TUTTLE MODE

by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

Holy shit, it’s cold out there!  In addition to that, water actually fell right out of the air last weekend, confusing many of us here in Los Angeles.  One minute, things were perfectly normal and the next, there was water everywhere.  It was weird.  At least the cold weather and this crazy water thing gives us a chance to change things up because, after such a long, beautiful L.A. summer of jersey frocks and cargo shorts, we finally have a reason to pull out some real clothes and dress in style.

Benjamin Godfre shows us how to dress for chilly weather. (Photo: R. Day)

Some interesting (and not in a good way) outerwear choices that I’ve seen guys sporting over the last few cold nights inspired me to check into men’s outwear trends for this year and, well, there’s nothing too startling to report.  And I know I’m late coming to this one because a lot of you guys across the globe have been navigating the snow and matching your wool scarves to your eye color for months already.  Well, better late than never, so listen up, you might learn something because a bird in the bush… Damn! I thought I was on a cliché roll there.  Anyway, it just got cold here, so this is it.

Balmain pea coat.

Pea coats.  Of course, this is my favorite because, aside from being a Balmain Homme staple, it’s also something that I can actually use in Southern California.  The pea coat began as a practical jacket for European naval sailors in the early Eighteenth Century, but now it’s a great staple for every man’s wardrobe.  They are traditionally navy blue and, though they can now be found in array of colors, I recommend navy, black or grey so you’ll wear it more than one winter.  The light grey one at Balmain this season is so awesome that I recently saw a copy in the Club Monaco window on Beverly Drive so you can apparently find them at all price points, too.

Duffle coats.  These things are huge this season, getting probably the most press attention of any outerwear piece.  Duffle coats came in crazy bright colors at Burberry and Paul Smith and in all lengths and silhouettes, though the original duffle coat of Belgian fishermen was probably quite drab.  I have to admit that I’m not a big fan, finding them kind of feminine or a bit too 70s or something that I can’t quite put my finger on.  “Hate” might be too strong a word.  But it’s close.

As André Leon Talley might say, "It's a tragedy of duffle coats out there."

Shearlings.  This wonderfully soft and pliable sheepskin with the sheared wool left intact has been around since the Stone Age but it’s made an especially fashion forward statement this winter at houses like Gucci, Zegna and Burberry.  There’s not much similarity to the scratchy polyester “shearling” trim of the denim jackets I wore as a kid and that can only be a good thing.  It’s an expensive fabrication so expect a decent shearling jacket or coat to set you back a bit but it will last you many years provided you don’t get one that’s too trendy.

Shearling coats from Gucci.

Parkas.  These down-filled things are tricky because they’re puffy and most guys don’t want to look like the Michelin Man.  You can still pull them off, however, by wearing slim trousers or jeans and maybe not closing it, if you’re somewhere warm enough.  I just googled “how to wear parka,” however, and got “A goose down parka will not keep you warm in sub-zero conditions if you are wearing jeans.”  So don’t go in sub-zero conditions, then.  Only penguins live in those conditions, and they don’t give a shit what you look like.

Moncler parkas will keep your boyish figure and not make you look like you like you should be perched on someone's lawn with coal for eyes and a carrot for a nose.

Camel coats.  Finally, a beautiful trend that is more about the color than the shape or functionality.  Camel is the most overlooked neutral but it goes with absolutely everything:  black, navy, charcoal, red, ivory, brown, you name it!  If you think it washes you out, just wear a dark collared shirt or turtleneck under it and your problem is solved.  There were some great camel pieces in many collections but I think the best representation may be a vintage camel coat worn by Martin Pichler and photographed by my friend Rick Day:

Now, I know I usually offer some advice on television programming each week but with the crazy sale on the fall/winter collection filling my days and a slew of social obligations claiming my evenings, I really haven’t had the time or the concentration to keep up on what’s happening there.  Sorry.  I hope you can go on living.

I can tell you about some great things going on around town, though.  After a wildly busy Saturday at work and before the opening of Prism Gallery’s new exhibition, I joined my hard-partying cohort DJ Martinez at the wonderful Eveleigh restaurant for one of their Agave Bravo cocktails from the “stirred and strong” menu.  Honey, they aren’t kidding with that title.  If you’re not breathing fumes after a few sips of this gourmet tequila Manhattan, there’s something seriously wrong with you.  Once we’d accomplished an artsy buzz, we popped next door to the gallery’s opening party for an incredible retrospective of mid-1970s art called Return of the Repressed:  Destroy All Monsters, 1973-1977.

Me and DJ at Prism.

Part of the Getty-sponsored exhibition series “Pacific Standard Time” that is taking place all around Los Angeles for several months, this particular show is a large collection of photos, paintings, drawings and prints from the members of the Ann Arbor, Michigan band and art collective Destroy All Monsters.  It also includes posters and magazines, and amazing installations of fliers and some large-scale paintings created later on as an ode to Detroit pop culture and will be on display until 7 January 2012.

Once inside, we bumped into my beautiful friend Cynthia MacDonald who now lives in New York and whose lovely daughter Christina has just joined the Prism Gallery staff.  In the midst of catching up, DJ shared her convoluted theory on Natalie Wood’s drowning with such conviction that Cynthia and her friend thought it might be a good time to explore the art.  I thought it might be a good time to find the bar which, at the fabulous LaChapelle party two months ago, featured bartenders that looked like expensive Russian model/escorts serving delicious Deleon tequila on the upstairs terrace.  This time out, though, a funny guy was serving bottled Heineken out of a little downstairs room over one of those half door things.  As cool as the art and as wonderfully hip as the crowd was, I felt that it was time to go.

Just a few of the Angelenos who braved the rain and the 50-degree weather for Prism.

It was lucky that I’d made it an early night because, after spending the following day doing more sale stuff, I had a Sunday night engagement at UCLA’s Freud Theatre for a very special benefit performance by the wonderful Lainie Kazan to benefit the Ray Bolger Musical Theatre Program.  Scott has worked with Lainie for so long and in so many capacities that we’re now all part of this big, beautiful showbiz family and I’m rarely surprised by much but, walking into this gorgeous cabaret space that the university has created for Lainie and her “master class” of students, I was really taken aback.

Lainie's set at UCLA

The backdrop of the venue has been so exquisitely constructed, the sound and lighting so finely attuned that the experience rivals any Vegas nightclub.  Lainie’s show was amazing, as it always is, but she was battling laryngitis after a doing three nights at Hollywood’s Catalina Jazz Club with a cold so she brought in her daughter Jennifer, an amazing vocalist in her own right, to help with the high notes.

I always tear up a little when she sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and this time was no exception.  Lainie ended up hitting most of those high notes on her own, but it was an extra moving experience to hear her and her daughter sing together anyway.  I feel so honored to have such talented friends.  You’ll be able to see Lainie’s Cabaret from 30 November to 3 December at UCLA.

Enjoy the show.

Much love,

xxJames