Showing posts with label Patrick Lichfield. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Patrick Lichfield. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 August 2010


The Out Group - 18th July 1967

Back Row: Tom Maschler, David Benedictus, Nicholas Tomalin

Centre: Cathy McGowan, Jonathan Aitken, Tom Hustler

Front Row: Christopher Gibbs and Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon

   Revisiting the theme of Luminaries United, this counterpart portrait to The In Group was also commissioned by Jocelyn Stevens, then the publisher of Queen Magazine, to take place on 18th July 1967

   Don't be fooled by the veneer of respectability this photograph uses to juxtapose itself with its sibling: former Conservative MP Mr. Aitken, for one, is not known for his aversion to a little indelicacy. One should also take note of Chelsea Set leader, designer and dandy, Christopher Gibbs - we have him to thank for giving velvet ties their moment under the club lights

   It's been said that Lord Lichfield's gift lay in eliciting an air of relaxation from his subjects (and let it also be said that his gift was certainly not in lending his name to transient menswear brands). Nowhere, I feel, is this more aparent than in his group portraiture and his more candid work at country piles, Hollywood homes and ambassadorial residences

   But as I said, he had a way with the human reaction. One only has to observe the subjects in this Studio-set shot to notice that

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

Monday, 18 January 2010

Relaxed Suiting

The Fifth Earl of Lichfield, Thomas Patrick John Anson, via LIFE Magazine

   Men who want to leave the suit behind when their day is done at the coalface are shortchanging themselves. Learning to adapt and procure suits for occasions and for pleasure is merely another aspect of the fun that comes with sharpening one's image. And that suits-with-trainers lark only ever worked for downtown New York New Wavers and David Tennant

   There are other options, you know:

YSL, circa 1969

Also from LIFE, The Beatles take Japan. And Lennon probably didn't need to ask anyone if it was acceptable to sport a muted pink suit

Etro, via the NY Times; the label has entirely defined itself through uncompromising flamboyance, sharp cuts and playful patterning

Etro for summer. There's only one element I'd not wear

The post-colonial African hipster look revived for the NY Times. Suits by Viktor & Rolf (l) and Dries Van Noten (r)

   Let's face it; the mods, suedeheads and peacocks were deriving much enjoyment from their appropriation of traditional dress codes and the results thereof. It's all over Patrick Lichfield's face up above; he's bold, but not over the top, able to enjoy his appearance without being self conscious about it. Given what parades up and down today's metro paving, it's only out of the ordinary because sartorialism is the current incarnation of iconoclasm. Having said that, it still takes a brave or uncaring man to wear a hat crown as large as his face

Mick Jagger and Mary Whitehouse. Really

The 1971 wedding of Mick and Bianca Jagger. His suit was from Nutter's of Savile Row; at this time, the pattern was cut by master tailor Edward Sexton. His shirt was created by Deborah & Clare of Beauchamp Place. The photograph is, of course, by Patrick Lichfield, via The Independent

   It's been well documented that I achieve a more informal look the same way other likeminds do; my shirt and tie combinations could only really be seen at parties or in a creative office. Anyone who really thinks bold ensembles are de rigueur in a conservative professional environment is an idiot or has befriended one too many wide boys. But going the other way and playing the colour field down doesn't harm a suit's out-of-the-office cachet:

Knit tie, green pocket square, striped cardigan; relaxed in more of a cosy sense than a creative one, but also perfectly felicitous for a dressy occasion

   Rather than simply thinking "It's not for me" or "I'm not (delete as appropriate) cool/rich/famous/handsome/slender/crazy enough to pull this off," you simply have to remember that menswear is about the details. For every exuberant pattern, there must be a balancing act performed by the cut; it must, of course, fit exceptionally well. Don't compound the potential shock factor of a statement fabric with offbeat tailoring decisions (unless it's a shorts suit, which is a topic for a future time). Stick with two buttons in a single breasted or go double in a 6x4 configuration. Rather than standard padded shoulders, why not try roped shoulders and/or lightly padded natural shoulders. Retain a well shaped silhouette with subtle buttons. Let the fabric do the shouting

   If anyone would like a place to start, I can think of nowhere better than Dashing Tweeds. Their Exploded Houndstooth design has previously appeared on this column. I do like this Foulkesian 3-piece tailored from one of their cloths by Savile Row's Davies & Son:

   A final thought: don't neglect the outerwear