Monday, June 29, 2009

French legacy in Vietnam

Vietnam has certainly has seen its share of berets going by; in green, red, khaki and black, with badges depicting daggers, skulls and parachutes on wings, from France, the United States, Australia, New Zealand…

Pictures of Green Berets and a French soldier during the battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Still, the civilian black Basque beret survived, introduced to Indo-Chine by the French and still worn proudly these days.

Like the poet Duy Viet does, from the Stop and Go Café in Dalat, a place where Vietnamese and international poets alike come together to find peace and quietness from the hustle and bustle of Saigon and Hanoi,

or like this gentleman in Hanoi.

Café Accordion Orchestra

No, I've never seen these guys play, but I guess they deserve a place here for promoting the Béret.
cafe accordion logo
“Berets and Bongos” describes the Café Accordion experience. "A loungy, eclectic mix, full of French flare, Latin heat and Bohemian attitude. The heart of the Café Accordion repertoire is the romantic, gypsy-influenced valse-musette." group_bl2.gif (32021 bytes)"The group complements the musettes with swing, ballads, tangos, cha chas, rumbas, and cumbias to create a wonderfully varied show. They inject their music with good humor and expressive abandon. Their high level of musicianship and passion for performance makes them an entertaining concert act as well as a great dance band."

Well, that's what it says on the orchestra's web site.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Surprisingly, I have found it hard to find more than a few postage stamps depicting berets.
Most of them relate to the military (some fake ones included), a few Cuban ones to Ché Guevara of course and only one pair showing a genuine Basque Beret.

I'll keep searching (and trust you will too).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bob Dylan

I have looked everywhere, but can't find a picture of Bob Dylan under a beret - maybe he never did wear one... Pictures of Dylan in his later years show him primarily with a Stetson of some kind.

He did paint some though, as I found out through the exhibition of paintings at the Chemnitz Art gallery in (the former East) Germany.

It was in 2005 that gallery director Ingrid Mössinger came across a book of sketches by Dylan in an antiquarian bookshop in Manhattan. When asked, Dylan -much to Mössinger's surprise- instantly agreed to work on an exhibition and started working on different versions of the original sketches.

The gallery said the art expressed a sense of loneliness and displacement as Dylan constantly

moved about.

"Feelings of anonymity, transience, rootlessness and sometimes loneliness pervade these representations of the people, objects and places that Dylan has seen and drawn," added the gallery.

Its president Paul Green said: "This is an incredible opportunity for viewing this powerful body of work which gives an insight into the artist's soul and which have already been the subject of widespread critical acclaim."

All paintings can be seen here and the book The Drawn Blank Series is now widely available.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Toadstools, Acorns and Berets

Sure, there is a definite similarity between mushrooms, acorns and the beret. A similarity that is a lot less offensive in English than Dutch; the acorn ("eikel", in Dutch) also meaning a certain part of the male anatomy.

And yes, there are plenty of cartoons, comedians and sayings pointing out the relationship between an "eikel" and a beret(wearer).
Or what to think of the Boleto Vasco (or Basque Mushroom)?
Japanese artist Dadaya took it a step further; have a look at her very fancy berets.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gift of the Year 2006

For the real addicts: you'll never have to be without a beret on your head. Even under the shower you can be comfy and highly fashionable.

Monday, June 22, 2009


This carving is found in the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Church in Breda, the Netherlands.

Many Polish soldiers were involved in the liberation of the (Southern) Netherlands from Nazi Germany (1944-45) and a good number of them got acquainted with the local girls. Many of them married and stayed in the Netherlands.

This carving depicts a Polish soldier on his motorbike with his Dutch girlfriend leaning into him on the back seat, both wearing an (army) beret.

At first the clergy denounced artwork like this, as being too sinful and profane, but love overcame in the end, as it should.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More records...

For what it's worth... The largest beret ever made can be seen here, 3.5m diameter.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Sensational Rare Brown Lash Head Vase With French Beret By Rubens"

Who am I to laugh at someone else's hobby (me, owning dozens of berets and still adding...)? Still, I am struck by these headvases (and the value they have for collectors).
I quote the sale text for this beret wearing, thickly eyelashed and red lipped beauty, @ $590:

This wonderful special headvase is the hardest one to find from the Rubens set with long thick brown eyelashes.

This is only the second time ever that I’ve been able to offer this amazing model and amazing she truly is. Has wonderful detail, the sculpture of her hair with the strand of hair away from the rest is totally unique, she was done in the 1950's as part of a set of young ladies with different hairstyles, all with brown eyelashes.

Excellent condition, no chips, no cracks. Colors are just wonderfully delicious, the sculpture is also wonderful. Any white spots on eyelashes or anywhere else that may seem out of place, are purely reflection, everything about this piece is in perfect condition. Has normal, totally expected on this model, very clear, superficial crazing, nothing that stands out or interferes with the beauty of this piece, much more noticeable in my close up photos than in person, one has to look very closely, under strong light with a magnifying glass.

Measures 5-3/4" in height, incised on the bottom with the Rubens logo and number 4128, also has the Rubens Foil Label.

Fabulous piece to add to a collection or even display on her own, this is really a beautiful object on it’s own right

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Txapela's in Tomelloso

This link was sent to me by Jorge, from Florida. An interesting video on YouTube about the town of Tomelloso in Spain, where Basque men are rarely seen without their txapela’s. Gives a really nice picture of Spanish town living in the early 70's.

From Nay, in the French Pyrenees

The town of Nay in the Béarn (French Pyrenees) portrays itself as the Beret Capital of the World. If there should be anything like a beret capital in the first place, I guess Nay has good reasons to hold this title.
The only two remaining beret factories of France are both located in the area of Nay (Oloron) and Nay has it's own beret museum as well. Between 1940 and 1950 there were many more beret factories in this area, like: Barraban, Beighau, Carçabal, Faure, Lartigue (now Beatex) and Mondine.
And what would a Beret Capital be without a record number of beret-wearers in it's community? These pictures are from the World Record Beret wearers Day in Nay, a nice mix of colours and ages.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Never too young for a Beret

Plenty of berets around for Barbie and such, but interestingly, no berets to serve for young boy role models. Except if you wanted your little boy to become a Green Beret or John Wayne re-enacter, of course...

Pink and Black Barbie Dress w/Beret and Shoulder Bag $9.95. Hand Knit in the USA of 100% Washable Wool. Fits 11 1/2 inch tall Barbie and Fashon Dolls.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Picasso's Boinas

Of course, berets not only feature in self portraits. Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso created a range of paintings of women wearing a beret, like 'Woman with a Red Beret', 'Marie-Therese Walter' and 'Woman with a Tambourine':

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Beret in the Arts - Self Portraits

It is one of the great clichés: a painter has to wear a beret, preferably black and oversized.
There is a good reason for this cliché though, as so many painters have portrayed themselves with a beret over the centuries. Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-69) was particularly fascinated by himself in a beret, leaving a great legacy of beret-paintings and many of Rembrandt's students and followers copied this tradition.One of my favourite paintings is a self portrait by Claude Monet,

at a later age, white bearded and wearing glasses.

Post-impressionist French painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
painted numerous self portraits with beret as well:

Then there are lesser known painters who shared the love for the beret, like Bernard Safran with his fantastic "self portrait in red" (1953):

Or Henry Sugimoto:

Henri Rousseau:

Quentin Crisp:

and all those other great artists, who have found temporary immortality on this beret:

"Beret", in British Sign Language