Wednesday, 6 February 2019

A Boy's Slant on Boy's Fashion | Thirties Gangster Style┃Just Dennis Rave Magazine (1966)


    JUST DENNIS         

I've always enjoyed reading through the 'Just Dennis' page in Rave magazine―a regular monthly style feature focusing on male fashion, which lasted approximately 18 months in total, from January 1966 to the Summer of 1967, and was then superseded by a similar feature written by Johnny Rave. Although relatively short-lived, it's an interesting and useful insight into the constantly changing trends in British menswear design during one of its most prolific periods. And in spite of the fact that it was limited to only one page, or sometimes two at most, it still managed to pack quite a lot of information into each issue. Just Dennis covered all of the angles―style, design detail, fabrics and colour range, he also put a lot of focus on accessories, along with snippets of 'insider' fashion news and any current or upcoming trends which had caught his attention. The feature was always accompanied by a photograph of him modelling the outfits, and occasionally, there was just enough space left for an illustration!  It may be concise, but it truly is a great visual record and an accurate account of the selection available on the rails from month to month across the various London boutiques, many of whom you may have heard of previously such as John Stephen, Take 6, Lord John, Irvine Sellars, and Austin Reed's Cue etc, but, it's also an invaluable record of others that are less well known. For instance, Gentry Male, at 23 New Street in Covent Garden (currently a hat shop), or 'Exit West Two' at 8 Spring Street, London W2, launched sometime in late 1966, which is one I hadn't heard of. I also like the fact that so many of the items he chose were from London boutiques who offered a postal shopping service, which meant that the latest looks could also be achieved by those living outside the capital or abroad, further enhancing Rave's status as 'Britain's most influential young magazine'. 

Just Dennis Rave Magazine 1960s

RAVEBritain's most influential young magazine! The magazine was published the last week of each month by George Newnes Limited. The subscription rate, including postage for one year to any part of the world, was  £1, 16s. 6d.  



This particular feature below is from the December 1966 issue, and as the year draws to a close we find young Dennis channeling a 1930s Chicago gangster look...perhaps even frequenting the newly launched Speakeasy Club which opened that very same month! And all of this predates the cinema release of the highly influential Arthur Penn directed Bonnie and Clyde, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beattya biographical film about the exploits of the notorious Barrow Gang's two-year crime spree during the Depression era, which didn't open in the UK until September 1967, but was undoubtedly the catalyst that propelled the 1930s revival into the mainstream, resulting in a full-blast return to '30s styles inspired by the costumes designed by Theadora Van Runkle...and the effect was global! In one particular case, causing the demand for the production of traditional French berets to immediately increase from 5,000 to 12,000 per week shortly after it was released, even though 'the thirties trend' had obviously been gathering momentum for quite some time prior to this. In fact, Dennis had first mentioned it twelve months earlier in his initial fashion feature for the magazine back in January '66, in which he modelled a French influenced, double-breasted 1930-ish style suit and overcoat, both from Adam, W.1., Kingly Street, London, W.1.

By January 1967, he reports that ''Ravers in London are now wearing genuine Demob suits!'' and that some three-piece ones were available for £10 each from Mel Wheeler of The 38, at 38 Church Street, London NW8. Evidently, the abundance of Demobilisation suits issued to soldiers as they re-entered civilian life at the end of WW2 had finally filtered down to the second-hand clothing market, and apparently some ex-servicemen had complained first time round that the pin-striped suits made them look like old-time gangsters! So, maybe it was just down to the influence of the second-hand and antique trade filtering through, it seems plausible that the availability of genuine vintage items contributed to the inspiration behind the origins of the trend. Especially when considering that designer Ossie Clark had begun buying vintage 1930s dresses from Portobello Market and experimenting with the bias cut associated with that era as far back as 1965, I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet opened in December 65, and the lease on the premises which would become Granny Takes a Trip―the King's Road boutique which initially sold vintage clothing, had been acquired just before Christmas that very same year.

But i'd still like to know if there were any other factors involved, such as a popular play, book, news article, personality, or perhaps a film retrospective or related anniversary of some kind. The only cinema releases in a similar vein from the year that I can connect it to are Young Dillinger (Dir. Terry Morse - 1965)―a gritty, low budget gangster film, depicting the early life of 1930s American gangsters, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson; The Cincinnati Kid (Dir. Norman Jewison - 1965) starring Steve McQueen as a young, 1930s depression-era poker player; or the two Jean Harlow biopics about the life of the 1930s Hollywood movie star (one directed by Alex Segal, the other by Gordon Douglas)...although how much of an impact (if any) that they had on British cinema-going audiences, I can't say. Either way, it's really interesting to see the progression of the trend as it evolved, from the barrows (no pun intended) into the boutiques, because I've always considered it to be one of the great fashion revivals and have often wondered exactly how, when and where it originated. As for Dennis, I'm not sure what became of him, he was always referred to as Rave 'artist' Dennis (no surname). However, I have noticed that towards the end of 1967, shortly after the demise of the Just Dennis feature, a new section appeared on the Editor's page, which listed the Rave staff―and there, amongst the other names, is a Dennis Barker - Assistant Art Editor, so it's possible that they are one and the same.


Sweet Jane blog: Just Dennis Rave Magazine (1966)

Dennis is wearing a freaky silk shirt from Michael's Man Boutique, Kings Road, Chelsea, London, S.W.3. His, is in turquoise, but he says that the gold ones look terrific too. Price 69s. 11d.  Available by post.

Kipper tie in kinky paisley is from Gentry Male boutique, 23 New Row, London, W.C.2. Price 17s. 6d. Available by post.

Smart suit called 'Capone' is from Take 6 boutique, Wardour Street, London, W.1. In a medium grey with a wide, white pin-stripe. There are loops for a two-inch wide belt on the trousers,which can be bought with or without turn-ups. Price 12 gns, also available by post.

Golf shoes (without the spikes of course) are by Dunlop. Available to order from Lillywhites, Piccadilly Circus, London, W.1., price £5 19s. 6d.

The genuine old gramophone is from Kleptomania, Kingly Street, London W.1., it's in perfect working order and cost £17. Smaller ones are cheaper,the record is a groovy party disc of the Charleston, a real hit at 2s. 6d. A 1930 original by the way!

The aforementioned Kleptomania Boutique, at 10 Kingly Street, photographed a year later in 1967. This was Tommy Roberts' first boutique, which he opened in the summer of 1966 with his wife Mary and partner Charlie Simpson. The shop initially tapped into the second-hand market, selling an eclectic mix of paraphernalia from bygone eras, such as the 1930s gramophone in the Just Dennis style feature above. The stock itinerary also included an assortment of Victorian oddments and curiosities, from What The Butler Saw Mutoscope machines to Penny Farthing bicycles. As well as 1920s candlestick telephones, old military uniforms, posters, police capes, and Chinese opium pipes, but as the business progressed, they began to introduce hippie beads, bells, and brand new stock from young and upcoming designers, meanwhile, the customising of second-hand garments and the introduction of a line of kitsch slogan printed t-shirts and accessories would gradually move the boutique towards the eventual manufacture of their own label.


If you take a closer look at the Kleptomania Boutique window display in the previous photograph, you'll note that an Afghan waistcoat takes centre stage―yet another extremely popular fashion trend which had been on the rise since 1966 when the first of the jackets were imported into London by Craig Sams and sold through boutiques such as Granny Takes a Trip. 

The Purple Gang, dressed in gangster gear, pose for a photo outside Granny Take's a Trip 488 King's Road in 1967, to promote their first single, also named Granny Take's a Trip. In the background, is one of the boutiques most popular facadesa pop-art portrait of 1930s movie star Jean Harlow, painted by Nigel Waymouth and Michael Mayhew. 



◼︎ Now appearing in Austin Reed shops are art nouveau ties by Martin Battersby. The designs are more authentic than most―not surprising because Martin Battersby is a leading authority on art nouveau, and is reputed to have one of the largest collections in the country. The ties are in gorgeous colours and he has also done a range of wide-bottomed gangster ties for Austin Reed's Cue boutiques. Worth a look, and if you're ever in Brighton you can see all the scarves and ties he makes in his own shop in Brighton's Lanes.

◼︎ Look round the ex-army surplus stores for suede mosquito boots. They're very cheap and you'll need them this winter!

◼︎ Some of the most exciting belts I've seen recently are at a new boutique called Exit West Two at 8 Spring Street, London, W.2. They're in three-inch wide coloured elastic with unusual buckles. Price 23s. 6d. Plenty of decorative watch straps to match, too!

◼︎ Remember we told you about the crazy possibilities of braiding on jackets? Keith Richards has had one made up with braiding on the lapels and round the edge!

◼︎ New idea from Paul's Boutique, Carnaby Street, London, W.1. They're selling mini shift dresses for the girls, and shirts for the boys in matching floral patterns! Dresses 8 gns., shirts 5 gns.

◼︎ For the wild extrovert, Gentry Male boutique have a range of paisley raincoats at 15 gns.

◼︎ Crepon is still the thing in shirts, and you can now get stripy ones from Adam W.1., Kingly Street, London, W.1.


Two more items from the December feature caught my eye...firstly, the description of the Martin Battersby hand-painted art nouveau and kipper ties intrigued me. I've been an admirer of Martin's work for a long time, his book on Art Deco Fashion (French Designers 1908-1925) originally published by Academy Editions Ltd. in 1974, is one of my personal favourites. The ties were available from Austin Reed's Cue boutiques, and also from his own retail outlet―Sphinx Studios Boutique, located in Prince Albert Street, Brighton, from the early 1960s to 1971. And secondly, he mentions a bespoke braided jacket as worn by Keith Richards―I've gone through several Rolling Stones books and record sleeves looking for photographic evidence, and taking into account the timeframe, it should show up somewhere around the release of Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?, Let's Spend the Night Together or perhaps Ruby Tuesday, but I haven't found anything that quite fits the details yet. 

A page from Art Deco Fashion, French Designers 1908-1925 by Martin Battersby, published by Academy Editions (1974). One of the few, but excellent, representations of menswear contained within the book. View an original colour print of the Edouard Halouze illustration.


Past the undertaker's 'front'...then through the 'wardrobe'

Above: The NME's Norrie Drummond takes you to London's latest in-place! A full page feature on The Speakeasy, originally published in May 1967.  The club, located at 48 Margaret Street (just off Oxford St), had opened six months earlier in December 1966, and was hugely popular with the music business set―managers, agents, pop stars and journalists were all part of the regular clientele, well known patrons were far too many to mention, but included Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon. The Speakeasy's 'Undertaker's Parlour' decor at the entrance to the club proper, took inspiration from the speakeasies which came into prominence in the United States during the Prohibition era (1920-1933), when the importation, production, transportation, and ultimately the sale of any alcoholic beverage was in operation. The ban had been introduced as an attempt to curb the effects of alcohol abuse in American society, but it wasn't long before illegal drinking establishments flourished, often fronted under the guise of some innocuous business or other, many of which were operated by those with connections to the criminal underworld. 


Above: Co-managers Roy Flynn and Mike Carey relax with guests, overlooked by the portrait of Al Capone specially painted for The Speakeasy by Barry Fantoni. (May, 1967). The club opened Seven nights a week.  Monday-Saturday it opened at 10pm, drinks were served until 3am, and the club closed around 4am. Membership cost four guineas per year, and admission was 10 s. most nights.

Detail from the front desk at the entrance to the The Speakeasy, 48 Margaret Street, London. You can view a short piece of colour film which clearly shows The Speak's decor, including the coffin desk, mirrored wardrobe door, the dance floor, the stage area, and Barry Fantoni's portrait of Al Capone via this British Pathe Newsreel footage from 1967.

Alan Fitch, the manager of I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet, 293 Portobello Road, London, wearing an original pin-striped demob suit (1966).

''This here's Miss Bonnie Parker. I'm Clyde Barrow. We rob banks.'' Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in a scene from Bonnie and Clyde, Directed by Arthur Penn (1967). Costumes for the film designed by Theadora Van Runkle.

   Todays Raves! Rave Magazine, December 1967.

An article by Nick Richards on 'The Thirties Trend' in London, for Intro Magazine, December 9th 1967four months after the release of Bonnie and Clyde in UK cinemas. It's interesting to note that he says the trend had launched the previous Winter, so, it definitely began at the end of 1965 into 1966. But as for it 'dying a cold death'...perhaps not entirely, because according to Just Dennis in Rave's April 1967 free fashion supplement, it was still happening at that point in time, and he also predicted in the same issue that ''the Chicago of the 30s gear will stay around, though there won't be quite such a touch of the Al Capone''. So, merely a brief hiatus during the 'Summer of Love' before it came back stronger than ever in the Autumn/Winter of 1967. 

Iain Quarrier in gangster-style attire for his role in Separation (Dir. Jack Bond), produced in 1967, but released in 1968.  The double-breasted pin-striped suit, and all other clothing worn in the film were supplied by Take 6, the very same boutique which supplied the 'Capone' suit, as worn by Just Dennis in the Rave magazine feature. It may also be of some interest to note that the wardrobe of Jane Ardenthe female co-star and writer of the film, came from Granny Take's a Trip, Quorum, The Carrot on Wheels, and Deliss.   

  Print advert,  Intro Magazine,  December 1967.


The visual appeal of Bonnie and Clyde continues into the following year, five months after the release of the film, as seen in this full-page poster from the back cover of Intro Magazine, January 1968. 

A 1930s Bonnie and Clyde influenced illustration, Petticoat Magazine, 1968. Artist uncredited.

A look inspired by the film Bonnie and Clyde. Photograph by F.C. Gundlach, Hamburg, 1968. Models Gundrun Bjarnadottir and Patrick Deroulede.  

Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot channelling the spirit of the ill-fated lovers Bonnie and Clyde in a duet written by Gainsbourg, originally released on Fontana Records in 1968. The lyrics of which, borrowed heavily from 'The Trails's End', a poem by the outlaw Bonnie Parker, penned just weeks before she and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed in a stolen Ford Deluxe on an isolated highway near Bienville Parish, Louisiana, by law enforcement officers on May 23rd, 1934. 

Yet another look inspired by the film Bonnie and Clyde, Photo by F.C. Gundlach, Hamburg 1968.

The back cover of Johnny Hallyday's L'Histoire De Bonnie And Clyde (1968), but this particular pressing of the EP was released in France in 1969. Photo by Tony Frank.

Johnny Hallyday performing L'Histoire De Bonnie And Clyde, along with Sylvie Vartan (1968).


A greeting card designed by Jan Pieńkowskifounder of Gallery Five (1968), based on Warren Beatty's portrayal of Clyde Barrow.

Gangsters by Valstar, a Print advert from Honey Magazine, 1967, (artist uncredited). View another example of an advertisement for the Gangsters range by Valstar in one of my previous posts, also from 1967.

Detail from a 1930s inspired make-up advertisement campaign by Woolworths, 1968. You can view the entire Woolworths Baby Doll Make-up advert here.

Sweet Jane blog Carnaby Street Fashion 1960s

The trend for Bonnie and Clyde attire is captured perfectly in this illustration by Malcolm English for Carnaby Street, by Tom Salter (1970).

All images scanned by Sweet Jane from the following publications (1.) Rave Magazine mastheads from my personal collection. (2.) Just Dennis, Rave Magazine December 1966. (3.) Kleptomania Boutique, 10 Kingly Street (1967) from Tommy Roberts: Mr Freedom, British Design Hero by Paul Gorman. (4.) The Purple Gang outside Granny Takes a Trip from The Look - Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion by Paul Gorman. (5.) Edouard Halouze illustration from Art Deco Fashion - French Designers 1908-1925, by Martin Battersby, Published by Academy Editions (1974). (6. & 7.) The New Musical Express, May 1967. (8.) Detail from the Speakeasy cash desk, a screenshot from the linked Pathe footage. (9.) I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet, 293 Portobello Road, London (1966) from Swinging Sixties Fashion in London and Beyond 1955-1970, V&A Publications, Photograph © Onno Bernsen/Caroline Gilles. (10.) Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway from The King of Carnaby Street The Life of John Stephen by Jeremy Reed. (11.) Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Rave Magazine December 1967. (12.) Iain Quarrier in gangster-style attire, a screenshot from from Separation (Dir. Jack Bond 1968). (13.) Felt Gangster Hat print advert Intro Magazine December 1967. (14.) Warren Beatty Intro Magazine January 1968. (15.) 1930s Bonnie and Clyde illustration, Petticoat magazine 1968 from Lifestyle Illustration of the Sixties, Published by Fiell. (16.& 17.Bonnie and Clyde Photographs by F.C. Gundlach Fashion Photography 1950-1975, Published by Taschen. (18.) Johnny Hallyday's L'Histoire De Bonnie And Clyde original 45 rpm from personal collection. (19.) Gallery Five Card 1968 from Pop! Design, Culture, Fashion 1956-1975. (20.) Gangsters by Valstar 1967 from Lifestyle Illustration of the Sixties, Published by Fiell. (21.) Woolworths Baby Doll Make-up detail from Rave Magazine, May 1968. (22.) Bonnie and Clyde illustration from Carnaby Street by Tom Salter, Published by Margaret and Jack Hobbs (1970).

View other examples of Just Dennis for Rave Magazine in some of my previous posts: Whatever Happened to Stephen Topper & Topper Shoes Carnaby Street? and also Just Dennis: A boy's angle on boys' fashion - Rave Magazine (1966). Edward Mann's Gangster and Moll Collection for Spring (1966). Bonnie - Fashion's New Darling (1968). The Bonnie and Clyde Style―the talk of 1968! More from Kleptomania 22 Carnaby Street via Rave Magazine (1968). A must read! ➽ Bonnie and Clyde Looking go0d while robbing banks!The costume designs of Theadora Van Runkle. The artist Martin Battersby & The History of 36 Sussex Square! Discover more about The Speakeasy, where The Who could drink easy, pull easy and pay a visit to the The Speak's Facebook Group page. Let's not forget the influence of the French New Wave―Le Goût du crime: Notes on Gangster Style in New-Wave Paris: Part I and Part II, see also French Gangster Style: Tough Guys & Existential Assassins, and Borsalino (1970). The Real Scarface: Al Capone (Full Documentary). And finally, the fascination with prohibition-era gangster style shows up again ten years later in the charming Bugsy Malone (1976)a world of gangsters, showgirls, and dreamers! 


  1. What a post Sweet Jane ! My head is swimming with questions and comments, but I'll start off with (no conferring) with "Where does Brian Jones pinstripe gangster suit fit in this timeline ? And wasn't it made by John Pearse ?"

  2. Thanks Kosmo! Brian certainly loved his pinstripe suits..shame on me for leaving him out of this one...I think he'd fit in here around November 1966 (you know that Men in Vogue shoot by Michael Cooper, with Anita, the one where she chose the clothes). I'm sure i've read somewhere that she said all the clothes were bought over in New York? (except for the shoes, which were from Carnaby St...possibly Toppers?)..Shall have to confer to confirm after all 😉

  3. According to IMDB filming took place October 1966 through January 1967, so Brian and Anita had their fingers on the pulse. I read somewhere that the film was originally to be directed by Truffaut, so the script and talk of the flick must have been floating around at least Paris and Hollywood (probably London too) earlier in 1966.

    1. Most definitely, those two were always ahead of the pack! They probably did hear something on the grapevine, apparently the script was floating around for a long time before it went into production...I think about 4 years. l listened to a BBC Radio 4 piece about it a couple of years ago on the 50th Anniversary, they had one of the scriptwriters on, he said that himself and his partner were Truffaut fans, and wrote the screenplay with him in mind, they sent it to him and he was interested, but he went ahead with Fahrenheit 451 instead (although he still had some input on one of the scenes..Bonnie's poetry scene 'The story of Bonnie and Clyde' which he dictated to them completely). They passed it on to Goddard after Truffaut, who fell out with the then took them ages to get it made, didn't get going again until Warren Beatty bumped in Truffaut in Paris and it came up in conversation. I'm still wondering about that pinstripe suit of Brian's seems unusual that Anita declined to mention the name of the actual tailor in that 1966 Vogue feature, instead just saying that she bought it in New York? Maybe it was a ploy to throw others off the trail..otherwise they'd trot down to his tailor to have one made too!


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