//Wondrous World Of Sonny & Cher, Atco, 1966. The duo plump for contrasting black + white Baba boots.//
Following the Chelsea boot post, here are a few images from THE LOOK archives which underline the pre-eminence of Anello & Davide’s variant the Baba boot in 60s pop.
Vintage fashion expert Lloyd Johnson explains the distinguishing features of the Baba: “They had wooden heels, Neolite (rubber resin) soles and very grainy soft leather uppers without a toe puff.”
//Front cover, Five By Five EP, Rolling Stones, Decca, 1964. Brian Jones wears Baba boots.//
//Pretty Things, 1964. Guitarist Brian Pendleton (far left) in Baba boots.//
According to Lloyd the Baba was priced £3 15/- (£3.75) in 1963. The Embassy, as worn by Pretty Things frontman Phil May (second left in the photograph above) were more expensive at £6.10/- (£6.50), due to the stacked leather heel and sole.
The story of the Chelsea Boot goes back to the 1830s, when they were known as paddock boots, their elasticated sides, snug fit, sturdy design and relative lightness a boon to the equestrian community.
According to traditional footwear suppliers Samuel Windsor, the shoe was originated by J. Sparkes-Hall, bootmaker to Queen Victoria (who wore them regularly).
In the mid-1950s they were sported as leisure-wear by the monied, young Chelsea Set which gathered in the King’s Road and frequented The Markham Arms, Mary Quant’s Bazaar and her partners Archie McNair and Alexander Plunket Green’s jazz club/restaurant Alexander’s.
Slimmed, with a centre seam and a heightened Cuban heel for Flamenco dancers, London’s theatrical shoemakers Anello & Davide introduced their version, the Baba boot (“a new Italian-inspired version of that long, lean look”) in the early 60s.
Soon the shoe design entered the visual language of rock & roll via fashion-mad teenage beatniks, art students and modernists.
The first edition of THE LOOK was launched with a party at Astral, Soho, in March 2001.
It was packed to the gills with media, well-wishers and many of the contributors.
Cover stars Pippa + James performed as Shopgirl and the DJs represented different eras covered by the book: Jeff Dexter played his mid-60s Tiles set; Don Letts + Dan Donovan shook the walls with the sounds Don played at The Roxy in 77; Jay Strongman span the early 80s music from The Dirtbox; and Count Indigo the 90s loungecore scene centred on his Madame Jo-Jo’s club Indigo.
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, Chiltern Street, London W1, November 30, 2010.
INSIDE JOHN SIMONS’ NEW STORE: “A MODERNIST’S DREAM”
[This was originally posted on December 7,2010]
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.
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.
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.”
//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.
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:
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.
//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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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 is an absolute steal at £4 a copy, available here.
//David Bowie wears John Stephen on a modeling assignment with Jan De Souza in Kingly Street W1 for Fabulous 208, 1965. Photo: Fiona Adams//
//Up on the roof, central London 1967. Photo: Kenneth Pitt. //
//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.
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.
//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.//
//Rocking the Keith Relf look with The Manish Boys, 1965. Photo: Bob Solly//
//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.
//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.
//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.
//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).
//Any Day Now Limited Edition with signed Gerard Fearnley photograph.//
To find out more and order copies of the limited edition, click here.
Archive of Attitude is the current exhibition from photographer Janette Beckman at LA gallery Project Space.
On until September 5, the show spans Beckman’s work from the late 70s to the current day and incorporates personal artefacts relating to the areas she has worked in, such as hip-hop and punk.
“The Hip Hop exhibit has my Def Jam jacket (with my name embroidered on the front, circa 1987), The Face 1984 with my Run DMC & Posse photo, a Salt ‘n’ Pepa CD cover I shot around ‘87, a Run DMC single with my photo, Adidas sneakers and sweats and my Kangol hat.”
Here are a few of THE LOOK’s favourites from Beckman’s archive:
//Boy, 153 King's Road, London, 1980.//
//Chris Sullivan + Christos Tolera, Blue Rondo a la Turk, London, 1982.//
//Outside the Foale & Tuffin boutique in Marlborough Court, Soho, London c. 1965//
Together with the current Fashion & Textiles Museum exhibition, Webb’s book places the too-often overlooked pair dead-centre of that hectic decade, selling through Woolands 21 Shop, pioneering with their own off-Carnaby Street boutique, leading the Youthquake promotion in the US and supplying the general public and the beautiful people (including Pattie and Jenny Boyd, Twiggy, Susannah York and Francoise Hardy) with collection after collection of demure yet sexy fashions.
In today’s Christmas special we not only publish these images and an exclusive interview with Webb but have up for grabs a FREE copy of the book to one lucky person who answers the question at the end of this post correctly. Be quick – the competition closes at midnight on Christmas Day – we’ll be announcing the winner on Boxing Day!
//James Wedge, 1964. Photo: James Wedge//
Brimful with original sketches, press cuttings, personal photographs, labels and ephemera, the narrative of this hugely attractive tome is created from the anecdotal and often insightful testimony of Foale & Tuffin’s milieu, among them Derek Boshier, Mary Quant, Manolo Blahnik, Terence Conran, James Wedge (with whom they worked closely), Peter Blake and Betsey Johnson.
//Sally Tuffin and Marion Foale in”Y-front” dresses, 1964//
Webb, whose CV includes stints as fashion editor of Blitz, the Evening Standard, Harpers & Queen, Elle and The Times, was approached a couple of years back by Matthew Freedman of specialist imprint Antique Collectors Club Editions.
//PVC bags by Sally Jess for Foale & Tuffin, 1965. Photo: Magnus Dennis//
“The timing was perfect; this book ends in the early 60s/early 70s, which is when my previous book – about Bill Gibb - started,” says Webb, who also saw Foale & Tuffin take part in the January 2007 60s study day at the V&A (to which THE LOOK also contributed by interviewing another sorely overlooked figure of the period, Paul Reeves).
//Left,right: Prints by Zandra Rhodes for Foale & Tuffin, 1964, 1965. Photos: Rick Best, Helmut Newton/Vogue//
“The most important aspect of Marion and Sally’s work is that they were always on the money,” says Webb, who is fashion consultant at Bath’s Museum Of Costume (which has it’s own F&T exhibition) and a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College Of Art.
“From the beginning of the 60s when they were designing the sweet, girly little dresses through to the shop’s closure in the early 70s, when they’d ventured into fantasy, a bit historical, a bit ethnic, Marion and Sally reflected the times,” says Webb. “A lot of designers create a look and stick with it; Foale & Tuffin kept on the pulse of fashion.”<
The lovely folk at ACC have provided THE LOOK with a copy of the new book for the lucky reader whose name is pulled out of the hat with the correct answer to the following question:
Q: Which year did the YOUTHQUAKE promotion of young British fashion in the US take place?
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