Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Lego (trademarked as LEGO) is a line of construction toys manufactured by the Lego Group, from Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, Lego, consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts. Lego bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots. Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. 
It all began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891 – 1958), the son of a poor farmer and himself a carpenter from Billund, who began making wooden toys in 1932. In 1934, his company came to be called "Lego", from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means "play-well".
The toys were originally designed in the 1940s in Denmark and have achieved an international appeal, with an extensive subculture that supports Lego movies, games, video games, competitions, and four Lego themed amusement parks.
And, with many berets in a variety of configurations and shapes!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Kaheti (or Tusheti) Felt Hats

The traditional felt hats from Georgia, generally referred to as "Kakhetian hats", are really from Tusheti, a small and almost inaccessible region in the high Caucasus Mountains, bordering Chechnya and Dagestan in the north and Kakheti in the east. 
Unchanged for many centuries, these hats are still made according to local tradition and with skilled craftsmanship in the Tusheti Region. Hats always were the most important element of traditional Georgian garments. Apart from everyday use, these hats were worn by warriors under their steel helmets, to soften the blows by swords.
These Kakhetian felt hats are made from hand-pressed felt and decorated with a cross shaped string. Available in black and white @ $ 39.50.

Australian Beret Ban

You don't need to be an Einstein to understand that the beret is a much more appropriate headgear to wear in a tank than a slouch hat, but military commanders across the ditch (from me) probably don't crawl into tanks much themselves. 
From September 2010, the beret was banned across the Australian Army (except for the Special Forces) in favour of the traditional slouch hat.
So much for tradition, but it was exactly the opposite reasoning at the end of WWI that turned the Basque beret into a universal army headgear: away with tradition for utility, comfort, practicality and ease. The beret has no brim to get caught or get in the way in an enclosed environment, it protects the head without taking up any room, it's easy to roll up and stuff in your pocket (try that with a slouch hat!) and the black berets of the RAAC are pretty much stain and grease resistant.
And as for the risk of sunburn, maybe have a look at the French Chasseurs Alpins
It sounds like the Aussies are following Big Brother in his sometimes hard to follow reasoning. 
Thanks, Steve

Monday, November 28, 2011

Men in Red Berets

It may be the most popular colour beret for women, men too wear red berets.
Historically the most obvious group were the Carlistas, a group of ultra-orthodox Catholics (we would say fanatic fundamentalists these days) who adopted the red beret (with tassel) as one of their symbols. Not something you'd want to be associated with, really.
But it is also the beret of choice for festivals, brass bands and worn at large parties.
Hugo Chavez is the most obvious representative in the category of military dictators (Khadafi did not wear one himself, but his all-female bodyguards did).
In the arts we find paintings by Frans Floris 
and Gaugain
and of course there are the Guardian Angels:
The red beret I prefer wearing is a small diameter beret with the embroidered logo of the French motor club Les Petrolettes Dauphinoises.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Women and Red Berets

Supposedly, women in pre-Civil War Málaga wearing red berets were all prostitutes (Gerald Brenan in his highly recommended book The Face of Spain). 
Couldn't be further from the truth these days, of course and suggesting otherwise would be very bad for my business, but red is definitely the favourite colour of my female customers.  
In fashion, in daily wear, even the president of Argentina wears a boina roja

Friday, November 25, 2011

Military Style Berets (by lack of a better definition...)

Military style berets have been written about numerous times on The Beret Project and actually, I think I should find a better description for this kind of beret. It may be in the military style, but it is widely worn by a civilian population.

I have posted on Ralph Hotere before, Dizzy Gillespie, Bertil Vallien, Benjamin Nicholson and many more - non of them your average military person. 
What I appreciate is the "humbleness" of these beret wearers, often stating that they picked their beret up at a local Army-Navy-Store, 2nd hand affairs getting a new lease on life.
Bertil Vallien
And , of course, the industry adapted to the need; Boinas Elosegui and Blancq-Olibet (Bakarra) making some of the nicest and quality berets in this style.

Czech manufacturer TONAK makes the Service Star and American Apparel have their own style again. 
Kangol is the odd one out, always concentrated on the military (Montgomery) style beret.

In principal, a military style beret is a Basque beret, with the txortena (or 'wick', 'fuse') shorn off, a synthetic or leather rim on the outside of the natural woolen rim with a drawstring and often air vents added. Generally, the diameter is very small, <260mm.
Interestingly, this style beret seems especially popular in the Scandinavian countries (but I have no explanation as to the why. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Scandinavian Series #13 - Bertil Vallien (2)

A beautiful article from the Helsingborgs Dagblad. Needless to say, I fully sympathize with Bertil Vallien.
Glass artist Bertil Vallien refused to take off his beret and consequently, was made to leave a restaurant in Helsingborg
Bertil and his wife Ulrica Hydman Vallien spent the weekend in Helsingborg and visited restaurant "Bara Vara" ("Just Be")  along with a few good friends. "When we sat down, a cheeky waitress came up to me and said that I had to remove my hat.  I've always got my beret on me, it has pretty much grown attached to my head" he says.
"I wear it always, even when I opened the altar in the Växjö cathedral. And I've had it at a black tie dinner where I sat beside Crown Princess Victoria. It all went well."

Bertil says he and his friends did not believe their ears. "They did not want thugs in the restaurant". I was cheeky back and said "I'm a nice guy at 73 years old and no thug"..
The waitress called on a colleague.
He told us to immediately leave the restaurant. I was sad, says Bertil.
"I need my beret. It is pure vanity. I'm fucking bald and a beret is good for my self-esteem. That's it. I was not being stupid or loud or anything. If they had a dress code, they could tell us about it in a nice way."
Bertil and his company found another restaurant to eat dinner at. But then the evening was already ruined.
Christoffer Skoog, one of the owners to "Just Be", tells the Helsingborgs Dagblad that the ban on headgear is to be followed. We do not think it's nice to have to sit and eat a three course meal with your family or boyfriend and having to sit next to someone with his cap on. We work with fine ingredients and fine wines. We try to keep the style all the way up."
The rule came about when the restaurant was visited by visitors with hats and caps who did not want to take them off. 
According to Christopher Skoog, only headgear is banned. Otherwise, guests can dress as they please.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas & New Years at The Beret Project

Yes, we're getting to that time of year again - the holidays are coming up. And here, in the Southern Hemisphere, that doesn't only mean an alternative vegetarian X-mas lunch at the beach, but also a loooong Summer holiday.
No regular posts between 24 December and mid-January 2012. Also South Pacific Berets will be closed for business, so if you are thinking of ordering a new beret (what better X-mas present to give your neighbour, uncle, grandson, lover or father-in-law, after all?), make sure you order in time!
For the UK, Europe, North America and East Asia: order before 1 December. Australians have a wee bit longer, order before 8 December and the rest of the world: please order by 26 November.

The Scandinavian Series #12 - Jukka Nopsanen

Finland #2, painter Jukka Nopsanen!
Self Portrait
I am a painter and a portrait painter drawing strength from my  Finnish roots and nature.
I work also as a teacher of drawing and painting at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki,  the Aalto University.
I like classical and modern  painting.
As an artist I depict the relationship and contradiction between human beings and nature. I stand for the nature and animals.
Jukka Nopsanen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Scandinavian Series #11 - Bertil Vallien

Celebrated internationally for his artistry and technical innovation, Bertil Vallien ranks among the superstars of Scandinavian design. Bertil, who has spent his entire professional career with Kosta Boda, received his formal art education at the Konstfack in his hometown, Stockholm, and studied on scholarship in the U.S. and Mexico. 
Bertil works in a number of technique and often adds gold leaf and other non-glass materials to the finished piece and experiments with net and line effects. Bertil's works draw you into new dimensions of reality, playing with concepts of space and time, as he delights with his signature flying men, mysterious heads, imps and other fanciful creatures. 
Lecturing and exhibiting throughout the world, Bertil is an ambassador for Kosta Boda and Swedish glass artistry. During the 1980's he was a guest lecturer at the Pilchuck Glass School Center in Washington state.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The New Top Quality Bakarra Excellence

They've come in, just in time for Christmas (what better treat for yourself or a loved one)!
The Bakarra Excellence is (with the PeBeO Foulards) our absolute top quality beret.
Small diameter (9 pouces/256mm for the black and navy berets and 9.5 pouces/267mm for the brown berets), Blancq-Olibet's heaviest (densest) quality merino felted wool, impermeable, matching colour lining and the most beautiful finishing. 

Some interesting Vintage French Military Pictures

Some interesting vintage French military photographs. The picture of the Infantery de Marine  soldier above was taken in Verdun, 1932.
Army kitchen - date unknown
Roger Rambert, 7th Reg. Inf. of Africa, 1944 - Italian campaign
7th Reg. Inf. of Africa, June 1945 - In Germany, a few days after the war

Sunday, November 20, 2011