Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More Pretty Labels

A few more samples from my collection; beautiful and elaborate pictures in their own right. A Basque farmer at his farm in the Pyrenees,
 A yacht at full sea,
A picture of parachutists jumping from an airplane (I love the way they hang on their parachutes) with, what seems to me to be the logo of the Gendarme Nationale
And this beautiful piece of artwork 'Nos Ailes'; a soldier in the uniform of the Chasseurs, in a trench behind bared wire, an (allied) airplane flying over... Don't see labels like this anymore these days. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Labels, Pretty Labels

Sure, there are still berets made with very pretty, or interesting,  labels - the French NIEBLA for example, or  the Bakarra and PeBeO labels by the same manufacturer (Blancq Olibet). But, the Golden Days of pretty labels seem to be behind us.
Here are some scanned labels from my own collection. They are all French, 1950's - 1960's and all sending out the message how good these berets are for bad weather.
The latter two carry a strong resemblance to the NIEBLA, one of few berets that survived un-changed for many decades. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Capital Punishment

After finding this photograph showing Eugen Weidmann’s execution in Versailles, 17 June, 1939 by a bereted executioner, I spent a few hours behind the computer looking into capital punishment and related issues. A sickening experience.
Of course, I knew very well that there are still countries (people) who believe in this form of 'justice' (the US comfortably nestled between countries like China, Iran, North Korea and Somalia), but delving deeper into the matter reveals a lot about the minds of these supporters - not uplifting revelations, to say the least.. 
Alas, it's not an issue for The Beret Project really, although it's interesting that executioners and supporters alike tend to wear kefiyah's or Stetsons - not berets (the proverbial exception -above- not taken into account). 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Winter Tarte!

I have praised a variety of berets on this blog, from the little Radiovka, via the Basco Roma to the German Baskenmuetze and the supreme  Elósegui 150 Años Edición Limitada. 
And all are highly recommended berets, all in their own way. But, where the Edición Limitada may objectively be the best beret in the world (yes, I honestly believe this!), I find the winter version of the Tarte by far the best beret for myself to wear. To be honest, I wear nothing else (apart from my Basco Roma, inside the house at night...).
Not available to the general public, I struggle to get any for South Pacific Berets, but have just managed to secure a few more (and hopefully, get more in over the next few months).
These berets are 320mm in diameter and weigh almost 200 grams (!) and come in a dark navy-blue.  Made by Beatex-Laulhère in Oloron-Sainte-Marie (Departement Pyrénées-Atlantiques)Due to French Government regulations, these berets have to be re-fitted with a plain lining and with the military label removed before they can be exported and sold to customers outside the French military. Therefore, these berets have a plain black cotton lining and carry theSouth Pacific Berets label.
These Tartes  in 320mm diameter are not fitted with a headband, but the thick wool rim is sized. Presently available in size L (59-61). 

Vanessa Paradis

Vanessa Chantal Paradis (1972) is a French singer, model and actress. She became a child star at 14 with the worldwide success of her single Joe le taxi.
Since 1991, Paradis has been a spokesmodel for Chanel. She was in a relationship with actor Johnny Depp from 1998 to 2012. Vanessa's sister, Alysson Paradis, is a French actress.
Paradis starred in the 1999 film 'Girl on the Bridge' ('La fille sur le pont'). The plot centres around knifethrower Gabor (Auteuil) and a girl called Adèle (Paradis), who intends to kill herself by jumping from a bridge. Gabor intervenes to prevent the suicide and persuades Adèle to become the target girl in his knifethrowing act. 
The film then follows their relationship as they travel around Europe with the act. Their companionship and teamwork mean great luck for both of them. Then they get separated and their lives once again become luckless. The film ends on a bridge in Istanbul, this time with her saving him from suicide.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Behold a Pale Horse

This post naturally follows last Thursday's.
Behold a Pale Horse is a 1964 film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif and Anthony Quinn. The film is based on the novel Killing a Mouse on Sunday by Emeric Pressburger, which loosely details the life of the Spanish anarchist guerrilla, Francisco Sabaté Llopart.
Despite promotional tours by Peck (in the U.S.) and Zinnemann (London and Paris), the film did not have a large reception (the box-office receipts not being enough even to recoup the costs of production). According to Zinnemann, this was because the Spanish Civil War had slipped from the memories of its audience.
"I thought the Spanish Civil War was still with us, but apparently it is dead, in spite of all those refugees. There were other troubles too - with the Franco government. I was to blame for playing the Spanish Civil Guard as 'heavies.' They are sacred cows. Columbia suffered heavily through the Franco ban on their films because of 'Pale Horse' but they were wonderfully good about it."
Fred Zinnemann in the New York Times.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shetland Skipper Beret

I am delighted with the latest addition to my beret collection: a custom made, hand felted, skipper's beret in pure -untreated- Shetland wool.
It all started by finding this picture of traditional Shetland boat skipper Ian:
How could I not be impressed? I tracked down the maker, Laryna Wupperman, who works with the Galgael charity in Glasgow, Scotland and has her own blog on 'creative fiber craft'. 
Laryna was happy to make a second skipper beret for me, a huge undertaking (I have to admit, I didn't realize just how much time is involved making one of these giants).
I received mine a few days ago and it is fantastic! It came with a power-point presentation detailing the whole process (and as soon as I figure out how to post it on this blog, I will do so).
Needless to say, at 390mm diameter this beret dwarfs txapelduns and plato grandes; one could outfit an army of Basco Roma's with the material that went into this beret (including the tiny fragments of grass, still present in the wool)!
If anyone is interested in a majestic beret like this one, please drop me a line and I'll forward all messages to Laryna. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sabaté - Guerilla Extraordinaire

I just finished reading "Sabaté - Guerilla Extraordinaire", a poorly written, but most fascinating account on Francisco Sabaté.

Franceso Sabaté Llopart (1915 - 1960), also known as "El Quico", was a Catalan anarchist involved in the resistance against the Nationalist regime of Francisco Franco.
 At the age of 10 Sabaté left his clerical school and by the age of 17, he had joined the anarchist action group Los Novatos ("The rookies.
This group was involved in insurrections against the government of the Second Spanish Republic in late 1933 and fought against the army's coup attempt at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936.
During the Civil War, Sabaté fought on the Aragon front with the CNT-FAI's "Young Eagles Column". When this division was forcibly assigned a Stalinist commissar who crushed the free initiative of the column, Sabaté and two of his comrades shot him dead and deserted to Barcelona where they carried out many missions on behalf of the FAI against the Stalinist authorities.

In France during World War II, he spent time in concentration camps and fought with the Maquis resistance against the Vichy regime.
After the end of the War, Sabaté returned to Spain to carry on insurgent activities against Francoist Spain.
He was often described as having been the regime's "Public Enemy Number One". In 1960, at the age of 45, he was killed in Sant Celoni by the Somaten (a Catalan paramilitary organisation, then mainly formed of Francoist fascists) and the Civil Guard, along with four companions.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can a man get away with a beret if he hasn't won the Man Booker prize?

"Can a man get away with a beret if he hasn't won the Man Booker prize?" A rather silly question of course, to you dedicated beret wearers of the world, but it is the title of a, rather silly -indeed-, article in today's Guardian.
Have a read, if you like.
Luckily, you, me and Ben Okri know better than Hadley Freeman.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SPB on Beret Costs

The Fedora Lounge's 'Berets, anyone' is a fantastic forum for beret aficionados and I would recommend every Beret Project-visitor to go there.
Over the last few weeks, there have been a couple of posts on the Fedora Lounge about the cost of (South Pacific's) berets. Both cases showed that my prices are at worst very competitive, at best cheaper compared to buying directly from the manufacturer in the country of origin.

Naturally, I am very happy about this; not from a commercial perspective, but simply because it shows that I keep my prices as low as possible. South Pacific Berets is not a philanthropic institute, but it is a labour-of-love. My aim is to keep the business self-sustainable and if I make a little money from it, I am happy. Making an income from this business is the stuff of dreams!

Okay then, what makes up the price of the berets I sell? Some are pretty expensive after all and surely, you may be able to find a better price somewhere else (not easy though, but nothing is impossible).
Most berets come from Europe, some from Argentina - both guarantee very high postage costs when the importer is based at the bottom of the world. Some countries (like Spain) demand an 'Export Document', paid for by the customer. When goods arrive in NZ, I have to pay GST of 15% over the berets and a variety of taxes, levies and duties. For large orders, I have to use a customs broker (and they make a lot more money than a beret seller!).

Then, having 'the largest selection of berets anywhere on the planet', means that I need to keep an awful lot of berets in stock; I haven't counted all the varieties, colours, qualities and sizes, but there are dozens and dozens of different berets.
These are the logistics; I haven't mentioned the constant money transfers (stock is bought in Euros, Pesos, Czech Krones, priced in US$, converted again to NZ$), the fees for Paypal payments, the cost of web site hosting, parcels that get lost in the mail, etc, etc. 
And the time to come up every day with a post for The Beret Project, year after year - let's not count my hours...

Why this post? Not as a justification - simply some background information on what South Pacific Berets is, and why I do what I do. Happily, trust me - I love everything beret!

Obama, please

I found this picture of Priscilla Chavez of New Mexico, who wears a patriotic Obama beret during day two of the Democratic National Convention. 
Now, showing support for a presidential candidate (for a country at the other side of the globe from me) may not be the best for my business - I have had some pretty nasty emails after previously posted support for Obama and my comments on Ms Palin, but then, the inconvenient truth is that a United States president so much influences the lives of, well pretty much everyone on the planet.

No, I won't go as far as bringing out an Obama Beret, just some pic's every now and then - but for the occasional Republican visiting here, I'll happily post one of the many photoshopped pictures that circulate on the WWW, portraying Obama as a cowardly, smoking, beret wearing, American hating Frenchman:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kelly Slater

Robert Kelly Slater (1972, Cocoa Beach, FL, USA) is an American professional surfer known for his competitive prowess and style. He has been crowned ASP World Champion a record 11 times, including 5 consecutive titles from 1994–98. He is the youngest (at age 20) and the oldest (at age 39) to win the title.
Kelly Slater and Bobby Martinex, winning the Txapeldun, Mundaka 2006

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seated Woman with Red Beret

Industrial designer Raymond Loewy purchased Pablo Picasso's Seated Woman with Red Hat (or Femme assise au chapeau rouge) in 1957 and gifted it to the Evansville Museum in the '60s. In Evansville, people are a bit baffled after hearing that the town's Museum of Arts, History and Science has had a rare Pablo Picasso piece in storage for almost half a century. Curator Mary Bower says the work went unnoticed because of a clerical error. "All the documentation associated with the gift indicated that this was by an artist named Gemmaux," she says, "which really happens to be the plural of the artistic technique."
Evansville Museum says it can't afford to insure the artwork; with it's estimated value between 30 and 40 million dollars it will be auctioned. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Elósegui 150 Años Edición Limitada

Incredible! The whole stock of Boinas Elósegui 150 Años Edición Limitada has sold out in only a couple of weeks time. 
Ah well, not that strange maybe, for the best beret in the worldbut at the same time, this beret does come with a price tag... 
I contacted the manufacturer in Tolosa and should receive another small number early November. These will likely be the last ones I'd be able to lay my hands on, so if interested, good to pre-order now. Orders will definitely be send out before mid-November.

Paul Fort

Paul Fort (1872 — 1960) was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement.
At the age of 18, reacting against the Naturalistic theatre, Fort founded the Théâtre d’Art (1890–93). He also founded and edited the literary reviews Livre d'Art with Alfred Jarry and Vers et Prose (1905–14) with poet Guillaume Apollinaire, which published the work of Paul Valéry and other important Symbolist writers. Fort is notable for his enormous volume of poetry, having published more than thirty volumes of ballads and, according to Amy Lowell for creating the polyphonic prose form in his 'Ballades francaises'
One of his famous works was "La Ronde". This poem is famous world wide because it is a plea for world friendship.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wasting Time on Google Earth

Beret Terrace, Fremont, CA 94555, USA
Beret Ct, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA
Beret Dr, Orlando, FL 32809, USA
Thanks, Steve

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some Background Information from The Tank Museum

Following yesterday's post, some more interesting information from the British military about the origins of the (black) beret in the (British) armed forces, found on the web site of The Tank Museum:

The black beret is the distinctive headgear worn by generations of Royal Tank Regiment servicemen.

As the first British servicemen to adopt this form of headdress, the beret became a symbol that helped define and set the tank men apart from other units. 

The beret was adopted after the First World War, because like much of the uniform issued to tank men during the war, their head gear proved to be unsuitable for wearing in tanks.

WWI hat & maskEarly Headgear

Originally, tank crews were issued with protective leather helmets with chain-mail masks (right). These were not, however, particularly comfortable and were thought to bear too close a resemblance to the German Pickelhaube – which had proved problematic for stranded tank crews returning to friendly lines! 

Consequently they were discarded and crews wore either the Service Dress (SD)(top leftt)cap or the woollen Cap Comforter. The fundamental problem with wearing the SD cap inside a tank was that the peak prevented the wearer from getting close enough to the vision slits, so it was frequently worn backwards.

AlpinsEnter The Beret

After the war, the solution to this sartorial conundrum was found by Major-General Sir Hugh Elles, who had also `invented` the regimental colours before the battle of Cambrai in 1917. 

When the French 70th Chasseurs Alpins division were training with the British Tank Corps during the First World War, Elles considered their distinctive large berets (right) would also make practical headgear for his men. 

This flexible headdress allowed troops to work in extremely cramped conditions whilst providing some protection to the head. Furthermore, Elles is said to haveHat 1suggested that the beret is convenient for sleeping in. But he considered the Chasseurs Alpins style of beret to be too sloppy and the Basque beret too skimpy, so the British beret was based largely on the Scottish Tam ‘O Shanter. 

Using the rationale that also dictated the future colour of Royal Tank Regiment’s overalls, the colour black was selected as it would not show dirt, grease or oil stains.
Having received Royal approval from King George V the black beret was officially adopted by the Royal Tank Corps in March 1924. It was seen as significant that this same headwear was worn by both officers and men alike, signifying that they were prepared to muck in alongside one another.

The adoption of the beret was not greeted with universal approval (right). Unique in the British Army, the now famous berets appeared somewhat strange at first, and were ridiculed as a result with unflattering comparisons to French Onion sellers being made (lower right). 

Despite the initial mirth and ridicule, everyone eventually agreed that they were by far the most sensible form of headgear for wearing inside a tank. However, there did seem to be some disagreement as to how they should be worn. 

Modern Adjustments

bovtm_cartoon_headggear_rtr.jpgOverall, the original black beret has remained fairly constant. It is certainly smaller and less floppy than it used to be, and there was a time between the 1960’s and 1980’s when a stiffener was inserted in to the badged side of the beret to make it stand up straighter. 

Astrokan BeretIn a short lived deviation from the black felt norm, an imitation black Astrakhan No1 Dress Beret was authorised in 1961 for wear by officers (left). A regimental hackle (3 coloured feathers) was inserted behind the badge. 

However a few years after its inception, the Astrakhan had become a something of a joke having acquired a variety of unflattering nicknames (the hackle itself was described as an `irritating adornment`) and very few officers would wear it. Almost universally loathed, the parade beret was consigned to the dustbin of history after only 12 years. 

L/cpl Muffit
And Today... 

The regiment still proudly wears the black beret today (right) and the beret itself is now almost universally worn amongst the armed services. 

British tank men were therefore not only pioneers of armoured warfare - but also of British military millinery! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Background Information from the Imperial War Museum

The Royal Tank Corps (RTC) was the first to wear the beret in British service as a uniform item. Its origins date back to 1922 when the Colonel Commandant of the RTC, General Sir Hugh Elles, recommended the adoption of a headdress similar in form to that worn by French troops of the 70th Chasseurs Alpins who he had observed training with the Tank Corps in 1918. Approved in 1924 the black beret was a very practical item when worn within the close confines of the tank. The beret, over time attained a near 'elite' status, as it was subsequently adopted by other 'specialist' branches of the Service, notably airborne troops, SAS, Army and Royal Marine Commandos. Post Second World War, when the detested Cap, GS was phased out, the beret was adopted universally, khaki for most regiments, airborne and armoured troops retaining their maroon and black berets, respectively. In 1950 a beret of midnight blue was issued to all except Scottish, airborne and tank personnel and worn for all normal duties within the UK and abroad. The Guards, Royal Horse Artillery and Military Police however retained the use of the pre-war Service Dress Cap. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The American Field Service

The American Field Service had over 2,400 individuals in its ranks during 1914-1917. At its greatest strength it had an active roster of over 1,000 men. Duties included the driving of ambulances as well as camions (heavy trucks) for the French cause. Daily activities consisted of hours of boredom mixed with perilous trips near the front, driving under random shellfire on torn-up roads. Their contribution was a significant one at a time when many Americans viewed the World War as something to stay out of.
During 1914 and the first half of 1915, the ambulance section as it existed then was the "Field Service" of the American Ambulance. The American Ambulance was a hospital in Paris created and funded by Americans prior to the outbreak of the war.
This photograph shows Arthur Chase Watson, wearing a British style uniform with leather belt and spiral puttees. The large beret was the 'Tarte' of the WW1 French elite Mountain Troops or Chasseurs Alpins.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vintage Dog Beret

Ever heard of a "Vintage Dog Beret"? I found a lead to this interesting sounding brand, but didn't get anywhere. Well, I got to the photographs of a Ms Pilar Cortes. 
She is a stylist and creative director (of what I don't know - I failed to find that bit of information), but supposedly, she is wearing a Vintage Dog Beret.
Personally, the dog beret doesn't do much for me, but sure, the leopard's outfit is rather nice.