Showing posts with label Style. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Style. Show all posts

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Mode Parade Patron Saint: Jason King



Author's note: This was originally written in 2012 for the Mode Parade Tumblr; since deactivated

   When it comes to personal style, few today are able to do it as well as the fictional

   Mode Parade Patron Saint Jason King blurred the aesthetic lines between himself and his actor, Peter Wyngarde, to the point that one of the few ways they could be told apart is that King preferred women

   Wyngarde is quite a charismatic fellow, by all accounts, so it is quite sad that the press, the public and his profession would not let his career-damaging homosexual indiscretion slide - precisely the sort of inflexible moralising that can make the world a less engaging place to live in. It’s the calibre of charisma that made him a star and sex symbol, and here makes him the picture of enviableness, inhaling from a Sobranie whilst wearing one of his many Peacock-era matching shirt/tie ensembles, practically baiting the Good Taste Brigade as so he does

   Very much of the moment, in so many ways. But moments are all we ever get, and some last far, far too briefly

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Dutchman by LeRoi Jones; The Crate Gallery, 2014


Kedar Williams-Stirling as "Clay," September 2014

   Jotham Annan is a RADA-honed actor and director of stage and screen, whose credits include the BBC's Holby City and Casualty, and versions of As You Like It and The Browning Version (everyone's favourite Rattigan?). To disclaim, he is also my cousin. I'm proud

   Over the past month, I have provided photography and costume styling for a new production by Jotham of 1964's The Dutchman, an interracial two hander written by Jones, later Amiri Baraka, whom I have discovered late in life. An African-American playwright, activist, writer and critic with a penchant for trenchant monologues and non-sequiturs of the disquieting kind, judging from this particular work, he was a natural attractor of the controversy that dogs the outspoken; doubtless, I will find pronouncements and quotes of his to embrace and discard with time

   Tonight ushers in the opening night at Notting Hill's The Crate Gallery, helmed by my old friend Matthew Gerrish. The Crate is not known for its voluminousness and thus each performance of this short run (tonight to Friday, this Sunday and next Wednesday and Thursday) will accommodate less than 30 people only. Nevertheless, compromised though I may be, it is worth purchasing tickets for next week's performances, which were added after the promising selling out of this week's

   In these days of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, to name but two, a text like The Dutchman is not only entertainment, but something of a yardstick for America's entangled multiracial structure, exactly 50 years prior, with which to compare to today. And it is exactly this challenge to muse on where America has been going in light of these atrocities that makes it worth producing today

BON




Tuesday, 16 September 2014

#Menswear



Butler of Style Forum and Winston Chesterfield at an I am Dandy drinks reception hosted by tailor Steven Hitchcock, September 2013

Monday, 15 September 2014

Pinterest on (Mode) Parade



   I am now assembling a small collection of boards on design, architecture, photography and style right here:


   The collection of images on my Pinterest boards is presently rather modest, but I anticipate that it will grow in tandem with my developing understanding of it. I've already begun utilising it for my photography efforts, at the very least, and it is a curious way of determining what one finds attractive, even in the face of what seem to be the labile tastes of the rest of the planet. Which reminds me that of the smorgasbord on offer, the pins of most utility appear to be cookery recipes

   Happy image hunting

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Khalil Musa Portrait Shoot




As mentioned in my event coverage, Khalil Musa was the photographer-in-residence for I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman's coming out party at Gieves & Hawkes last week

Khalil is the sort of portrait shooter that goes for sharpness and flash in the studio; in concert with his direction, his results show the confident sides of his subjects - whether they are or aren't, I suspect - whilst rendering their differing personalities and appearances in bold, bright strokes. Put simply, his work is worthy of several advertising campaigns, which I mean in the best way possible

To whit, if The Balvenie are looking for a new ambassador, I would like to think that this shot sets out my candidacy. But who knows? They might not care for my shirt

Monday, 26 November 2012

At Home With Diana and the Vreelands



   This is how one's family should be seen behind their closed doors

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Guest Article: 'Stephen Tennant – Sartorial Young Thing' by Imogen Reed


In times past, I've toyed with the idea of guest writers to diversify this column's content. I'm glad that I didn't often persist, as it impelled me to research the different areas I was interested, but not knowledgeable in. Consequently, my connoisseur's guide to pornography will see print any day now; the internet should really know the difference

Imogen Reed, on the other hand, is more the persistent type, having gotten in touch during my last AWOL period to craft the sort of article she believes you Paraders would like. Her portfolio revealed a variety of subject matter, as well as a tendency to guest on the blogs of others (why she does not have her own is one of those unanswerable ponderables, I suspect); her biography revealed aspects I've sometimes wanted for myself, such as full-time writing and a period spent living in New York. And so, this is her highly unedited article on renowned Bright Young Thing Stephen Tennant, a fellow for whom I've long felt ambivalence, despite his MP-friendly sensibilities; something - many things - about his lifestyle always struck me as being surfeited with little but vapidities; a lightning rod for the self-justifications of much less interesting, would-be Des Esseiteses (reportedly, one of his great ambitions was to rival the beauty of his sister Claire). On the other hand, I do appreciate that for far too long, Tennant suffered from the unique difficulties and megrims that are sadly forced on one by mental illness

But who knows? Imogen might make a believer out of me yet. His biography is now in my Amazon list; I've always liked its title

------



Stephen James Napier Tennant (1906-1987). A constant and nefarious work in progress, he was born in a time of great social and cultural upheaval.  He lived through some of the most daring and outspoken decades in the 20th century and indeed created many of his own stories and headlines by being famous just for being, well, “Stephen Tennant”. Apocryphally, he is said to have spent most of his later life in bed at the family home, Wilsford Manor. 

Auspicious Beginnings



The son of Lord Glenconner and his wife, Pamela (formerly Wyndham) he was the youngest of five children.  The most notable and upsetting event of his childhood was the death of his elder brother, Edward (affectionately known as “Bim”) who was killed during the First World War.  At the tender age of four, he is alleged to have gone into the family garden in the company of his nanny and stopped dead in his tracks when he came face to face with the beauty of the "blossom of a pansy." This moment was said to be a defining one in terms of his life path.  Always dedicated to the arts, fashion and literary matters (though ultimately producing little of his own to add to any of these canons) he was devastatingly attracted to colour, form and beauty in all shapes.  He was a fine artist and sketcher and had one unfinished and unpublished novel to his name “Lascar”.

He was, and remained for much of his life a sickly human being.  An early case of Tuberculosis in his teens rendered him quite weak and after various trips abroad for sea air, rest and recuperation his health failed to improve.  However, this didn’t stop him from exploring nightlife, from visiting theatres and generally living it up – all of course, done with his customary verve.   


Bright Young Thing

Sartorial elegance, louche living and artistic altruism in one effete, beautiful package. 

During the 1920s, in his heyday Tennant – along with his friends Ceil Beaton, Rex Whistler, Siegfried Sassoon and The Mitford Sisters became society’s hottest property.  For many years he and Sassoon were engaged in a relationship which had a lasting impact on the both of them after it ended.  Today, they would be front page of all the glossy magazines.  Back then they were known as “The Bright Young Things” and Stephen was at the very forefront of it.  Along with such other society luminaries as The Right Hon. Elizabeth Ponsonby and Brenda Dean Paul these people attended parties and did little else, living on allowances from their parents and never having to worry about credit cards or relying on balance transfers. But they did it fabulously, darling…

Alabaster in Human Form


Tennant was the most beautiful, picture perfect alabaster sculpture ever formed.  His portraits, mostly taken by his friend – the aforementioned Cecil Beaton show a delicate frame; Marcel waved blonde hair – sometimes dusted with actual gold to make it more ethereal and photogenic, his features were almost supine.  Rarely smiling, often looking into middle distance, his perfect rosebud pout and piercing eyes were apparently enhanced by a little application of Vaseline before photos were taken.  The idea is often put forth that the greatest work of art of Stephen’s life was himself.  This notion is supported by his infinite interest in clothes and make up and jewellery.  In 1927, after a very famous “Bright Young Things” event, The Daily Express were quoted as saying: “Stephen Tennant arrived in an Electric Brougham, wearing a football jersey and earrings”.  He cared little what people thought of how he dressed.

Vanity Fair 

A naturally vain man however, he is alleged to have uttered: "My tongue is already flickering like an adder, lest one iota of foreground is denied Me," upon learning he was about to have his picture taken with a group of his friends. 

A photo-shoot for his birthday in 1927 reveals an otherworldly creature; he wears a dark pinstripe suit, striped shirt, silk tie and over the whole outfit threw a black leather mackintosh with chinchilla fur collar that he had fashioned himself.  When the prints of the shoot arrived, in his own shy and retiring style he commented: ''I'm nearly crazy at their beauty'' 


1927/1928

“London's Bright Young People have broken out again” wrote the Daily Express. All the guests to the party had to come as someone well known. Tallulah Bankhead came as Jean Borotra the famous tennis player of the era.  Stephen went as the queen of Romania. A group photograph of Stephen, Tallulah and other members of the party was featured in The Tatler with Stephen's costume easily the most beautiful. Evelyn Waugh was notable by his attendance. Indeed, this party was the inspiration for his novel “Decline and Fall” and it’s subsequent follow up “Vile Bodies”.  Characterisations of Stephen carried on, even appearing in the form of Sebastian Flyte in “Brideshead Revisited”. 

By 1928, people were beginning to tire of the antics of Stephen and his illustrious band of friends.  The biggest causal factor was “The Depression”.  Many people throughout the country were suffering.  Unemployment was at a high, workers were striking and the cavorting and game playing of a group of seemingly over-privileged twenty-somethings was seen as frightfully self indulgent. 


Stephen’s society swansong and indeed the end of the Bright Young Things came that very year with a final flourish at a “Bath and Bottle” Party arranged at St George’s Swimming Baths on Buckingham Palace Road.  The invited parties drank and danced to the strains of an orchestra.  For the occasion, Stephen wore a pink vest and long blue trousers…

Inauspicious Endings

Stephen outlived nearly all of his contemporaries.  Elizabeth Ponsonby died young (1940), possibly as a cause of her alcohol and drug addictions acquired during her years of partying.  Brenda Dean Paul eventually died in 1959 of a heroin overdose in her flat – for years she had survived on a steady diet of salted peanuts and Brandy cocktails.  He also outlived the two most cherished people in his life, Cecil Beaton (1980) and Siegfried Sassoon (1967). 


Living mostly as a recluse (though a rather decorative one) he retreated back to his childhood home, Wilsford, until his death at the age of 80.  Desperate to recreate the fond memories of holidays he had had in the Mediterranean he imported twenty two tons of silver sand and had it liberally spread on the lawns to evoke his French dreams.  There were Chinese fan palms planted, and tropical birds and lizards let loose to cavort in the grounds. 

He had many tales to tell of his years as a Bright Young Thing that were only finally realised by the author Philip Hoare in his wonderful biography of Tennant’s life “Serious Pleasures”. A louche life less lived. 


Monday, 16 April 2012

The Daniel Barnett Wedding Portrait Shoot


   Even though I've had cause to abandon The Mode Parade over the last few months, it hasn't escaped my notice that new followers have joined, links have been shared throughout the digital community and my mother keeps showing it to her friends

   I can't promise that the column is getting back on track, though if you are a semi-regular reader trying to parse these sentences into coherence, then you're old enough to know that I'm lying - this train has redefined the meaning of derailing several times over the course of three years. For Buddha's sake, I stopped taking my own photographs sometime in mid-2010

   To emphasise that last point, as well as make another reference to times past, my friend Daniel Barnett, whose portrait of me leads 2009's 'The Party Post', snapped me once again over the weekend when we attended the nuptials of two very dear mutual friends in Central London. I am at that age where I am becoming surrounded by the marriages of others, but that is not to complain - I treasure (and keep) every invitation, I congratulate, I indulge, I laugh, I feel. Now and again, I even do the splits


   Now, this is not the first time I have written on wedding ensembles, nor shared my own, albeit in informal/Ghanaian-modern modes, but this is the first time I am presenting my morning dress version, which, because of the nature of Britain's weather, tends to be adaptable all year round. With events set for a late afternoon start, I gave the briefest consideration to slipping into black tie mode after dinner, but I'm relaxed by nature and more importantly, even "the rules" don't give a damn - eveningwear doesn't officially kick in until after 6pm, which gives all the leeway for one to keep morning dress on into the night if the wedding starts prior to then. And regrettable as it might be to some, formal events aren't so strict any longer

   I found my morning and waistcoats, along with my hidden braces, at the Hackett sample sale three years ago, whilst the trousers are vintage sourced from Old Hat London, a shop that has much to offer in this particular menswear category. Who knows when, but at some future stage, I will complete this with decent gloves, houndstooth trousers, a solid gold pocket watch and maybe even an antique top hat, if they were ever made to suit the likes of my oversized head, I suppose

   Ardent traditionalists may beat one over the head with strictures that favour only dove grey waistcoats, white linen pocket squares and silvery ties, but I'd say it's obvious that they gave up trying to save my soul a millenium ago and now devote themselves to only the truly worthy causes, like ex-members of N-Dubz and the attendees of Pitti Uomo. Besides, pale colours are also acceptable. Morning dress has long allowed more expressiveness than it receives credit for; even this 1930s-era piece by the formidable Laurence Fellows promotes a subtly opalescent take; whilst  the face of the man on the left is at risk of being washed out by the similarly coloured shirt, save for its contrasting collar, this works well in injecting a stylish variety of tone into this most soberly joyous version of formalwear:


   Winston and I talked that day of trouser tailoring, particularly as they related to morning dress in the early 20th century (ahead of W's Men's Flair article on the topic, published today). This is an interesting arena for the details fiends, for if there's one thing internet forums and catwalk shows have demonstrated, it's that well cut trousers are often as difficult to spot as an interesting person at a creative industry receptionist recruitment drive. The Fellows illustration definitely contains an element of veracity in this regard; a lot of this can be put down the utilitarian manner in which braces hold one's trousers in place and smooth out their fall, along with the valuable assistance of a higher rise. That said, everyone should still take to a good belt when they can

   Here's a number of people wearing this traditional outfit better than I:

Stanley Mortimer and Babe Paley, 1940


A.J. Drexel Biddle, Jr. was well known for his clothing nous. His habits are catalogued in George Frazier's 1960 Esquire article, 'The Art of Wearing Clothes', as hosted by Dandyism.net

An unknown American couple on the fateful day of 22nd November 1963, Jack Kennedy's last day on Earth

A trade magazine fashion plate, 1969

Prince Charles can be legitimately described as wearing a morning suit, since his coat and trousers are in matching grey (the waistcoat is up to individual taste). This is a less formal number that is usually deployed at warmer weddings

Fabulous Dead Person Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé, pictured in his morning suit and corresponding grey topper in 1968, accompanied by fellow stylish ghosts Elizabeth Taylor, Maria Callas and Richard Burton

   By the way, everyone else at the wedding, the bride especially, were on effervescent form. But then, my friends usually bring out the best in me


Required Reading: Sator on Formal Wedding Attire and Black Tie Guide


Barima's portraits are the property of Daniel Barnett Photography

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Alex Wilson Portrait Shoot, Part Five - Albert & Chesterfield




   Mode Parade is an entity that has always been founded on the talents of others. Nowhere is it more apparent than in my portrait sessions, those collaborative confluences of shutterbug eye and manufactured lens, of architecturally pleasing location and crafted clothing, and of shooter and subject. Truly, it is much like work

   For those who may have wondered where Alex and I could possibly go after last year's series, our latest shoot last Sunday included a heavy dose of Winston Chesterfield, whom some here will know from his prolific, insightful writing at Men's Flair and his ensemble-chronicle Le Vrai Winston. W has also remained a steadfast friend to me for a few years now, and I have long considered him an inspiration for getting The Parade off the digital ground three years ago this month. So in a way, this surfeit of narcissism that my semi-regular readers have devoured since then is ever so slightly his fault

   Nevertheless, it does yield fun like this; a day spent at the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial of Kensington Gardens in an early English spring (a preview of temperatures to come sometime in April, I suppose), with Alex utilising his vintage Hasselblad and scanning these results from film specifically used for stongly lit scenes. I'm certain that W will post his own solo shots, so I will proceed with mine. Another duo picture has already done a decent trade via Mode Parade's Tumblr; I'm naturally grateful to those who have enjoyed and reblogged it

   And, of course, Alex and I will return


All photographs are the copyright of Alex Wilson: http://awilsonphotographic.com/

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Neo-Edwardiana, African Style/Negritude ala Senghor



A seasonal inspiration that I could not post to the Tumblr alone. Merry New Year, Paraders

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

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

African Bloggers Council



Via Street Etiquette's Tumblr, a blue jacketed coalition of style writers converged over this past weekend on, appropriately enough, Savile Row post Ozwald Boateng's presentation. Pictured with me are Eli and Anthony of the site Ape to Gentleman

 I am wearing a "Sunday Best of British" ensemble: suit by Pokit, shirt by Deborah & Clare, necktie by Mr. Fish, footwear by Alan McAfee, boutonnière pin by Rose Paradise

Photograph by Joshua Kissi

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Alex Wilson Portrait Shoot, Part Four - Victoria & Albert Revisit


   Part Four involved a return to this city's venerated and adored Victoria and Albert Museum; long-term semi regular readers might recall that this was also the site of last year's Jamie Archer Portrait Shoots. But the V&A is a big form and spaces were found to avoid overlapping with that other lensman and friend's fine work:


 It was humid enough that I donned my tie indoors before proceeding to pose; I accomplished this without the use of a mirror and Alex was too polite - read: British - to warn me that my Deborah & Clare shirt collar was askew


   Some of you may be amused to know that a curious gaggle of young black girls asked me if I was in costume. And of course, I responded in the affirmative


   Will there be more of this collaboration in the autumn and winter seasons? Time will tell, Paraders; it always does


All photographs are the copyright of Alex Wilson: http://awilsonphotographic.com/

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

From the Estate of Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

   Hollywood Golden Ager and naval hero Douglas Fairbanks Jr., seen here in a 1940 portrait by Tino Costa, was the quiet perfectionist type when it came to matters of dress and deportment. However, as I've noted in the past, obvious sobriety does not a boring approach make and the sophistication evinced by Fairbanks Jr.'s tasteful cuts and respectable palette will always be worth 300 of the overly adventurous sprezzatura set any day

   Still, as ADG of Maxminimus and Tintin of The Trad, who brought the upcoming auction of Fairbanks Jr.'s effects by Doyle New York to the attention of many, have separately ruminated, it remains to be seen what sorts of prices quiet perfection fetches at auctions these days, whether the subject be famous or, in the case of the scheming Bernie Madoff, infamous and more than a little reviled. I expect that the prices will generally trend within the estimates, excepting perhaps the precious metal accessories such as the platinum, gold, cabochon and diamond dress stud set, and interesting knick knacks such as the personally inscribed first edition Salvador Dali book

   Included are some the pieces I'd be most interested in, were I in New York next Tuesday, 13th of September, and independently wealthy. Of course, it is not only the aesthetics of someone else's acquisitions that should be of interest; the stories behind them should hopefully be worth their prices at auction whenever one needs to spice up a conversation at the dinner table

McCULLEY, JOHNSTON. The Mark of Zorro. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1924. Inscribed by the author in 1925 to Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and further inscribed and gifted at Christmas in 1951 from Mary Pickford to Fairbanks, Jr., with Pickford's tipped in Christmas card. Original gilt faux leather. Spine tips and corners rubbed, spine faded, with the bookplate of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Fairbanks, Sr. famously played Zorro in the 1920 film, the year he married Mary Pickford. Using his affectionate nickname of "Jayar" for Junior, Pickford thought Fairbanks, Jr. "would like to have this book of your father's"

14kt. gold gufflinks

A selection of a navy pinstriped wool double-breasted suit, labeled Stovel & Mason Ltd. 32 Old Burlington Street, London W1., handwritten Sir Douglas Fairbanks December 1946 with a black silk woven with white oxford motif tie, labeled Crimplene; black herringbone wool Chesterfield coat, labeled Stovel & Mason Ltd. 32 Old Burlington Street, London W1., handwritten Sir Douglas Fairbanks January 1958; and a two-piece suit in black, white and burgundy Glen plaid, labeled P. Caraceni Roma, and handwritten Sir Douglas F 1953
14kt. gold cigarette case and lighter by Tiffany & Co. with a gold cigarette holder by Cartier
George III style mahogany partner's desk

The aforementioned dress studs and cufflinks set

9kt. gold dresser set from Finnegan's Ltd. of Bond Street, formerly owned by Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

***

Not included in the lots, these photographs are merely for illustrative purposes:

Pictured on the left and centre with Fairbanks Jr. are the late President Ronald Reagan and the late Cary Grant

With the late actress Virginia Field

Monday, 5 September 2011

Multicultural


   Some may recognise the drapey Neo-Edwardian on the far left from last year's post on Bunny Roger. The forward thinking Continental and the wide shouldered metro boulevardier  bring up the middle, whilst the far right demonstrates the sturdy aesthetic values of the people

   Myself, I am more of a mix-and-matcher, but if there's anything that can be taken from this, it is the variety of ideas for accessorising or the counter argument for minimalism that this little guide presents

   But for the love of God, please let's keep the dog out of this - the Frenchman might be capable of retaining a certain poise even as he thinks about how to clean the fur from his fibres, though that should only serve to remind mere mortals how far beyond them he operates

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Alex Wilson Portrait Shoot, Part Three - Dog Day Afternoon


On one of the hottest days of this dying season, Alex Wilson and I reunited to further our collaboration, this time in the residential environs of Knightsbridge


For thematic consistency - or due to obsessive tendencies -  I utilised another Deborah & Clare shirt (one may note a textured star design in its weave), this time with one of the duo's neckties, and a different pair of vintage Ultra eyeframes. Common sense dictated that I don an unstructured ramie Junya Watanabe Man jacket, currently the lightest wearing coat I have


Needless to say, more to come

All photographs are the copyright of Alex Wilson: http://awilsonphotographic.com/

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Autumn Astaire

There should always be praise for Fred Astaire's mastery of playfulness and propriety, for how else could he have played the 1960s young man's game of the similar/same coloured necktie-and-shirt so well?

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