Sunday, 31 July 2011

Black Caesar at the Crib

Needless to say, this genre pleasure from 1973 boasts some of the funkiest stuff James Brown (in collaboration with Fred Wesley and Barry Devorzon) ever deployed. It is also buoyed by the forceful yet magnetic work of leading man Fred Williamson, the visceral visuals helmed by director and writer Larry Cohen, and the odd moment of stylistic verve - like the cheeky mise-en-scene involving the cinema/theatre board above the cast's heads in the first photograph

Let's dance:

Friday, 29 July 2011

Who is Shelley Berman?

An eyeframes mystery via The Vintage Frames Company:

Leather Lust Object No.10 - Chomping at the Bit

A closer look at the Alan McAfee for Neiman Marcus vintage snaffle bit slip-ons I wore in my recent homage ensemble

The first time I ever wore these, I went out dancing until 3am. I think one can see why:

Similarly, it may come as no surprise that in its heyday, Alan McAfee took bespoke commissions for Fred Astaire, amongst a great many other of the well heeled. An example is retained in the currently dormant fashion collection at The Victoria and Albert Museum. The company,which began in the 19th century,  had an extensive history, as the forvms explain:

In an earlier era, Alan McAfee based its bespoke operation in Dover Street, London, with the ready-to-wear models sold in the US made by Church's and other manufacturers. At one time Church sold relabeled Church shoes as McAfee in cities with competitive retail accounts. The first account would have Church, the second would stock McAfee. Thus, in San Francisco Cable Car Clothiers stocked one brand and Bullock & Jones might stock the same shoe with the other brand. I forget which had which. The dovetail toplift (heel bottom) insert is generically known as a "McAfee Heel" regardless of shoe brand. McAfee later, in the US anyway, used a label that had "London, Paris, New York" without the polo player logo.
McAfee floundered in the late 1980s and tried to raise its profile with Oliver Sweeney as a design director in the early 1990s or so. It didn't save the firm from failing and being bought out by Church's. Church's then used the name on a line of shoes apparently made by Cheaney.

My pair, being made for the American market, is most certainly not made in London. That doesn't take away from how enjoyable they are to own, give or take the adjustment to my protuberances this pair requires

Now, my other pair of McAfees, going by the mod styling and interior logo, are from the London operation. But that is an entry for another day

Thursday, 28 July 2011

James Bond vs. Lord Brett Sinclair

   So, two Roger Moore-portrayed adventurers of the 1970s walk into a haberdashery and -

   Oh, that ridiculous scenario is not worth the contriving I'm trying to produce, but suffice to say that whilst my outfit is very much akin to 007's stylings-circa The Man With The Golden Gun - without even observing my higher heeled Alan McAfee snaffle bit slip-ons, a girl actually and facetiously told me that evening, "You scare me, Baron Samedi" (and never mind that I did in fact dress as that particular character for Halloween in Hong Kong last year to the total bafflement of the entire metropolis) - the shirt is certainly more at home in Sir Roger's Tony Curtis-co-starring, Peacock Revolution-set series, The Persuaders!, a reference that is particularly apposite, given that it was created by now-esoteric shirtmakers Deborah&Clare of Beauchamp Place, London some time between 1965 and 1975. They made the shirt Mick Jagger wore for his wedding to Bianca Pérez Morena de Macias, don't you know

   D&C will return in a future Mode Parade entry

Special thanks to The Suits of James Bond


   I suppose it is time for me to explain why there is a reference to Tootal-and-tweed enthusiast Gustav Temple's recently released tome, Am I A Chap?, in my tiny ego-stroking sidebar of print media appearances. This won't take long, I assure you; I'm only offering a slight distraction from what you and your right hand are really visiting the interweb for
Am I A Chap? by Gustav Temple is published by Beautiful Books. This comprehensive tome seeks to classify every species and sub-species of the English gentleman that one may observe throughout the seasons, from the flamboyant young fop to the crusty old duffer. Looking at the origins of the "Chap" genus, in figures such as Edward VII and Ian Carmichael, and their caddish counterparts such as Terry-Thomas and Bunny Roger, the book takes us up to the present day with comtemporary types such as the Bohemian Chap and the Hip Chap.
The book looks at established chaps such as Beau Brummell, Max Beerbohm, Edward VIII, and Cary Grant; deceased dandies such as the Comte de Montesquiou and Fred Astaire; contemporary chaps, such as the Gentleman Explorer, the Libertine, the Old Codger, the Country Squire, the Bohemian Chap, the City Gent. It takes a look at the finer details of clothing, from the Cravat to the Brogue, via the Hacking jacket, the Umbrella, the Walking cane, the Fair Isle sweater, Pyjamas, the Blazer, Spats and, of course, the Panama. There are tips on where to find them, where they tend to gather, and the emporia worldwide whither Chaps progress in order to equip themselves. Laced with delicate humour and a wry wit, this is an indispensable handbook for the coat pocket of every enthusiastic chap-spotter all over the world.
   Sensing the beginnings of a possible kinship, Guy Hills of Dashing Tweeds arranged for Gustav Temple and I to meet in Soho during the autumn of 2009, which, as some semi-regular readers may be aware, lead to a two page spread in The Chap magazine's anniversary issue that, in authentic Mode Parade fashion, passed utterly by the issue's purchasers with the sort of soft impression that is the normal preserve of a dull night for two in the bedroom. Somehow, this still more or less left me spent

   Funnily enough, Gustav was not yet finished with me

   Which is as good a moment as any to disclose that some days, I do wonder why. Perhaps it is because I have something in common with him that is beyond even some of his most faithful myrmidons - I'm not afraid to use a smartphone

   Despite the fact that our personal modes are literally decades apart in affections and affectations, I think Gustav particularly liked my teenage sartorial step-up manifesto - as published two years ago in Men's Flair - and all round ostentation - the late Sebastian Horsley being a frequent contributor - so he kept me in mind for the book, which is an engaging expansion of The Chap's ethos and the occasionally impeccable, oft emetic efforts that appear in the magazine's 'Am I Chap?' section, the title of which, incidentally, precedes that diverting French Connection advertising campaign. I quite enjoyed it, particularly for the continued excoriations of the pseudonymous luvvies and satirists that send in their photographs, as well as the coverage of heroes such as David Niven, whose second memoir, Bring on the Empty Horses, is a current read of mine, and Tommy Nutter. And I have purchased my own copy, so these compliments have nothing in the way of endorsements. It's an especially adorable buy, being of a similar size to my myriad Ladybird-published children's story books; the little ones always tie a personal library together. The magazine also has one particularly sterling asset to offer at present: the writing of Robert Chilcott, whose adroit stylistics and depth of knowledge make the film reviews section an interesting and edifying experience

   As I was "globetrotting" accidentally last year, Gustav chose to place my feature in the book's 'Foreign Dandies' section. I hope the PC Police do not take offence on my behalf, as I assure you, I have never lived for as much fun as I do for the moments in my day where I get to proudly defeat members of the BNP using only my UK passport as a melee weapon

   Though next time, I can always use my copy of the book instead

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Favourites From the Recently Departed

   With Amy Winehouse (1983 - 2011), I freely admit that I had as much time for her music in life as I do now in death, but that is not to deny that the woman went very far where her talent was concerned

And she does lead two songs that I will always play from start to end: a remix of one of her early singles, 'Fuck Me Pumps', by the resolutely average electro Scot, Mylo, and one of the few pleasing examples of one-time ubiquity on this earth: her cover of The Zutons' 'Valerie,' as helmed by her collaborator and quiff fan, Mark Ronson:

Design Lust Object No.3

Today, I'd prefer to go with a classic: Gerrit Thomas Rietveld's structural composition in Mondrian colours, the Red and Blue Chair (1917; now permanently displayed at MoMA). I can attest that it is surprisingly more comfortable than it looks, and as slide-friendly

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Trigère’s Grace

 Via Vegas Laveau Vintage on Flickr
''Fashion is what people tell you to wear. Style is what comes from your own inner thing.''
  Thus spake Pauline Trigère (1908 - 2002), grande dame de la mode:

   Possessor of intrinsic fashion talent:

   And bouillabaisse connoisseur cum stove saleswoman:

(Of note for the the first video: Ms. Trigère was also known for having said, “When you’re feeling blue, wear red”)

   Of course, her meteoric rise from French birth to American success began with all the right ingredients: progeny of a tailor and a seamstress, a close escape from the Nazi regime (continued survival is the best sort of insurance for future success, I feel) thanks to her husband that she described with signature brevity (“Hitler — need I say more?”), leading to her New York incarnation as divorced single mother turned arbiter of feminine glamour. Also of note; she was, in 1961, first of the famous designers to utilise an African-American model to walk for her and also had a proclivity to take to the runway and discuss each of her designs as it was sent down. Rare is the catwalk that actually finds a micro-managing aesthete delivering real-time analyses. Perhaps such a technique could be employed to liven up Bloomberg

The preceding from Trigère's Autumn/Winter 1972 presentation, via WWD

Trigère's thrice deployed rhinestone bra, as first introduced in 1967

   Semi-regular readers may be aware that I've a fondness for the outspoken. And it's satiating to know that if there's one thing Pauline Trigère was not fond of, it was being reserved. Here are some highlights from the obituary:
On occasion a prima donna, a description she never challenged (she once told an assistant ''There is room for only one prima donna around here, and that's me''), she was often impatient. But her displays of temper were brief. She admitted that she was outspoken to a fault, but seemed to revel in that image. A woman meeting her at a social event once gushed, ''Oh, Miss Trigère, I have a dress of yours that I've worn for 25 years.'' The designer fixed her with an icy glance and said, ''Just what am I to do with that piece of information?''
Once, when she was approached by two retailers while dining in a restaurant after one of her shows, she asked them, ''Did you come to copy or to buy?''
   Of course, when one is an innovator (she lays claim to introducing the jumpsuit to the wardrobes of many a woman), I suppose that there is a degree of latitude with which to be offhand, forceful and yet measured with it. Take Trigère's personal mode. Its basal approach was rooted in professional, expensive-looking dresses and suits, whose severity or simplicity could be offset or upended by a forceful colour choice or a print shirt; habitually, she accessorised carefully and tastefully with jewellery, adding the intelligent touch of signature eyeframes. For the big finish, she utilised a factor that only a handful possess anyway: great poise

   I am no costume historian, but even I find much to appreciate about her work. Collectors from the four billion corners of the internet rhapsodise about her garments and the applications of her taste, and it must be said that the archive photography bears that out. Of particular interest is the lineage of tailoring that remained discernible in the pleats, drape and forms of her creations, bearing out her long-nurtured passion and her training:

   For all the success that Trigère's product enjoyed, I actually think it for the best if the house never revives. Some things need to be unearthed and admired for how intrinsically driven they were by a singular personality, particular one such as Pauline's, with her fondness for elegance, yoga and turtles - the sort of idiosyncrasies that make legends out of fashionable people. Besides, as one who got to do it her way for so long, I would hazard that where the clothes bearing her name are concerned, as it was in the beginning, it should always remain Pauline's path to tread

Friday, 22 July 2011

Psych Couture Deux

Nigel Waymouth, a leader of fashion, poses in front of his infamous shop   

   Granny Takes a Trip, founded by Nigel Waymouth, Sheila Cohen and John Pearse, remains one of the most indelibly memorable of the boutique clothing operations that characterised the mod and psychedelic eras, hewing more to the latter aesthetic, as if one cannot tell by its naughty name 

   The link above directs to The Look's more involving article on this trailblazing concern and its myriad shopfronts. The video is an excerpt from the BBC's excellent 2008 documentary series on this country's protean 20th- 21st century fashions, British Style Genius:

   The ever so taciturn Mr. John Pearse (not to be confused with the late folk guitarist), who trained at Hawes & Curtis when it was still a bastion of impeccable quality, still operates today in Soho's Meard Street, roughly opposite the former home of deceased (and occasionally diseased) London-based sybarite Sebastian Horsley, one of his numerous clients. In addition to conservative-but-clever outfitting, his past is oft evoked in the bright suiting, print-or-patchwork shirting and the odd hand-painted kipper tie in raw silk, whilst even his most sober stuff bears a characteristically colourful melton underneath the coat collar. GQ US's Style Guy, Glenn O'Brien, is just one of his faithful patrons

Glenn O'Brien sports his John Pearse blackwatch tartan raincoat over an old Anderson & Sheppard suit, a Charvet shirt and a Dries Van Noten necktie

Vintage Granny, via Child of the Moon 

John Pearse bespoke tapestry jacket inspired by a William Morris print ordered from Granny Takes a Trip and worn by Ossie Clark. Orange cashmere bespoke peacoat tailored by Richard Anderson. All via James Sherwood

Monday, 4 July 2011

I Could Not Resist

   Sitting at the desk, wearing an unintentionally appropriate Junya Watanabe Man shirt in a completely serendipitous manner - as befits such a noted Americanophile designer, of course - I just remembered what day it is. And as a man who has long loved America and around 50% of the people that hail from it, this post is dedicated to those who today celebrate their Independence Day

   But really, this is a frivolous excuse to post some of my favourite America-themed songs: