A screening of the Led Zeppelin flick The Song Remains The Same during BBC4’s Pop Britannia season revealed much about the band’s singular look; in the live sequences even meat-and-potatoes drummer John Bonham is wearing a fancy black tee bearing a silver foil decoration a la Wonder Workshop, while bassist John Paul Jones sports a pageboy haircut and an amazing Billy Bowers jacket complete with accoutrements including red cushioned hearts (see right below).
As frontman Robert Plant ploughed his particular stylistic furrow with leonine mane, super-tight faded denims and Japonaise blouses (all the better to display his lithe physique), it was Jimmy Page’s dandified presence which betrayed a rich grounding in the male fashion explosion of the 60s.A crucial element in Jimmy’s take on style and design was his friendship with Paul Reeves, then a fashion designer and these days one of the country’s leading 19th and 20th century furniture and artefact dealers.
The pair remain extremely close; Paul provided exclusive shots for THE LOOK of some of the classic clothes designs which Jimmy has retained in his collection.
Paul met Jimmy when the latter was in the Yardbirds in 1966, and soon the greatest guitarist of his generation was wearing shirts and jackets produced by Paul and partner Pete Sutch under their imprint Sam Pig In Love.
The label was also a favourite of Jimi Hendrix, whose Sam Pig shirt was auctioned for thousands by Christie’s a couple of years back.
//The Hendrix Sam Pig In Love shirt auctioned by Christie’s//
“They were pretty individual because I was using odd fabrics,” says Reeves. “Sometimes there’d be very short runs or even just one shirt, which maybe Jimmy would have.”Reeves’ business in particular and 60s fashion in general was changed forever in 1967 when he created six Sam Pig In Love kaftans made from Indian bedspreads purchased at long–gone Kensington department store Pettit’s.
“They were full-length, with Nehru collars and half-belts at the back,” says Reeves.“I took them to Emmerton & Lambert in Chelsea Antiques Market and all six were snapped up within half an hour; Mick Jagger and George Harrison bought one each. I decided to shorten them and went on to sell thousands when everyone else got into them.”
// Jimmy Page’s shirt designed by Paul Reeves, 1966//
Reeves launched new company Alkasura Wholesale in 1968, and Page remained a loyal customer; the pair sparked off each other sartorially. Both, for example, commissioned buckled snakeskin boots from the legendary 60s shoemaker Costas of Tooting, inspired by the attire of a romantic figure in early 20th century illustrator Kay Nielson’s book East Of the Sun West Of The Moon. Page’s are now part of the V&A collection.
In March Reeves is curating The Best Of British, a major exhibition and auction of 19th and 20th century design in conjunction with Sotheby’s. Notable contributions include furniture from another of Paul’s close friends, musician, actor, Spandau Ballet founder and avid collector Gary Kemp.
Page, meanwhile, has contributed the magnificent Burne-Jones tapestry The Quest of the Holy Grail: The Achievement, testament if need be to one of the most enduring friendships in pop and rock fashion.
BBC4’s Pop Britannia rolls on until the end of the month.
The Best Of British is at Sotheby’s from March 14 to 20.
We’ll look at Paul’s adventures and achievements with Alkasura Wholesale and his shop The Universal Witness soon. You can read all about him in Chapter 16 of THE LOOK.