19 July 2008
Trad Needlepoint Belts
Following up on the Southern Trad post...I am a big fan of the needlepoint belt. I see it a lot in the south and have noticed it more and more in New York City. But there is a difference.
When I was in college, a small liberal arts college somewhere in the south, my southern girlfriend made a belt for me. It was pink and green needlepoint with my initials. She glued some sort of fabric as a backing and took it to a cobbler to add the bridle and buckle. I was so happy.
Flash forward some years and my new wife finds this belt stuck in the back of my closet. It's back there because I'm no longer a 30" waist but can't bear to part with it. I mean, it's hand made! By someone I knew. Very well I might add. "What's this?" The wife asks. I don't know why she asks because I can tell she already knows. So, out with it. "It's a belt that was made for me by my girlfriend when I was in college." She turns the belt over and squints at the glued backing. "Not a very good job is it?"
I'll spare the you the rest. You should know what happened to the belt. It was thrown away. I still have a thing for needlepoint belts. You can buy them easily enough and considering the work and hours that go into them - - $150 and up are a small price to pay. The picture on the top is a J. McLaughlin signal flag belt I own. I purchased it at their store in NYC on Madison between 92nd & 93rd. The middle picture is J Mac as well.
A word of advice. If you're in the neighborhood please stop by The Blue Tree on Madison just a block south between 91st and 92nd. Great stuff including the hard to find Santa Maria shaving cream and even better stuff is the owner, Phoebe Cates. You may even get to meet her...like I did. One of the most beautiful women ever. Well, in all honesty we didn't exactly meet. She gave me directions to McLaughlins but hoo-boy... Kevin Kline is one lucky mother fuuu...
McLaughlin sells their belts for $195 and that ain't cheap (unless you throw in a sighting of Phoebe to go along with it). But there's great quality here. The bridle and buckle are thick and solid. Check out the border of the top belt with the nautical line stitching. Great details. The bottom picture is a Smather's and Branson needlepoint. Both J Mac and S&B go to Vietnam for the needle pointing. But the J Mac excels over S&B's cheap and thin bridle. I'm not a fan of their buckle either. I think S&B runs around $165 if you're interested.
But the true Trad needlepoint is the one made for you with a pattern made for you. That's what I've been seeing in NYC. Bespoke needlepoint and is it beautiful in it's originality. The houses you've lived in. The boats you've owned. A time line of your life. Your marriages and divorces. I mean the ideas are endless. Profanity in signal flags is something I've been toying with.