Showing posts with label socialites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label socialites. Show all posts

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

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

Monday, 15 March 2010

Fab Gear

   These are mostly his 'n' hers styles immortalised by Bill Ray in 1968, as published by LIFE in its august days. A mixture of luminaries and scenesters, these were mainly shot in London, as well as France and, one presumes, Italy

   What we have here is a diverse look at the culture crashes that flourished into the iconography of the late 1960s' fashion language, but an emphasis on an air of refinement and an existence predicated on leisure persists. Moroccan caftans juxtapose with matching Mr. Fish shirts, waisted velvet corduroy frock coats, idiosyncratic beachwear by Ken Scott and the earlier designs of Valentino; for the people wearing them, they seem no more than representations of their good fortune. Nonchalance counts

   There are various LIFE collections available. I've always wanted to see Ray's work stand alone, however, and this will suffice for now:

Jane Birkin and Gervase may be the most well known of Ray's various subjects here

   Bang the drum for the days of yore

Monday, 30 November 2009


And now for a post that doesn't feature me in it

   As an addendum to The Party Post, I'd like to reiterate that we're rolling headlong into the party season; a time of frivolity, stupidity, overconsumption, enjoyment and your parents being overly embarrassing/overly affectionate/overly or not so overly generous/overbearing pompous asses. For those of you who have more strings to your social bow than the ritual cheese overload and rite of humiliation/schadenfreude/sexual misadventuring that is the office Christmas Party, get dressed to express, impress and flounce the night away in as strut-worthy a manner as possible. Be glamourous. And if you cannot, be mildly insane:

Sammy Davis Jr.

From the aptly named Iconic Photos, Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson in a London nightspot in 1936. The photographer, James Jarche, covertly concealed his camera in his bowler for just such an occasion. When did the paparazzi stop being so creatively underhanded? Today, such deviousness means that you're also paid to write about it or are reporting to a superior in at least one governmental departmment

Alain Delon

Claus von Bulow; socialite, theatre critic and Man With a Dark Side

Truman Capote accompanied by then Washington Post president Katherine Graham at his Black and White Ball, November 1966

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones; the suit is actually an appealingly carefree shade of purple

Keef's bandmate and dandy drummer par excellence, Charlie Watts, in good company

On the far left, Julian Ormsby-Gore, late son of the also belated David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron Harlech and diplomat, accompanied by his sister, Victoria, and interior designer David Mlinaric, who sports a Mr. Fish suit since donated to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Alongside the other Ormsby-Gore siblings, the lifestyles of all three existed at the intersection of rock, aristocracy and hippydom during the Swinging 60s; Mlinaric was once asked to leave Annabel's for his flagrant sporting of a white suit. I can't help but approve

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick

Liliane Bettencourt with her late husband, André

The late Brooke Astor, long-lived socialite and social activist

Antonio Azzuolo A/W 2008

Renowned operatic soprano, the late Maria Callas

A recently departed pop colossus

   Note the stylish proliferation and use of accessories, from signature eyeframes to louchely held cigarettes, nonchalantly draped scarves to ethnic jewelry, studded sparkling belts to lustrous furs. Looks that kill

(Author's note: I'm shocked at how easily the opening paragraph wrote itself. Misanthropy Mode has its advantages. Perhaps by (re)attaching my "Keep Away" sign to my forehead over the holidays, I may finally get to catch up on my reading)