Showing posts with label current affairs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label current affairs. Show all posts

Thursday, 6 October 2011

And it's Goodbye from Steve Jobs

I'm afraid I've not the articulation to bid a passable farewell to Steve Jobs, without whom I might never have Broken iPod Blues, Apple Lust Objects and other digital addictions/afflictions. Fortunately, amongst his other talents was an orator's feeling for the right words in the right circumstances. To whit, the below:

Friday, 29 April 2011

Sarah and Catherine

   My celebrations for today's Royal Wedding, which was indeed less moving though more stirring than I expected, were mostly horizontal. This is a common occurrence when one lives rather close to a 24-hour convenience shop, I candidly admit


   Having spent the past month fielding a number of personal questions regarding the most famous nuptials on the planet since, I don't know, Michael and Lisa Marie (though I regretfully think William and Kate will not be making high comedy out of a Nightline appearance any time soon), I was prepared to affect a vaster-than-usual emotional distance from the spectacle, pomp and grandeur - diminished since 1981's Big Day, naturellement - but seeing Sarah Burton's virtuosity at play on the former Catherine Middleton's body (oooh, matron!) has fired up the prolix machine that is Mode Parade just to say, "Damn good job, woman." Between this prestigious commission and her appointment as creative director of Alexander McQueen last year after its namesake founder's unfortunate existence failure, her position in couture history may now be ironclad

Burton is pictured on the left, via Creative Minds

   Firstly, the dress is of a fittingly demure characteristic; the better to complement the decorum of the occasion and how very pretty the new Duchess of Cambridge is. Secondly, despite the archaic medieval aesthetic it seems to identify with, it is gratifyingly stylish in an intelligent way: aware, rather than subsumed by, tradition yet open. I remember when Jigsaw tended towards "cool," so it is difficult to watch a former employee circling the public eye whilst dressed as a woman ten years older with a penchant for purchases from the clothes shops of Tunbridge Wells. Thirdly, it is a balancing act, like all clever dressing is; the plunging 'V' juxtaposed to the elegant sweep of the train and the graceful embroidery on top of the pellucid lace says "I'm a blushing bride on the happiest day of my life, but this might be easier to remove than you might think, dear husband"

   Naturally, the collaboration does not end here; those of us who have already started pondering if Burton might become the Mainbocher to Kate's Royal Wife forebear, Mrs. Simpson, will be mustering additional words for the second and also rather tasteful dress the Duchess adorned for the rest of the festivities. William does indeed work fast:

Fuzzy dice for newly minted brides?

   "Damn good job" to both women, indeed. If editors, trend watchers and the middle classes the world over are very lucky, this could be the start of a beautiful something

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


1 February 1946 – 19 April 2011
   I sincerely doubt that there is a single soul amongst the Doctor Who fandom that did not like Elisabeth Sladen, even to varying degrees, nor is there one who is not at least disappointed that she is gone so suddenly, in the midst of a renewed career and popularity, no less. No wonder she was brought back so often in the revived series and made the headliner of her own show; she made rapport look simple and easy. It must be said, the cancer has so much to answer for

   I think it was that simple-yet-complex, intrinsic quality of hers that made her more or less the most popular of the series' "classic" companions; her character Sarah Jane Smith partnered the John Pertwee and Tom Baker incarnations of the Doctor and along with her brief appearances alongside the Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison versions, her enduring appeal - an appealing merger of sass, intuition, enthusiasm, chemistry and independence - ensured an iconic standard was made. Her first guest appearance alongside David Tennant's Doctor in 2006 could have been done by few other previous Who companions, really - when one has lived down an increasingly absurd selection of clear practical jokes played by the BBC's 1970s wardrobe department  (who wants to look back on their (at the time) final appearance and note how Andy Pandy-like their outfit is?) and remained a fandom star, then there's no doubting the welcome impact of a brief reprise

   Sladen was in the midst of capturing a new audience of once and future Whofen with as the headliner of spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, where her ability to sync with any and all co-stars remained appreciable; she was reunited with fellow 1970s Who staple Nicholas Courtney (whose aborted Mode Parade posthumous tribute this past February would have been entitled "Five Rounds Rapid", probably. Sorry, Brigadier) and most memorably performed alongside the current - and for my money, most enjoyable modern - Doctor, Matt Smith, and her predecessor as Pertwee's girl, Katy Manning, late last year. She also made her ongoing teamup with her much younger co-stars, Tommy Knight, Yasmin Page, Daniel Langer and Anjli Mohindra, seem like the most natural companions a middle aged weird happenings fighter should want to surround herself with

   To quote your sadly (and ironically) apposite final story's title, "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith." I should think it's going to be very hard to forget you now

Sunday, 17 April 2011

An Expensive Existence Failure

   Through StyleForvm this morning, I have learnt that we now have yet another Fabulous Dead Person to memorialise. Petkanas, I'm counting on you

Bijan Pakzad, 4 April 1944 – 16 April 2011

With my ego, I would have been successful anyplace, but America gave me the opportunity to show my taste
   Despite my raft of accidental globe trotting, I've never gotten around to visiting Beverly Hills, but between clever marketing, the world press and two seasoned Earth travellers whom I call "Mum and Dad," I had a wisp of an awareness about this alluring brand Bijan and how it filled the closets of the great, the good and primarily, the wealthy. Naturally, it was his range of scents - always one of the easier ways to integrate a designer's name into one's possessions - and that striking, almost graffiti-like logo that made a lasting visual impression on me; an indelible link to the glitterati of the planet might also have had something to do with that

   'The Persian Master of Fashion' - and a proud one at that, steadfast to his Iranian roots to the last, which is even borne out by the music on his website - was known for his 'appointment only' visitor's hours; highly appropriate, given that he had custody of "the most expensive store in the world," grown through his charm, good fortune, entrepreneurial nous (apparently genetic; his family was staunchly self-made) and dogged industriousness. He dressed a list of men so illustrious that they have been typed out and published in better obituaries than this one, as well as in his Wikipedia entry (his son Nicolas stated that he dressed over 40,000 clients, including all five living American Presidents). He was exceedingly fond of the colour yellow - good for him, me and you. And he loved his automobilia, did this one - every single write-up will probably mention how he enjoyed parking the jewels of his four wheeled fleet outside his store before attending to the whims and wants of those who came a'calling

   His signature flair for design splendour was hardly confined to clothes and fine living, and in the late 1980s, he sought a more luxurious way to fire bullets, achieving it with a Colt revolver made from gold. But then when of his most perceptible traits was how greatly he loved his work; you can see it in every twinkly eyed portrait taken to show that this brand had a face and it was that of a kindly, charismatic, expensive Iranian who would transform one from schlub to film star for the price of the average home and make it feel worthwhile. But back to the handgun:

The gun had a leather handgrip fashioned for a .38-cal. Colt revolver; inlaid in the cylinder was 56 grams of 24-karat gold. The revolver was placed in a mink pouch in a Baccarat crystal case embossed with the customer's name. Bijan's own signature is engraved in gold on the barrel of the gun. Only 200 such guns were made. In 2005, one of these guns sold to Jacob Nahamia at Christie's auction house for over $50,000 USD.

   The Bijan brand will endure, of course - it is a family enterprise - but naturally, the stewardship will be different and perhaps a little less aureate. So to conclude, I think it's only polite that I highlight an ethos worth sharing in:

The world said to conform, the world said to settle for less, the world said to compromise and no one would know... so I made my own world

   Godspeed, Mr. Bijan

Sunday, 10 April 2011


June 25, 1924 – April 9, 2011

   I think that mustering up an effective eulogy to Sidney Lumet is a touch beyond me today. I have hardly watched each of his films, but I am certainly a little versed in those the world considered the greats; the most recent dip into his back catalogue being The Verdict (one can tell my addiction to Turner Classic Movies/TCM has been nearing a plateau, of late). Because of this, I can also spare us all the ramble involving the various ways in which The Wiz scarred me for life (consider the Wicked Witch's melting scene - my God, for something so cartoony, it seems so... visceral, like Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, perhaps. And no three year old Michael Jackson fan wishes to see his idol torn apart - what would Freud say?). Besides, I think he actually came aboard that project because he wanted to sleep with Diana Ross

   One of the best things about Lumet's work is that in an increasingly cynical existence referred to as "life," his rich seam of humanist work has embedded itself so deeply in the culture that there is practically a quotable for every film he shot. Consider:

"Attica! Attica!"
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
"Drop your cocks and grab your socks!"

   (I may be reaching with that last one)

   The past decade has seen a number of our leading lights of the creative arts pass on; this year has seen more than I would care to name, in fact. And as far as I can discern, it seems to be quite the struggle to replenish the sorts of technical qualities and insights into human behaviour that talents like Lumet offered. But then, that's what iconic status means to me - a capacity to achieve or to symbolise achievement so that others may observe, learn, admire and wish it was them about to galvanise the careers of several gossip columnists by indulging in behaviour most indelicate at the celebrity festooned after party of a major awards event

   Farewell, Mr. Lumet. And for the record, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network were my other favourites. I like your actors when they shout

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011. Never forgotten and, therefore, not truly gone

   In the past year alone, all due to the constancy and magic of Turner Classic movies, I have watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Butterfield 8 and The VIPs at least twice each. And there was a particular luminescent smoulder belonging to one Elizabeth Taylor that made many of the moments in these films as sexy and yet as dignified as they come. Often, I wondered if her work should be accompanied by a heatstroke warning

    As a child, I initially perceived Ms. Taylor in two states - one as a rather glamorous actress that elicited romance-tinged reminiscences from my parents and the other as a rather glamorous actress that was best friends with my hero, Michael Jackson. But I was already aware that this other indelible star rather liked surrounding himself with the best of the then-living icons: we should all be so fortunate to learn at the feet of Diana Ross, sing tributes to Sammy Davis Jr., or be called on by Fred Astaire for moonwalk lessons  
"Richard! Will you stop drinking and come to bed this minute! Your voice is ricocheting all over this hotel."
   Even after the multitudinous marriages, the faded latter-day career that was sustained primarily by branded perfumes and the cascade of human frailty that has finally claimed her, damn if she didn't continue to command with her presence whilst attending to business. And she never quite seemed to shed a singular, and rather unusual quality: that of being the screen goddess next door; a curiously approachable beauty who lived and looked for all the world like one of its royals, but possessed of a humour that the truly down to earth seem to use best. Between this, her accents and her singular beauty, it was almost too difficult to perceive her as British  

   She also deserves my admiration for affecting the vocal middle ground between Olive Oyl and Betty Boop. Vale, Dame Elizabeth Taylor: never forgotten, not truly gone and missed by more than a great many. Thank you

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Crash Machine

   Moments like this really make one feel secure about their finances, no?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Sebastian Horsley and The Genuine Death of a Real Fake

   Sebastian Horsley lived and died as a Real Fake, but one should never underestimate the sincerity of a man who so gleefully flaunted his artifice in the faces of others. Indeed, when the news broke last Friday, I thought it an obvious joke on his part – “Live fast, die youngish, leave the corpse of a popinjay behind" – believing that he was far more likely to die of the STDs he’d doubtlessly been amassing over the years, perhaps cataloguing them under the names of the whores that gave them to him

   Of course, he did claim that the whores were cleaner than women of the non-streetwalking demographic

   We had two run-ins

   The second was more interesting in that I was out carousing that evening, surrounded by exquisitely crafted artwork and speaking with a few interesting people. He came to view his portrait, painted by our mutual friend Ian Bruce. Evidently feeling less than garrulous, he mentioned his pleasure with his visage and left within the opening hour, presumably to retake his place as a pink suited London boho in a Soho watering hole. I was looking for trouble that night; I should have taken his number

   The first was never catalogued because neither Style Time nor Mode Parade existed in those days, and because frankly, it’s a non-story. In early 2008, I visited Dover Street Market and found him, not totally unexpectedly, by the mirrored lift exterior on the ground floor

   Something in his eyes suggested recognition; of my face or my own penchant for reconfigured gentleman’s dress, I couldn’t say. I was wearing a black Cossack-styled coat over a plaid shirt with a club collar, a French blue silk tie, a black waistcoat with a knit back and sides, and black trousers whilst also wielding an umbrella; perhaps I resembled a personification of Death in Harlem of the 1970s or one of his junk trips

   I recognised him; that was enough to exchange “Hellos” and nods. And then he walked before I could ask if he was claiming freebies from the store; the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus collection he’d partially inspired and modelled in Paris a year prior was winding down its sale that week. But maybe he’d have not appreciated it. And yet on that day, he was wearing that same signature outfit, despite lacking the lookalikes:

   Following his performance on the catwalk, Sebastian afterwards wrote that he was fresh from a diagnosis of syphilis. Given the sexual cachet of male models, he was probably in large company. Such a man would certainly have been pleased with such likeminds

   Although I’m presently over 2000 miles away and will definitely miss it, the one man play of Horsley’s autobiography, Dandy in the Underworld, has taken the stage in London and should be seen for the curiosity, if nothing else. I understand it’s fairly naughty. But it will certainly be performed by Milo Twomey with more sincerity now than there was before

   And hopefully, my favourite door on Meard Street will remain as a mark of fond remembrance:

Sebastian Horsley, 1962 – 2010

Runway photographs: GQ

Friday, 11 June 2010

Cornelius (コーネリアス) - 'Ball In-Kick Off' (1998, Live)

And it's a fair haired, slight balding Charlton to Kick Off, Ball In - Kick Off

   In recognition of what day it is, Let The Games Begin

   Five years ago, my ILM friends and I once cultivated our own themed compilations. I forget the reasons for it, but we sought to acquaint each other with the sound recordings that, to us, aligned with the premise of each collection

   Geeks make the best musical archivists, after all

   The title of the collection that I submitted this for might be obvious. You've perhaps seen the way that I dress - what other subject could I have a particular musical view on than Maximalism?

   My review drips with dork cachet, but then I was almost satirically effusive in my writing during those days, usually because my fellows were genuinely so in theirs

   Of course, this artist is one of my inspirations. With him, my effervescence tends to be warranted

Thursday, 6 May 2010


   In a trickle of hours, the GBP will have decided on the face that will be held responsible for its ills next. No matter the platforms offered, the glib slogans crafted, Politics will never truly offer something for everyone. This is a relief - to extend such a universal appeal to the world would render the system boring and wanting in what it thrives on: disagreement, conflict, uneven playing fields and manipulation. After a fashion, it's my kind of game

   Under the remit of this column, the sartorial facilities of the candidates bear no scrutiny - they're fit for the pristine surfaces of appearance that all media friendly corners of the 21st century proffer to society. Why pay attention to any or all of the party leaders when you can be diverted by the matching sheen of their ties to that of their overly effective hair product? No PR officer could convert this into a Good Thing

   With that in mind, I am not here to judge the policies of the World's Last Well Dressed Politicians; you have liberal newspapers for that. But I prefer world stage representation to be in something other than questionable bespoke or a High Street premature shot. The most favourable examples have a number of drawbacks, however; not least that they are all from times past and have a tendency to be soaked in blood and rumpus

In another life, I would likely have been his nephew

   El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, who died last June following a heart attack and a short struggle against the cancer - or was it another incurable? - may have been the most stylish of this continent's politicians to have lived. Consistency ensured that he remained so even after the 1970s, my personal golden age of black style, had concluded and lent its remains to enduring mockery from future, less dynamic generations

   The frequency of Gabon on my radar has increased since Ghana's 2007 oil discovery; as I continue to acquaint myself with its socio-political nuances, I've started to consider the exertions on local and governmental African life that the resource represents. Nigeria? Thank you, but I prefer my oil rich neighbours to be of the Francophone variety

   Beyond the very obvious reason for an interest in African leaders, I am perennially interested in how they inspire admiration, love and fealty amongst the ordinary citizens they rule. By all accounts, Bongo was quite the incarnation of charisma, or perhaps I'm simply conflating that with power. From one tiny sub-Saharan country, he wielded a strength and influence in France that was normally reserved for dignitaries who were officially empowered there

   He was also stylish, in the sense that his non-model shape posed absolutely no barrier to a great taste in clothing and the nous to wear it. Like other post-colonial African leaders who at one point wished to remove all visual signifiers of their European yokes, he adopted the Mao suit, albeit alongside Western traditional tailoring that was worn as elegantly as his bespoke French cuts, which, during his first decade in power, paid slight lip service to the unorthodox detailing of the time. He and his entourage were exceedingly well served in Paris - Valentino would have them personally escorted during their excursions:

   Sharing a more direct relationship with my people was Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the Cote d'Ivoirian leader who aided in the ousting and exile of legendary independence-era Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah. The Sage of Africa, as he was known, favoured the aureate life, amassing as he did a sizeable personal fortune, shares in jewelry firms and urbane Parisian property holdings. Amongst his varied, swank displays of wealth, he funded the construction of the world's largest church and held a particular fondness for sculpted gold

   Houphouët-Boigny's leadership imbued the Cote d'Ivoire with outstanding prosperity during the bulk of his incumbency. His own relationship with France was a cornerstone of his national and foreign policies, influencing facets of his involvements across the entire continent. Indeed, he remains fondly remembered in his homeland, meriting the nickname of "The Wise," and also holds the dubious post-mortem distinction of appearing on a Lil Wayne record sleeve - but then, what is life without a little indelicacy?

   Françafrique Mode, indeed

   The markedly authoritarian and dictatorial Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire was known for successfully courting generous sums of foreign aid, policies that ultimately did the DRC little favours, public executions, kleptocracy and rather capricious opinions of his allies such as the United States. He was also known for his signatures of toques and tortoiseshell eyeframes, alongside a curious taste in leisure suits. Other purported proclivities included regular travel with a money-filled Louis Vuitton suitcase, Concorde chartering for regular Paris shopping junkets and flying in his hairdresser from New York to a personally commissioned airport in his birth village, where he had also built a palace:

   Haiti's late President for Life, Francois Duvalier, infused an extra dimension to his own vicious consolidations of power through his study and public acknowledgment of voodoo traditions and its houngan and bokò practitioners - Baron Samedi became something of a muse. Who knows what his decisions cost his loa; it is estimated that 30,000 political deaths were enabled during his presidency. He too treated himself to ill-gotten finery in his time:

   Finally, I submit as bonuses:

Jean-Bédel Bokassa of Central Africa, a Napoleon fetishist, alleged cannibal and owner of the world's most expensive shoes; a pair of bespoke pearl-studded Berlutis for his coronation, gifted to him by the French government

Francisco Franco

Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie

Patrick Hurley, Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Tse Tung

A monument to former Turkmenistan President for Life, Saparmurat Niyazov

   The United Kingdom may never quite approach such ostentation or indulgence of the self, nor would it be essential for it to do so. And it is preferable for a myriad of reasons that such leaders remain sui generis. But out of the lasting impressions these men have left on me, an old, persistent truism arises: "Aren't all the best fascinations paradoxical?"

Cigars to Bill, LK and Lasbar at StyleForvm