Showing posts with label article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label article. Show all posts

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

"Lose Your Way and Find Yourself"



   There are some occasions that inform me that the Parade is appreciated by more than four humans at a time, every once in a while. Thus, I was most touched that talented artist Nina Meledandri, daughter of the late haberdasher and arbiter elegantiarum Roland, wrote in after stumbling across my prolix piece on him, "Homme Couture"

   I was so touched that I requested to reprint Nina's e-mail, to which she kindly consented. But then again, she provided 70% of that article's material. This is as much to thank her as it is to be thanked. And please remember to visit her interweb space, as linked above:
Hi Barima,
One of the most wonderful things about the internet is that sometimes you lose your way and find yourself
I just came across the post you made about my dad and it was really wonderful to find
I am glad that my reminiscences had an impact and of course it is a comfort that my father's legacy lives on
Thank you for posting that piece,
Nina

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

Friday, 9 September 2011

Design Lust Objects No.5 - Daum Crystal



   The trying time I am having whilst seeking to have repairs effected on a Daum crystal cactus in London has inspired this post's content. I suppose that some good should come out of this laboured endeavour

   The artisanal crystal craftsmanship of Daum has been in operation since 1878; its studio still based in Nancy, France, to this day. These valuable and scarce examples of its creativity are a winter-scene nightlight with bronze mounts and a miniature vase featuring a scene of sailboats on a river circa 1900, which I sourced from the Art Nouveau Glass website. I also quite like this acid cut cameo vase circa 1905: 


   Aside from the quality guarantee given by its longevity and handmaking expertise, Daum is also renowned for its practice of the pâte de verre (literally, "glass paste") glass casting method, which allows for the richness and complexity of its myriad forms and sculpting techniques. The effects can be viewed most pleasingly under the right sort of light

   But that is enough for now. This pesky cactus won't fix itself

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Handsomeboy Technique - Adelie Land (2005)


I hear the drummer strike the sky. I hear the drummer strike the sky!

   ... So naturally, as a consequence of becoming enraptured by Shibuya-kei and J-Pop over ten years ago, I thought it prudent to see what had become of Japan's alternative hip hop produce since everyone's favourite abstruse-trivia-wielding-and-limited-edition-promotional-toys-branding, abstract instrumental hip hop label Mo' Wax first enticed me with it in 1997. Finding the very moment where Japanese hip hop very much became something worth taking seriously (and to much surprise, that moment actually occurred before the end of the 1980s),  James Lavelle's infamous concern issued a beautifully sturdy and artfully rendered boxset of over 40 songs released by Major Force, an exuberant imprint with a fine niche in broken English rap, deeply technical sensibilities, sample-seeking nous to rival their American counterparts and a particular attention to composition that broadened the compilation's appeal amongst demographics that could not easily stomach mangled hip hop slang in slightly off-putting vocal timbres

   8 years following my first experience with "Dope up cyber-rap from Tokyo" brought time wasted with DJs like Halfby and wee papa girl rappers like Halcali - a mainstream-breaking duo not much unlike their Major Force XX chromosome MC forebears The Orchids - but for all their talent, none were as adept at the indelibly memorable, 1970s-impelled party record as the one they called Handsomeboy Technique. Probably a disco biscuits-thing


   Adelie Land comfortably rests in the cut-and-paste party music canon that bursts with luminaries such as Steinski, The Dust Brothers, Coldcut and other DJ-producers for whom the 1980s was a testing ground for musical domination, though the beatific sequences, jaunty 1970s radio polish and heady psychedelic thread that distinguish the record are more in thrall to the itinerant beauty and density of The Avalanches' Since I Left You. Be that as it may, Yoshitaka Morino's debut LP is light on complexity and motors along on repetition, but it also simply gorges on effusiveness and what some particularly enthusiastic dancers and afficionados like to refer to as "the funk." And had this album a wider reach beyond its native Japan, many a breakdancing competition sequence could have been choreographed to the likes of the 'Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)'-sampling 'Miami Radio Flash' or the cheery, vintage rap of 'Season of Young Mouss,' whose childish go-go delights also mark Handsomeboy Technique as a potent contemporary of that more ramshackle and less rewarding concern, The Go! Team

   But in taking cues from his forebears to craft a wider scope, Morino successfully taps not only into the celebratory, but the wistful sides of nostalgia that can make it a more compelling aural aesthetic. The soulful 'Quiet Place' is one contemplative mood shy of a megrim, with bursts of strings and keys that apparate like primary colours in a paintball contest. This is also felt in the lone piano opening of 'Adelie Coast Waltz' (practically a direct reference to the exceedingly similar 'Two Hearts in 3/4 Time' of Since I Left You) through to the sweep of its twee disco romanticism that sounds much like the end of a beautiful "something" should, whilst my favourite cut, ''8000 Laurels,' combines the exuberant patter of a motoring hip hop break and a beatbox with a hooky tempest of turntable swerves, minor key choral vocals and orchestral grandeur gone pop, thanks to a particularly indelible keyboard line. With such a percolating emotional reach, it is no wonder that the closing 'Your Blessings' emphasises - thought not overwhelmingly so - the celebratory approach to end the proceedings, but cannily, it chooses the joy-in-living sonics and sentiments of Freda Payne's 'Cherish What is Dear To You' or the Motown sound (or rather a sample of The Cake's Spector-esque 'Baby That's Me') over simple, hedonistic joy. And that, to me, is always a tune worth stepping out to

  

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

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Vintage Prelude (Fashion for Women)



   I am in the midst of slapping together my general thoughts on the state of the vintage clothing, as seen through the eyes of an overdressed, bi-cultural West African in late 2011 London; as such, the article is guaranteed to be impractical to all that are interested in quality guides, reputable dealers and low grade polyester

   Fortunately for everyone else, there are enterprises such as Devoted 2 Vintage that care for the practical side of informed decisions. As such, when I received an e-mail this morning offering '5 Tips to Identify Real Vintage,' I saw no reason not to disseminate it in the column. It concerns women's vintage entirely, which is perfect for my purposes - my eventual article will have a decidedly XY slant:

5 Top Tips to Identifying Vintage Clothing

Have you ever bought a "vintage" dress or shirt only to find out later that it is actually a modern reproduction? Well you are not alone, we see modern clothing everywhere you go purporting  to be vintage either because the seller doesn't have the experience or are simply trying to cash.
We would like to share some of our experience with 5 Top Tips to help you avoid making this mistake and maybe find that hidden vintage gem. There are always exceptions but by following these simple checks you should be able to avoid many mistakes.

Indicator 1 - Look at the Zip! 
 Does the dress have a metal or vinyl zip? Vinyl zips were not widely used on dresses until mid-late 1960's so the presence of a metal zip could indicate a pre-1970's dress. The location of the zip is also a key indicator. Also the location of the zip is important. Up to the 1950s the zips were often placed at the side of the dress, moving to the back during the 1950s and 1960s.


Indicator 2 - Look at the labels.  
There are three types of labels to look for; the makers label, the size label and care label. There is an excellent vintage label resource on the Vintage Fashion Guild web page were you can look up most important vintage labels. If you can't find your label here look at the other labels. Before the 1960's the size labels typically indicated the hip size in inches, after this sizes such as 12, 14 etc. were more commonly used. These standard sizes have change over the years so a 14 in the 1960s is equivalent to a 1970's size 12 and modern size 10 so check the bust measurement. Care labels are also a good indicator; they were only introduced in the mid 1960's and only became widely used in the 1970s. The Pure New Wool symbol was only introduced in the 1970s. The absence of any labels would normally indicate that the dress was home made and very common before the 1970's


Indicator 3 - Look at the Garment Construction.  
Vintage dresses are more likely to be hand made with details like hook and eye fasteners and poppers to secure the garments. Also, internal bra straps were common in the 1950s. Underskirts were common in the 1950's; look for net and muslin underskirts, often with metal hoops sewn in the hem to give the skirts more volume.
 

Indicator 4 - Feel The fabric.  
This is a skill that will be developed by handing vintage clothes. Modern mass produced fabrics are rarely the same quality as vintage fabrics. So it is worth spending time in a reputable vintage shop feeling the fabrics, when you then compare this with a modern dress the differences are apparent. The type of fabric used is also a good way of dating dresses. Rayon and taffeta were widely used in the 1950's and in the 1960's polyester; nylon and Crimpolene were commonly used. Lycra was only introduced in the 1980's.


Indicator 5 - Look at the Style of the Dress.  
This alone is not an accurate indicator because there are many vintage styles have been reproduced over the years. The 1940's shoulder pads were widely used but were also popular in the 1980's. The two most popular styles in the 1950's were the shirtwaist dress, with buttons to the front, a nipped in waist and full pleated skirt and the wiggle dress with lovely fitted hourglass shape. The 1960's saw the introduction of the classic mini skirt and simple shift dress. The maxi dress became more popular in the late 1960's and into the 1970's. The more flamboyant 1970s demanded more fitted styles with plunging necklines and angel sleeves.


Using all these key indicators should lead you through the minefield of buying vintage and help to prevent you from making mistakes. As your collection grows so will your experience and confidence but as long as you buy items that you love then even the mistakes don't matter too much.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Design Lust Object No.4 - Charlotte Perriand et Jean Prouvé





Made from lacquered aluminium and wood, this striking piece from the pre-Tetris/pre-Jenga Fever era is an example of the distinctive 1950s "Mexique" bookcase designs created by the French designer Charlotte Perriand (1903 - 1999) at the Atelier Jean Prouvé, ostensibly the only one Perriand would work with. History has it that it was originally designed for la Maison du Mexique, a dormitory at Paris's Cité Universitaire when Perriand was tasked with designing its meeting rooms, cafeteria and forty students' rooms. She worked extensively with Sonia Delaunay, who was in charge of the coloration. Already, one is under the impression that Perriand possessed a particular sense for organisation; this creation was an example of her goal to bring a sense of idiosyncratic, attractive aesthetics to functional living




In the 1930s, Perriand was partnered with the notably more well-known Le Corbusier, as pictured above, having gained his attention with her chrome-tube furniture installation, 'Bar sous le toit' (bar under the roof), at the Salon d’automne in 1927. She devoted herself to leftist causes and healthy living, as evocatively displayed in the poster below as she defies the elements in nothing but the gloves and lower half of her ski ensemble. An exhibition on Perriand, detailed at The Hotel Corail, is now in its final weeks at the Petit Palais Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris



Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Utrecht - Phantom of Indie Boyz (2006)

   It's Tokyo time again:

"Do you know there are discos in hell, too?
Six people died at the party when we played there"



   Obscure enough to only allow me one YouTube link, there's still a lost mass appeal to this trio's output. Utrecht is something of a Neo Shibuya-Kei supergroup, with the genius-level sample manipulator Tomonori Hayashibe of whimsical, super-speed pop exemplars Plus-Tech Squeeze Box joining the more Francophiliac stop-start dance purveyors Gikyo Nakamura, a DJ better known as The Pegasuss, and Ukai, leader of COPTER4016882 and a labelmate of electro disco svengali Yasutaka Nakata, a one-time upstart in Shibuya-Kei traditions whose work ethic and guidance of the successful trio Perfume and his band Capsule have seen him obtain cottage industry prestige and Asia crossover success

   The trio's first record, New Beach, bore a label recommending them to followers of Mylo, The United States of Electronica and other such groups they are a touch more interesting than even if they paddle in the same pool. In common with the upbeat  inclinations of their previous turnout, that production was their Digital Disco of Love album; this is the synthetic, yearning, warehouse rocking-derived follow-through, suitable for a long cruise through a Mirror Universe Miami twenty five years ago. And this casual drive still faces occasional interruptions from the lightning strikes of the rock gods

   That squelch of music that one would hear at the slow push of a pause button on a tape deck impels the album as '1980' rolls around; an unspooling soundscape of synths and what is either woodwind or backwards strings proceeds in a fashion that suggest the song has ensued in reverse. This effect lasts around 30 seconds before plucked guitar notes and a mildly plaintive melody elicit two reactions - "Don Henley" and "Mature Sophomore Recording." Whilst this is built on with the unison, wistful harmonics of the trio's singing - it should be noted here that as a result of singing in broken English, Utrecht provides little intelligibility to their vocals - snares that may have been devised by turntable cutting and a fast pace, there is still enough downbeat atmosphere to ease one into the record gently
"It's not so bad to start from a wasteland
I'm the chosen

I can imagine vividly
Scenery seen far away
I can get everything
Luxurious dinners and a precious girlfriend"
   If Phantom of Indie Boyz bore a similar sticker to its predecessor, the reference points would most likely be the skinny jeans, indie dance heroes of five years ago it slots alongside - Justice, LCD Soundsystem and my personal favourite, Cut Copy - with the odd lashings of M83. Apparently, the scowling electro-rock song 'turntable still burning' is constructed from references to various genre tracks from that year, whilst the preceding 'morning haze' contains dream pop-like textures comparable to M83's synthesised swoons. But it is pop music that buoys Utrecht's best work, as it did on their previous record, and this is clear from the ones I love best: the eponymous and snappy neon night ride, 'phantom of indie boyz;' the aptly named second track 'stay gold,' a yearningly romantic, excellently produced and composed dance-pop number in the St. Etienne-with-low-end mould; and 'kiss me, kiss me,' a softly funky, minimal electro-disco piece that is referential to other music in a different manner to the aforementioned 'turntable...', bringing the melody and lyrics of the first album's 'first kiss' into a new setting of indelicate lyrics and very dégagé, very Japanese rapping - cut-and-paste to the core

   Sound samples are available here; lyrics are found there


Monday, 29 August 2011

The Samuel Fosso Post


I borrow an identity.
In order to succeed I immerse myself in the necessary physical and mental state. It’s a way of freeing me from myself.
A solitary path.
I am a solitary man.

 
Samuel Fosso (born 1962 in Cameroon) as Angela Davis and Martin Luther King in his 'African Spirits' series

   Once, at the London retro-speakeasy flavoured club night Prohibition, my friend and occasional collaborator Winston Chesterfield put it to me that "there is a challenge levelled at dandies that many of them are simply playing ‘dressing up’ – the implication being that with a fashion history book open, anyone can match such a style." I've always thought this implication wide of the mark; as proved by some - but only some - of the patrons at that very night - a book or a photograph does not confer consummate mastery, never mind an instant one. Without a creative eye, mimicry is worth less than nothing. And that premise underlines my appreciation of this article's rather visually intelligent subject

   My interest in Samuel Fosso's portrait shoots began in the early days of Style Time/Mode Parade, although there were other little distractions like articles about pocket squares, flamboyant showmen and satirical pop songs written for television dramas to keep me from parsing this knowledge into content hitherto tonight. It is the particular charm and statement-making potency of his work that has lodged it in my mind, to say nothing of the labile self-presentations of the photographer himself, moving from African and Black American living/dead emblems such as Haïlé Sélassié and Malcolm X to post-colonial African hipster and neat, almost dandyish, naval recruit, bolstered by simple backgrounds whose mise-en-scene illustrates much about the lifestyles Fosso swathed himself in for his work

 Selections from 'Fosso Fashion'

   Like the genuine dandy, Fosso is a work of self-actualisation, weaving visual pleasure and social commentary from carefully constructed artifice. His portraiture is openly artful, his aesthetic sense alternately playful and ascetic (even he could not avoid the pristine allure of a white studio expanse). Most considerately, his theatrical feeling for posture yields photographic self portraiture that makes no bones about its narcissism and is all the more vibrant for it. I claim no expertise, but most professional self-shot photographs I see, these days, may as well have been taken in a photo booth or specifically for a MySpace account, for all the emphasis they place on setting and demeanour. Under such parameters, those portraits might become more interesting

Selections from 'Autoportraits des années 70'

   Fosso's myriad signifiers are elucidated in a Frieze magazine review that I filched from the eyepatch-sporting, Japanophile performing artist Momus, and may I say that it was a great help in producing this entry. It's quite a portrait of the artist where gravitas is concerned, but then it is about Samuel Fosso - a man whose narcissism is worth a thousand words:



Saturday, 27 August 2011

Gentlemen of Leisure - A Visual Aid


 Wodehousian



His moneyed languor as outdated as the utility of his white tie, this one lived in the Gilded Age of the 20th Century, adhering to any passing fancy with the steadfastness of a mayfly's lifespan. Hobbies include dabbling in thievery, pugilism and romance. Deceptively passionate, often tired. May have "a purely nasal habit" (snuff). Latter day retro-dandies carry his photograph in their wallets


***


Entrepreneurial



Came to prominence during the 1970s, achieving a status in the pop cultural consciousness rivalled only by Michael Jackson and that undersized purple and green dinosaur with the undescended genitalia. His ensemble is an outward manifestation of his inner search for respectability and idiosyncratic flair. Many respect his ability to wear hats long after their commonplace usage has passed. His relationships with women tend to be highly committed, although he is compelled to juggle as many as his ever-flexible schedule will allow. His morals are questionable, yet today his lifestyle still elicits an atavistic form of envy within young white men who lack his ease with the fairer sex. As a result of his lifestyle and memetic prowess, he has myriad theme songs created by myrmidons and fanboys, of which an example is included below:




***


I Am Sportsman



Insufferable. Makes repeated utterances about the elixir vitae that is playing umpteen rounds of golf. Tends to meet women through the Entrepreneur above. When alone, he wonders if it were possible to find or fund a catholicon for hemorrhoids, hair loss and ennui. Members of this category can sometimes be lottery winners; as a result of extreme avariciousness and parvenu tendencies, they will slide into destitution and street work (although not of the kind advocated by the Entrepreneur) within 20 months of their windfall. Devoted to baseball caps

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Dressing The Bond


The Six Bonds by Tozani at deviantART

   As some of my semi-regular readers may have noted, I have spent some time at Matt Spaiser's elucidatory labour of love, The Suits of James Bond, which digs deep into the filmic wardrobe of the universe's least surreptitious superspy

   One subtle thread woven through Spaiser's articles is a soft rehabilitation of Roger Moore's finery, burdened as it is by the dull witterings of clothing ascetics and loathers of the 1970s who lack either the patience or the distance to appreciate its sheer breadth, harping instead on the received wisdom of polyester, platforms and pornography moustaches that characterise many retro memories. And this re-examination may have reached its apotheosis in a recent discussion sparked by Sir Roger's Golden Gun-era safari shirt jacket, leading to this screed (and some very well reasoned follow-ups) by commenter PDGB that I, for one, feel should gain a little bit of traction in this crazy milieu of ours. I certainly encourage any interested parties to read his further responses for an excellent defence of Lazenby:
Can we get beyond the “out-of-character” argument, and just agree each to prefer our favourite Bond without making claims for his relative authenticity? The “out-of-character” argument presupposes that there is some secure basis for saying what is *in* character for Bond. If Fleming’s Bond is the benchmark, most of the material Matt has covered would have to be ruled out of court, since Bond’s tastes, so far as they can be reconstructed from the novels, are more idiosyncratically conservative than anything we've seen in the Eon Films.
In fact, it does not seem to me that claims for Fleming’s ultimate authority are the ones most often put forward in comments on this blog. Much more often, some kind of appeal is made to a nebulous notion of “Britishness” or “Englishness,” and to a notion of “proper” tailoring and taste. It might be worth bearing in mind that the lounge suit as a species of outfit is less than 150 years old, and as regular daywear for all classes above so-called blue-collar workers its pedigree is shorter still. Any talk about the “correct” width for lapels or shoulders, “correct” number of buttons on the cuff, “correct” rise for trousers, etc., or more generally for what constitutes “classic” tailoring does not refer to some dateless, platonic absolute, but to a set of conventions which has been in much more continuous flux than arbiters of taste like to admit in the short time that these conventions have been in play.

Is Connery’s Bond sartorially closest to Fleming’s? Yes. Is his tailoring the most conservative seen on screen, in terms of its reliance on the conventions of British tailoring? Again, yes – notwithstanding “concessions” to contemporary trends that tend to be overlooked more often than Moore’s, Lazenby’s or Craig’s. But this doesn’t make Connery the most in-character of the Bonds unless, again, Fleming is taken as the benchmark. Nor am I sure that the best defence of Moore’s “in-character-ness” is any supposed lineage his clothes may have in British domestic or colonial sartorial traditions (though I'll come back to this, apropos the specific topic of the original post). The best way to judge him, surely, is in terms of how the franchise worked during the 1970s. Seventies Bond is a post-Flint, post-Steed, post-Solo Bond – a figure dancing the line between the straight and the parodic. Moore has remarked on the absurdity of the fact that everyone seems to know who Bond is, even though he’s a secret agent. Given this baseline absurdity, why would Bond need to dress inconspicuously? And given the overtones of spoof, which begin in earnest with Diamonds Are Forever, we can expect the odd double-edged sartorial joke, partly at Bond’s expense, such as Connery’s ludicrously out-of-place white dinner jacket in the early casino scenes in DAF.
Screen Bond has always been exponentially more of a fantasy figure than Literary Bond—and that’s saying something—but the nature of the fantasy has altered over time. It has tended to change with lead actor, and has generally entailed some sartorial shift, whatever continuity there may be between performers. If there’s a Screen Bond who’s out of character with the other Screen Bonds in sartorial terms it’s surely Dalton, purely because of the abrupt move away from bespoke. But every Bond has worn clothing which can be dated in some way to the moment of production, and in my view the character's dress is none the worse for that.
Finally, one point about Moore’s “safari shirts” and jackets in particular. If we want to talk about being “in character,” then I think this kind of epauletted garment maintains an entirely reasonable aesthetic link with Bond’s military past.

McBessed


   Danielle Meder invited me on Thursday to attend an art exhibition launch within the East Bowel of London with her; specifically the Robert Crumb-esque cheek and Golden Age of Animation-stylings of French illustrator McBess, which is presented under the title The Folding Knife and housed at hip young person's - and, as it turned out, hip young family - venue, The Book Club

This August, highly regarded French illustrator, McBess (aka Matthieu Bessudo) will be exhibiting previously unseen canvas work, prints and 3D objects at The Book Club. His fascinatingly intricate work provides snapshots of his own experiences and is a contemplative diary of illustrative creations. The Folding Knife contemplates both current and childhood memories from which the title of the exhibition was born. A folding knife was a childhood keepsake of Matthieu’s and also reflects the detailed nature of his work. Don’t Panic commented on McBess ‘he’s so wonderfully French that he can make what would otherwise be freaky cartoon porn seem lovely and whimsical’.
A collection of his art from the last three years will be published this July by Nobrow and The Book Club will be lucky enough to have the original cover design adorning the walls. Having shown previously at galleries across the globe such as Issue in Paris and Nucleus in LA as well as having his art on the cover of Design Week this month, this French gentleman certainly has an exciting buzz around him.
   Whilst the venue cleverly stiffed Danielle on her previously advertised complimentary drink by way of a vital and missing horseshoe stamp - not too Draconian to require approval for a freebie on opening night, I'm sure - I found time to be photographed in my current heatwave mode and stood in front of a McBess piece for The Book Club's Flickr page:


   Being introduced to the work of McBess for the first time, I found some of his tics redolent of other latter-day illustrators of a cartoonish, surrealist bent such as Kaws and Pete Fowler; always crafting worlds of humour, fantasy and neuroses in a way that suggests persistent trouble from waking dreams (which would not be so unusual to me - these clearly explain much of the work and unique humour of self-confessed sufferer Joe Kelly, co-creator of Ben 10 and Marvel/DC stalwart). Fun and gifted, he certainly is, but one suspects McBess, with his penchant for isometric layouts (which he shares in common with the talented and engaging pixel fiends, eBoy), music sideline and memorable creativity, is one hipster touchstone away from licensing collectible vinyl figurines made in his image(s). I am therefore unsurprised that Kidrobot already made an overture towards him; six years ago, I would likely have been first in line:

Dunny and Mega Munny figures by McBess, seen in the second photograph

'Gurato' 

'The Perfect Saturday Afternoon' 

'The Desk (My Desk)'

  We had a decent perusal (at least when we were able to avoid the throng), an amusing moment involving those curvy hairpins that, according to a young fellow on a date that we encountered, are never far from a woman's head (including Danielle's) and it did indeed pique my interest to revisit it at a more opportune time. But in truth, this was all a prelude to our flight to Dalston an hour later to squeeze ourselves through two over packed dancefloors and indulge ourselves in the company of topless, dancing lesbians

   The Folding Knife will conclude on the 18th September, 2011

'Sybyl'



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