Dezeen's top 10 innovative materials of 2019 – Dezeen

From lab-grown spider silk to cellulose, design and technology reporter Natashah Hitti continues our review of the year with 10 of the most interesting materials developed or used throughout 2019, with a particular focus on reuse.


Seaweed

As the climate crisis puts pressure on people to think twice about what they produce, many designers looked to algal forms like seaweed as a sustainable alternative to plastic and other materials.

Luisa Kahlfeldt and Jasmine Linington both used a fabric called SeaCell, composed of seaweed and eucalyptus, to create sustainable alternatives to disposable diapers and the materials used in couture fashion respectively.

Copenhagen School of Business and Design student Kathryn Larsen developed a way for seaweed to be used as prefab panelling or thatching, while this year’s London Marathon runners were offered edible seaweed drinks capsules in place of plastic bottles.


Spider silk

On the same eco-friendly streak, garments from vegan spider silk came to the fore this year. For example, biotech startup Spiber created the first commercially available jacket made from synthetic spider silk for The North Face.

Adidas and Stella McCartney also worked with Californian biotech startup Bolt Threads to recreate a version of the proteins found in spider silk in a laboratory, to form the “fully biodegradable” Biofabric Tennis Dress.


Responsive materials

Smart, adaptive materials have also been popular among designers. Fashion designer Ying Gao created a pair of autonomous, robotic dresses that respond to particular colours in their immediate surroundings by moving as if alive.

Similarly, Layer developed a smart material for aircraft seating that detects passengers’ needs, and researchers at the University of Maryland invented a responsive textile made from polymer fibres coated with carbon nanotubes that warms up the wearer when they’re cold and cools them down when they’re hot.


Animal byproducts

Despite vegan design being on the rise this year, some designers took a different stance by putting animal byproducts that would otherwise go to waste to use in their creations.

Danish designer Kathrine Barbro Bendixen used discarded cow intestines to make a series of sculptural lights, comprised of translucent tubes that twist around an LED fixture.

Shahar Livne also designed a pair of trainers with alternative leather inserts made of animal fat, bones and blood taken from waste streams of slaughterhouses, while Reykjavík studio At10 made a bioplastic meat packaging from the skin of the animal itself.


Cellulose

Another organic material that designers looked to this year was cellulose – an organic compound that gives plants their structure.

Meydan Levy developed a series of edible artificial fruits made up of 3D-printed cellulose skins that are filled with various vitamins and minerals, while Elena Amato used the compound to create sustainable cosmetics packaging.

Elissa Brunato developed a way of making iridescent sequins from cellulose extracted from trees. According to the designer, the cellulose’s crystalline form refracts light and makes the sequins naturally shimmery.


Cork

Cork was also a material on the rise this year, favoured by many designers and architects for its compostable and recyclable properties.

Matthew Barnett Howland, Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton built a house from cork blocks supported by timber components, designed in a way that it can be easily dismantled, reused or recycled, while Nimtim Architects used the material for the walls of a London house extension.

Portuguese studio Digitalab used an innovative cork thread to create a collection of lighting and accessories, and Jasper Morrison made a series of furniture items from cork block left over from wine-bottle cork-stopper production.


Tents and parachutes

An unusual but popular choice of items to save from landfill this year were tents and parachutes, typically made from nylon, which designers reused to make fashion and furniture pieces.

Graduate designers Chloe Baines and Tuo Lei both made fashion garments from tents left behind at music festivals, while design studio Layer created a series of chairs and screens from recycled, surplus ex-military parachutes and aircraft brake parachutes.


Coffee

Designers also came up with different ways to reuse waste coffee grounds, including Jamie Pybus, who developed a household system that uses leftover coffee grounds as a fertile medium for growing edible mushrooms.

Italian design studio High Society used discarded coffee bean peels to make a series of lamps, while Zhekai Zhang used the caffeinated material to create marble effects on porcelain lights.

Industrial design studio PriestmanGoode also replaced single-use plastic with coffee grounds and husks to make meal trays for long-haul flights.


Dezeen's top 10 emerging materials of 2019Dezeen's top 10 emerging materials of 2019

Bioplastic

The development of bioplastic alternatives to petroleum-based plastics continued to be at the forefront of designers’ minds this year.

British designer Lucy Hughes used fish waste to create a compostable bioplastic as an alternative to single-use packaging like bags and sandwich wrappers, and scooped the overall James Dyson Award for her efforts.

Designers have also utilised food waste to create bioplastics, such as Carlo Ratti’s juice cups made from orange peel, and Shellworks’ paper-like material made from discarded lobster shells.


Used clothing

With over 100 billion items of clothing produced each year, creatives have resorted to using old garments in product design as a way of keeping the surplus textiles from being thrown away.

Examples include Sophie Rowley, who took discarded denim jean offcuts and made them into a series of tables featuring mottled patterns similar to marble, and Harry Nuriev who filled a transparent vinyl sofa with worn and discarded Balenciaga clothing.

Dutch designer Simone Post also made a series of patterned rugs for sportswear giant Adidas by shredding the brand’s old sports trainers into granules.

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The Coolest Cowhide Rugs for Every Budget – Forbes

Whether you’re going with a more mid-century modern vibe or a bohemian look, a calfskin rug can add a touch of texture and natural color to your home. The only problem? It can be hard to find one in your price range that’s going to look, well, good. If you have your eye on a cowhide rug, we’ve gone ahead and done the work for you with a guide to cowhide rugs for every budget, ahead.

Rugs USA Vaquera Macchiato Faux Cowhide Area Rug

Rugs USA

If you want for a more affordable option—say, a cowhide rug under $100—it’s best to look for faux cowhide. And the Vaquera Macchiato Faux Cowhide Area Rug from Rugs USA is an excellent choice. We love this light-colored cowhide rug for its realistic look and touch of gold sparkle for a more upscale style.

The Rugs USA Vaquera Macchiato Faux Cowhide Area Rug is on sale now starting at $65.

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MeshNew Pure Brown Tricolor Cowhide Rug

Amazon

You probably didn’t think to check Amazon for an authentic, natural cowhide rug, but we did. This Pure Brown Tricolor Cowhide Rug from MeshNew is a great option for those on a tight budget but looking to snag a natural cowhide rug over faux.

The MeshNew Pure Brown Tricolor Cowhide Rug is on sale now for $98.

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Joss & Main Binx Faux Cowhide Area Rug

Joss & Main

If you want the look of a dark brown cowhide rug without the fact that it’s, you know, made from cowhide, the Binx Faux Cowhide Area Rug from Joss & Main is a great option. Not only does it look real but it offers that touch of natural to your home.

The Joss & Main Binx Faux Cowhide Area Rug is on sale now for $107.

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IKEA TORSTED Cowhide

IKEA

IKEA is where we go for cheap furniture and $0.75 hot dogs, but it’s also where you can find affordable cowhide rugs. The TORSTED Cowhide is one of the home furnishing store’s three traditional cowhide rugs (check out the KOLDBY for a darker version at the same price) and features a gorgeous light caramel and cream colorway.

The IKEA TORSTED Cowhide rug is on sale now for $169.

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Joss & Main Sarah Hand-Woven Cowhide Area Rug

Joss & Main

Looking for a cowhide rug with deep camel tan and cream colors? The Joss & Main Sarah Hand-Woven Cowhide Area Rug is where it’s at. This gorgeous area rug can warm up any space and is neutral enough to match most decor, too.

The Joss & Main Sarah Hand-Woven Cowhide Area Rug is on sale now for $196.

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Zara Home Zebra Print Cowhide Rug

Zara Home

Get funky with Zara Home’s take on the cowhide rug. The Zebra Print Cowhide Rug is made from 100 percent natural fur and features the exotic stripes of a zebra for a fun pattern and flair.

The Zara Home Zebra Print Cowhide Rug is on sale now for $500.

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CB2 Grey Cowhide Rug

CB2

Finding a cowhide rug without browns can be difficult, but CB2 has it. The Grey Cowhide Rug is a gorgeous, neutral-colored rug that would go with virtually any home decor style, including contemporary. The light, solid-colored area rug is made from sustainably sourced cowhide from Argentina, and each one is unique.

The CB2 Grey Cowhide Rug is on sale now for $600.

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Texans and Their Boots: Reflections From a Few of Our Favorite People – Texas Monthly

Lyle Lovett

The Connoisseur 

At this point in his career, Lyle Lovett’s deftness in doling out dry wit has arguably surpassed his triple-stacked curls as his primary calling card. But the Klein native takes the subject of cowboy boots quite seriously. One of the most revered singer-songwriters Texas has produced, Lovett has a deep appreciation for the craft of making boots and the art of wearing them well. 

I started wearing boots consistently when I went to college. You get to A&M and see guys that have a certain, very consistent look. For me, it was one less fashion variable to have to think about.

But there have always been a few general rules when it comes to boots. First, wear your pants long enough. Real cowboys have a stacked effect with their jeans. When they rest on the foot of the boot, they kind of wrinkle up. That way, if you’re in the saddle, they’re still long enough. If you see somebody whose pants aren’t long enough, it might be a tell that it’s their first pair of boots.

If you’re wearing a black hat, you wear black boots. Your belt should match your boots and your hat.

And I wouldn’t wear a pair of python boots to church. I wear boots that would be the equivalent of a dress shoe. That’s just common sense.

Guy Clark first took me over to Texas Traditions, in Austin, in 1985. It was the legendary bootmaker Charlie Dunn’s shop. Charlie worked at Capitol Saddlery before opening his own place. Lee and Carrlyn Miller, who own Texas Traditions now, met while working for Charlie. Charlie was famous for firing people, so I asked Lee one day, “How did you survive Charlie? How did Charlie never fire you?” And Lee said, “Oh, Charlie fired me every day. I just kept coming back.”

Lee and Carrlyn made me my first pair of custom boots in 1989. They were a pair of bone kangaroo-skin boots with a twelve-inch top and a half-inch box toe. Before that, I grew up wearing Tony Lama and Justin Boots, until I finally graduated to a pair of Luccheses. By my front door I keep a pair of off-the-shelf Lucchese ropers. They’re really easy to slip in and out of, so I wear them to go to the trash can or get the newspaper.

My favorite pair my wife, April, made for me for my birthday in 1998. They have white tops and black lowers. Lee and Carrlyn tried to direct April to a bone top, something not quite as contrasty as stark white. They do a great job of guiding their customers. But April stuck to her guns. I wore that original pair of black-and-whites to every show for twenty years. Two or three years ago we made an identical pair, which I wear now. I wear them because I love them. But also I love that April gave them to me and they were her idea. That means something.

The pair, designed by his wife, that he wears onstage.

The pair, designed by his wife, that he wears onstage.

Photograph by LeAnn Mueller

With boots, there are a million design choices, and those choices can define who you are. Different activities require different kinds of boots. I mainly wear a style that would be considered a dress boot, but if I’m home on the farm or going to a horse show, I’ll wear boots that are really functional—tough enough for being knocked around all day in the pasture.

So much comes down to color and the type of skin. A nicely finished cowhide or kangaroo, something that takes a really nice shine, always dresses up whatever you’re wearing. With jeans, you can more easily wear an exotic skin that might make a bolder statement. Alligator always makes for a beautiful dress boot but looks great with jeans too. 

A work boot needn’t be a crude piece of work. There are really nice leathers that are extremely durable. Like ostrich. It’s soft and comfortable but tough at the same time. I wear a pair of black tall-top ostrich boots around the farm.

If I wear a pair of boots that get muddy enough that I’m worrying about dirt working its way in and eroding the leather, I will simply hose them off at the end of the day and let them dry really well overnight. Then I wipe them off and condition them with a non-oil cream.

There’s no such thing as an out-of-style boot. There’s an era for that style, and it can be fun to go back, especially if you understand the tradition.

Real cowboys haven’t worn pointed-toe boots like mine since the fifties or sixties. In the seventies, a round-toe boot became fashionable. The last twenty years, it’s gone from a blunt round toe, among the horse folks that I associate with, to a really square toe. So if I’m around real cowboys with my half-inch-box-toe, fifties-throwback sort of dress boots, they ask me if I’ve been hanging out in Hollywood and tease me about it. But if you’re a musician or you do something unconventional for a living, you get forgiven for a lot. They assume you just don’t know any better.

Typically, the fanciest part of the boot is the top, but if you wear your pant leg over it, it’s like you’re not showing off. And it’s fun to be able to reveal the top of your boots to somebody that might be interested. Somebody says, “Oh, those are nice boots!” and then you show them the tops. It’s the next level of the conversation.

I once took Lauren Bacall to Texas Traditions. I got to know her on the Robert Altman film Prêt-à-Porter. She was a big fan of nice footwear. In 2005 she told me she was going to be in Austin for the Texas Film Hall of Fame, so I drove over from Klein, picked her up at the Four Seasons, and took her to Artz Rib House. She had a Pekingese in her purse and was feeding it under the table. Then we went to Texas Traditions and got her measured up for some boots. She wound up with beautiful black ones with the old Charlie Dunn pinched-rose pattern on the tops, with a roper heel.

Boots become part of your life. The little nicks and scratches that you get on them really endear them to you. You remember what you were doing when you marked ’em up. Those little nicks are character builders. They are your life.

In 2002, when my leg was broken by our bull, the paramedics couldn’t have been nicer. They wanted to cut off my boot. And we all knew my leg was broken, but I had the clarity of mind enough to say, “Hey, don’t cut off my boot.” They wiggled it off. I’m glad they could save them.

Tourists to Texas who buy a pair of boots, I wonder how often those boots actually get worn. But I think it says a lot about our culture and about our identity down here that somebody from somewhere else would want to take a little bit of that home with them. I’m not going to judge that. You might be able to laugh a little, good-naturedly, the first time they trip over themselves. But I think we should be flattered. If I maybe saw somebody like that, I’d thank them. And I’d say something like “Nice boots!” and let them figure out what that meant.

With a boot, you’re sending a message. Fashion is all about communication. You’re saying, “This is who I am. This is what I think is important.” If you dress in an innocuous way, maybe you’re saying, “I just want to fit in.” But if you’re stepping onstage and into a white light and everybody’s looking at you anyway, what is it that you want to say about yourself? For me, I’m just trying to communicate who I feel like I am. I’m not trying to assume a character. By wearing boots, I’m just trying to say, “This is where I come from. I’m from Texas.” —As told to Andy Langer

Clay in Lucchese boots, Joe in Old Gringos, and Mike in Rocketbusters.

Clay in Lucchese boots, Joe in Old Gringos, and Mike in Rocketbusters.

Photograph by Matthew Johnson

Clay, Joe, and Mike Cavender

The Hustlers 

When James and Patricia Cavender opened their first store, in 1965, they couldn’t have predicted that the small Pittsburg, Texas, clothing shop would eventually become the largest privately owned Western-wear retail chain in the nation, with 83 Cavender’s locations throughout the Midwest and South, including 56 in Texas. James passed away in 2018, at 87, and Patricia this past August. Now the couple’s three sons are shepherding the business, bringing with them a lifetime of watching how Texans buy boots.

Mike Cavender: One of Dad’s big breaks came when some quail hunters out of Longview happened on the Pittsburg store around 1968. They bought a bunch of boots and started telling people in Longview about James Cavender’s good selection and prices. He started getting more and more customers. He would even load up his vehicle with boots and drive down to Longview to sell them out of his car. Word spread around East Texas. And as the years piled up, so did the stores.

Clay Cavender: Dad never met a stranger. He loved to talk to the people on the sales floor and visit.

MC: Real loud, real opinionated. But down-to-earth. And real frugal.

CC: Dad hired me one summer to work commission sales in Pittsburg, when we didn’t exactly have a lot of customers coming through the door. He didn’t like me making as much money as I did, though, so he put me in the warehouse to do warehouse work—but still paid me commission!

Joe Cavender: He was a hustler.

CC: The South is always a good market for us, but Texas is king. There’s a lot of fashion things that people wear every day in Texas that, if you go outside of the state, it might be once a month.

JC: We sell a whole lot more work boots than we did twenty years ago. Things evolve. The Urban Cowboy deal was big. Then, in the late eighties, when George Strait came on the scene, that drove another big peak in the market. There was a peak in the mid-2000s, a ladies’ boots craze. Today it’s a lot of wide, square-toed boots.

CC: I’ve got snake-proof boots for when I hunt. I’ve got everyday boots for when I go to the store. I’ve got dress boots for when I wear a suit. I used to have a pair of golf boots, believe it or not. Cowboy boots with spikes.

JC: We’re trying to get all the next generation into the business. I’ve got a son and daughter who have been in it, and we’re trying to move them up in the company.

CC: It’s definitely different without Mom and Dad. We miss them. But our plan is to continue to open three to six stores a year. There’s not a better business in the world than Western wear in Texas. How lucky are we? —As told to Emily McCullar

Cisneros in vintage Lucchese boots, a gift from an old friend.

Cisneros in vintage Lucchese boots, a gift from an old friend.

Photograph by Nick Simonite

Sandra Cisneros

The Myth Buster

During the more than twenty years award-winning author Sandra Cisneros lived in San Antonio, she wrote, founded two nonprofits for writers, and made headlines for painting her King William District house “Tejano colors.” In 2013 she moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

I didn’t wear cowboy boots before I moved to Texas. And it took a long time before I started wearing them, because the way I saw them was a little bit ominous. If you’re Mexican and you think of cowboys, you think of the Texas Rangers, which is like being black and thinking of the Ku Klux Klan; you don’t necessarily have a positive association. It took me a long time to come around and understand, “Oh, wait a second, cowboy boots existed before cowboys because they come from Mexican vaquero culture. The cowboy boot is Mexican.” We forget that. There are parts of American history that we have amnesia about, and a good deal of it has to do with Mexico.

I remember going to the Rocketbuster shop, in El Paso, for the first time and seeing that a lot of the craftsmen who were making the boots were Mexican. Texas culture is built on Mexican culture, and Mexican culture is Spanish culture built on indigenous culture. If we understand that history is a continuum, then we can appreciate what came before and how it transforms us and becomes who we are.

I bought my first pair of boots around the time of the first Gulf War. I had a couple of Mexican American friends who would mix cowboy boots with vintage Mexican skirts. They would go to thrift stores in the Valley and San Antonio and South Texas and come back with old vintage skirts and vintage boots. It’s a really lovely look, and it was a very new look for me when I started emulating it.

I’m always wearing cowboy boots. I wore them to the White House and at the Texas Institute of Letters. If I’m going to travel anywhere, I always wear a pair on the plane. And if I have to go to a formal event, I always wear cowboy boots underneath my Mexican skirt. I wear them around San Miguel, but I have to have rubber added to the soles because of the sidewalks and cobblestones.

To me, what I wear is a political statement. I wear it to educate people; this is why I wore the cowboy boots and Mexican dress to the White House. I could wear anything else, but I’m always dressed in a Mexican outfit or whatever I can wear to educate the public to have pride in who they are.

I once got an award for something at the Border Book Festival, and instead of giving me a glass statue or a plaque, they were smart enough to give me a pair of cowboy boots. Isn’t that great? Wouldn’t everybody be thrilled if, for every award, instead of a plaque we got a pair of boots? Especially awards from Texas. They ought to come with a gift certificate, credit from your favorite bootmaker. —As told to Katy Vine

Bobbie Nelson

The Style Icon 

Pianist, sister of Willie

The way I’m situated at the piano, you don’t see much of me except for my hat and my feet, so my footwear always seems to draw attention. I need the heel to be at an angle for the pedal. I would love to play barefoot, but it’s not comfortable. I can’t play in tennis shoes either. Sometimes a girl just needs to wear sandals. But mostly, I wear boots.

Crockett in a pair of Tony Lamas, a gift from the company.

Crockett in a pair of Tony Lamas, a gift from the company.

Photograph by Matthew Johnson

Charley Crockett

The New Outlaw

Charley Crockett is a country-blues singer from Los Fresnos and a direct descendant of Davy Crockett. He started busking at a young age, eventually touring relentlessly despite a heart condition. After two heart surgeries this past January, he released his sixth album and returned to the road.

When I was doing the street playing, I wore a lot of classic wing-tip dress shoes. Old-school New Orleans street stuff. But then, as I started spending time in Texas playing blues joints and honky-tonks, I got a pair of used Tony Lamas in East Dallas. I’d stand a little taller up there onstage.

Some of those boots that have a little higher heel, that you wear a little tighter—it’s easier to move around onstage in those if I’m doing a little boogie-woogie. I wouldn’t want to be walking down some country road in those. You need something sturdier, wider for that.

Work boots—you could hike up the side of a mountain in those damn things if you wanted to.

I’m pretty hard on them. Just wear holes right through the soles and not upkeeping them like I should be. Once your sock hits dirt? Well, you can get away with that for quite a while if it’s not raining. Just wear a thicker pair of socks.

I’ve never bought a pair of new boots. I like classic boots, the fifties and sixties boots like those old Acmes in mint condition, but it’s hard to find those. Vintage Noconas are good too. I got this pair I have right now—I think from the early seventies—that I found at this old antique mall in Asheville, North Carolina.

Softest damn leather you ever felt, these boots. They were so beautiful, didn’t have a scratch on them. The old lady working the counter, she had this whole table of dusty shoes, and those boots were the only pair among them. I thought they were at least $150. She didn’t even look over at me when I asked how much they were. She said, “Anything on that table is ten dollars.” And I just shut up and pulled out the money and got the hell out of there. I’ve been offered a few hundred for them on the street. —As told to Katy Vine

Franklin in Frye boots she got as a gift in Charleston.

Franklin in Frye boots she got as a gift in Charleston.

Photograph by Todd Spoth

Kam Franklin

The Soul Connection 

Kam Franklin is the lead singer of the Suffers, a “Gulf Coast soul” group from Houston, which formed in 2011 and has performed around the world. Franklin, who usually wears boots onstage, has worn them since she was a baby.

There was never a moment of “Oh, I’m going to start wearing cowboy boots today.” It was “Let me grab my boots,” the same way some people would say, “Let me grab my purse.” I love that they can be dressy or casual or wedding shoes. They can be anything.

When the band first started touring, Kacey Musgraves had just launched a boot line with Lucchese, and I wore her white Golden Arrow boot on Jimmy Kimmel. I went to Texas Southern University, and those boots reminded me of the majorettes at the football games performing with the Ocean of Soul marching band.

I’ve always wanted white ostrich boots. I would love black alligator too. And I have yet to find mid-calf, low-heel, red boots in my size. Size 11 women’s specialty cowboy boots are so hard to find. You get referred to men’s boots because they have more styles, which makes no sense.

Boots are a part of me and my personality. I love that I grew up where wearing cowboy boots is not considered a novelty. —As told to Katy Vine

Stephen J. “Tio” Kleberg

The Rancher 

Lifelong King Ranch resident, King Ranch director, great-great-grandson of Richard King

I’ve probably owned thirty pairs of boots, and I still have all of them. Leather is a living product, and you have to keep it cleaned and oiled. You also need a boot tree. The more you wear and condition your boots, the better they feel—like a pair of gloves. If you take care of them, they’ll last you a lifetime.

Voyles in work boots from Kimmel Boot Company.

Voyles in work boots from Kimmel Boot Company.

Photograph by Nick Simonite

Evan Voyles

The Collector

Nobody embodies Austin’s mix of individual style and entrepreneurial spark quite like Evan Voyles, the creator of some three hundred colorful neon signs that dot the city like totems. Voyles has handmade them all, from the simple Chuy’s arrow to Home Slice Pizza’s mustachioed Queen of Pies. Before turning to neon, Voyles had another career: vintage boot collector. Once upon a time, he had what he believes was the world’s largest collection.

Growing up, my family had a ranch near Johnson City. And when you were at the ranch, you wore cowboy boots. That was just a rule.

As I got older, I started making my own choices about what I wore. It was the sixties, and my hair was getting longer. But I still wore jeans, a chambray work shirt, and cowboy boots, as I do now. At the time you were seeing rednecks wearing cowboy boots and work clothes with short hair, but you were also seeing Stephen Stills and Buffalo Springfield with long hair and muttonchop sideburns and cowboy boots.

When I went off east for college, I quit wearing boots for a year. I was at Yale. I wore khakis and button-down shirts. And I had to change back. It just didn’t fit. After that, I wore cowboy boots all the time. I was a purist. I was morally opposed to flashy boots. It was like, you need work boots and black boots, period.

By 1986, I’d left a job in San Francisco, and I was living in a Land Cruiser, driving around America. I had long hair, a beard, an earring. I arrived in Abilene, where my sister was taking care of our mom, and we went to the Buffalo Gap Flea Market. I saw a pair of boots that were black and white, with gold stars and sunflowers and butterflies. They were wild. And they were $25, which was over my budget, and they didn’t fit. I didn’t get them. But I regretted it, so we went back two days later, and they were marked down to $12.50.

They didn’t have any markings on them—no labels, nothing. I brought them home, and my mom said, “You know, there’s a bootmaker on the East Side. Maybe he can tell you something about them.” It was James Leddy. He’s dead now. But he is part of an empire of bootmakers that goes back nearly a century.

He was very kind. He explained that the boots were handmade. He said, “This is made in Mexico. See, the Mexicans do it this way. We do it this way.” And I got excited and went out and bought more boots and brought them to him. He became my mentor.

He showed me that this was a form of folk art. Cowboy boots could be identified by their architectural details in the same way that Navajo rugs could be identified by their patterns and yarn. You could date boots by style; you could place them by design.

The ground was littered with cowboy boots in the mid-eighties. They were like apples waiting to be harvested. West Texas was the biggest part of the orchard, and I went all over it, buying boots from shoe repair places and thrift stores and garage sales. I was paying, on average, $4.10 a pair.

I was a collector first. I became a dealer only to finance my habit.

His grandfather’s 1930s boots from Hyer Boot Company, in Olathe, Kansas.

His grandfather’s 1930s boots from Hyer Boot Company, in Olathe, Kansas.

Photograph by Nick Simonite

I got a storefront in Buda, filled it with cowboy boots, and opened for business, but nobody showed up. A friend told me that people in L.A. would pay good money for boots, so I would hunt my way to L.A., sell on Melrose, drive to San Francisco, and sell on Haight Street, where they’d sell for $40. Forty dollars! 

One night in 1994, my storefront in Buda burned to the ground, and my entire collection with it. There were five hundred pairs. That’s when I got into the sign-making business.

I still live and work in boots the same way I always did, but now I’m closer to their purpose. When you’re climbing a ladder for work, you’ve got to have at least one hand holding something—a tool or a sign. And when you get to the top you want both hands free. The very things that make cowboy boots structurally perfect for locking into a stirrup—the pointy toe, the high instep—make them perfect for locking onto the rung of a ladder. That’s what boots are about. It’s not about style. It’s work gear.

Sometimes I’ll still see an old pair of boots sitting on a rack and go, “Oh my God, those were made by Ray Jones out of Lampasas—I’ve gotta have them!” I can’t not do it. —As told to Michael Hall

McDavid in custom boots from Gossamer Wings, in Santa Fe.

McDavid in custom boots from Gossamer Wings, in Santa Fe.

Photograph by Trevor Paulhus

Stacie McDavid

The Socialite 

Stacie McDavid is a Fort Worth philanthropist, the CEO of McDavid Companies, and a former amateur world champion in the American Cutting Horse Association. But she’s perhaps best known for her style. It’s not unusual to find her at a society party wearing couture—and cowboy boots.

I have one hundred pairs of boots in my closet—forty that I wear for riding and sixty that I call my “fashion boots.” I’ve got turquoise boots with silver tips that come up to the knee. Red boots that come over the knee. Multi-colored boots with flat heels. I’ll go to lunch wearing a T-shirt and skinny jeans tucked into zip-up ankle boots. If I’m wearing a skirt, I’ll wear pointy-toed boots.

I get up early in the morning, put on a pair of my riding boots and spurs, and go riding on our ranch outside Fort Worth. If I’m pressed for time, I’ll drive from the ranch straight to a meeting, still wearing the boots and spurs. Of course, I can only do that in Fort Worth. If I showed up to a meeting in Dallas dressed like that, people would stare and take photographs. —As told to Skip Hollandsworth

Cecile Richards

The Power User 

Cofounder of Supermajority, former president of Planned Parenthood, daughter of Ann

My mom loved a good pair of boots, and now I wear them all the time too, even though I live in New York. There is never a moment when wearing boots wouldn’t have made everything go better. I probably should have worn them when I testified before Congress, now that I think about it.

Callies wears 1980s-era ostrich boots and shows off his grandfather’s 1940s Don Quijote pair.

Callies wears 1980s-era ostrich boots and shows off his grandfather’s 1940s Don Quijote pair.

Photograph by Todd Spoth

Larry Callies

The Historian

Larry Callies grew up working cattle around Boling. In 2017—after stints as a country singer, postman, and rodeo rider—he founded the Black Cowboy Museum, in Rosenberg, with the intent of reminding visitors of the role of African Americans on the frontier.

I’m one of the people that started the yeehaw agenda. They got my picture on the internet talking about my museum, how I’m influencing blacks to get into country music and cowboy culture.

I was three when I started wearing cowboy boots. My grandpa had a pair, and I wanted some just like them. I cried so much that my mom finally bought me a pair.

I got beat up quite a bit as a kid. In my grade school, I was the only black cowboy. They had never heard of a black cowboy. My brother told me if I quit wearing those boots and telling people I liked country music, they wouldn’t do that.

In junior high, I was a working cowboy doing the job of an eighteen-year-old. I also used to be a country singer and had the same manager as George Strait. I opened for Selena, for Travis Tritt. But I lost my voice in 1990. I have vocal dysfunction.

Black cowboys were the first cowboys! That’s where the word came from. Slavery. Back in 1825, at the first Jones Ranch, they had people that worked cows and people that worked in the house. They just called them “boys.” “Boy, go get this.” “That’s my cow boy.” “That’s my house boy.”

Have you ever heard of the Lone Ranger? You know he was black? He was a former slave named Bass Reeves who escaped to Oklahoma and lived with the Indians and then later became a U.S. marshal. People started telling stories about him on the radio. When they put him on TV, they knew people wouldn’t accept him as a black man, so they made him a white man with a black mask. [Editor’s note: Reeves was real, but history is unclear about whether he inspired the Lone Ranger.]

The black cowboy never stopped working. We had our own rodeos. My uncle helped start one of the first black rodeos. President of the rodeo association. We never stopped being cowboys. I quit wearing boots for a while in high school, because it was so hard. I went back to it. After I started in college, I wore boots every day. —As told to Katy Vine

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Duchess of Rutland spent £1MILLION renovating six-bedroom cottage in grounds of Belvoir Castle – Daily Mail

Duchess of Rutland spent £1MILLION renovating a stylish six-bedroom cottage in the grounds of Belvoir Castle – and it’s now yours to rent for £1,155-a-night

  • The stunning Croxton Park House is set in secluded and picturesque valley in the heart of rural Leicestershire
  • Underwent £1m renovation by Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland and is listed on holiday lettings site Airbnb
  • Six bedroom home with three bathrooms can host up to 12 guests and costs £850 a night plus additional fees
  • Duchess says she has ‘worked tirelessly’ to create ‘a beautiful cottage in reflection of my home Belvoir Castle’

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As far as Airbnb’s go, it’s hard to top this unique home-stay in terms of history and grandeur.

The Duchess of Rutland has recently listed a cottage in grounds of Belvoir Castle on the site, following a £1million refurbishment – and she has decorated it in the style of her own luxurious home. 

Croxton Park House is located four miles from the castle within Croxton Park, a country estate near Grantham, set in a secluded, picturesque valley in the heart of rural Leicestershire.

It was originally founded as an abbey in the early 12th century before becoming the playground for the early Dukes of Rutland for country pursuits like hunting, shooting, fishing and falconry.

Croxton Park House (pictured) is located four miles from the castle within Croxton Park, a country estate near Grantham, set in a secluded, picturesque valley in the heart of rural Leicestershire

Croxton Park House (pictured) is located four miles from the castle within Croxton Park, a country estate near Grantham, set in a secluded, picturesque valley in the heart of rural Leicestershire

Croxton Park House (pictured) is located four miles from the castle within Croxton Park, a country estate near Grantham, set in a secluded, picturesque valley in the heart of rural Leicestershire

The historical home was originally founded as an abbey in the early 12th century before becoming the playground for the early Dukes of Rutland for country pursuits like hunting, shooting, fishing and falconry. Pictured: the living room

The historical home was originally founded as an abbey in the early 12th century before becoming the playground for the early Dukes of Rutland for country pursuits like hunting, shooting, fishing and falconry. Pictured: the living room

The historical home was originally founded as an abbey in the early 12th century before becoming the playground for the early Dukes of Rutland for country pursuits like hunting, shooting, fishing and falconry. Pictured: the living room

One of the master bedrooms in the cottage, decorated with elaborate wallpaper between the original wooden beams and luxurious animal skin rugs

One of the master bedrooms in the cottage, decorated with elaborate wallpaper between the original wooden beams and luxurious animal skin rugs

One of the master bedrooms in the cottage, decorated with elaborate wallpaper between the original wooden beams and luxurious animal skin rugs

It’s now available for private hire, accommodating 12 guests in six stunning bedrooms with interiors chosen by Emma Manners – the 11th and current Duchess of Rutland – herself.

Writing on the listing on Airbnb, the duchess reveals she has ‘worked tirelessly’ to create ‘a beautiful cottage in reflection of my home Belvoir Castle’. 

She adds: ‘I do hope you love my home away from home as much as I do!’

The residence costs £850 a night, plus a £150 cleaning fee and a £155 service fee, making it £1,155 in total.

The Duchess of Rutland, pictured at Royal Ascot in June, has recently listed the cottage in grounds of Belvoir Castle following a £1million refurbishment on Airbnb - which she has decorated in the style of her own luxurious home

The Duchess of Rutland, pictured at Royal Ascot in June, has recently listed the cottage in grounds of Belvoir Castle following a £1million refurbishment on Airbnb - which she has decorated in the style of her own luxurious home

The Duchess of Rutland, pictured at Royal Ascot in June, has recently listed the cottage in grounds of Belvoir Castle following a £1million refurbishment on Airbnb – which she has decorated in the style of her own luxurious home

Writing on Airbnb, the Duchess of Rutland said she hopes guests love her 'home away from home' as much as she does

Writing on Airbnb, the Duchess of Rutland said she hopes guests love her 'home away from home' as much as she does

Writing on Airbnb, the Duchess of Rutland said she hopes guests love her ‘home away from home’ as much as she does

The residence costs £850 a night, plus a £150 cleaning fee and a £155 service fee, making it £1,155 in total. Pictured: the hallway

The residence costs £850 a night, plus a £150 cleaning fee and a £155 service fee, making it £1,155 in total. Pictured: the hallway

The residence costs £850 a night, plus a £150 cleaning fee and a £155 service fee, making it £1,155 in total. Pictured: the hallway

Pictured: one of the bathrooms in Croxton Park House, which features stylish wall paper and a cowskin rug to take away the chill of the tiled floor

Pictured: one of the bathrooms in Croxton Park House, which features stylish wall paper and a cowskin rug to take away the chill of the tiled floor

Pictured: one of the bathrooms in Croxton Park House, which features stylish wall paper and a cowskin rug to take away the chill of the tiled floor

The hallway of the cottage pays homage to its historic heritage

The hallway of the cottage pays homage to its historic heritage

The twin bedroom is country cottage chic, with elegant floral wallpaper

The twin bedroom is country cottage chic, with elegant floral wallpaper

The hallway of the cottage (right) pays homage to its heritage, while the twin bedroom (left) is country cottage chic, with elegant floral wallpaper

The home has all the modern cons, including four TVs, wifi and 'essentials' - listed as towels, bed sheets, soap and toilet paper, as well as a selection of books and games

The home has all the modern cons, including four TVs, wifi and 'essentials' - listed as towels, bed sheets, soap and toilet paper, as well as a selection of books and games

The home has all the modern cons, including four TVs, wifi and ‘essentials’ – listed as towels, bed sheets, soap and toilet paper, as well as a selection of books and games

The cottage boasts an authentic indoor fireplace in one of the two living rooms, as well as a fully kitted out kitchen with a fridge-freezer with ice dispenser, four TVs, wifi and ‘essentials’ including towels, bed sheets, soap and toilet paper, as well as a selection of books and games.

The host – the Duchess of Rutland – offers a 20 discount if guests stay for an entire week and 25 per cent off if you rent it for a month. As yet it’s received no reviews, having only opened its doors last month. 

Belvoir Castle has formed the backdrop for scenes in season two of Netflix hit The Crown, the film Young Victoria in 2007 and even The Da Vinci Code.

The Cardiff-born duchess, 56, lives in the stately home alongside her estranged husband David Manners, 60, 11th Duke of Rutland and descendant of the Manners dynasty, who succeeded his father the 10th Duke of Rutland in the titles on 4 January 1999, with his fortune estimated at £125m. 

The bathrooms have all been refurbished, including this one which comes complete with a freestanding bath and vanity unit

The bathrooms have all been refurbished, including this one which comes complete with a freestanding bath and vanity unit

The bathrooms have all been refurbished, including this one which comes complete with a freestanding bath and vanity unit

One of the stylish bedrooms which features a window looking out over the expansive lush grounds of Croxton Park, a country estate near Grantham

One of the stylish bedrooms which features a window looking out over the expansive lush grounds of Croxton Park, a country estate near Grantham

One of the stylish bedrooms which features a window looking out over the expansive lush grounds of Croxton Park, a country estate near Grantham

The staircase in the cottage

The staircase in the cottage

The 'laptop friendly work space'

The 'laptop friendly work space'

The cottage, which has been decorated by the Duchess of Rutland, features a carpeted staircase and a ‘laptop friendly’ work space for guests

The home comes complete with a fully kitted out kitchen with a fridge-freezer with ice dispenser, a microwave and a dishwasher and washing machine

The home comes complete with a fully kitted out kitchen with a fridge-freezer with ice dispenser, a microwave and a dishwasher and washing machine

The home comes complete with a fully kitted out kitchen with a fridge-freezer with ice dispenser, a microwave and a dishwasher and washing machine

Their five children – Lady Violet Manners, 26, Lady Alice, 24, and Lady Eliza, 22, and their younger brothers, Charles, Marquess of Granby, 20, and Lord Hugo Manners, 16 – grew up in neo-Gothic splendour in the Leicestershire stately pile. 

The theme of the castle is classic opulence dating back to the 1700s when it was first restored, with the bedrooms boasting four poster beds, gold gilded portraits, rich tapestries, fur rugs and fireplaces.

Sparking no expense, the drawing room boasts silk wallpaper, luxurious furnishings and artwork dating back centuries.

Pictures posted by Emma show a true Downton Abbey inspired life, with maids hovering in the background as the family celebrate birthdays and special occasions – decked out in their finest gowns, singing along to songs played on the piano. 

The cottage boasts an authentic indoor fireplace in one of the two grand living rooms, as well as central heating to keep guests warm and toasty

The cottage boasts an authentic indoor fireplace in one of the two grand living rooms, as well as central heating to keep guests warm and toasty

The cottage boasts an authentic indoor fireplace in one of the two grand living rooms, as well as central heating to keep guests warm and toasty

The kitchen features a unit with mugs, jars of tea and coffee and small elegant glassware including Champagne flutes

The kitchen features a unit with mugs, jars of tea and coffee and small elegant glassware including Champagne flutes

The kitchen features a unit with mugs, jars of tea and coffee and small elegant glassware including Champagne flutes

One of the smaller bedrooms is decorated in a similar theme to the larger suite, with bold wallpaper and beams stripped back to the original wood

One of the smaller bedrooms is decorated in a similar theme to the larger suite, with bold wallpaper and beams stripped back to the original wood

One of the smaller bedrooms is decorated in a similar theme to the larger suite, with bold wallpaper and beams stripped back to the original wood

The cottage itself has a generous courtyard style garden outside, perfect for basking in the sunshine and taking in the stunning surrounding views in summer

The cottage itself has a generous courtyard style garden outside, perfect for basking in the sunshine and taking in the stunning surrounding views in summer

The cottage itself has a generous courtyard style garden outside, perfect for basking in the sunshine and taking in the stunning surrounding views in summer

And the opulent interiors don’t stop there, with bathrooms boasting marble tops, dressing tables, intricate wallpaper and the modern touch of his and hers sinks.

Meanwhile, dinner parties are fit for a king, taking place at tables stretching across a whole hall, surrounded by fireplaces, candelabras and giant portraits of ancestors.

A grand library, complete with oriental carpets, chaise lounges and chandeliers is described in one post by Emma as her ‘favourite afternoon spot’. 

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Off Duty: A Fun, Fascinating Compendium of Lists – Wall Street Journal

Wishful thinking excerpted from Charlotte Druckman’s ‘Women on Food’ (Oct. 29, Abrams).

1. Disposable Plate Wipers

—Amy Brandwein, chef/owner, Centrolina and Piccolina, Washington, D.C.

2. Easy Way to Peel Roasted Peppers Without Scalding My Fingers
—Sofia Perez, journalist, writer, editor, New York

3. Dinner in a Bag Delivered by Magic (But Not by Drone)

—Julee Rosso, owner, Wickwood Inn, and cookbook author, Saugatuck, Mich.

4. Electric Coconut Opener That Opens Coconuts Like a Can

—Nicole Adrienne Ponseca, restaurateur/founder, Maharlika and Jeepney, New York

5. Natural Peanut Butter Jar With a Paddle Built Into the Lid for Stirring

—Jasmine Lukuku, founder, Black Food Bloggers, and actor, Vancouver, Canada

6. Pit-less Concord Grapes

—Ann Cashion, chef/co-owner, Johnny’s Half Shell and Taqueria Nacional, Washington, D.C.

7. Twenty-Four-Hour Savory Bakery

—Wendy MacNaughton, illustrator/graphic journalist, San Francisco, Calif.

8. Restaurant Where Front and Back of the House Get the Same Hourly Salary

—Anita Lo, chef and cookbook author, New York

9. Instant Pot That Grills and Deep-Fries and Listens to Your Pitches and Offers Sound Critical Feedback

—Kathleen Squires, food and travel writer, New York

10. Congee Bar

—Joanne Chang, co-owner, Flour Bakery + Café and Myers + Chang, Boston

11. All-Burgundy Wine Bar

—Chandra Ram, editor, Plate magazine, and cookbook author, Chicago

12. All-Cheese Everything

—Rachel Bossett, pastry chef, New York

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