Showing posts with label Mr Fish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mr Fish. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Peculiar Parade of Mr. Fish (1969)

The Peacock King of Clifford Street, Michael Fish, is seen here presenting his then-latest collection in 1969 via a report from London Aktuell, narrated by Eddi Arent with original music. It's one engaging hell of a carnival; a veritable fiesta of pastels, kipper ties, myriad materials and caftans that proudly exemplifies Fish's particular feeling for fabrics

Dead days of dandyism don't come much livelier

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A Girl in Terry O'Neill's Soup

Marion: Are you trying to get me tight?
Robert: You're frightening enough sober.
   Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the private viewing for starshooter Terry O'Neill's 'Guys and Dolls' retrospective at Chelsea's Little Black Gallery, whereupon I inadvertently managed to position myself in the hinterland between knowledgeable and know-it-all; a stance that comes as no great revelation to the semi-regular readers of this column, I'm certain

   Take this excellent shot of enduring - give or take an early death - actors Goldie Hawn and Peter Sellers in 1970. Observe the unstudied, spontaneous nature of it that loudly proclaims "Paparazzi Surprise!" as the two stars prepare to adjust to all seeing eyes of the media hounds who sniffed out a liaison in the sun and pounced upon their return. One might wonder, though, as to whether these two were ever involved, particularly as this was roughly around the time that Sellers became involved with Miranda Quarry, whom he married that year. Is this where the construct starts to fall apart?

   In actual fact, it falls apart if one has seen the film. The snappers might not be acting, but the luminaries certainly are, for this is more or less a still from the third act of Roy Boulting's There's A Girl In My Soup. And yes, that revelation did spoil it for at least one person that night. That's verisimilitude for you

   And that person might derive even less cheer from seeing the film, itself adapted by Terence Frisby from his own play; to some, it's a cute, stylish little document of the rigid, punctilious yet surreptitiously naughty mores of the gilded class rubbing up against those of the brazen, hedonistic, everything-is-permissible ones of the hippies; to others, it is overly focused on a self-involved, amoral sybarite whose only concerns are hardwired to his genitals and the out-of-town girl who eventually has him eating out of her hand simply because she deconstructs his seduction routine to the hackneyed wealthy lothario tricks it comprises. Naturally, I rather like it


   Dressed peculiarly and exclusively by Mr. Fish of Clifford Street, Sellers's Robert Danvers is the archetypal selfish shagger who discarded with bedposts long ago due to the damage done from adding the notches. I suspect that his "Hairy Chested Love God" (as Grant Morrison memorably describes the 1970s incarnation of Bruce Wayne/Batman) has no small measure of influence on fellow fictional Peacock Austin Powers; indeed, he comes equipped with a devil may care-attitude, an almost irrepressible belief in his own virility and a catchphrase that the swingers of the '60s cannot help falling for - "My God! but you're lovely," as is uttered practically every time he meets a woman, before, during and after game time. Hell, when we first meet this almost irritatingly charismatic "rotter," he attends the wedding of an old lover to seduce the bride one last time and takes a fetching upperclasswoman home as a palate cleanser, playing the cookery show that has secured his in-story fame and excesses on his television as a background boost to his ego

   What does a writer do with the tale of a fashionably attired, Bolly-swigging pure pleasure seeker who lives only for the delights of women, Rolls Royces and gastronomic consumables? Why, one introduces a little anarchy into his decadent little heart. Enter Goldie Hawn's Marion, the perfect Ossie Clarke-clad hellcat for a catalysing touch of the old chaos and disorder

   What is interesting is that rather than have Danvers spend much of the narrative vaingloriously striving to make Marion his, the relationship that forms between them begins rather quickly, but in essence is mostly on her own terms. Belying their wide age difference, she deflects his aforementioned tricks rather easily, only to move herself into his luxurious London flat, direct him to drive her back to the squalid basement where he first spotted her, argue awkwardly with her self-involved, unreconstructed boyfriend and have Danvers flail around with her heavy suitcase as he tries to avoid despoiling his expensive finery. She spends most of her time during the wine tasting trip to France she accompanies him on embarrassingly inebriated and yet able to bed or make a fool of him on a speedy whim. No wonder he does the obvious and begins to fall for her - it's practically a text for "How to Keep a Man Forever 101"

   But inevitably, the tale is a flawed one. The entertainment value of our protagonists is undermined by how unlikeably they behave, although Marion may come off worse, for whilst Danvers learns little about himself, Marion learns nothing at all, content to run with the values of free love and free living for however long she can, utilising her insight and intelligence for little more than manoeuvring the men in her life as she pleases. Which is a conclusion I'd rather not have drawn, for there are some fun moments watching the two trying to fit into each others worlds - that war of the mores again - and though clichéd a storytelling device, even in the late 20th century, what potential there was for such an odd couple to blend their worlds together is lost in the denouement, though I suppose there is a point to be made there as well. Had Frisby been more prescient, Marion's fate would likely have been rather unhappy, for it is more or less clear that Danvers will be fine, no matter what indignities come to him

   The saving graces? Sellers's aforementioned charisma, Hawn's nascent, now time-honoured knockabout persona, the odd Mike D'Abo-written song - nothing that's a patch on 'Handbags and Gladrags,' sadly - and, oh, a veritable goldmine of Peacock Revolution style. All that, at least, gives segments of this production a decidedly delicious flavour

Some of these screen caps were filched from Precious Bodily Fluids. Andrew, I could not have done it without you

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Richard Lester - Boutique London


   Recently, I had the pleasure of finally reading this well researched tome and would recommend it to all Paraders with an ounce of interest in the period and the book's unique yet obvious premise of grounding the 1960s and '70s clothing experience where it truly took flight - in its shops

  Without scans, it's difficult to review this meaningfully - hence the quoted copy below - but it is a very worthy compendium of photographs and Malcolm English artwork that is only intermittently available from other immediate sources (like something called "The interweb," apparently) and, without directly stating it, places much of the emphasis on the now undervalued concept of shopkeepers designing their own desirable products; to do this in a time when practically anything was permissible, desirable and born from one of the boldest cultural intersections in living memory would always ensure these luminaries' places in stylish and entrepreneurial history

   For the record, my favourite portraits naturally feature, or relate to, Hung on You's Michael Rainey and Christopher Gibbs, The Beatles' Apple Boutique, Michael Fish, Blades of Savile Row and Tommy Nutter, as well as the beauties that modelled for BIBA and Annacat. I'll be forever glad, also, that there was ample room for Vivienne Westwood and the late Malcolm McLaren's concern, Sex 

   It is affordable, unfussy to the point of sparseness in its writing and is fundamentally a well presented snapshot of a diversely presentable time. More helpfully, it compiles all the names of all those faces that made this scene one that hasn't lost its large footing in the cultural consciousness into one neatly packaged book. Groovy, Lester
To any style conscious Londoner in the sixties just two places mattered: the King's Road and Carnaby Street. By the end of the decade the whole world came to see and be seen, to take part in the theatre that played out of the new boutiques and onto the street. From the sleek modernist tailoring of 'Top Gear' and 'His Clothes' to the nostalgic dressing up box style of the World's End boutiques, at the heart of it all were the young designers whose conviction to make and sell clothes on their own terms generated an explosion of talent which lasted and evolved over twenty years, leaving an indelible mark in fashion history. 'Boutique London' follows the journey of the first risk-takers like Mary Quant and John Stephen, to the celebrity salons of Ossie Clark, 'Mr Fish' and 'Granny Takes a Trip', stopping along the way to include the weird and the wonderful, the glamorous and the bizarre. With in-depth profiles of over thirty retailers and lavish illustrations, the clothes, interiors and characters of 'Boutique London' are as diverse as they are colourful, vividly bringing to life a vanished London, which changed the way we shop forever.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


   Semi-regular viewers of this column are aware that I occasionally champion the dressing of men who don't resemble tryouts for the next Willy Wonka remake. Today, I'd like to host a pictorial of the mostly modest (but resolutely talented) Terence Stamp:

 Top two: in Modesty Blaise, as dressed by Douglas Hayward and Mr. Fish. This caper also stars Monica Vitti and Dirk Bogarde, boasts a memorable Gorillaz-sampled themesong and was high on my To-Do List, as are Stamp's memoirs
In Divina Creatura (aka The Divine Nymph, 1975), which I've also yet to see
With former lover and 1960s Face, Jean Shrimpton

   I am not up to date on Mr. Stamp's oeuvre - his smaller roles in recent comedy vehicle fare notwithstanding - but every facet of his fairly protean persona regularly makes an impact. Watching him toying exasperatedly, pathetically and yet thoroughly evilly with Samantha Eggar in The Collector is always a touch uncomfortable - his character's actions are the height of confused, tortured desire yet never less than unpleasant, not unlike the emotionally beset protagonist of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom. Elsewhere, his cold, forceful turns in Oliver Stone's Wall Street and Steven Soderbergh's The Limey juxtapose with the likes of his camp antics in drag classic Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and the curious, iconic mixture of both modes that is Superman and Superman II's General Zod (only a Swinging Sixties survivor and sex symbol could order others to kneel before him as if it was his birthright)

   But on and offscreen, when it is necessary, the man can surely dress. He has a natural sort of ease in his clothing whilst suggesting little concern at all with staying fashionable. Certainly, he adapts to the prevailing winds of his eras with aplomb, but usually in the most unfussy and almost stripped down manner. Relatively speaking, that is

   Even in the modern age, he remains a hat person:

   Sometimes beguilingly elegant and often louchely casual, I will take one Terence Stamp over a myriad of today's on and offline men's style idols. Attitude counts

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Peculiarly, Mr. Fish

Michael Fish (centre), shirtmaker, Turnbull & Asser alumnus, In Group member, "high priest" of the Peacock Revolution (as described by Hardy Amies) and creator of the kipper tie, with his staff at his 17 Clifford Street, W1 haberdashery in the late 1960s:

... A holocaust of see-through voiles, brocades and spangles and mini-skirts for men, blinding silks, flower printed hats... all the surface mannerisms and mouthings of hippy, but none of the intent

Nik Cohn on Mr. Fish's shop and output
   Very much my sort of shopping experience, then 

   Mr. Fish's work can be seen at the Victoria & Albert Museum

   Cigar to Sharp Dressed Men

Monday, 3 May 2010

These Popular Cultural Things

  •    To begin, Godspeed, Lynn Redgrave. I'll always recall Gods and Monsters and The Virgin Soldiers with a certain fondness

  •    To the surprise of few, the Doctor has raised bow tie sales, albeit of the pre-tied kind - again, to the surprise of few. At least Matt Smith's choice in decorative neckwear is emblematic of the character he is currently crafting and honing to increasing approbation each week; Élan will not easily be acquired by his followers, but it will be entertaining to peruse the results

  •    Turnbull & Asser, perhaps in search of the potent tastemaking cachet they previously wielded in the past through engendering the career of Michael Fish and providing haberdashery to 007, opted to seat Pharrell Williams as a collaborator in shirt design. Pondering the timepiece print, the design and the questionable pricing, my thoughts are thus: "Cui bono?"

    The watch so happens to be upside-down
  •    I rather like the look of Shanghai's Expo 2010, featuring Singing Jackie Chan. Spectacle done well can often enthrall me:

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

Saturday, 23 January 2010

In Their Element

The In Group – 18th July 1967

Back Row: Susannah York, Peter S. Cook, Tom Courtenay, Twiggy

Centre: Joe Orton, Michael Fish

Front Row: Miranda Chiu, Lucy Fleming

   I’ve felt like sharing this Patrick Lichfield-shot image for a while; it’s been a favourite since a collection of Swinging London photographs passed through my field of browsing vision some time in the distant past. I certainly think this mixture of languor, exclusivity and energy ranks with his airily bohemian portrait of Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh two years later, even allowing for their compositional differences

   It also seems to be the only reference for what the man who devised the kipper tie and the wardrobes of Terence Stamp in Modesty Blaise, Jon Pertwee in Doctor Who and Peter Sellers in There’s a Girl in My Soup, Michael Fish, looked like, never mind anything more recent. Surrounded by other luminaries of his scene and taking centre stage in clothing of his own design, one can discern the flair and the garrulousness that made him and his work a desirable commodity; the latter still is, if I have anything to say about it

   The online provenance of this image lies with Shana Ting Lipton; her mother, Miranda Chiu, is seated by Fish’s right knee. Ms. Lipton, an international pop culture and travel writer/editor/journalist and cultural researcher/strategist with an incisive worldview and an exceedingly interesting website, is ostensibly who I want to be when I grow up. My world could certainly use more of her like

   In terms of appearances, there’s certainly a marked difference between this clan of memorable tastemakers and the brand name/High Street scruff of today’s Hot Young Things in an identikit photoshoot. It’s all in the elements