’s ‘Master of Revels’ responsible for organising the court’s entertainments. But by the time this portrait was painted in 1527, he had the responsible role of Comptroller of the King’s Household. He looks as if he was a force to reckoned with, doesn’t he?

sir-henry-guildford

Holbein has used gold leaf to show us how sumptuous his robe is – and look at that chain!And look closely at the pattern on that gold cloth… here’s our pomegranate:

collage-guildford-pomegranate

And here’s our knot:

collage-knot

So… not Celtic, after all. It turns out continuous knots occur in the art of many cultures – Islamic, Buddhist and at the court of that most English of Kings, Henry VIII.

I guess there must have been continuous knots all over these islands, in the same way that there were versions of the same familiar folk songs from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Does that design still look Celtic to you? It still does to me! But that’s alright, I think. Like a great song, a beautiful design can cross cultures and have more than one meaning, depending on what angle you see it from, or how your ear is cocked. That’s all part of our richness, and what makes human culture so life enhancing.

gambier-cuff-and-placket


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Two Berry Classics

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Jim Lauderdale’s shirt in Liberty’s print ‘Wiltshire Berry’

Last week I was in something of a panic because this shirt had dropped off the postal radar: last recorded as leaving Heathrow, the US postal service had no record of it. But in a minor Christmas miracle, it reappeared on its way from New York to Nashville on Monday and arrived just in time for Jim Lauderdale to wear it on the festive edition of Music City Roots, the weekly live radio show he hosts, a couple of days ago.

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I always think this red colourway of Liberty’s classic print ‘Wiltshire Berry’, shouts ‘CHRISTMAS’. I have given it green piping and a celebratory mix of green and red snaps.

At the end of the show, Jim led the jam session that closes Music City Roots in the Chuck Berry classic ‘Johnny B. Goode’. I’m sure the pun was unintended but – well, a classic berry fabric and a classic Berry tune: what could be more pleasing?

Click here to watch a video clip of the jam.

 


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Happily Ever After

I’ve just finished my first commission from a married couple. The shirts went off together in the post today and it’s lovely to think of them being worn together.

If you would like to know how to order a bespoke Dandy & Rose shirt of your own – or maybe for your significant other – click on the SHOP tab at the top of this page.