Monday, 28 June 2010

I Frame The Outfit Eclectic

   The more outré the eyeframes, the more basal and sober the composition of the outfit. At least that's the working theory

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Large Cut

   Larger fellows can still be swathed in top flight tailoring, for if it does not do its job of flattering the shape and adorning the form with style, then why else indulge in it?

   These men look particularly swank:

American actor Jackie Gleason presents in an impeccably imposing fashion

Burl Ives as Big Daddy in the 1958 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Tony-nominated stage play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

James Earl Jones as Big Daddy in the recent London run of the mainly-African American Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, on the precipe of being upstaged by co-star Sanaa Lathan and her tracts of land

A "corpulent cut" from Jusa, Regensburg, June 1963; care of Sator at The Cutter and Tailor

Supplied by Todd Hudson at The Cutter and Tailor; tenor Beniamino Gigli was once a tailor's apprentice at the age of 10

The winner of the coveted Dandy prize at a Tailor & Cutter exhibition, created by C.L. Ostling of Albemarle Street, London. The cloth is a navy blue white chalk stripe. Again supplied by Sator

Friday, 25 June 2010

Doctorin' The Penzance - Colin Baker Sings Gilbert and Sullivan

As special as this ditty is, I still wonder if there exists a disclaimer apologising to Messrs G & S somewhere. I may come to like this as much as the Animaniacs parody

No other words are necessary. Except for these:

I-iiiiiiiii--am the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer.
I've information on all things a Gallifreyan holds most dear.
I've linked into the Matrix through its exitonic circuitry,
I understand dimensional and relative chronometry.
I'm very well acquainted too with matters of the Capitol,
I'll give you verse and chapter on Panopticonian protocol,
I've been into the Death Zone and I've played the Game of Rassilon--
(Rassilon? Assilon, Bassilon-- ah ha!)
With pestilential monsters that I got a lot of hassle from!

[With pestilential monsters that he got a lot of hassle from!
With pestilential monsters that he got a lot of hassle from!!
With pestilential monsters that he got a lot of hassle-assle from!!!]

I understand each language and I speak every vernacular.
I'll conjugate each verb obscure, decline each line irregular.
In short in every matter that a Gallifreyan holds most dear,
I am the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer.

[In short in every matter that a Gallifreyan holds most dear,
he is the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer!]

I've tackled shady Castellans with devious behavior.
I've sparred with Time Lord chancellors like Thalia, Goth or Flavia.
In fact on some occasions I've held office Presidentally,
'though maybe I won't mention I was ousted out eventually.

I know just how it feels to be a wanted man and on the run,
but wouldn't leave the carefree buccaneering life for anyone.
Though sometimes my adventures seem absurdly operatical--
(Operatical? Hatical... patical-- ah ha!)
With ups and down and twists and turns and incidents fanatical.

[With ups and down and twists and turns and incidents fanatical!
With ups and down and twists and turns and incidents fanatical!!
With ups and down and twists and turns and incidents fanatical!!!]

I've sailed the seven seas of Earth and all the oceans of the Moon,
my trusty true Type-40 is my Gallifreyan picaroon.
But is this really what the average Gallifreyan holds most dear?
I wonder what they think about this Gallifreyan Buccaneer.

[But is this really what the average Gallifreyan holds most dear!
We wonder what they think about this Gallifreyan Buccaneer!]

I've defeated evil robots such as Daleks, Quarks, and Cybermen.
I've overthrown dictators from Tobias Vaughn to Mavic Chen.
I've rescued helpless maidens from the devestating Viking hordes.
Vanquished Autons.... Axons... Daemons... Krotons.... Monoids, Vampires, Voords.
I've liberated planets and delivered them from total war.
Saved Earth, Manussa, Dulkis, Skonnos, Earth, Tigella, Earth once more.
In short I know I am the truest Rassilonian legate
(Legate? Decate...Hecate...Hecate?? Mm. Not sure if that's canonical. Ah ha, I have it!)
And so to Time Lords all I say remember me to Gallifrey!

[A sentiment we all agree, remember him to Gallifrey!
A sentiment we all agree, remember him to Gallifrey!!
A sentiment we all agree, remember him to Galli-gallifrey!!]

I'm not content to just observe, I am a bold adventurer.
Though other Time Lords mock this Gallifreyan interventioner.
I know in every matter that a Time Lord really should hold dear
I am the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer.

[We know in every matter that a Time Lord really should hold dear,
He is the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer!]

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Meet The Swenkas

In South Africa, when the country was still in the grip of apartheid, men from the nation's rural areas often journeyed to the cities in search of work. Hoping to impress the families they left behind, the men would often buy stylish new suits for their visits back home, and practice looking slick for their friends and neighbors. Over time, this behavior evolved into a practice called "swenking," in which working-class South Africans would meet on a regular basis for competitions in which they would see who could put together the best-looking outfit, and who knew how to move best in it. Swenking is a hobby that still exists today in South Africa, and The Swenkas is a documentary which looks at both the past and present of this curious blend of fashion and sport, as filmmaker Jeppe Ronde explores the history of swenking as well as profiling the son of the leader of a group of swenkas who is contemplating joining in the place of his late father.

~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

At the shows, they’re judged for their outfits, their attention to detail, and the little moves they do to call notice to both. It’s real flourishy. The winner takes a cut of the door fee, which is generally a fraction of the cost of one suit. At Christmas in Durban, all the local swenking organizations get together for the finals and name the swenkiest guy in all South Africa.

Because most swenkas earn about $400 a month and a top-end tailored suit costs about $1,200, they buy clothes on layaway, spending like a year visiting a suit in the shop and making little homeopathic payments on it, dreaming about it at night. Basically, all that My Beautiful Laundrette, Horatio Alger stuff is in full effect, minus the gayness and the wealthy relatives on the one hand and America and rising up on the other.

It is about dreams, friends.

   On special occasions such as Christmas, the best swenking is rewarded with a live goat or a cow on a leash

   There's even a Sapeurs vs. Swenkas group on Facebook for those who cannot reconcile the idea of two separate groups of distinctly attired, sartorially-minded men of African descent

   The Swenkas strike me as a more charismatic movement: their silhouettes and colours are more considered; their love of hats more harmonious; their fondness for the 1980s more personally resonant; their personae more enticingly ludic

   And they dance. That's rather an important characteristic for those who dress with refined abandon

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I'll Be Dressing Down

   Like Beard before it, this is a hirsute example of my daily ensemble style in Accra:

   Existing in an environment such as this, with only around 4 months of climate variation over a year, places quite the personal scrutiny on my summerwear

   This is the assessment and I'll be unprolix for once:

   I'm lacking for a dependable cycle of dress and casual trousers for the duration. Were there any reliable and gifted trouser cutters in the city, this would be rather minor an issue. I can, at least, count on finding alterations tailors for my shirts, since I've dropped some weight and don't believe in the aesthetic benefits of draping a tent around my upper body

   The subdued approach as seen above, however, I'm more than comfortable with

   Soon, Paraders, I aim to show off more of my print shirts; the most stylish garment category for the sweaty days of hot living

   In the meantime, all are free to suggest wardrobe remedies. I'm sure the PR agents that alert me via e-mail to their clients' collections must have a few ideas on summer elegance

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Sebastian Horsley and The Genuine Death of a Real Fake

   Sebastian Horsley lived and died as a Real Fake, but one should never underestimate the sincerity of a man who so gleefully flaunted his artifice in the faces of others. Indeed, when the news broke last Friday, I thought it an obvious joke on his part – “Live fast, die youngish, leave the corpse of a popinjay behind" – believing that he was far more likely to die of the STDs he’d doubtlessly been amassing over the years, perhaps cataloguing them under the names of the whores that gave them to him

   Of course, he did claim that the whores were cleaner than women of the non-streetwalking demographic

   We had two run-ins

   The second was more interesting in that I was out carousing that evening, surrounded by exquisitely crafted artwork and speaking with a few interesting people. He came to view his portrait, painted by our mutual friend Ian Bruce. Evidently feeling less than garrulous, he mentioned his pleasure with his visage and left within the opening hour, presumably to retake his place as a pink suited London boho in a Soho watering hole. I was looking for trouble that night; I should have taken his number

   The first was never catalogued because neither Style Time nor Mode Parade existed in those days, and because frankly, it’s a non-story. In early 2008, I visited Dover Street Market and found him, not totally unexpectedly, by the mirrored lift exterior on the ground floor

   Something in his eyes suggested recognition; of my face or my own penchant for reconfigured gentleman’s dress, I couldn’t say. I was wearing a black Cossack-styled coat over a plaid shirt with a club collar, a French blue silk tie, a black waistcoat with a knit back and sides, and black trousers whilst also wielding an umbrella; perhaps I resembled a personification of Death in Harlem of the 1970s or one of his junk trips

   I recognised him; that was enough to exchange “Hellos” and nods. And then he walked before I could ask if he was claiming freebies from the store; the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus collection he’d partially inspired and modelled in Paris a year prior was winding down its sale that week. But maybe he’d have not appreciated it. And yet on that day, he was wearing that same signature outfit, despite lacking the lookalikes:

   Following his performance on the catwalk, Sebastian afterwards wrote that he was fresh from a diagnosis of syphilis. Given the sexual cachet of male models, he was probably in large company. Such a man would certainly have been pleased with such likeminds

   Although I’m presently over 2000 miles away and will definitely miss it, the one man play of Horsley’s autobiography, Dandy in the Underworld, has taken the stage in London and should be seen for the curiosity, if nothing else. I understand it’s fairly naughty. But it will certainly be performed by Milo Twomey with more sincerity now than there was before

   And hopefully, my favourite door on Meard Street will remain as a mark of fond remembrance:

Sebastian Horsley, 1962 – 2010

Runway photographs: GQ

Monday, 14 June 2010


 Actor W Clifford Klenk with his wife, Hope Bacon Ryan, in their Hog Island house, May 1968, as taken by Slim Aarons

   That traffic light approach to summer menswear that I once mentioned? This man is its avatar

   Aarons and his lens would take at least one more capture of Klenk in 1992:

   At some stage, Klenk acquired a baronetcy and continues to be a fixture of the Life that is High:

   His earlier ensembles, to me, speak of WASP style for the true character

   And nothing kills complacency like characters can

Friday, 11 June 2010

Cornelius (コーネリアス) - 'Ball In-Kick Off' (1998, Live)

And it's a fair haired, slight balding Charlton to Kick Off, Ball In - Kick Off

   In recognition of what day it is, Let The Games Begin

   Five years ago, my ILM friends and I once cultivated our own themed compilations. I forget the reasons for it, but we sought to acquaint each other with the sound recordings that, to us, aligned with the premise of each collection

   Geeks make the best musical archivists, after all

   The title of the collection that I submitted this for might be obvious. You've perhaps seen the way that I dress - what other subject could I have a particular musical view on than Maximalism?

   My review drips with dork cachet, but then I was almost satirically effusive in my writing during those days, usually because my fellows were genuinely so in theirs

   Of course, this artist is one of my inspirations. With him, my effervescence tends to be warranted

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


   Also fabulous, dead and born on this day (68 years ago, to be precise) was Raymond 'Ossie' Clark, a King of the Swingers and of the King's Road in the 1960s and 1970s. And whilst he was off swinging every which way he could, he also took time to clothe the beau monde and become one of the Great Remembered of the late 20th century

   Reputedly able to cut a perfectly fitting dress for a woman by running his hands over her body, Clark was charismatic, multitalented and driven, although like a number of creators in this life, his talent did not come without its drawbacks

   One of them even evolved out of his desire for self-betterment: in a Larkin-like twist, the stimulants given to him by his mother when he needed the presence of mind for early commutes to design school eventually lead to his drug habit

   Naturally, Clark's work for the retail operation Quorum and Ossie Clark for  Radley - the house that purchased Quorum, bailing it out as it did so - has been venerated by nostalgists, collectors, editors, stylists and students. With the highly enticing printwork and intelligently devised textiles by his then-wife, Celia Birtwell, and his nous for cutting, patterns and design, melded with a taste for chiffon, gauze, moss crepe fabric and snakeskin, it couldn't help but be loveable

   Patrons included Twiggy, Ali MacGraw, Faye Dunaway, Elizabeth Taylor, Sharon Tate, Liza Minnelli and Marianne Faithful. The Beatles were also recipients of his imagination, and he launched a menswear line in 1968. Mick Jagger, legendary for his parading and preening, also became a client

   Idle talk has it that Clark did more than a little parading of his own with David Hockney, whom he had known since college. It is certainly accepted that Hockney's 1970 portrait of his hardcore bisexual friend and Birtwell, 'Mr and Mrs Clark with Percy,' is one of Britain's most visited artworks

   Following a career and personal decline, a tentative renaissance ended with Clark's 57 stab wounds and a broken skull from a teracotta pot in his Holland Park flat; the fatality was carried out by his drugged out former lover, Diego Cogolato, who received a manslaughter conviction and six years' incarceration

   Fashion designer André Courrèges may have bemoaned that as a result of Clark's popularity, “Haute couture is as good as dead. The streets of Paris are beginning to look like Portobello Road,” but few designers of that time could turn their moment into nearly a decade of pure form and remain memorable and referenced for further decades to come

   Some still struggle with it today

Menopausal Mauve and Bowlers; Oh My

   Mr Peacock has reminded me that today would have been the 99th birthday of Neil Munroe Roger, more familiarly known as “Bunny”

   Now, Bunny is not memorialised for nothing – in life and death, his sartorial renown and his predilections spread deep and wide. Fine and exacting tailoring performed by long-defunct Savile Row house Watson, Fargerstrom & Hughes; the sexual companionship of other men; heavy powdering; carnations; couture design; punctiliousness; the organisation of greatly hedonic parties; bon mots; bon vivantism; fine art and antiques; Rolls Royces; colour complementing, and so forth

   This champagne socialite is remembered as one of the most interesting characters from the 1940s right through to his existence failure in 1997. In the internet age, he is lionised or minimised, depending on which side of the divide created by the awareness of a refined homosexual with a fondness for lurid Lurex ensembles and drag that one falls

Lurex printed Nehru and casual purple wool sportcoat from the 1970s with Turnbull & Asser shirts and sporrans, from the catalogue of Sotheby's 1998 auction of Bunny Roger's estate

   As a relatively nascent fan of extravagant libertines, Roger’s dedication to his aureate lifestyle is, to me, practically peerless. His cordwainers, Poulsen, Skone & Co., created four pairs of dress shoes and boots for his 150-strong collection of tailored suits. Each. I can imagine that he had at least three outings with every individual pair. Most enviable is that he actually had the space to accommodate 600 shoes, to say nothing of seasonal and occasional footwear such as espadrilles, slippers and evening footwear

   (I’ll bet he was a pump man)

   Also of interest is the Neo-Edwardian milieu that he exemplified (and that I've dabbled in). To most people, the term, although self-explanatory, probably doesn’t mean much until one mentions the much parodied City of London look and the performances of John Cleese and Patrick MacNee in Monty Python’s 'Ministry of Silly Walks' sketch and The Avengers, respectively. As I understand it, the label, “Edwardian,” itself puts some tailoring enthusiasts in mind of this look

The middle image, 'Savile Row/The New Mayfair Edwardians' (Peter Coats; William Ackroyd; Mark Gilbey), was shot by Norman Parkinson in 1950; Parkinson was also the lensman behind a portrait of Roger stood near his ornately printed car in 1954

   As noted in the opening photograph of Roger, Neo-Edwadianism in dress, as well as deportment, was a nostalgic exhumation and customisation of an old style. It was the ideal postwar reaction; emerging from half a decade of atrocity, loss and devastation and seeking reinvigoration in the aftermath, Row tailors advocated this fashion to entice customers back to suiting

   Of course, with the likes of Bunny Roger as a paragon, the movement eventually came to be somewhat associated with the surreptitious and the naughty

   Having viewed a number of Neo-Edwardian looks of late, I’ve noted a pleasing variation of styling, although the defining elements are clear. A bowler hatted silhouette encompassed a fitted look, with its long and lean jacket – slightly flared at the skirt – and slim, straight trousers. Pearl pins were often affixed to the ties. An umbrella, as it came to succeed canes, became obligatory. Turn ups were seemingly rare – Bunny, for one, rigorously disapproved of them. As the aesthetic's most well known paradigm, his waist (29 – 31”) and broad upper build (40”, same as I) gave him the sharpest profile of all

   The disparities were where things became more interesting. As the 1950s became the 1960s, the relative sobriety of the look grew suffused with wild abandon in the encroaching age of modernity and Modernism. Interwar austerity was over

   By the 1960s, it had integrated eight buttoned double breasteds, four buttoned single breasteds, turnback cuffed dress suits, brass buttons and a myriad of showy fabrics. The dependably ostentatious Bunny commissioned his most outré suiting designs during that time; his peccadilloes of dress had already won him the respect and following of the Teddy Boys, who were the less elite and refined, and more ragtag and youthful exponents of this Edwardian reminiscence

   They tend to be better remembered, perhaps due to being young and shifty

On the right, Hamish Bowles, photographed at his New York abode for Fantastic Man, wears one of Roger's WF&H checked suits, one of a number he acquired at the posthumous Sotheby's auction of Roger and his brother Sandy's effects. Apparently, the somewhat elfin Bowles has to breathe in to accommodate the seamwork designed for Roger's waisted physique 

   Hardy Amies had also picked up on Roger’s trendsetting. Whilst he summarised the general Neo-Edwardian/London aesthetic of the 1950s as “the average young man of position [trying] to give an air of substance without being stodgy: of having time for the niceties of life” and “uncomfortable in anything other than a hard collar and a bowler hat,” he believed Bunny’s particular cut and quirks would usher in the defining styles of the 1960s. No surprise that Roger was one of his investors, but then Amies knew tasteful change - the mark of a talented dresser - when he saw it:

 Hardy Amies Four Buttoned Suit, circa the 1960s

   Then the Edwardian look grew into something else entirely:
While its name reflected its homage to turn-of-the-century men’s fashions, the trend was equally influenced by the nineteenth century dandy and his flare for the dramatic.  The result was a highly theatrical style of dress in which no self-respecting Edwardian (emphasis: mine) gentlemen would have been caught dead, least of all after six o’clock 

   The aesthetic evolved well into the early 1970s, intersecting with the neo-Regency remixes of the Peacock Revolution, before the energetic, neo-1930s exaggerations of the 1970s claimed a sturdier hold on the tailoring world (one school of thought suggests that the 1960s did not truly end until 1972)

   Bunny, however, continued on his idiosyncratic way. The most famed imagery from his late period comes from his birthday shindig in 1981:

 At the Amethyst Ball in London's Holland Park, held to celebrate his 70th birthday, 9th June 1981 (photograph by Terence Donovan Archive/Getty Images). Naturally, anyone not in a lilac hued outfit was unceremoniously rejected

   Despite his visibility in all matters sartorial, he remained more quasi-iconic in stature. Luckily, we live in an age that can deliver information on him at the click of a keystroke

   After all's said and done, I can't help but find common ground with a man who loved offbeat formality and the colour purple

   And above all, Bunny Roger was a true gentleman

Cigars to StyleForvm, Sator and Carpu at The Cutter and Tailor, and The Neo-Edwardian Hipster

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Monday, 7 June 2010


These are dedicated to the drivers of Accra

Italy has nothing on you; here's to dicing with death for however long I can stand to share a road with you

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Faculty, Or, "... But I Play One on TV"

I don't know who devised this, but s/he may now be a new favourite human of mine