Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Swinging Revolution 1966


This sartorial vision of a young Ossie Clark (centre), along with Niel Winterbottom (left), photographed in their finery against the incredible Antony Little fin de siecle style backdrop at Hung On You on Cale St in 1966 by Terence Spencer for Life International, quite possibly makes this my personal favourite cover story by the magazine from the period! Inside, you'll find an eight page report on the continued rise and rise of the revolution in menswear emanating from London. And although some of the content had previously been used in an editorial which the magazine had published on the revolution in male clothes just two months earlier, I would still imagine that when this particular subscription arrived through their parents letter box over fifty years ago, that it merely succeeded in reinforcing the thoughts that many a teenage son already had about getting 'The Look' and heading to where the action was coming from!


                                                       So Long Sad Sack                                                          
It all began with the teen-age ''mods'' (Life International, July 27, 1964) who spent most of their pocket money on flamboyant clothes. Now the frills and flowers are being adopted in other strata of Britain's society, and the male fashions born in London have joined the theater among the British exports that aren't lagging. The way-out styles already have appeared in such disparate metropolises as Paris and Chicago and may eventually change the whole raison d'être of male dress. Photographed by Terence Spencer, the sartorial sights of London and Paris shown on these pages—exemplify the clothes that threaten the staid ''sad sack'' which European and American males have considered de rigueur. The explanation? The new clothes, says John Taylor, editor of London's Tailor and Cutter,'' are based on the sexual excitement principle rather than on the respectability and security motif.''


Peering through the art nouveau window of Biba's (designed by Antony Little), one of London's most popular boutiques, Model Richard Asman is investing in a common costume of the London Look—a checked version of British battle dress with Bob Dylan cap (unrumpled). Photograph by Terence Spencer. 

In Le Duke of Bedford pub (like British clothes, British pubs are ''in''), Actor Horst Buchholz is wearing a tight, white Rudy Valentino-style suit bought from the leading avant-garde male couturier of Paris, Pierre Cardin, who closely watches London's styles. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

The garish London garb has crossed one ocean. American teen-agers, like the Chicago boys above, are shedding their blue jeans for checked pants, dazzling shirts—though now and then retaining local flavor with a cowboy hat. Photograph by Henry Grossman.

                  ‛If  You’re Not Way Out‚ You’re On Your Way Out’
The man who fomented London's male fashion revolution revolution is 29-year-old John Stephen, who five years ago opened a small shop on Carnaby Street. Since that time, he has opened eight more men's shops on that street, 14 others in the London area, and is $15 million richer. Stephen created the Carnaby Street Look which emphasizes, among other things, wide op-arty ties, turtle-neck sweaters and flowered shirts, boots and tight checked trousers. One secret of his success is the determination of London's young men to dress differently from their bowler-hatted elders. As one boy said in a boutique called Hung On You: ''If your clothes aren't way out, you're on the way out.''

In typical new-look attire, turtle-neck sweater and checked jacket, John Stephen lounges with customers on his purple and gold Cadillac parked outside one of his Carnaby Street shops. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Brandishing this summer's latest Carnaby Style (solid-color shirt, white collar and cuffs, op-art tie). Baron Nikolai Soloviev lunches with Jenny Philips in the Guys and Dolls coffee shop. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Michael Chaplin, son of comedian and the author of ''I Couldn't Smoke the Grass on My Father's Lawn,'' poses in 1920s garb at Granny Takes a Trip shop with (Nigel Waymouth) one of the owners. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

The Kinks, a popular rock 'n' roll group, created top hit song ''Dedicated Follower of Fashion'': He thinks he is a flower to be looked at...He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly.''  (*Dave Davies wearing an incredible pair of thigh-high leather boots!). Photograph by Terence Spencer

                      Elegant Edwardian Attire of Chelsea's Aristocrats
London's fashion revolution is not all teen-agers and pop singers in op-arty ties and thigh high boots. A new aristocratic tailoring establishment such as Blades (below) is being influenced by the Carnaby Look, and Lord Snowdon and the Duke of Bedford wear styles of the way-out boutiques of Chelsea's King's Road as well as Carnaby Street. The Chelsea shops offer several elegant variations on the new attire such as a 1920s Silent Movie Look and an increasingly popular Edwardian Look like that flaunted by the two youths opposite, and by Christopher Gibbs. Says Gibbs, who is male fashion editor of Vogue and high priest of the Edwardian Look: ''We were revolted by the ugliness of suits of the regular 'good' tailor. We encouraged friends to dig into their heirlooms, to wear old clothes, to turn their backs on ugliness and conformism.''

Actor David Hemmings is being fitted in a Carnaby-like, flowery-lined jacket by Eric Joy, co-owner and top designer of Blades, a new London couturier that caters to the upper classes. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Three young london elegants take their lunch in a popular Victorian pub, the Salisbury. Michael Williams (left), who lives ''only for my car and my my clothes.'' wears a long, velvet-collared 19th Century jacket over patterned trousers. Ossie Clark (see cover) sports a wildly patterned tie, a revival from the '30s. Niel Winterbottom, dressed in battle jacket on the cover, wears a floral Oscar Wilde-an tie with oversized knot while his date, Julia Cooke, adds to the period flavor with a fur boa. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

                                                Christopher Gibbs -  Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Trinidad-born designer Christopher Lynch, (second from left) discusses the new ''Chelsea Look'' for this summer: The Victorian Suit, double-breasted, cinched, and above all, white.'' (*Although uncredited, on the far left, is Michael Fish of Mr Fish and on the far right David Mlinaric). Photograph by Terence Spencer.

                                   Fashions Out of This World
France's rival to John Stephen is Pierre Cardin, who last year made $6 million on his ready-to-wear clothes alone. Cardin's line include everything from the tightly fitted suits (below left) that appeal to diplomats and businessmen to fashions that parallel the Carnaby Street and Chelsea themes - checked trousers with an Edwardian stripe down the side and long checked double-breasted jacket (below). Seeing the soft, accordion-pleated boots on the youth below, a journalist remarked that they made the wearer look like a spaceman. ''Yes,'' said Cardin, ''You might say they're out of this world.'' 

The male fashion revolution has also ''switched on'' parts of the U.S., as shown in the photographs opposite. By fall John Stephen's clothes wil be selling in 17 American stores. ''The English influence is the biggest thing in men's clothes since the Ivy League Look,'' said the vice president of a New York store. ''As long as it's from London or looks like it, it will sell.'' What do the English think of the revolution they've started? Some, like political commentator Henry Fairlie, suggest it's a sign that Albion is about to sink giggling into the sea and that the only hope is a Puritan revival. Others, like Julie Christie, think ''isn't it nice that men can look beautiful and smell nice nowadays without being called sissies!''

                              Photographs (left page) by Terence Spencer, (right page) Henry Grossman.

                                                              IMAGE CREDIT & LINKS
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from LIFE International 11th July I966, Cover photograph by Terence Spencer, all other photographs by Terence Spencer and Henry Grossman (see individual photo credits above). You'll find further information about Antony Little & Biba in one of my previous posts here. A transcript of an industry discussion about the future of tailoring from a 1971 issue of The Tailor and Cutter which includes contributions from Eric Joy, designer and co-owner of Blades here. Discover more about antiques dealer and collector Christopher Gibbs here. David Hemmings, actor, director, and sometimes singer here. View some examples of the lesser known John Stephen womenswear range in one of my previous posts here.  An interview with Julie Christie from the documentary film - 'Tonight let's all make love in London' (1967) here. And finally, an interview with Michael Chaplin, (son of Charlie) and author of I Couldn't Smoke the Grass on My Father's Lawn, here.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Return of the Dandy 1966

Ruffles foaming over the shirt-fronts of dinner-jackets and lace spilling out of the sleeves, tight-fitting pants, worn by young men who will demand 20 sittings at a tailor to be sure that the length of the vent is just so, that the trouser leg moves an inch bell-wise at the bottom!  There are tales of Beau Brummell and Oscar Wilde, interviews with David Mlinaric, Patrick Lichfield and Rupert Lycett-Green of Blades. Musings on Pop Stars, Photographers, Hung On You, custom made shirts by the dozen and much's all here, in this excellent in-depth 6 page feature on dandyism, originally published in 1966.

                                                          RETURN OF THE DANDY
Ruffles foam over the shirt-fronts of the dinner-jackets and lace spills out of the sleeves. Velvet pantaloons, which would have raised eyebrows if seen on men three years ago, attract hardly a glance anymore. The jackets are increasingly waisted, flare sharply over the hips and are getting almost Edwardian in length. The trousers fit so tightly that the more extreme ones are hard to sit down in and look best only when the man in them is standing almost at attention. There has not been such elegance, style and boldness in men's clothes in London since Oscar Wilde. The new wave of English dandyism started, most people agree, about five years ago. Young David Mlinaric, a designer, and one of the best dressed young men in London, thinks pop music had a good deal to do with it. ''The pop singers have the panache of the movie stars in the thirties. The pop singers and designers and film stars dress adventurously - and the others have followed them. Also, people today are more interested in young people than ever before - and they copy what the young people do.''

Patrick Lichfield, another of the best dressed young English men, thinks that the adventurousness of people's occupations has a lot to do with their clothes. He himself is an Earl, but he's also a photographer. ''Many people,'' he points out, ''are still stuck in environments like the city where conservative dress is absolutely required. But these days film stars, pop singers, hairdressers, photographers have all become respectable people. People like us can dress as we like: we can experiment. If a duke wandered into a cocktail party without a tie, people would find it odd, but if a film star did it, he'd be accepted. Presently, the duke might even follow suit.''

The revolution in men's clothes has even deeper roots than that. All the great periods of dandyism have occurred in periods of revolutionary upheaval in the pecking order of society. The Regency dandies followed the Napoleonic wars, a period when the monarchy and aristocracy were despised and a new middle class was beginning to emerge. The French wave of dandyism (strictly an import from England) followed the Revolution of 1830, again with a great levelling of social barriers. The Edwardian dandies followed the industrial revolution when the money and power structure shifted from the landed aristocracy to the new industrial magnates. The new dandies of today are living in an age when the caste system in England is breaking down at both top and bottom.

Like Nicholas Hilliard's Elizabethan dandy, today's dandy, Dennis Stansfield (above), looks effective in a rural setting. Stansfield, a 20-year old commercial artist, designs his own clothes and has a tailor in Tooting. His sister-in-law makes his shirts.

The greatest of all dandies, Beau Brummell, was the most scornful of men. (''You can't call that thing a coat?'') He had no title, no fortune, no professionnot even a carriage; he had nothing but a superb arrogance and assurance and presence; with these weapons alone he was copied, quoted, much feared, greatly respected, and wielded very real power. When the Prince Regent (who became George IV) broke with him, he remarked disdainfully of the future monarch: ''I made him what he is today and I can unmake him.'' This Brummellian scorn and self-assurance is very much a part of the make-up of the young pop set. The young film stars, photographers, models, designers and pop singers don't give a damn what their fathers or you or I or anyone else think of their far-out clothes or their far-out behaviour. Albert Camus has called the dandy the archetype of the human being in revolt against society. Almost always the dandy is thumbing his nose at the rest of the pack. The great Beau himself, some of his admirers think, was in the privacy of his own heart, mocking the very dandyism for which he was admired.

Lichfield, when I talked to him, had just come out of his dark-room, dressed casually in a polo-necked sweater and corduroy trousers. Lichfield looks well turned out in even the most casual clothes. ''Some people dress with flair alone.'' he says. I think Mlinaric is the best dressed man I know. Some of his effects are sheer audacity. I saw him one night in evening suit with a marvellous ruffled shirt. I admired it and he told me he'd just pinned some ruffles on a plain white shirt. It looked great.'' Lichfield admits he spends ''a fortune'' on his clothes, and says that some of his suits are total failures. ''I wear them two or three times, then never again.'' We toured his wardrobe. Twenty-six suits. ''I like brown suits very much.'' Many of today's young dandies like brown. ''Tweeds for the country.'' He showed a grey wooly one. ''I like big buckles.'' He showed me one immense silver one on a black belt. ''I think these buckles are going to be very fashionable. I love suede coats.'' He has four of varying cut. ''For shooting...'' He brought out a pair of bottle-green corduroy breeches. ''I've ordered all my gamekeepers to wear these.''

He opened a drawer packed with sweaters. ''I have a lot of polo-necked jerseys, mostly green and beige. They cost me a fortune in cleaning because you can only wear them two or three times. Now here's my most precious possession...'' He pulled out a pair of worn, patched and splendidly faded Levis. ''If the house was burning down, this is what I'd rescue first. The rest of my clothes can be replaced but it takes years of wear to get that lovely patina. American trousers are the only things I buy ready-made.'' He has 50 shirts, most of them custom-made from Harvie & Hudson at £6 apiece. When a shirt catches his fancy, he may buy one and ship it to Hong Kong to be copied by the dozen in silk. He has about 50 ties, many of the patterned pastel type which is very with it at the moment, but he also likes severely plain black knitted ties. He takes very good care of his clothes and is exasperated by people who don't. ''I know people who throw clothes on the floor that have cost them a fortune.'' He has an electric trouser-press in his bedroom which presses his trousers while he's in the bath (the jacket hangs itself out as part of the gadget). ''I haven't had a suit pressed since I left the Army — but cleaning costs me a fortune.'' I don't understand people who dress simply to keep warm,'' says Lichfield. ''A man should enjoy his clothes. He dresses to attract the girls —unlike the girls, who dress to impress one another. I have an idea all men dress to be sexy like cock pheasants in the mating season. I always dress more carefully the first time I take a girl out than the second. English girls, I think, are more adventurous in their tastes than girls of other countries and they admire adventurously dressed men.''

Among the most adventurous is Mlinaric. Standing in the immense square drawing-room of his Tite Street house (another great dandy, Oscar Wilde, lived in this street, a block away), Mlinaric was wearing a brown (he too, likes brown) double-breasted jacket that buttoned almost to the neck, the lapels edged in black, with short sleeves in order to display the cuffs of the shirt. His suits, he said, were getting more brightly coloured. His latest, of which he expected much, was cinnamon-coloured. ''Clothes are my greatest extravagance,'' he says. ''I feel very strongly about the way clothes are stitched. I'm tremendously interested in the best materials as well as the cut. I think a great many of the Carnaby Street clothes are very badly put together and of poor material.''

Ted Dawson, male model, spends about £500 a year on clothes. His wardrobe includes 100 ties, 75 shirts, 30 suits, 14 jackets.

Above: The wonderful Michael Rainey 25, who designed all the clothes for his boutique Hung On You, discusses ties with journalist Christopher Gibbs. (extreme right).

How well dressed are today's young men in comparison with the great dandies of the past? Hardly within whistling distance, I think. Max Beerbohm, the last of the dandies, wrote of Beau Brummell: ''Is it not to his fine scorn of accessories that we trace the first aim of modern dandyism, the production of the supreme effort through means the least extravagant? In certain congruities of dark cloth, in the rigid perfection of lines, in the symmetry of the gloves with the hands, lay the secret of Mr Brummell's miracle. He ever was most economical, most scrupulous of means.'' None of today's dandies lives up to these uncompromising standards (nor did Beerbohm). Brummell himself would have nothing but freezing contempt for Carnaby Street.

The real dandies buy their suits at Blades in Dover Street. Eric Joy, the partner and chief designer, has a good deal of Brummellian scorn for most of the cutters and designers of Savile Row and thinks all mens clothes designed between 1914 and 1960 were a wasteland of mediocrity. ''Up to five years ago, masculinity was to be a good rugger player,'' he says scornfully. ''I thought it was about time we designed a collection that made men look like men, not bloody Daleks.'' He haunted the Victoria and Albert Museum for ideas. Many of the jackets are the modified descendants of military uniforms which are in fact the ancestors of many great English men's suits.'' Rupert Lycett Green, proprietor of Blades, a bit of a dandy himself (though he denies it), lists as a barely adequate wardrobe for a well-dressed man: two dinner jackets (silk for summer, worsted for winter), with perhaps a velvet evening suit to boot; one grey suit; one black suit; a couple of working suits, both comfortable and elegant; a country suit of lightweight tweed; two light summer suits; one travelling grey suit; one crushproof traveling suit for air travel and trains; three overcoats (one dark evening coat, one tweedy raglan type for country, one short for motoring or town wear); at least two sports or odd jackets; half a dozen assorted slacks or odd trousers; 50 shirts and 50 ties. Blades is opening its own shop in New York soon, but design there will be severely modified. The extreme dandyism quite acceptable in London still has strong homosexual implications in New York, and in fact everywhere else. London is years ahead of the rest of the world in having got rid of the homosexual overtones of dandyism. Most of today's English dandies are blatantly heterosexual.

Above: Rupert Lycett Green, proprietor of Blades where the best beaux are dressed, is opening a new shop in New York soon, but designs will be severely modified.

Historically, dandyism has had a homosexual tint only since its last flowering in the nineties, and you can blame Oscar Wilde for that. Most of the earlier dandies were conspicuously hetero — certainly the Regency rakes were. Brummell himself was thought to be glacially indifferent to women and sex and totally immersed in himself. The Victorian attitude toward dandies and dandyism was laid down originally by Thomas Carlyle in ''Sartor Resartus''. Before ''Sartor Resartus'', dandyism had been reasonably respectable, even admirable. However, Carlyle's Scottish puritanism so changed the emotional climate toward dandyism that Edward Bulwer Lytton  eliminated whole passages of ''Pelham'', his very successful novel about a dandy. Ever since Carlyle's outburst, dandies have been considered figures of fun, and since Wilde's day, probably homosexual.  Remnants of the Victorian disapproval are still with us. A recent article by John Morgan  in the New Statesman dripped with scorn about the new wave of dandyism which he called ''tedious to the point of tears.'' ''I find it impossible,'' he wrote, ''to make any emphatic leap into the nature of young men who will demand 20 sittings at a tailor to be sure that the length of the vent is just so, that the trouser leg moves an inch bell-wise at the bottom.'' Morgan also states in his article '' No one suffers from elegance but from the prose it produces,'' stating clearly that any writing about dandyism is a bore. This simply isn't true. Dandies and dandyism have a long and honourable literary tradition, both as authors and as subjects of novels and plays, some good, some appalling, but almost all enormously popular. ''Pelham'' by Bulwer and ''Vivian Grey'' by Benjamin Disraeli (himself a great dandy) were enormously popular; both had dandies as heroes.

Dandyism was one of the principal preoccupations of Stendhal in ''The Red and The Black'', though his own attitude toward the dandies is contradictory. Balzac, who considered himself a dandy though no one else did. wrote ''La toilette est l'expression de la societé.'' His ''Comedie Humaine'' was full of dandies. Baudelaire was not only a dandy but also a philosopher of dandyism — ''La culte de soi-meme'', as he called it. The novels of Dickens and of Thackeray (who loathed dandies) are full of dandies and the cult of dandyism. Pinero's and Shaw's plays are larded with dandies, and Wilde's plays, of course, consist of nothing else. ''Dorian Gray'' was dandyism at its most decadent and it has helped immeasurably to give dandyism a bad name. Within the last three years, the winds of disapproval have begun to abate. There are temperamental similarities and at the same time great differences between today's dandies and the bucks of the Regency. Most important, the present crop are conspicuously doers of things, like film making, hairdressing or acting. They are notoriously energetic and ambitious. The Regency dandy —especially Brummell —considered any form of activity except clothes to be beneath them. Beau, again probably in pure mockery, considered even the forming of an opinion slightly wearisome. Once, when a visitor asked which of the English lakes he thought most beautiful, he called the servant in: ''Which of the lakes do I find most beautiful?'' Brummell's wit would be admired by some of the avant-garde film-makers. He was not a man of mot or epigram. A shrug, a lifted eyebrow, sometimes nothing but the memory of a known Brummellian attitude made their own silent but devastating witticisms. When you can be witty without words, why use them?

                              IMAGE CREDITS, LINKS & FURTHER READING
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from The Observer Magazine, May 1st, 1966. All photographs by Colin Jones from The Observer, *Except for photo No.6 Rainey/Gibbs an outtake of the original which I scanned from Boutique: A '60s Cultural Phenomenon by Marnie Fogg (purely to include the extra hand-painted tie which had been edited out of the magazine version), original article by John Crosby.  View some other examples of the return to dandyism in one of my previous posts, plus further examples of Blades tailoring and more here. You'll find a collection of Patrick Lichfield's 1960s photography work on Flickr. Read the transcript of a discussion about the future of the tailoring industry from a 1971 issue of The Tailor and Cutter, which includes some very sharp comments from the outspoken Eric Joy, partner/designer at Blades here, Further reading about The Eccentric Mr. Brummell here and more via the associated links on Dandyism.Net, where you will also find Dandies and Dandies By Max Beerbohm, (1896). Discover more about Sartor Resartus (meaning 'The tailor re-tailored') the 1836 novel by Thomas Carlyle, first published as a serial in 1833–34 in Fraser's Magazine, and you can read the aforementioned Chapter X. The Dandiacal Body here as well as Chapter XI. on Tailors. Check out Pelham; 'The adventures of a gentleman' by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  Watch The Picture of Dorian Gray, the 1945 film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel here for free. It has of course been adapted for film & tv many times, you'll find a review of Massimo Dallamano's 1970 version set in Swinging London over on Dreams Are What Le Cinema Is For. And finally, no matter what they say..Dandy, you're all right.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Breakaway to Ski - Simpson of Piccadilly 1969

A 1969 advertising feature for Simpson's of Piccadilly, to show their take on how ski-ing had turned from a mere sport into a 'bold new slant on the high life'. Simpson's department store, established by Alexander Simpson in 1936, was originally intended to serve as a flagship for the S. Simpson menswear brand, but a year after opening they designated the fourth floor of the incredible Joseph Emberton designed building to womenswear. The store was also the inspiration behind the television sitcom ''Are You Being Served?'' which was co-written by Jeremy Lloyd, who had worked there for a brief period in the 1950s before pursuing a career as a scriptwriter and actor. More images and further information available via the links at the end of the post.

                                                    Breakaway to Ski

The Palace Hotel is the grandiose temple of the St. Moritz scene and Simpson's the centre of fashion for the devotee. Unquestionably. At the Palace Bar on the Kings Club, the international ski world emphasises the strong accent on the apres. And listening to the cabaret, Aznavour or Francoise Hardy, perhaps, the snow outside seems a long way away. Until morning.

ABOVE: Après ski-coat: Black Acrylic fur with elasticised Polyamide waist, £60, from Simpson's of Piccadilly, London W.1. Accessories: All ski accessories, including skis, boots and goggles, to be found at Simpson's Breakaway shop.

His anorak: Burgundy, white trim 'wet-look' nylon £23. Also Black/White. Her tunic: White Acrylic fur with red Polyamide trimming; £26. All from the Breakaway shop at Simpson of Piccadilly, London W.1. Their cigarettes: 'St Moritz' the luxury light virginia cigarette with a touch of menthol.

RIGHT His dinner jacket: Black velvet; £28, His dress trousers: Black mohair and worsted; £13. Her dress and trousers; Silk satin snake print; £80 15s. His clothes from Trend. Her clothes from the Summer House, at Simpson of Piccadilly.

 ABOVE His Shirt: Grey and brown abstract print wool; £10. Her shirt: Embroidered beige cotton; £7 10s. Her trousers: Linen and cotton brown crushed velvet; £20. His clothes from Trend. Her clothes from the Summer House, at Simpson of Piccadilly. 

ABOVE: Her jump-suit; Black crepe rayon jersey; £47 5s. His clothes from Trend. Her clothes from the Summer House, at Simpson of Piccadilly.

                                                                 IMAGE CREDIT & LINKS
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from Queen Magazine 12th - 25th November 1969. Photographs by Vernon Stratton. All clothing from Simpson of Piccadilly. Discover more about the department store established by Alexander Simpson in 1936 here. Read about the heritage of Simpson's and visit the official Daks website here. Some fantastic images from Simpson's catalogues of the 1930s through to the 1970s on the excellent 'The Cutter and Tailor website, and you can also view film footage of the interior via The Observer fashion show, which took place at the store in 1968 here (no sound included with the clip unfortunately!). You'll find further information about the architect Joseph Emberton on Mid Century: The definitive guide to Modern furniture, interiors and architecture here. More about the wonderful Jeremy Lloyd here, and a clip from Smashing Time (1967), featuring Jeremy as music biz manager Jeremy Tove here.  Are You Being Served? Season 1 Episode 4 His and Hers featuring Joanna Lumley, who was married to Jeremy Lloyd in the early 1970s, and it was in fact Joanna who had suggested to him that he should write about his previous experience in retail. One from the international ski world's playlist: Francoise Hardy - Song of Winter (1969) here. And finally, next time that you're in Piccadilly, you can visit the site of the original Simpson shop (now a Grade I listed building), which today serves as the flagship store for Waterstones.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

La garde robe Dacron 70

A really pretty peasant/folkwear inspired collection by Dacron, which was available through Prisunic, the French department store chain, famed for its low cost products. It also got me thinking about some of my other favourite Dacron Polyester adverts from around the same period, particularly the commercials made for television and cinema viewers which were narrated by Ken Nordine, the American voiceover and recording artist best known for his series of Word Jazz albums. If you haven't seen them or heard of him yet, you're in for a treat on both counts via the two examples that I have included in this post. Lots more links to further information about Ken, as well as the Prisunic chain store at the end of the page too! 


                                  The Stranger - a 1971 Levi's commercial, narrated by Ken Nordine.

Yet another, animated psychedelic gem from Levi's, narrated by Ken Nordine. Check out the 'Dacron Polyester' whisper at approximately 0:26 seconds into the commercial.

                                           IMAGE CREDIT & LINKS

Image scanned from Elle Magazine 23rd February 1970 with thanks to Brad Jones, Photographer uncredited. Further information about the Prisunic retail outlets here, Discover more about the heritage of DuPont (manufacturers of Dacron) established in 1802 by E.I. du Pont here. Further reading about the rise and rise of manmade fibre in the excellent 'Nylon - The Manmade Fashion Revolution' by Susannah Handley, published by Bloombury Books in 1999 here. Visit Ken Nordine's Word Jazz Website here. View The Eye is Never Filled, the 90 minute film directed by Ken Nordine (2005), which sets a compilation of his "Word Jazz" performances to abstract images here. Stare With Your Ears - part 1 of a short documentary profiling the 'spoken word' of Ken Nordine here. And finally, some words of encouragement in these troubled times - I Want You to Know ''You're Getting Better'' - Ken Nordine here.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Jess Down - English Boy Ltd Model & Artist - Jackie Magazine interview, 1969.

I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Jess Down, Artist and former English Boy Ltd model. It's not difficult to see why he was in such demand, he's very easy on the eyes, although he didn't seem to be too enamoured with modelling as a profession in this interview from 1969....

Sam Meets The Goodlookers....

JESS DOWN is a male model. He also does interior decorating, painting, or anything else that interests. The day we met, he was planning to paint the walls at his office if there was nothing else to do. He is a tall, broad shouldered, serious young man with a pleasant, but rare, smile. Dressed in a red/brown suit, turquoise jumper and a hat because it was cold. He waved and said ''Hello'' to half the people that came in to the Kings Road coffee bar where we were sitting. In this area everyone knows him. This is where he works and relaxes and he lives nearby in the Cromwell road. Jess should have been a naval officer, he says. When he was 13, he went to a naval training school and then when he was 17, served six months on a training ship as midshipman. ''That was my father's idea, not mine so I bought myself out for £100 after six months.''

''After that I did lots of things. I worked in a shop, Smart Western, for eight weeks, in the store room checking things off. Then I got a job shifting scenery at the Palladium and from there I went to the Criterion. That sort of job is badly paid, so I became a waiter in a restaurant, where at least you get tips, and then I did anything that came up. I ended up in interior decorating and I still do a bit when I've got nothing else on. Then came modelling because I knew Mark Palmer who started the English Boy Model Agency, though it's been taken over by other people since then. Modelling is very unrewarding. You're just like a box of matches. Once you're struck that's it. It's all over. What I'd really like to do would be to have my own agency that dealt with re-touches and stylists. You can hire out an agency at £30 a day, but you've got to know enough art directors.''

He says that this is his aim, but Jess has no burning ambitions to be fulfilled. He doesn't plan the future and just likes to feel that he is doing something, and is associated with something that progresses. ''I don't want to be anything. I just occupy my time as best I know how. Whatever comes along, I take or I don't take, as the case may be. At the same time I keep up my living standards. It's not hard to pay the rent and the other things sort of accumulate. I've just spent quite a lot of money on sound equipment, but if you know the right way to go about it, you can always get a bargain.''  As he knows most of the people in his area, Jess manages to get discounts on clothes and even the speakers he bought for his gramophone came from someone who renovates equipment smashed by groups, so that was cheap, too. 

Jess lives in a three-room flat in Cromwell road. ''I like girls who can take care of themselves.'' he says. ''Girls who work and have their own independence and know their own minds, is what I want. I'm not particularly interested in glamour. We don't go out much as friends drop in. I go to a concert now and then, and I paint anything that comes into my head. I don't work regularly, usually during the day, not at night. It's better to relax at night when everyone else is relaxing; sleeping during the day seems to disrupt your whole body and mind.''

Apart from earning enough money to live and buy the few things he needs, he feels he needs to enjoy life. Jess seems more interested in the mind that the material things. His philosophy is first of all to understand himself before he can effectively help others. ''It's no use rebelling against the world or going down to Grosvenor Square protesting against something unless you do your bit inside yourself.''  He feels the best way to improve is through example, both through following other people's and setting one yourself.  He thinks example is the most powerful force. Jess also thinks that if everything you do and say is truthful, then nothing can harm you. ''You fall down on it again and again,'' he says, ''because there's no end to how you can improve.''

Our conversation ending on that philosophical note, I came to the conclusion that not much could be done to improve Jess, appearance-wise. Standing at the height of 6 feet 1½ inches, his chest measures 38 inches and his waist 30 inches. He describes his hair as ''light walnut'' and his eyes are a soft brown. While I floated from the cafe, he whispered intimately that he takes an 8 ½ inch shoe. Help!

                                                  Jess Down interview - Jackie Magazine, February 1969.

'English Manhood 1967' -  One of the publicity shots for the launch campaign of the English Boy Model Agency, founded by Sir Mark Palmer along with his partners Kevin Webb and Trisha Locke, who ran the business from premises which were located above Quorum Boutique. The agency's main aim was to offer a new kind of of male model - younger, slimmer, far more beautiful, dandified versions of what had gone before, who were in tune with what was happening on the street, and to raise the profile of the male model until it was on par with that of their female counterparts. Several well known faces about town as well as The Rolling Stones' guitarist Brian Jones, his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg and Christine Keeler, were also on the books. Jess Down is at the very back of the group shot above, on the right. Photograph: Ray Rathbone.

         Above:  Sir Mark Palmer, founder of the English Boy Model Agency, photographed in 1965 by Ron Traeger.

Left to Right: Jess Down, Rufus Potts-Dawson, Nigel Waymouth of Granny Takes a Trip and Amanda Lear. Photograph by Colin Jones, 1967.

Another outtake from the previous 1967 fashion shoot above, Jess Down on the right this time. Photograph by Colin Jones.                         


                                        Interview with Jess Down for The Sunday Times Magazine                                                                             

                                       IMAGE CREDITS & LINKS
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from the following publications, (1. & 2.) Jess Down interview - Jackie Magazine issue N0.268 February 22nd 1969, original interview by Sam, (Photographer uncredited), (3.) English Boy Ltd publicity photograph by Ray Rathbone 1967 - The Day of the Peacock Style for Men 1963-1973 by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross, (4.) Sir Mark Palmer by Ron Trager - The Day of the Peacock Style for Men 1963-1973 by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross, (5.) Photograph by Colin Jones 1967 - Boutique a 60s cultural phenomenon by Marnie Fogg, (6.) Photograph by Colin Jones 1967 - Sixties Source Book: a visual reference to the style of a decade by Nigel Cawthorne, Except (7.) Jess Down interview for The Sunday Times Magazine Supplement courtesy of the artist's website, You'll find some film footage of Jess modelling for Mark Palmer's English Boy Agency at approximately 45 seconds into this clip from the BBC documentary The Perfect Suit and again at around 3:50 here, Jess on the right in the yellow suit close by Grosvenor Square, a brace of unsquare bird fanciers boast a far-from-pedestrian look in 1970 on Flashbak. View some of my previous posts featuring Nigel Waymouth and Amanda Lear here & also here respectively. Further information about Sir Mark Palmer here, And finally, the begrudging comments about the long haired English Boy Agency models in the previous documentary clip brought this track from The Barbarians to mind.