Monday, 22 March 2010


   There are some things in life that I look forward to. Here are some of them:

   This may need subtitles, post haste:

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

More Gems of Ghana

   Orleans Designs A/W 2010:

Spicey earthy tones mixed with sharp layers embody the pieces in this  2010 Autumn/Winter JAHAN collection. Orleans Designs continues to contemporise African texutres by fusing it with delicate silks.

Hazel Aggrey-Orleans, the creative force behind the label draws her inspiration from her colourful memories growing up in the culturally dynamic city of Lagos, coupled with her Germanic roots.

West African prints and symbols form the basis of her luxurious silk patterns instead of restricting herself to the traditional cottons.
Of mixed heritage, Hazel has cleverly combined her two worlds into her work. This results in more contemporary garments.

With Hazel’s continued passion for colours, she seeks to create bold unique pieces that cannot be found anywhere else.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Fab Gear

   These are mostly his 'n' hers styles immortalised by Bill Ray in 1968, as published by LIFE in its august days. A mixture of luminaries and scenesters, these were mainly shot in London, as well as France and, one presumes, Italy

   What we have here is a diverse look at the culture crashes that flourished into the iconography of the late 1960s' fashion language, but an emphasis on an air of refinement and an existence predicated on leisure persists. Moroccan caftans juxtapose with matching Mr. Fish shirts, waisted velvet corduroy frock coats, idiosyncratic beachwear by Ken Scott and the earlier designs of Valentino; for the people wearing them, they seem no more than representations of their good fortune. Nonchalance counts

   There are various LIFE collections available. I've always wanted to see Ray's work stand alone, however, and this will suffice for now:

Jane Birkin and Gervase may be the most well known of Ray's various subjects here

   Bang the drum for the days of yore

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Old Face

All photographs are copyright of Dean Chalkley via Creative Review

   I've never given much credit to those who treat their existences as an extended costume party, even if I'm fond of their references. In cloning the past, usually in a bid to protest against much of the cultural change since, the reenactors normally, and shamelessly, forego personal originality entirely

   If you've an eye for detail, a knowledge of useful resources, a love for vintage and hate the modern shopping experience, period dress is all too easy. And often too boring. To me, that seems like a rather celebratory admission of a poverty of thought, not unlike a wasted weekend

   This is why I champion costumes that actually personalise their historical exhumations. The various outfits worn by the BBC's premier alien, the Doctor, for example, all respond to archetypes such as "Edwardian," "Continental," "Dandy" and "Hoxton Professor" but usually bend those confines in a way that can be recognised as individual creativity (the artful dishevelment and idiosyncratic footwear of the Scots Doctors, Tennant and McCoy; the mastery over sartorial excess of Pertwee; the clownish yet slightly dignified inverse of Hartnell's attire sported by Troughton and, mandatory for such discussion, Tom Baker's scarf), nevermind that the costumes are ultimately decided and realised by a designer and the showrunner, alongside the actor, if their input is appreciated, that is (pity poor Colin Baker)

   Parallel to this, designers who will tweak conventions and rethink standards are my kind of creators - my Junya Watanabe (whose latest aesthetic nods to the subculture on display here) preference is emblematic of this stance. And what he does with the 20th century's traditional male silhouette, certain musical albums from his homeland dissected in this column have been doing to music once thought to be irrelevant in modern times with the prepotency of near or full genius

   Therefore, what most entices me about The New Faces photographs of eight retro-mods was not the garments of the gang but the eye of their beholder, Dean Chalkley. In a London that has never quite fallen out of love with Mod - one need only visit Topman to confirm this - it's simple to understand how this has come about, but Chalkley is talented enough to make this interesting and masterfully arranged. Forgetting the attire for the moment, there's something of the actual 1960s cultural snapper about his work, from the way that the subjects' goofing around transforms the traditionally sterile studio setting into a groovy, expansive playground through sheer energy (or, in the case of early Doctor Who, a clinically flat alien land) to the emphasis on capturing and advocating their self confidence and love of clothes

   The photographs exemplify Chalkley's fashion shoot stylings in their generally full length compositions, detail-framing closeups and undistracting settings, and so are unambiguously focused on the looks and attitudes of their subjects. They're also consummately professional and designed in a way that is redolent of the black and white music television that this group undoubtedly loves. It's unsurprising that Chalkley relates to them; having performed assignments for Ben Sherman and taking a suggestion from Paul Weller as the name of the show whilst photographing him, he first met them at the club night he runs in London's Highgate. They share a common affection for music, clothing, and the synergy thereof, and particularly that of a certain time and place. And he cannily suggests their hobbies by photographing their dancing, neatly underlining that synergy that has brought these people together

   Ultimately, I always preferred the Peacock Revolution, but I could never discourage an interest in dressing and dancing amongst the young

Dean Chalkley. His sense of style is not unappealing

   The New Faces exhibition is currently at The Book Club in London until April 29th. The Jukebox Jam record label has selected a run of limited edition seven-inch vinyl reissues of obscure 1950s and 60s US rhythm and blues to "soundtrack" the show; clips are available on Chalkley's website

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Stephanie Rushton Portrait Shoot, Part Two

   Alternate angles of café culture and on-the-street photographic reportage

   I'll never sit for Norman Parkinson, but Stephanie's talent makes this as great an honour


The Jamie Archer Portrait Shoot, Part Two

   Featuring whimsy, nudity and an unfurled umbrella indoors

   I wonder if we'll ever be allowed across the museum's threshold again (it was Jamie's choice of venue, in any event)


Saturday, 6 March 2010

Gems of Ghana

   Today, we celebrate our Independence Day - it's 53 years since we went from a colony to a former colony. To commemorate, I've stolen the most interesting fashion material I could discover from Time Out Accra in the name of edification. I got as far as one: Orleans Designs

   Hazel Aggrey-Orleans, who is in fact based in London, produces scarves of silk and dresses, tops and  trousers of vivid colouring and drape, proudly utilising the prints that form part of our native identity and heritage. Their product is playful, coquettish and perceptibly sure of itself; it takes a devil-may-care woman to adorn herself so brightly. Indeed, I look forward to meeting women who do patronise such a proudly homegrown label. The current S/S10 collection is quite the sort of thing that needs to be worn widely outside of Ghana itself; my parents' generation may find it does them proud

   Let's see who will be flying the flag for our artistic side next