Archive for the Tailoring category

The Politics Of Flash revisited

//Malcolm McLaren: “I hate anything chic – that’s terrible!” Photography Pennie Smith//

The publication of veteran music critic Nick Kent’s new memoir Apathy For The Devil brings to mind the first serious attempt by the UK music press to acknowledge the vital relationship between fashion and popular music.

 

//Page 20, NME, April 6, 1974//  

Headed “The Politics Of Flash”, Kent’s article in the New Musical Express in the spring of 1974 is a crucial snapshot of a scene at an important transitionary stage: the theatrical costumery of such fol-de-rols as Gary Glitter, Elton John and Queen is about to give way to the shock of the new being rolled out by the likes of Malcolm McLaren and Antony Price.

Just six days prior to publication date Television played their first CBGBs gig, setting up a scene which would lure McLaren to New York and on return help focus his working relationship with young customers Steve Jones and his mates in The Strand.

 

//Page 21, NME, April 6, 1974//  

As McLaren detailed in the article, he and Vivienne Westwood were already instituting the shift at 430 King’s Road from Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die to Sex.

The fetish gear was already in stock, though the pink rubber Sex sign was yet to be erected and the store awaited installation of the”gymnasium” interior by carpenter Vick Mead.

In fact McLaren told Kent he has just decided against an extremely long new name. This was to have been a quote from a pornographic magazine which turned up on a number of garment labels: “The dirty stripper who left her UNDIES on the railings to go hitchhiking said you don’t THINK I have stripped all these years just for MONEY do you?””

 

//Page 46, NME, April 6, 1974// 

As Kent’s former girlfriend Chrissie Hynde said on Jonesy’s Jukebox a couple of years back, when she worked there around this time, the shop didn’t have a name, just 17th century clergyman Thomas Fuller‘s maxim “Craft must have clothes but Truth loves to go naked” sprayed across the lintel on the facade.

 

//Antony Price: “My ideal rock band would be four Amanda Lears.”// 

Kent simultaneously ended the relationship and Hynde’s employment at the shop by attacking her on the premises over a perceived infidelity.

 

//Chrissie Hynde & Nick Kent in Sex threads, 1974. Photo: Joe Stevens// 

He then wove the incident into a forlorn NME review of a solo album by Van der Graaf Generator’s frontman Peter Hammill.

//The Rock Taylor team: “The Sweet spend £1,000 a month on clothes.”// 

The Politics Of Flash is thoroughgoing, taking in Freddie Burretti’s design relationship with David Bowie (though Burretti declined to be interviewed), Ossie Clark‘s with Mick Jagger and Annie Reavey‘s creation of flamboyant stagewear for Elton John.

//Annie Reavey: “Elton approaches garments as artworks.”//  

Mr FreedomCity Lights Studio and Alkasura are all name-checked and the Rock Taylor quartet – Geoff Clark, ex-Alkasura Jean Seel (later Boy George’s landlady), Graham Springett and Keith Hartley – discuss their customers The Sweet. Meanwhile former Ruskin’s designer Julian Kraker says that he believes his clients Slade are “to the 70s what the Stones were to the 60s”.

 

//Gene Krell: “The kids have always started the rock fashion ball rolling.”// 

At Granny Takes A Trip (where Kent has since acknowledged he regularly scored heroin), co-owner Gene Krell was forthright about the shop’s role for such regular clients as Keith Richards and Ron Wood. “We’re not dealing in fashion…that’s a bunch of crap!” he told Kent. “We have our own style which is nothing to do with good taste. Our clothes are very proletarian, very, very  reactionary against English provincialism.”

Our partner in Priceless, Antony Price, sums up the inertia which gripped mid-70s London.  The man who, within four years, would be operating amazing King’s Road outlet Plaza, told Kent: “We’re all so shrouded by this spectre of the swinging 60s. There’s no such thing as futuristic fashion in England. It’s all dead and there aren’t even any decent clubs for them to show off the extent of their decay.”

THANKS are due to the world’s greatest music journalism resource, rocksbackpages.com, for providing us with this vital item from their incredible archive. Visit it now.

THE LOOK talkin’ ’bout Elvis on Radio 2

Check out my contributions to Paul Gambaccini’s BBC Radio 2 documentary Elvis The Brand; the first part was broadcast last night (and is available for the next six days here). The second part goes out tonight at 23.30 GMT.

 

//Elvis and Bernard Lansky, 126 Beale Street, Memphis, 1956. Photo (c) lanskybros.com//

The programme is part of the BBC’s week-long celebration of what would have been Elvis’ 75th birthday on Thursday (January 8).

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=n7FaFraQeRw">http://youtube.com/watch?v=n7FaFraQeRw</a> 

In the documentary I cover The King’s style from 1952, when he first pressed his nose up against the Lanskys‘ shop window at 126 Beale Street in Memphis, through Nudie Cohn‘s gold lame suit to the flamboyance of the Bill Belew outfit for the 68 Comeback special and Bob Mackie‘s crazed costumery of the final Vegas years.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=xTYg2Q-vDJ0">http://youtube.com/watch?v=xTYg2Q-vDJ0</a> 

This is detailed in Chapter 1 of THE LOOK, which features an exclusive interview with clothier to The King Bernard Lansky.

Give Elvis The Brand a listen – and remember to wear your rockin’ shoes!   

Paul Smith: Curiouser and curiouser

In his introduction to THE LOOK, Paul Smith reveals how he has maintained his enthusiam for fashion in the four decades since he started out as manager of Nottingham’s The Birdcage.

 

//Paul Smith, Nottingham, mid-60s. Courtesy: Paul Smith// 

Smith said: “You need an inner love, a passion for fashion and a curiosity for “stuff”: art, music, graphic and product design, what is happening in these interlinked worlds.” 

 

//Paul Smith and Paul Gorman, Tokyo, 2006. Photo: Meri Juntti// 

That passion was made manifest when Smith not only hosted the launch of THE LOOK in Tokyo but also invited me to curate an exhibition of photographs from the book in his Space gallery .

 

//THE LOOK exhibition, Space, Tokyo, 2006. Photo: Meri Juntti// 

Smith’s inquiring passion has enabled this charming enigma to maintain his position outside of the corporate whirl, all the while heading up a global retail empire to which has recently been added a new shop in Marylebone, central London.

 

//Smith’s new store in Marylebone High Street, London W1//

A quick glance at Smith’s current activities underlines this curiosity: at his Nottingham shop Willoughby House there is a David Hockney exhibition, while fellow artist Robert Clarke’s show British Birds & Dogs is at the Paul Smith shop Globe at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 until tomorrow.

 

//Left: Wood Duck, Robert Clarke. Right: The Blue Guitar, David Hockney// 

Read all about Paul’s enthusiams and interests, as well as his adventures in rock and pop fashion, in Chapter 27 of THE LOOK.  

Jah Wobble exclusive: Sartorial memoirs of a geezer

The publication of this year’s best autobiography – Jah Wobble’s intriguing and inspirational Memoirs Of A Geezer – has coincided with John Lydon‘s decision to take  Public Image Ltd on the road for the first time in 17 years (bassman Wobble and fellow founder members guitarist Keith Levene and drummer Jim Walker are not taking part).

 

What with Undercover’s recent PiL-inspired clothing range, it seems timely to celebrate the fantastic visuals delivered by Wobble  to match the towering music he has created over the last three decades.

 

In this exclusive interview with Wobble, we also explore the importance of PiL photographer/design director Dennis Morris and a figure who has remained in the sartorial shadows for far too long: Kenny MacDonald.

 

//Jah Wobble, east London, 1981//

We also have a copy of Wobble’s book to give away; details below.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=ylOCIP54PIQ">http://youtube.com/watch?v=ylOCIP54PIQ</a>

It’s well documented that Wobble – real name John Wardle – knew Lydon long before he joined the Sex Pistols when they were part of the teenage gang the Four Johns (including John Beverley aka Sid Vicious and John Gray) knocking around east and north London, following football and voraciously consuming music from Can to Hawkwind to Big Youth and beyond.

 

//Public Image Limited, summer 1978. Photos: Dennis Morris//

In 1974, the Johns paid a visit to hairdresser to the rock elite Keith Wainwright at his Chelsea salon Smile and had matching haircuts. “Round about that period me and my mate Ronny were wearing pleated Army trousers from Laurence Corner, the ones American GIs would wear,” says Wobble.

“It was a soul boy look, very smart with cap sleeve t-shirts and those half sandals/half shoes, not the plastic beach sandals which some people wore. They were horrible.”

With The Great Gatsby influence merging with the Glenn Miller revival, the teenage Wobble scoured the second hand clothes shops of Brick Lane on Sunday, picking up drape jacketed 30s and 40s suits.

 

//Jah Wobble, 80s//

Although he was at the epicentre of the punk storm, Wobble avoided adopting the fashions of the era. “It just wasn’t my cup of tea,” he says. “I’m from the East End. It’s in our DNA to sport the Terry Venables look: smart grey jackets with black polos, loafers and well-pressed trousers.”

When he was recruited into PiL, the original line-up jibbed at the punk uniform with an absurdist appearance. Lydon, for example, wore hand-painted shirts supplied by Mark Gray.

 

//Front and back cover, both sides of inner, First Issue, Public Image, Virgin Records, 1978. Photography and design concept: Dennis Morris//

For the sleeve of debut album First Issue, photographer Dennis Morris – who also created the band’s enduring logo and was responsible for the packaging for second album Metal Box – conceived a plan to present the four members as cover stars of various magazines.

Wobble is depicted as a Ronald Coleman-moustached matinee idol in a Vogue pastiche, wearing a blue pinstripe suit he’d had made for himself the previous year.  “You didn’t get many 18-year-olds doing that,” he says. “It was perfect for that shoot. Dennis was very important to PiL. He understood the humour and chemistry of the band and bought in Terry Jones from Vogue to help style it, which made it proper.”

 

//12″ Metal container sleeve, Metal Box, PiL, Virgin Records, 1979//

Kenny MacDonald was another integral figure, producing tailored traditional style menswear with a twist long before it became the High Street norm. He was introduced into the circle by sometime PiL member Jeanette Lee, who had managed King’s Road store Acme Attractions with her then-boyfriend Don Letts.

 

//Letts and Lee, Acme Attractions, Kings Road, London, 1976. Photo: Sheila Rock//

“Kenny was very quietly spoken and thoughtful, a real London bloke,” says Wobble. “You would not get someone like him anywhere else in the world at that time. He was absolutely London.”

MacDonald was such a fan of classic movies that he put on screenings himself at the Kings Cross cinema The Scala.

“It was interesting because he was a black bloke into the public school look, making fake Jockey Club ties and talking in a upper-class accent,” says Wobble.

 

//Jah Wobble, 90s and 80s.//

“That was strange and somehow great. And he’d always do the unexpected. When everyone else was producing pegged trousers, he did a straight-legged, conservative cut. When everyone was wearing low, long thin lapels down to one button, quite 50s, he made a higher cut jacket, slightly uptight, very English.”

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=jWDKnmVnXr0">http://youtube.com/watch?v=jWDKnmVnXr0</a>

MacDonald’s flamboyant masterstroke may well have been the giant and brightly coloured Teddy Bear fur coats he made for the band; John Lydon sported the red version for a performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Wobble’s was in green and yellow “like something worn by Flanagan & Allen. Oh man. I wore it with a Homburg from a local Jewish outfitter, a Daniel Hechter suit and walked into The Globe public house; they all  started singing Underneath The Arches!”

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=UdYngwGUWzo">http://youtube.com/watch?v=UdYngwGUWzo</a>

Through the 80s Wobble checked for Daniel Hechter, buying suits two at a time from his Bond street shop, and into the 90s had a wide variety of suits made in the Far East, one in Versace logo material.

“It had this Roman element with the beautiful dark blues and gold,” he says. “And it was mixed with the East, which is very sensual; I love silk.

 

//Jah Wobble 2001//

These days he still has bespoke suits made in the Far East and persists in hunting down quality second hand clothes.”I’m like those older guys who chase young women: I play the percentage game. They’ll keep knocking on the door until they get one, though of course the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=rSWJpZXeGvs">http://youtube.com/watch?v=rSWJpZXeGvs</a>

“I keep going into second-hand shops and about one in every hundred visits pays off: you come across a fantastic, hardly-worn Armani suit or something.”

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=UAzvry448Lk">http://youtube.com/watch?v=UAzvry448Lk</a>

He is also a great fan of Missoni. “I have quite a few jackets; there’s something wonderful about their interwoven material, it’s kind of like the stuff Kenny was doing. Not predictable grey and black.”

 

//Chinese Dub tour, 2008.//

For last year’s acclaimed Chinese Dub live extravaganza, Wobble and his wife, the ghuzeng player Zi Lan Liao,blended authentic eastern styles and artistry into a visual tour-de-force to match the spectacular nature of the music.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=VcXIzA-KD3w">http://youtube.com/watch?v=VcXIzA-KD3w</a>

And what about the stubble? Some might argue that Wobble’s refusal to shave was his most radical visual contribution of the post-punk era, given the silent new wave “no facial hair” diktat of the times. By doing so he predicted the 80s “designer stubble” fad by a good few years.

“Initially it came about through laziness, but then I started to use a trimmer,” he says. “In those days it was akin to luxuriant prairie grass. Now it’s like bramble. If you try and carry it off you look like old man Steptoe!”

To win a copy of Wobble’s most excellent book, mail your answer to the question below to : the look@rockpopfashion.com.

We’ll pick the lucky winner from a Homburg on November 24. Best of luck!

Q: Which item of clothing is also the title of a track on PiL’s album Metal Box?

Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Personal Effects: A design odyssey

For the last week THE LOOK’s head has been buried in Personal Effects, the new book from Hiroshi Fujiwara which collects together 100 of his favourite personal possessions. 

The deceptively simple format – a photograph of the item faced by a brief description by Fujiwara – delivers a substantial amount of information about this retiring major domo of international street fashion and style; his likes and dislikes, his abiding fascination for, and deep knowledge of, design and product innovation, his interests in both tradition and adaptation. 

 

Wrapped in a charming tracing paper slip cover, the book delivers a personal design odyssey, taking in such apparently disparate objects as Dayna Decker candles, Louis Vuitton teddy bears, Highwayman leather jackets as worn by Sid Vicious, the Kangol caps with which Fujiwara is strongly associated, a 100-year-old Hermes haute a croire bag, 80s Adidas Campus sneakers (as worn by the Beastie Boys) and Apple‘s AirMac Express base station.

“They’re selected because I’m using or wearing them currently,” says Fujiwara.

 

Some of the objects are those that he has been involved in producing via his design interests in such labels as AFFA (run with compadre Jun Takahashi), fragment design, Uniform Experiment and Nike.

 

Many are customised not only with Fujiwara’s trademark double-lightning flash but also accoutrements: his Goyard Saint Louis tote bag is strung with a couple of pendants and the heels of the Visvim FBT moccasins are decorated with appropriate Native American-inspired badges created by jeweller and silversmith Goro Takahashi.

 

Such was my absorption that within minutes of being given the book I was snapped by Facehunter Yvan Rodic poring over it…

 

Personal Effects is available here.

Anita Pallenberg – high priestess of rock chic

//Anita Pallenberg on the set of Barbarella, 1967//

One of THE LOOK’s most popular posts is based on an exclusive interview conducted a couple of years back with the high priestess of rock chic Anita Pallenberg.

 

The last month or so has seen an influx of new visitors and subscribers to our site, so here’s a refreshed and re-edited chance to appreciate this bewitching figure whose combination of innate style, fashion-savviness and earthy sexuality brought Continental sophistication to Swinging London and turned it on its head.

 

//German press coverage of her appearance in Mord Und Totschlag// 

Gawky gamins and dolly-birds melted into insignificance in the presence of the impressive 21-year-old who arrived on the scene in 1965 having already studied graphic design in her native Rome, assisted Vogue photographer Gianni Penati and modelled in Paris.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=_57zXQL5MFY">http://youtube.com/watch?v=_57zXQL5MFY</a>

Nobody’s pet, her relationships with Brian Jones and Keith Richards added to her allure, as did appearances in such epoch-defining movies as Barbarella and Performance.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=8iO-XRdChLM">http://youtube.com/watch?v=8iO-XRdChLM</a> 

All the while Pallenberg’s natural grace was accentuated by effortless merging of vintage pieces with the work of such giants as Ossie Clark and the crowd around Emmerton & Lambert and Granny Takes A Trip.

Through the 70s to this day, Pallenberg has embodied rock & roll chic – much emulated, never bettered.

 

The conversation below focused on the King’s Road in 1967 for a piece for Mojo magazine.Not that Anita was remotely interested in dwelling on the past; she was buzzed about visiting Karl Lagerfeld in Paris the next day, her interest in photography, the bargains to be found in charity shops, how the High Street chains are Carnaby Street reincarnated, and her thoughts on launching a new collection based on the MA show from her studies at Saint Martins in the 90s.

 

//Anita and I at THE LOOK’s event at Port Elio LitFest 2007// 

With her friend Anna Sui Pallenberg also participated in THE LOOK’s rock & roll event at the Port Eliot LitFest; it was an honour to give her a vintage Vive Le Rock tee, which she wore with customary élan.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=fuc3JGAwom8">http://youtube.com/watch?v=fuc3JGAwom8</a>

Pallenberg is said to have suggested not only the samba beat for Sympathy For the Devil but also the “woo-hoo” backing chorus; in the clip above from Jean Luc-Godard’s movie of the same name she’s joining in dressed in a long cape. Pallenberg said that one of these nights she’ll DJ at a LOOK club-night. Having seen her move in person (after all it was she who taught Mick Jagger to salsa and mambo) we can’t wait!

So, where were you in 67?

I was living all over the place, sometimes in hotels with Keith, but I was hardly in London, because I was working a lot. That was my big year as an actress. I was making Barbarella in Rome, and then my German film (Volker Schlondorff’s Mord Und Totschlag aka A Degree Of Murder, for which Pallenberg’s former partner Brian Jones contributed the score).

 

Where did you shop for clothes?

We’d go to places like Emmerton & Lambert in the Antiques Market, Hung On You and Granny’s. I wasn’t into Mary Quant; she was too middle of the road, and that mod, op-art thing wasn’t really for me. And Biba was too big. I wasn’t into that very English look. In Italy we’d always had salsa, the mamba, all those Latin dances which gave me a different feel for things, so my style was fedoras, belts, little 20s jackets, lace that I’d collected. If I wore mini-skirts I’d have them made by Granny’s. We’d try on clothes and have a joint in the back. Granny’s was very small, just two rooms, so everyone knew each other.

 

//Anita, Keith Richards, Gram Parsons, and Gretchen Burrell, Villa Nellcote, 1971. Photo: Dominique Tarle// 

How did you feel when the “peasant look” (the rock & roll gypsy style created by Pallenberg’s combination of antique clothing and scarves with handmade belts and boots) was revived a couple of years ago by Sienna Miller et al?

I just felt: ‘Where we you were all those year ago?!’ It all seemed a little late. I was always obsessed with clothes, but of a particular sort. I’d modelled in Paris in 63, 64 and the first time I was paid I went straight out and bought a snakeskin Marlon Brando-style motorcycle jacket in the Champs-Elysees. The second time I bought the second-hand red fox fur coat which is in Performance. I’d wear that to modelling jobs with just my underwear, boots and a bag because you couldn’t leave your clothes lying around. The other models would steal them!

 

//Early 60s modelling assignment// 

You didn’t mind wearing fur?

I had a ratty fake mink coat I wore to a gig by Hendrix somewhere on Chelsea Embankment. I went with (art dealer and member of the Stones inner circle) Robert Fraser. I couldn’t tell Keith; he wouldn’t have liked it at all. As we left Robert, gentleman that he was, picked up my coat from the cloakroom. I wore it for a couple of days and thought it was a bit tight before I realised he’d picked up the wrong coat, a real mink!

 

What was it like going back to college (Pallenberg studied textiles at Central Saint Martins in the early 90s)?

I loved it. One of my favourite fabrics is devore (printed velvet and satin) and so I did my collection for my finals in that. It’s really hard work because the process is so intense but I loved it. There’s a Michael Cooper photograph of Marianne (Faithfull) in a devore dress, which she probably nicked from me! We used to nick from each other all the time because they were all one-off pieces.

 

//Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg, 1975. Photo: Getty Images//

What was Ossie Clark like?

He was a nasty piece of work, a trouble-maker. If he came to Cheyne Walk, he’d be so unbearable we had to throw him out. And he was like that till the end. He was backstage at a Stones concert a couple of years before he died (in 1996, murdered by his psychotic lover Diego Cogolato) and he was so loud, unpleasant and arrogant we had to throw him out again!

 

//Shoot for Italian Glamour magazine, 1994// 

What didn’t you like about the scene?

I remember walking down the Kings Road one time and everybody seemed to be on acid. There were kids running around with no shoes on their feet. I’m Italian; the last thing you’d do is go barefoot. Shoes are a status symbol, the first thing you get. Everybody in Rome walks around discussing shoes. I had my boots made for me back home, so I thought it was very weird.

 

//At Vivienne Westwood’s London Fashion Week show, 1998. Daughter-in-law Lucie de la Falaise far left// 

You weren’t really a hippie then?

No. Definitely not. Even though I was away in America for much of the 70s, when punk came along and Vivienne (Westwood) and Malcolm (McLaren) were making those wonderful rubber clothes I felt much more in tune with them.

 

Certain images have been sourced from the Anita Pallenberg archive on Multiply. We have attempted to credit where possible. Copyright owners please contact us regarding credit.

Balenciaga and Urban’s “dumb” East West knock-offs

 

//This East West parrot jacket fetched £2,750 at a Christie’s auction last year//

The recent uncredited recycling of a key East West Musical Instruments Co design by both Balenciaga and Urban Outfitters is but the latest example of mainstream designers’ increasingly desperate attempts to plunder the potency of rock and pop fashion (by fair means or foul).

 

//From Balenciaga Resort 2010//

And the rip occurs at a particularly sticky time for the US trade body the Council Of Fashion Designers, which has launched a campaign for copyright inclusion under the Design Piracy Prohibition Act.Leading the fight is CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg.

One teeny-weeny prob: just last month Diane herself settled out of court for an undisclosed sum with Toronto-based Mercy, which accused DVF of copying a jacket of their’s.

Meanwhile, Balenciaga’s garment in its 2010 Resort Collection and Urban’s (for the Pins & Needles label) have both clearly reproduced signature details from East West’s famous “parrot jacket” – so-called because the lapels resemble parrot’s heads. In this particular regard the two new versions were different; the size of the collar was scaled down or reshaped.

 

//Urban Outfitters Pins & Needles jacket, spring 2009. Now sold out//

The story itself represents another assertion of the dominance of the fashion blogosphere over traditional media, broken as it was by Addicted To YSL and swiftly followed up with informed commentary from the likes of Jezebel.

 

//Kaisik Wong designs, photography Thierry Mugler from California Fashion Designers. Courtesy Ben Cooney//

These, and many others, have pointed out that Balenciaga’s chief Nicolas Ghesquière has form; back in 2002 he coughed up to  plagiarising the intricate work of another San Franciscan favourite of THE LOOK’s, Kaisik Wong, after being exposed by The Daily Beast‘s Sameer Reddy (at the time a Hintmag intern who spotted the connection in the wonderful 1974 book Native Funk & Flash).

 

//Betty Wright in Kaisik Wong, back and front cover, They Say I’m Different, Just Sunshine Records, 1974//

In fact the rip-off revelations had a positive effect: the artistry of the much-neglected Wong (who died from AIDS a relative unknown in 1990) was immediately broadcast to the wider fashion industry.

This spin can hardly be applied to East West. Now among the most famous rock & roll labels of yore and the most collectible in the world, the design spirit has been championed over the last decade by a growing band of fans and collectors, including Romulus von Stezelberger whose South Paradiso Leather continues to produce designs to the original patterns with the blessing of East West founder Norman Stubbs.

//Four of South Paradiso’s East West parrot jackets//

“Once again a great design has been dumbed down,” sighs von Stezelberger, whose company has produced 70 different parrot jackets in denim, velvet, satin, suede and leather. “This is why I hate the fashion business; they destroy the best part of the design (in this case the parrot-head collar) to make it more palatable.”

Von Stezelberger leaves his customers in no doubt as to who created the design. “Let me tell you, anyone that wants that or any of our East West jackets must go through a long-winded bio on the originator and my affiliation with them,” he adds.

 

//Right: Original parrot jacket, National Boutique Show catalogue 1973. Courtesy Ben Cooney//

“Every parrot jacket we make is one-of-a-kind,” he stresses. “No two are in the same colourway, and some have up to 13 different colours. Ours is based on the original East West pre-production model, with a real parrot-shaped beak, more colour applique on the head and more piping to the leaves down the sleeves than on the copies, which always seem to go for the boring earth-tones.

“No-one did it worse than Henry Duarte, with his solid all-black or brown parrot jackets of a few years back. This jacket is supposed to be fantastic and groovy, not something for Sex In The City, trend-following business-women.”

THE LOOK finds Ossie’s jacket a new home

We are very happy to announce that we have found Ossie Clark’s python jacket a new home.

 

//Left Ossie Clark 1970. Pic: Hulton Getty. Right: The jacket. Pic: THE LOOK 2009//

Our recent story about this incredibly significant garment provoked a flurry of interest around the world and the person who has owned it for more than three decades has now passed it on to a private collector. We are sure they will be very happy together.

Priceless going great guns

 

Nice to report that Priceless S/S 09 – the latest collaboration between The Look Presents and rock couturier Antony Price – has been going great guns online and in-store in London and New York this week.

 

With it’s own dedicated sections and front-of-house displays – all rock star pointy boots and desert video-shoot landscapes – Priceless has been attracting the full range of customers, including those seeking to escape the done-done-done skinny silhouette into the fuller shapes of Antony’s sunwashed double-breasted suits with pleated trousers.

 

Meanwhile the artful tees (with signature cap sleeves) have been pounced upon, as have the stylish flowery ties.

 

Online sales are really kicking through – visit here to check out the range or if you’re in the environs, pop into Topman Oxford Circus and the new store on Broadway at Broome.

THE LOOK in the LA Times

THE LOOK is featured in the LA Times’ spotlight on South Paradiso Leather new store on Sunset.

 

//South Paradiso exterior +Romulus von Stezelberger. Photos:  Ricardo DeAratanha/LA Times//

Read Booth Moore’s article here and our previous coverage of South Paradiso here.

Ossie Clark’s own snakeskin jacket found?

Here’s yet another exciting exclusive from THE LOOK: images of what is claimed to be not only a snakeskin jacket designed by Ossie Clark – the world’s most collectible post-war fashion designer – but worn by him in a famous photograph taken in July 1970.

//Front view (c) THE LOOK 2009//

Interest in original designs by Clark – who died in near-penury at the hands of his psychotic lover in 1996 – has boomed over the last decade, stoked by exhibitions including a V&A retrospective and referencing by Kate Moss in her collections for Topshop (for whom his former partner Celia Birtwell also designs).

Last year witnessed Marc Worth’s relaunch of the Ossie Clark label, with which Birtwell is not associated. Although this has been greeted with a decidedly mixed reception, the appetite for original clothing remains unabated.

And now THE LOOK has been contacted by the owner of a zippered python skin “rocker” jacket who presents a convincing case that it is the very same garment as in the photograph below. This is Birtwell’s favourite photograph of her late partner.

//Ossie Clark 1970. Pic: Hulton Getty//

“I was living in London in the early to mid-70s and given the jacket by a friend who told me it once belonged to Mick Jagger,” says  the owner. “Knowing my friend that was feasible. When I looked at the photograph I saw that it is the EXACT same jacket that Ossie is wearing.”

//Label (c) THE LOOK 2009//

The owner – who is contemplating selling it – says the jacket is in excellent condition: “The leather is soft and not cracked, and all the zips work. Only the lining is slightly worn.” It measures 28in from shoulder to hem at the front and 27.5in at the back. The length from shoulder to cuff is 22.5in.

//Back view; front detail (c) THE LOOK 2009//

Artist Peter Schlesinger wears a python jacket made by Clark to the same design on the cover of his photographic memoir of the late 60s and early 70s Checkered Past.

 

//Schlesinger on the Checkered Past cover in his Ossie python  jacket, Los Angeles 1969//

The owner of the jacket in the photographs we are publishing today is adamant: “The one on Peter is the same design, but I’m convinced mine is the one worn by Ossie. I’ve studied it carefully.”

As recounted in Chapter 15 of THE LOOK, Clark introduced his fitted leather rocker jackets in 1966 in stark contrast to the effortlessly feminine attire for which he became best known. That year, Clark recalled in his diaries, he chanced upon rolls of python and watersnake in a “Dickensian”warehouse; the skins had lain untouched for 20 years.

Among the first articles he made from the material was a suit for Linda Keith , who modeled it for Clark in London on April 14, 1967 as part of his presentation of his A/W 67 collection alongside Chrissie Shrimpton, Suki Poitier, (whose ensemble included a snakeskin bodice) and Annie Abroux (wearing a black leather biker jacket with matching cap).

 

//Linda Keith, Chrissie Shrimpton, Suki Poitier and Annie Abroux, 1967. Pic: Hulton Getty//

Clark created his snakeskin clothes from diagonal strips, and the watersnake was dyed while those made out of python appeared in natural hues of grey/blue and brown. “The biker jackets were in a lot of different colours and materials,” says Celia Birtwell in THE LOOK . “They were absolutely beautiful.”

//Keith Richards in Ossie Clark snakeskin jacket with Charlie Watts, Sticky Fingers, 1971//

Clark’s music connections went every which way, particularly with the Rolling Stones and their circle including Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull.

Brian Jones intermittently lived above Quorum – the Chelsea boutique which launched Clark’s career – and introduced bandmate Keith Richards to the designer’s printed satins and skin-tight jewel-coloured trousers. Richards wears a Clark-designed black snakeskin rocker jacket in the photographic insert with the original vinyl release of Sticky Fingers.

Clark was such a firm friend of the ousted Stone that they spoke on the day that Jones drowned in his swimming pool, July 3, 1969.

Clark was also backstage at the free concert the Stones gave in Hyde Park a few days later, and he collaborated with Mick Jagger on performance clothes, including the diabolic black cape worn by the Stones’ frontman at Altamont in 1969 and the skin-tight studded jumpsuits for the notoriously drug-addled 1972 tour of the US.

Inquiries about the Ossie Clark python jacket featured here should be made in the first instance to THE LOOK.

 

Priceless S/S 09 in store and online now

 

Priceless Spring/Summer 09 – the latest menswear collaboration between The Look Presents and rock couturier Antony Price – is in-store in New York and London and available online worldwide now.  

 

//Priceless purple and green taffeta suits//

Combining sunwashed pastel shades and soul brother chic, the new range of jackets, trousers, shirts, waistcoats, coats and ties draws on Antony’s work with such era-defining bands as Roxy Music and Duran Duran. 

Visit here to view the collection and grab yourself a slice of finely tailored rock & roll style.

M. Goldstein: Breaking new ground

The celebration of great fashion boutiques is more often than not a backward-looking exercise, so it’s a joy to report on an exciting venture currently breaking new ground.

 

//Pippa Brooks outside 67 Hackney Road, east London//

M. Goldstein in Shoreditch has been founded by Nathaniel Lee Jones, whose experience in the reclamation business and in particular dealing in antiques, art and artefacts is combined with his partner Pippa Brooks’ utterly contemporary take on fashion retailing to create a unique outlet, part junk-shop, part cutting-edge clothing emporium.

 

//Jones & Brooks//

Brooks was previously involved in such Soho outlets as Shop in Brewer Street (which mutated briefly into The World According To…) and Greek Street’s Shop At Maison Bertaux.

Brooks’ contribution to the new venture is new label Goldstein Attire label, which invests vintage items with contemporary design values and incorporates the Bodymap archive courtesy of collaborator Stevie Stewart. And it’s delivered with the panache one would expect from this former frontwoman of Posh and latterly All About Eve Babitz.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=w-R5IbJm4S4">http://youtube.com/watch?v=w-R5IbJm4S4</a>

“We feel there’s too much ‘stuff’ in the world, particularly mass-produced, badly-made clothes,”  says Brooks, who is also an in-demand DJ with her popular Thursday night Madame just down Hackney Road at the George And Dragon and as a member of Team Ponystep (currently making waves in Paris once a month).

“We prefer to make something new from old, to put it simply,” she adds. “For example, we acquired some vintage shirting and that inspired the clothing we have made since.  Rather than the other way round, it’s about being resourceful with what’s available, quite make-do-and-mend, which has always been a philosophy Nathaniel and I have subscribed to.  Our customers are guaranteed to take something utterly unique away with them.”

 

//As featured in i-D, outside M.Goldstein with sons Duke and Joe. Pic: Marius W. Hansen//

The range includes dresses, cardigans and antique christening gown smocks as well as Bodymap over-knees, frilly knickers, frill-back stockings and so-called “tit jumpers”. Also in the pipeline are patchwork men’s and women’s shirts tailored from vintage shirting and recycled shirt dresses.

 

//Goldstein Attire recycled shirt dress//

This new direction is a manifestation of the new spirit abroad in fashion, one where individuals are taking responsibility in these times of economic crisis and dwindling resources by liberating themselves from the grinding seasonal cycle.

“Goldstein’s is somewhat of a reaction against the fashion treadmill; buying collections six months in advance, being beholden to that prior decision then when the clothes arrive having to shift them until the onset of the next season,” says Brooks.

“I hate trends and being told what to do when!  I love clothes, but fashion can be restricting and also relentless. I started buying second-hand clothes when I was 12, jumbling and car-booting and I still wear loved pieces bought when I was a teenager.”

M. Goldstein is at 67 Hackney Road, London E2 9ED.

New Priceless collection spearheads 80s men’s wear revival

The Look Presents’ new Priceless collection from rock couturier Antony Price is spearheading the 80s men’s wear revival.

 

Available in-store and online from May 14, Priceless S/S 09 is the second range to spring from the partnership between Antony and our label The Look Presents.

Interviewed in the Financial Times, Antony says the 80s influence feels right for now.

“There is a touch of old Hollywood and, with a recession dictating that any money spent is spent well, it ticks a lot of boxes,” Antony explains.

“But there are two sides to the 1980s: a trashy, neon look, which appeals to younger generations, and a more grown-up, opulent look, which requires poise to pull off.”

   

Combining electric tones and sun-washed shades with Antony’s trademark elegant and sharp tailoring, the range of suits, shirts, ties, waistcoats and t-shirts draws on his close working relationship with such era-defining performers as Roxy Music and Duran Duran, as outlined in Chapter 17 of THE LOOK.

“I wanted to capture the lounge lizard/glam look and convey the feel of a long, hot summer,” says Antony, whose debut collaboration with The Look Presents in A/W 08 proved such a success that the new collection is also being stocked in Topman New York.

 

Double-breasted jackets, pleated trousers, lightweight cotton suits, short-sleeved shirts and cap-sleeved tops summon 40s Hollywood tough-guys such as Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum, while tight sharkskin and taffeta suits in electric green and vivid purple transpose Soul Brother 60s style via Bryan Ferry in the 80s to the present day.

 

Meanwhile, over at SHOWStudio there is an excellent career resume, including footage from Antony’s extraordinary 80s catwalk shows, a profile and never-before seen sketches, samples and original artwork.

THE LOOK on BBC documentary Men Of Fashion

THE LOOK is a rich source of material for the excellent documentary series Men Of Fashion currently on BBC Radio 4 – listen here to Paul Gorman‘s contribution to episode 13 The King’s Road: Granny Takes A Trip…Into Punk.

 

//Left: Colin Woodhead 1966. Right: John Pearse 2000. Images (c) Woodhead and Pearse//  

All the other contributors to this episode – Colin WoodheadJohn PearseMalcolm McLaren – were interviewed for THE LOOK, while our material on Elvis Presley‘s working relationship with Bernard Lansky and John Stephen‘s creation of Carnaby Street is also covered.

 

//Left: John Stephen Carnaby Street 1966. Right: The King and Bernard Lansky, Memphis, 1956. Images (c) Rex + Lansky Bros//  

Presenter Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen casts aside his foppish persona (apart from in the publicity shots) and emerges as an informed anchor harnessing the wide range of facts and views packed into the programme with authority.

Find the Men Of Fashion home-page here, where there is an opportunity to listen to other episodes on Teddy Boys, the influence of sport, Hollywood and royalty.

The documentary is a Just Radio production.