There was the tiniest bit of resistance when the blades engaged my nail. Without such a smooth action, I’m not sure I would have even noticed the added resistance from cutting, that’s how sharp it was. The mechanism was so rigid with such good tactile feedback, I’m sure I could have cut through 99.9 % of my toenail and stopped if I had wanted to. I went on to cut the other four toenails on that foot, even though none of them really needed to be trimmed, just because it gave me a chance to continue using the nail clippers. I took off my other shoe and sock, and trimmed those nails unnecessarily, just for an excuse to keep using this wonderful tool, all the while wondering “What is wrong with me? Why am I enjoying this chore of trimming my nails, when I could be out skiing?” That’s how amazing those clippers were. Those original clippers were made by Wusthof in Solingen, Germany. Sadly, they were ruined several years later when shampoo spilled on them in my travel shaving kit and they began to corrode. Wusthof has since changed the design of their nail clippers, so I replaced them with a Japanese set from Seki which seemed more similar to the forged Wusthofs that originally captivated me. Then I used the clippers. I squeezed, and they moved effortlessly with almost no internal friction. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wore a navy velvet gown by Alexander McQueen for the Queen’s Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace on 11 December 2019 and she looked lovely, festive, and beautiful. I wanted to see her in a different tiara for kicks, but Catherine really likes the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara with diamonds and pearls. Back to Catherine. She usually wears light colors to this reception, as last year Catherine was resplendent in white, so it’s a change for this Duchess to wear a darker color. I like the velvet, always a festive choice, and her hair was up so as to show off the statement Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, which is a stunner. No word yet on her heels for the evening. I do wonder if the Duchess of Cambridge chose navy pumps? The sash and medals worn by Catherine are honors bestowed by the Queen. Catherine looked queenly tonight. She opted to go darker, with full-length sleeves and I liked the simplicity of the dress since Catherine clearly has the figure to pull off this design nicely.
Normally, I am far too cheap to spend $20 on a $1.00 item. Blame it on a slightly irrational upbringing, but I’ll endure a lot of pain to avoid being cheated into overpaying by a factor of 20. On the other hand, I have a strange habit that comes from too much experience with metalworking: whenever I see a metal object, I subconsciously figure out how it was made, and imagine the factory and machinery used to produce it, estimate the startup costs of the factory and the per-unit costs of the part. When I looked at this $20 nail clipper, I got disoriented, because it wasn’t a standard nail clipper. I’m used to seeing three stamped pieces of metal, a screw machine part, and a rivet or eyelet when I look at a nailclipper. Then I imagine a factory with a dirty rattling stamping machine with peeling gray paint, punching out cheap pieces of steel from cheap rolls of cheap low carbon steel. I didn’t see that when I looked at these clippers. I saw high end alloy steel, heated until it glowed slightly, being hammered by specially shaped tools that made the metal flow and optimized the microstructure of the metal for a perfect cutting edge, while also building up a reinforcing ridge to add stiffness. This nail clipper was forged, not stamped out of cheap sheet metal. It wasn’t just forged, it was forged WELL, with machines without any rattles or squeaks, and probably inline measurement of temperature to keep the steel exactly hot enough. I don’t know how to explain the shock of seeing such a skillfully forged nail clipper to someone not in the metalworking industry. It was like seeing a dog with six legs, or opening up a lawnmower and seeing the jet engine from a 747. Nail clippers simply aren’t forged, nobody puts that much thought and quality into tools for trimming nails. I bought the $20 nail clippers, thinking that maybe I wasn’t being cheated since so much thought had gone into manufacturing them, and anyway I would have a toy to show my friends at work.
I’m hopeful I can return to face-to-face meetings in the fall. Still, the Zoom calls did provide a new kind of connection with the designers I interviewed: Because of the novelty of the personal experience and the extremes of the global one, they were the most candid conversations about fashion that I’ve ever had not just about the challenges the industry is facing but also about the joys of making. Alessandro Michele said he “felt like a kid again” when he was finally able to return to Gucci’s H.Q. When we go back to real life, I’ll miss these chats. As of September approaches and it looks more and more likely that Milan and Paris will stage live shows smaller and less grand, but still live it’s a real blow to know that as an American I probably won’t be able to attend. The E.U. has banned travelers from the U.S. for health reasons. So I hope that designers keep the lessons of the quarantine close both when they’re making clothes and creating the digital content that’s becoming just as important amid all of this. Intimacy, authenticity, the positive vibrations of craft, the value of having values these are the things that matter. Whether it’s knitting, baking sourdough bread, or learning Cantonese, sanity-saving hobbies might be the biggest trend to have emerged from lockdown. Over the past few months, karate has been Nicholas Daley’s pastime of choice. He picked up the sport thanks to his musician girlfriend she’s a black belt shortly before the order to shelter in place went into effect in the U.K. t’s easy to see the martial arts influence in his new menswear collection, with its karategi-style layering pieces and high-waist pants. Daley collaborated with Lavenham, a British manufacturer specializing in quilted outerwear for the great outdoors, on the cool tie-front quilted jackets that toe the line between the dojo and the street. Perhaps not immediately obvious is Daley’s reference to the reggae icon Peter Tosh, a relatively unsung hero in the pantheon of stylish music icons. I’ve seen some of my younger, female coworkers in outfits that, if I were their father, I wouldn’t let them leave the house in. Outfits that, if they wore them to actually teach, I doubt the boys in the class would hear a word they said. Personally, I usually just wear an old T-shirt and shorts on those days the same outfit I wear when I’m mowing the yard or doing any other hot, dirty work.
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