Archive for the Tailoring category

Three more early 80s Willie Brown treasures

Front, Willie Brown donkey jacket purchased by Sal Macasil from early 80s London boutique Axiom.

//Leather/wool felt donkey jacket, unlabelled, early 80s.//

Following their contribution of images of treasured clothes acquired from 80s London boutiques Demob and Modern Classics, Salv and Sue Macasil have dug out three more extraordinary garments by the key designer at both shops, Willie (these days Will) Brown.

Front, Willie Brown tweed dress for his Colonial Life label, purchased by Sue Macasil in Brown's early 80s London boutique Modern Classics.

//Tweed dress, Colonial Life, early 80s.//

Front, black Willie Brown dress purchased by Sue Macasil at Brown's early 80s London boutique Modern Classics.

//Cotton dress, Colonial Life, early 80s.//

Among them is a green and yellow donkey jacket bought at Jon Baker’s store Axiom. “It’s not labelled but is clearly a Willie Brown design; in fact I once saw the man himself wearing one,” says Salv.

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Visual feast from Demob + Modern Classics

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Thanks to THE LOOK follower Salv Macasil for sending us this visual feast: images of five key pieces of clothing from the historically important London boutiques Demob and Modern Classics.

In very good condition, the garments convey many stories about the development of the particularly British aesthetic which thrives today at Will Brown’s Old Town Clothing.

Demob’s most popular design was the much emulated plaid-lined, hooded checker-cab strip anorak, notably worn by Paul Weller in the promo clip for The Style Council’s 1984 hit Shout To The Top.

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Tommy Nutter: The Rebel on the Row

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Today THE LOOK was granted a sneak preview of some of the incredible exhibits to be featured in Rebel On The Row, the forthcoming exhibition celebrating the talents and legacy of the late Tommy Nutter.

The show is currently being installed at London’s Fashion & Textiles Museum, where it opens a week on Friday (May 20).

Curated by Timothy Everest – who was a Nutter trainee (others include John Galliano) – and the FTM’s Dennis Nothdruft, the show centres on exhibits contributed by such Nutter clients as Mick Jagger, Elton John, Cilla Black and Justin de Villeneuve.

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Photo-memories of a 60s dandy

Alan Holston outside Dandie Fashions, 161 Kings Road, 1967.

//Alan Holston outside Dandie Fashions, 161 King's Road, SW3. From a European pop magazine, 1967.//

Alan Holston has provided these photos from his time as of one the team at key 60s boutique Dandie Fashions.

Holston joined Dandie in 1966 when it was opened by Tara Browne and Neil Winterbottom with John Crittle and Freddie Hornik in premises in South Kensington. Tailoring was supplied by Foster & Tara, the business Browne set up with father and son team Pops and Cliff Foster.

At the beginning of 1967 – by which time Browne had been killed in the infamous car accident – Dandie moved to 161 King’s Road with a magnificent psychedelic decor courtesy of Binder Edwards & Vaughn.

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Westwood: NYT Style screen test

The vicuna overcoat – menefreghismo to the max

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Nick Tosches’ Dean Martin biography Dino: Living High In The Dirty Business Of Dreams memorably defines its subject as a menefreghista – “one who simply does not give a fuck”.

And if ever there was a garment which oozes menefreghismo, it is the vicuna overcoat.

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John Simons’ new shop

John Simons new shop, Chiltern Street, London W1.

Final preparations are being made to John Simons’ new shop at 46 Chiltern Street, in the simpa area of London’s West End wedged between Baker Street and Marylebone High Street.

The sign has yet to be erected and there are many finishing touches to be made but already the space is shaping up to present a unique offer. “I’m juxtaposing the clothes with my abiding interests in art and design over many years,” says Simons.

As explored in THE LOOK, Simons is the nonpareil purveyor of the finest US menswear brands, in particular those associated with Ivy League and the 50s/60s modernist movement in clothes.

Simons has long been at the forefront of the field, with such rich associations as Cecil Gee in the 50s, The Ivy Shop in the 60s and 70s and J.Simons in Covent Garden for more than two decades up until February this year.

John Simons at his new shop in Chiltern Street, London W1.

John Simons, Chiltern Street, London W1, November 30, 2010.

INSIDE JOHN SIMONS’ NEW STORE: “A MODERNIST’S DREAM”

[This was originally posted on December 7,2010]

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John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

Tomorrow see the opening of John Simons’ smart new retail outlet at 46 Chiltern Street, London W1.

These photographs were taken last week; much progress has been made since, but they should provide a flavour of the environment Simons and his team – including son Paul – are creating.

Formerly the site of a print shop, the premises have been transformed into a modernist’s dream, decorated with art, insignia, branding, furniture and design classics, some of which serve as fittings, such as the Penguin Donkey which will be used to display socks.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

As noted, the locale is perfect for Simons, whose outlet is in the company of such stores as Grey Flannel, Archer Adams and Mario’s barbershop.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

We wish Simons and his crew all the best in this new venture which returns this key figure to London’s style scene; next stop, apparently, is the online shop which follows soon.

John Simons' new store, 46 Chiltern Street, London W1.

Anna Sui exclusive: Interview, book preview + archive gems

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To coincide with the publication of the Anna Sui book, today THE LOOK publishes an exclusive interview with the New York designer.

Sui has also granted us access to these gems from deep in her archive: sketches which resulted in early 80s stagewear for Siouxsie Sioux.

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Sui developed her fascination for the dynamics of music and style early.

“I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit dreaming about the British invasion, The Beatles and The Stones,” she says.

“My first concert was MC5 and The Stooges in a park, then along came Glam Rock and I was smitten. It wasn’t just the band that dressed up, but the audience too!  Alice Cooper was my favourite.  Todd Haynes captured that excitement at the beginning of Velvet Goldmine.”

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//Todd Haynes captures the excitement at 4.20.//

Sui’s family visited New York every summer. One year they took in  the Biba boutique in Bergdorf Goodman.  “I was astounded by the colour selection of cosmetics, boots, t-shirts and beautiful clothes; I’d never seen colours like that:  Dusty teal, plum, prune, rose…

“I bought a teal t-shirt with billowy sleeves – like the blouse I had seen on Jean Shrimpton when she came to Detroit for a Yardley cosmetics appearance – and teal eye shadow.”

Sui graduated via the NYC punk scene to create a small collection “for rock stars as well people that went to rock concerts”, selling through department stores and Patricia Field’s boutique on 8th Street.

In the early 80s Sui brought her “Rock and Roll Cowboy” range to London, when Siouxsie acquired the fringe jacket and skirt with faux-cowhide yoke.

While in London Sui caught Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Pirates collection. “I went to the launch party and the next day bought an entire outfit from Worlds End,” she recalls. “At this time Gene Krell had a clothing boutique in the back of a record store, also on 8th, at MacDougal.  Gene bought my collection, as did Trash & Vaudeville.”

Sui’s customers have run the rock & roll gamut, and she retains a fan’s enthusiasm for the artefacts of rock fashion, as regular readers will know from her recent contribution to this site.

As an addendum to that, here is a charming card for Betsy Bunky  & Nini from Sui’s personal collection:

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Among Sui’s most prized possessions is a complete run of the Hearst Corporation’s short-lived late 60s pop culture magazine Eye. “It covered fashion, music and film with a poster most issues,” she says.

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//Eye magazine, clockwise from top left: Aug 68; Sept 68; Oct 68; March 69.//

“This was a very different time when information traveled in a much slower way.  Any glimpse of what was going on in London or a story about a rock star was precious and went a long way in your imagination.”

Sui also collects vintage Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes.  “I missed it the first time around so I’m making up for it now. I like their earlier pieces and wear them a lot. I’ve also collected the subsequent collections for various retailers recently and Zandra has made me a dress in my favorite feather print.”

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It is this enthusiam for the keynotes of fashion history which propels Sui into making the smart choices, especially when it comes to fabric selection, palette control and photographic collaboration, from her good friend Steven Meisel to the fantastic(al) Sarah Moon.

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Sui’s post-modern appeal is outlined by Jack White (whose wife Karen Elson is a favourite model of the designer’s) in his foreword to Sui’s fully illustrated 288-page tome (which is launched in the UK next week).

“It’s not retro or emulation or re-creation or even false modernity,” White writes of Sui’s aesthetic. “It is a beauty that can exist in any era – past, present or future – a beauty that does not fall prey to the wrath of novelty.”

Buy your copy of Anna Sui’s new book here.

Wish You Were There: Nifty guide to London 1960-66

WISH YOU WERE THERE London 1960-66

Wish You Were There, the new retrospective guide to the shops, clubs “and sundry diversions” on offer in central London between 1960 and 1966, may be pocket-sized but it’s packed with exhaustive info and fabulously-researched detail.

Produced by Herb Lester Associates (writer/DJ/60s expert Ben Olins and broadcast/publishing creative Jane Smillie), the simple, stylish map/listings format also makes for a delightful artefact.

This is the third map from HLA, whose aim is to create “attractive and interesting publications for companies and organisations”, extending to books, quarterly magazines, journals and one-offs.

“Some years ago I planned to write a book on London clubs of the pre-psychedelic rock & roll period, approximately 1958-66, and did quite a bit of research but couldn’t allocate the time and energy to do it right,” explains Olins. “When we started to produce the maps, I decided to merge the research and interviews into a more easily digestible and manageable package.”

WISH YOU WERE THERE London 1960-66

WISH YOU WERE THERE London 1960-66

We’re pleased to note that THE LOOK was among the sources of background info, though Olins stresses he focused where possible on first-hand testimony from the likes of Lloyd Johnson and Jeff Dexter.

“Jeff’s like Zelig meets the Memory Man,” says Olins. “He’s just incredible and also enormously generous. Jeff, Lloyd and I spent one long day this summer pounding West End pavements, with the two of them pointing out locations and describing what they were like.

“We ate lunch in the premises occupied by (John Michael’s groundbreaking Old Compton Street store) Sportique. ‘At last I can afford to buy something at Sportique!’ said Lloyd, who generously paid for us all. Then, in a moment of circle-closing, we bumped into John Pearse in Wardour Street.”

WISH YOU WERE THERE London 1960-66

WISH YOU WERE THERE London 1960-66

Wish You Were There is an absolute steal at £4 a copy, available here.

Fabulous new David Bowie book is crammed with delights

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//David Bowie wears John Stephen on a modeling assignment with Jan De Souza in Kingly Street W1 for Fabulous 208, 1965. Photo: Fiona Adams//

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//Up on the roof, central London 1967. Photo: Kenneth Pitt. //

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//Ziggy Stardust’s first photo call, 1972. Photo: Brian Ward/David Bowie Archive.//

Any Day Now, the new book about David Bowie’s London life between 1947 and 1974, is hands-down the music book publishing sensation of the year.

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And THE LOOK has been granted exclusive access to the new book, which has been written and compiled by Bowie expert Kevin Cann and is out next month.

Any Day Now’s 320-plus pages are crammed with delights both factual and visual, charting Bowie from his birth, background and childhood interests in music, design and art through to his beginnings in local beat groups and eventual world-beating success.

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//In Paddington Street Gardens, central London, 1969. The bag was designed by Alan Mair of The Beatstalkers (and later The Only Ones). Photo: Kenneth Pitt.//

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//Rocking the Keith Relf look with The Manish Boys, 1965. Photo: Bob Solly//

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//With Angie (Angela Barnett) outside Bromley register office on their wedding day, March 20, 1970. The couple wore clothes bought the previous day at Kensington Market. Bowie’s Courrèges belt was a gift from friend Calvin Mark Lee. Photo: Kentish Times.//

As a document of the most important image-maker of our times, it is unparalleled, reflecting Cann’s decades-long absorption in his subject and access to original sources and important material.

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//In Mr Fish mandress on the cover of Curious magazine with Freddie Buretti, May 1971.//

Any Day Now is a must for fans of music and fashion, detailing Bowie’s stylistic development as he moved through r&b and mod via folkie and hippie to glam androgyny, drawing on such touchstones of THE LOOK as John Stephen, Dandie Fashions, Kensington Market, Mr Fish, Freddie Buretti, City Lights Studio and Kansai Yamamoto.

David Bowie. 1968

//At producer Tony Visconti’s apartment in Lexham Gardens, west London, 1968. Photo: Ray Stevenson.//

There is a fascinating foreword written by Kenneth Pitt, who managed Bowie between 1967 and 1970, and contributions from a cast of hundreds, including close friends and fellow musicians.

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//Any Day Now Limited Edition.//

A special limited edition of 475 copies is also being published in hardback, numbered and signed in black cloth-bound clam-shell cases with reproductions of tickets, posters and memorabilia. Each also contains a print of a rare colour photo taken of Bowie in 1967 by Gerald Fearnley (who has signed them).

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//Any Day Now Limited Edition with signed Gerard Fearnley photograph.//

To find out more and order copies of the limited edition, click here.

Paul Smith first look exclusive

Cycling enthusiast Paul Smith has granted us a first look exclusive at this new film he has created featuring the Rapha Condor Sharp cycling team training at the Manchester Velodrome…in his “London line” suits.

The film will be released to coincide with the UK’s biggest professional bicycle race, this month’s The Tour of Britain.

Read all about how cycling is inextricably intertwined with Paul’s fashion career in Chapter 27 of THE LOOK.

In praise of the most XLNT Demob

For our money, Demob doesn’t receive enough acknowledgment for its considerable and enduring contribution to British style.

//Exterior, 47 Beak Street, Soho, London, 1983. Photo: Rex Features//

We’re proud there is a shout to this combination boutique, fashion label and design/music collective in Chapter 26 of THE LOOK.

//Full-page ad, The Face 24, April 1982//

Following the discovery in an old trunk of some fab pieces bought there – blimey! – at least a quarter of a century ago, it seems apposite to celebrate the creative hub founded by Chris Brick in 1981.

Collecting a group of like-minded fashion players (including fellow son of Merthyr Chris Sullivan), Brick assumed occupancy of the former fishmonger’s at 46 Beak Street in London’s Soho, retaining the wonderful tiled interior and many of the fixtures.

In May 1981 Demob had been part of the British “Blitz invasion” of New York along with Sullivan, Jon Baker of Axiom, journalist Robert Elms, photographer Graham Smith, the members of Spandau Ballet and others, including then-Demob designers Sade Adu and Sarah Lubell. Read about that at David Johnson’s Shapers Of the 80s.

//Debut 5: Pages 46-47. Thanks to Dalston Oxfam Shop//

//Debut 5: Pages 48-49. Thanks to Dalston Oxfam Shop//

Back in the UK Demob clothes were regularly featured in fashion and style mags, with the spreads above modelled by Susie Bick in the short-lived 12sq in Debut, which included a free vinyl compilation.

//”Prison shirt”, 1984//

Also selling through such venues as Chelsea’s Great Gear Market, and later “Disco Dave”’s  King’s Road shop Review, Demob pulled off the feat of transforming the 40s aesthetic suggested by the name into a glamorous offer, with fabulously-tailored garments in drilled cotton, denim, tweeds and other utilitarian and sometimes unusual fabrics.

From the get-go music played a powerful part of the Demob mix; their legendary warehouse parties gave breaks to such club pioneers as Noel Watson.

Arguably the most prominent designer associated with Demob was Willie Brown, who had made his name at the fashion-forward Modern Classics in Shoreditch’s Rivington Street.

//71 Rivington Street, London EC2, 1980. Photo: Derek Ridgers//

Within a few years Brown had established his own Old Town imprint with a satellite store also in Beak Street. This introduced the XLNT quadrant logo and the excellence of the designs lead to  widespread rag trade plagiarism, particularly the heavily stitched “Soul Bay” anoraks with black and white checkered detailing.

Demob also spawned Demop, the hairdressers which occupied a space on the other side of Beak street at the top of St James’ Street. Among the employees here was another person who would go on to make his name in global street fashion (and also featured in THE LOOK), Fraser Cooke.

//Left: ABC’s Mark White in “Soul Bay” anorak//

The yoked prison shirt you see here is made from exactly the same fabric as that provided to guests of Her Majesty at that time.

Once, driving away from my flat in Brixton Hill in the mid-80s a couple of likely geezers in the next car spotted me wearing it and, assuming I had just left the gates behind me, asked what I’d been inside for.

Demob had more than enough brushes with the law itself and was eventually closed after the hell-raising and parties became too much for the neighbouring businesses and local Old Bill.

Brick and his wife Judy went on to found NY stores Smylon Nylon and The Centre For The Dull, where he circulated his much-sought after Smylonnylon mixtapes. Check out where he’s at these days with his online music video presence Brickchannel.

The spirit of Demob’s uniquely crafted take on British clothing design has resided for some years at Will (as he has has been known for a while) Brown and Marie Willey’s great Old Town Clothing.

From their Norfolk base they produce  50 individually-made garments each week in such natural fabrics as cotton twill, tweed, drill, serge and denim. For superb clothing that will last 25 years and beyond – like those pieces which re-entered my life recently – THE LOOK can’t recommend Old Town Clothing highly enough.

XLNT! The spirit of Demob lives on.

Go Kim West: Fashion’s first lady of latex

Like leather, latex is the fabric option which brings fashion’s sexual resonances to the fore.

//Kim West Cowgirl jacket//

These days, however, there is little less shock value but we’re still a long way off attaining the SEX shop’s mid-70s agenda of “rubberwear for the office”.

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Just last week Kylie was snapped in latex boots on the set of the shoot for the video for forthcoming single All The Lovers and Topshop recently stocked a glued latex range, piggybacking on renewed interest sparked by the likes of Christina Aguilera and, of course,  Lady GaGa.

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In fact GaGa’s clip for Poker Face inspired Kim West to re-enter the scene last year with a new collection which riffs on her triumphs of the 80s and 90s and updates her designs for the 21st Century.

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//West interviewed by Jonathan Ross, early 90s//

“Watching the video made me realise that my designs still had relevance because I was always about fashion as much as fetish,” says West, who put her label on ice in 1994 after moving into documentary-making and also to Los Angeles with her husband and family.

//Tony James, Sigue Sigue Sputnik; Adam Ant//

//Kylie Minogue; Isabella Rosselini//

As you can read in this bio, during her first decade in fashion, West broke into the mainstream via performers such as Madonna, Adam Ant and Sigue Sigue Sputnik, top-flight fash-mag photoshoots and, not least, supplying the white stockings worn by Naomi Campbell when she took that tumble in 1993.

//Naomi Campbell, Westwood catwalk, 1993. Photo: Niall McInerney//

Now West is capitalising on demand for latex with a complete collection, from boudoir accoutrements to bridalwear and everything in between.

“I am also doing a basic range of 10 items costing from £25 for a short skirt to leggings at £60,” says West. “Bargain!”

//Ribbon bag; Classic bra, G-string and suspender belt//

Though West mourns the passing of such creative hives as Kensington Market and the Great Gear Market, as well as Johnson’s and Western Styling (which stocked her signature fringed cowboy jacket originally), she is bouyant about the opportunities of the digital age and maintains a firing-on-all-cylinders website which includes a blog (where she recently pointed to the anomaly of Youtube age-encrypting her clips but not those of, say, GaGa).

Maintenance and care (usually with application of talcum powder) has always been an issue with latex, but one West believes she has overcome, first by teaming with the makers of conditioner/lubricant Pjur.

//Boudoir stool; Classic mac//

And soon she will be announcing the launch of a totally new fabric, called Glyde On.

“It’s latex that doesn’t need talc, Pjur or polishing – just slip it on!” West explains. “Glyde On puts latex on a level pegging with every other fabric, though there is so much more you can do with it. This is fashion not fetish.”

Cheap Chic: The first mention of Sex

Over at mrsgorman.com, Mrs G is celebrating Cheap Chic, one of the greatest fashion books of all time.

Cheap Chic is notable on many fronts, not least that it is the very first book to make mention of Sex, the shop opened by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in the spring of 1974.

Exuding Them-ness from every pore, the enduring exquisite Duggie Fields pointed out that Sex was “not fashionable…bits of furs, porno embroidered T-shirts and humorous clothes. My idea of clothes is to make myself smile. I like that in others too. I don’t think clothes should be serious.”

This is an aspect of the boutique which is all-too forgotten; that, behind the commitment, subversive art and anarchic politics, lurked the wit and laughter which underpinned the late McLaren’s life and work. This attracted a clientele which was in no way “punk”, despite the revisionism of recent years.

//430 King’s Road, Sw3, 1975. Photo: Peter Schlesinger//

Read all about Cheap Chic here.

Mick Jones on books, boutiques and the magic of Malcolm

Bit late I know, but here are some exclusive photos (courtesy of Chelsea Space director Donald Smith) from the recently staged discussion between Mick Jones and I as part of the Shards Of Utopia evening at Tate Britain.

 

//Listening to the introduction from the evening’s moderator Jen Thatcher// 

Donald is the key connector: Mick’s Rock & Roll Public Library made a return for a concentrated period to Chelsea Space as part of the gallery’s fifth birthday celebrations, while my Barney Bubbles exhibition will be held there in September – more details soon.

 

Clad in an Adam Of London chalk-stripe two-piece suit against a backdrop of some of the paperbacks from his collection, Mick revealed he has two copies of my Barney book Reasons To Be Cheerful. This was flattery indeed; my admiration for the man goes back to The Rainbow in May 1977 and flourished through his B.A.D. years onto Carbon/Silicon and the recent and rightly acclaimed collaboration with Gorillaz

 

//With Tate curator Cecilia Wee// 

Shards Of Utopia was curated by writer/academic Cecilia Wee; Mick and I were down to natter about the sci-fi and conspiracy theory books in his library but we couldn’t let the opportunity go without discussing the importance of Malcolm McLaren

 

My fascination for McLaren’s creation of brave new worlds, alternate spaces and artificial environments (see Let It RockToo Fast To Live Too Young To DieSEXSeditionariesWorlds End and Nostalgia Of Mud) was enlarged upon by Mick’s formative memories of not only frequenting those shops but also witnessing the Sex Pistols live for the first time.

 

“You came away a different person from all those experiences,” he said. “Without Malcolm, none of us would be doing what we’re doing today. It’s so sad we won’t hear any more of his great ideas; not just the Pistols and the shops but things like Waltz Darling, the Surf Nazis film, Duck Rock…it was just endless with him.”  

 

For a select few the evening ended with Mick accompanying himself at Chelsea Space on acoustic for a rendition of Should I Stay Or Should I Go?. Amid rumours of a B.A.D. reformation, the success with Gorillaz and the acceptance of the Rock & Roll Public Library as a living, breathing and evolving creative environment, the answer is a very definite: don’t be going anywhere soon, Mick. We loves ya.

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Since the genius Shawn Stussy has recently re-entered the game with a great new blog and new label S/Double Studio (thanks for hipping us, Disney Rollergirl) it seems fitting we should play out with a fave of THE LOOK and one which inextricably links Mick to the International Stussy Tribe – B.A.D.’s The Globe:

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