The Rake4 min read
Letter from Editor
Whereas the popularity of, and esteem for, British style seems immortal, pride in being British is these days about as fashionable as a mullet. Deposits of patriotism — and by that I mean of the old sense, the king and country sort, the kind that saw men go over the top and “risk life and limb for Blighty”, as General Melchett would say (see Rake Incarnate, by Nick Scott, on page 216) — are a dirty secret to many people, and it is a shame. For one reason or another I have always been aware that I am a victor of a figurative lottery that comes with being born in the United Kingdom. Its rich cul
The Rake9 min read
Merchants of Doom
Captain Henry Wilson of the East India Company launches from the Pelew Islands, circa 1784. There’s a key scene in Taboo, the BBC’s recent Dickensmeets- Goodfellas period drama starring Tom Hardy as the adventurer and would-be shipping magnate James Delaney, in which he’s summoned to a meeting with a bunch of sombrely frock-coated men in a densely draped sepulchral chamber. They want a piece of land he owns on the west coast of America; he steadfastly refuses to sell, describing the body they represent as “the beast with a million eyes and a million ears… conquest, rape and plunder are your me
The Rake3 min read
Kwasi Kwarteng has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Spelthorne since 2010. Born in London in 1975, Kwasi was educated at Eton College, where he was a King’s Scholar, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took his B.A. in Classics and History. After a year as a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University, Kwasi returned to Cambridge to complete his Ph.D in History. Prior to entering parliament, he worked as a financial analyst and author. Since being elected, Kwasi has served on a number of select committees and, having served as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Leader
The Rake8 min read
‘Look at The Who! They Used Explosives! How Did We Get the Rep?’
The expressive and enigmatic Robert Plant in 1972 Plant and Page performing in Sydney, Australia, in 1972 and on stage at Earl’s Court in London, 1975. It was a live shark. Or a dead one. A live octopus. Or perhaps just a whole red snapper. Either way, details aside, it was never meant for the purpose of pleasuring a naked and bound groupie. Or there was the time when Jimmy Page — said to always travel with a suitcase of whips — stripped, lay across a room service trolley, covered himself in whipped cream, and had himself served to the gaggle of girls in his hotel room. Or the occasion when, a
The Rake7 min read
The Legend That Will Never Die
November 30, 1895 was a hot day in Cuba. Arroyo Blanco, a small village in south central Cuba, was the scene of fighting between Spanish troops and rebel Cuban forces. It was Winston Churchill’s 21st birthday, and a birthday present was to come in the form of gunfire. “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at with no result,” he would later say. How Churchill got to Cuba is an interesting story. Recently commissioned in the army, Winston was bored. In 1895 there was very little action in which a young officer could shine. Churchill, above all, wanted a reputation for bravery. Look
The Rake2 min readFashion & Beauty
Farewell and Adieu
Blue virgin wool and cashmere doublebreasted coat, Loro Piana at Mr Porter; navy wool argyle jumper, Corneliani; black wool trousers, Hermès; black crocodile leather boots, Berluti. Grey cotton pinstripe jacket, Connolly; marl grey cotton tank top and charcoal grey wool trousers, both Brunello Cucinelli; black embellished sockhop boots, Stuart Weitzman. Black wool pinstripe double-breasted suit jacket, Dior Homme; charcoal grey silk and cotton jersey shirt, Brunello Cucinelli; black wool trousers, Hermès; black crocodile leather boots, Berluti. Pillarbox red cashmere roll-neck and red wool str
The Rake3 min read
Rake Commends
In the mid 19th century, David Livingstone, God-fearing autodidact and missionary, lost his enthusiasm for efforts to convert the African people. He decided to discover the world, in the process leading Britain into a new era of discovery by a new breed of operator: the explorer. His obsession was focused on the whereabouts of the source of the Nile, which also has names such as John Hanning Speke and Richard Burton (not that Richard Burton) associated with it. The preoccupation with exploration and adventure of Victorian Britain has chiselled its way into the rest of the world’s opinion of Br
The Rake5 min read
Designed for Life
Black wool coat, Neil Barrett; pale grey ribbed cashmere jumper, Ermenegildo Zegna Couture; grey wool checked trousers, Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery; black leather brogue front Oxford shoes, Crockett & Jones; and grey cotton socks, Falke. In the Bible it is the number of physical and spiritual completeness and perfection. So it’s apt that the figure 7 has represented automotive pre-eminence ever since BMW’s flagship saloon — the first full-size performance car to emanate from its Dingolfing factory in Germany — began gracing the world’s metropolises in May 1977. It wasn’t, let’s be frank,
The Rake6 min read
‘People Are so Quick to Shoot You Down for Trying to Help’
Carving out a career in the film industry is no easy feat, and when taking into account the amount of work Douglas Booth does on the side, the ground he is covering is remarkable. Booth’s career began when he was 16, with a small part in Julian Fellowes’s From Time to Time. He describes his debut as “a baptism of fire” — as well he might, given that the cast included stellar performers such as Dame Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall and Hugh Bonneville. Booth is also an ambassador to the U.N. refugee agency, visiting war-torn and humanitarian crisis zones — “it sounds stupid, but it was life changing
The Rake5 min readFashion & Beauty
Bright Lights, Big City: Huntsman and the Rake’s New York City-Inspired Capsule Collection
Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl hits you like a concussive hollow-point double-tap to the soul. This is his paean and plea, his discourse and dogma cry out for insurrection and revolution, and it is set — and could only be set — in the greatest of all cities, the churning crucible of music, art, film and literature known as New York. Like Ginsberg, who commemorates this ultimate collision between high and low with, “angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night”, a slew of literary greats have selected the throbbing concrete met
The Rake6 min read
‘The Pubs Opened at Five in the Morning… There Was a Real Atmosphere’
The idea of the family business is an evocative notion, and one that holds plenty of kudos in the luxury goods industry. Hefty price tags imply that handiwork and great care has gone into a product’s creation, yet this is not necessarily the case with large corporations who may boast prestigious names yet proffer massproduced wares that rarely live up to customers’ expectations. Familyrun businesses tend to be the antithesis of this. In the best ones, the focus is often less on the bottom line and more on quality and integrity. And then there’s the romance of the family business, how the compa
The Rake4 min readFashion & Beauty
Living Artwork: Turnbull & Asser & Mo Coppoletta for the Rake Printed Denim Dress Shirts
“It is the unstable nature of denim — the fact that it fades, shows signs of age and wear, tells the story of your interaction with it, and becomes a physical repository of your memories — that makes it so fascinating as a material,” says Dean Gomilsek-Cole, Turnbull & Asser’s Head of Design. And what you should know is that, although he heads the single-most fabled British shirtmaker, holder of a Royal Warrant and outfitter to ever iconic British men, from Winston Churchill to the Prince of Wales, Gomilsek-Cole and the other denizens of Turnbull & Asser are rooted in the prevailing aesthetics
The Rake2 min read
A Dog of War
The role of dogs in warfare — like that of mathematics, tobacco and women — is blithely overlooked. Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Slavs and Britons have all enlisted four-legged talent to their military ranks. Canines from the Molossia region of Epirus were trained for battle by the Romans and later used by Attila the Hun (we’re a dab hand at dragging men off horses and chariots); Frederick the Great — who is credited with coining the phrase ‘man’s best friend’ — used dogs as messengers during the Seven Years War with Russia, and eventually was interred with his favourite pooches; a
The Rake4 min readFashion & Beauty
Perfectly Cast: Drake’s for the Rake Corduroy Suit and Accessories
The problem with translating The Great Gatsby from print to screen is that they always get the casting wrong. You don’t select a genetically overindulged golden god-Adonis like Robert Redford to play Gatsby. He should have played Tom Buchanan — rich, privileged and, like DJ Khaled, always on the side that wins. But if you read Fitzgerald’s description, Gatsby should be dark, possibly even Semitic, at once haunted, at once hopeful, at once corrupt, at once idealistic — a devotee of the great orgiastic light eternally burning across the shore. So when, in 1966, Mike Nichols was casting The Gradu
The Rake2 min read
Kindred Spirit
2. Her grandmother wore a ring with the letters ‘F-U-C-K’ until she passed away aged 93. “Supposedly it’s the initials of a distant relative called Freddie Ulick Charles Knatchbull,” Daisy says, with an unconvinced raised eyebrow. “But basically my grandmother was a bit of a maverick.” Depicting an ‘ounce’ — a mythical dog — Daisy’s family crest is stamped sideways onto her oval-shaped Gerald Benney signet ring, a design quirk that all the women in her family share. The gold band is her father’s wedding ring. 3. Daisy’s mother gave her this bangle engraved with her name when she was a baby, an
The Rake6 min readFashion & Beauty
Lighter Shade of Male
The camel is an ungainly beast. ‘A horse designed by a committee,’ as one proverb goes, it compares to its distant equine cousin as one of The Beatles’ satin Sgt. Pepper suits does to a close-cut, single-breasted in sober graphite from a topnotch Milanese sartoria. When it comes to parents in Windowlicker, Alabama wanting their children to be taught intelligent design in school, lawyers acting for the scientific community should just shelve all paleontological, genetic and zoological evidence, and instead lead an aging Bactrian before the judge. So it’s richly ironic that the camel hair, and e
The Rake4 min read
Drama Queen
Jane Seymour has always presented the thinking man with a rosy-cheeked dilemma. You see, there is something eternally virginal, ethereally pure, perpetually prim about the actress. So what the hell is she doing in your filthy little spank-bank? Relax, you’re not alone in thinking you had a swelling Dr. Quinn could attend to. Behind the hauteur, there’s always been hotness. Born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg — a name more akin to minor royalty than Bond-girl-to-be — in 1951, the 5’4” actress originally had her heart set on becoming a dancer. That was until 1973, when her different colou
The Rake5 min read
Military Precision
In The Fountainhead — the novel The New York Times referred to as her “hymn in praise of the individual” — Ayn Rand used the parsimony of natural selection to illustrate the beauty of stark functionality. “Why wouldn’t you like to see a human body with a curling tail with a crest of ostrich feathers at the end?” asks the architect-protagonist Howard Roark, in defence of a starkly utilitarian building design he’s made, “and with ears shaped like acanthus leaves? Because it would be useless and pointless. Because the beauty of the human body is that it hasn’t a single muscle that doesn’t serve a
The Rake
The Rake8 min read
Take Back Control
When low carbohydrate diets became popular, they seemed to be a breath of fresh air after the low-fat diet with hidden sugars that preceded them. Suddenly we were told to load up on meat and throw away the bun. Robert Atkins, M.D., who was responsible for the Atkins diet in 1972, published one of the first extreme low-carb diets, cutting out grains, starchy vegetables and fruit. The ketogenic diet, another extreme low-carb diet, is based on less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day, cheating our bodies into running entirely on fat rather than glucose, which makes it easier to access and burn f
The Rake7 min read
“In any industry,” Pier Luigi Loro Piana told The Rake some years ago, “the materials you use are the starting point for how your production philosophy is going to unfold in the future. It’s like being in a kitchen — if you have the very best raw ingredients, you have to be a pretty bad chef to ruin the end product… ” Loro Piana, it’s fair to say, take materials very seriously indeed. Hailing from Italy’s textile production heartland of Trivero, the Loro Piana family started out as wool fabric merchants at the beginning of the 19th century, and the label these days is engaged in a dogged pursu
The Rake5 min read
The Top Drop
There’s a certain type of person who can recall what the weather was like in two specific months of the year more than two decades ago. Someone whose livelihood could be devastated by an uncharacteristically cold July or a wet September; a person who cares about soil quality and tasting notes in equal measure. “If I remember correctly,” says Alexandre Cattier, inhaling deeply from a glass, “it was a good year — quite warm and cloudy during July and August.” He’s holding a pour of 1995 Cuvée Renaissance Cattier Premier Cru, which benefitted greatly from those temperate conditions, resulting in
The Rake7 min readFashion & Beauty
The Modern Tendencies of Thom Sweeney
Limitation is a damnable thing. We Homo sapiens are adventurers by nature and instinctively try to discover the new or adapt the old. This psychological restlessness is evident in the clothes we wear as much as in the speed we run the 100 metres, or the various means by which people have reached the North Pole. Though you wouldn’t know it from my wardrobe, which is accused of being somewhat antediluvian, I understand the relevance of adapting the traditional suit to conform to contemporary needs. While the tailors I have used in the past embody the pinnacle of excellence, the clothes I have us
The Rake4 min read
Glamping on Mars
The Barr Al Jissah beach at the Shangri-La resort. In such erratic and unstable geopolitical times, one of Oman’s greatest draws is its status as a safe haven. Nothing accentuates serenity like a bit of surrounding chaos. In fact, one rarely exists without the other. It is much harder to identify an oasis of calm without a dose of juxtaposing frenetic energy. And this is why, for years, Oman has been hailed as the tranquil jewel in the Arabian crown. Historic, traditional and refreshingly authentic, this peninsula nation is a sleepy antidote to many of its neighbouring Middle Eastern metropole
The Rake6 min readFashion & Beauty
The Hermès Effect
Since ancient times, silk has been inextricably linked with society’s upper echelons. In Europe, the home of silk has been in and around Lyon, in France, primarily because of Louis XI’s decision in 1563 to take advantage of the area’s trade routes with the Rhône, the Mediterranean and, by road, to Italy. And if silk were an empire, there would be one dynasty with true dominion over it: Hermès. While Lyon has been home to Hermès’ silk operations since 1937, the house’s sericultural partner is in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná. An eco-friendly farming co-operative, it produces silk of th
The Rake5 min read
Knowing Me, Knowing Me
What do the rapid rise in cosmetic surgery procedures, people projecting their own mundanity all over Instagram, and a new nationalism based on personal superiority over solidarity have in common? They’re all symptoms of the Narcissism Epidemic: a vast rise in the number of people having unfoundedly positive, shamefully inflated views of themselves. But nothing more embodies the toxic vanity hogging the zeitgeist than the selfie — at the last count, around 93 million of which are now posted on the internet, for no one’s gratification bar the poster, each and every day. “Mirrors would do well t
The Rake6 min read
An Act of Love
The Outer Hebrides, a chain of islands off the northwest coast of mainland Scotland, is a remote and barren stretch of land. It’s devoid of many of the fripperies of modern civilisation, and the result is a charmingly simple place of escapism. Life has existed there since the Stone Age, as evidenced by the Callanish Stones, Scotland’s answer to Stonehenge. The population of the Outer Hebrides is minuscule, too. The 2011 census put it at 27,684, and that figure has been falling for decades. However, the speed of its decline is slowing, thanks largely to the work of Harris Tweed Hebrides. Harris
The Rake3 min read
General Ignorance
The pages in this issue, until now, have been filled with stirring yarns of selfless valour and poignant accounts of the horrors of war, all peppered with liberal quivering of usually stiff upper lips. So shifting the mood to comedy here skirts dangerously close to bathos as jarring as that which bounds into our living rooms when dogs on surfboards round off an otherwise bleak newscast. But it would be remiss of us to close the issue without a devout toast to a war hero — in the kindest, most inclusive sense of that phrase — who surely counts among the most sublimely memorable sitcom character
The Rake19 min read
Poetic Justice
Special thanks to Mark’s Club Brown checked wool, doublebreasted jacket, Ralph Lauren Purple Label; chocolate-brown puppytooth wool trousers, Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery; white cotton shirt, Reda Slaoui; purple and white silk print tie, Hermès; white-gold Day-Date 40 with olive green dial, Rolex. Yellow-gold signet ring, property of Henry Cavill. It takes a Brit to play America’s most wholesome, handsome and superhuman superhero. Superman is to the comic world what Winston Churchill is to politics: not necessarily everyone’s favourite but widely acknowledged as the primus inter pares. Umb
The Rake5 min readReligion & Spirituality
Letter From the Founder
When I’m asked why it is that the Swiss are so damnably good at making watches but so hopeless at communicating about them, I explain that it has to do with the fundamental difference between the Catholic and Protestant religions. O.K., close your eyes and imagine a Catholic church — take St. Peter’s or Notre-Dame or even Basilica di San Marco in Venice. Walk inside, what do you see? Some of the most magnificent art ever created: Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Titian. Listen to the music and hear some of the greatest compositions ever rendered by man. The incense, the choir, the pageantry and cere
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