Wednesday, 25 January 2017

La garde robe Dacron┃Elle Magazine (1970)

La Garde

 Robe Dacron


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 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 Bloomsbury 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 (1969)

Jess Down English Boy Ltd Model & Artist

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 in spite of his popularity, he didn't seem to be too enamoured with modelling as a profession in this interview from 1969....

Jess Down 1960s London

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 1960s model
Jess Down interview - Jackie Magazine, February 1969.

'English Manhood 1967'―One of the publicity shoots for the launch campaign of the English Boy Model Agency, founded by Sir Mark Palmer along with his partners Kelvin 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, and 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 such 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, next to Rufus Potts-Dawson. Photograph: Ray Rathbone.

Granny Takes a Trip 1960s

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

Granny Takes a Trip 1960s

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  


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 from The Day of the Peacock Style for Men 1963-1973 by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross. (4.) Sir Mark Palmer by Ron Trager from  The Day of the Peacock Style for Men 1963-1973 by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross. (5.) Photograph by Colin Jones 1967 from Boutique a 60s cultural phenomenon by Marnie Fogg. (6.) Photograph by Colin Jones 1967 from  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 Jess Down's  websiteYou'll find some film footage of Jess modelling for Mark Palmer's English Boy Agency in this clip from the BBC documentary The Perfect Suit. Jess can also be seen modelling the yellow suit in the first photograph (January, 1970) via this post on Flashbak. View some of my previous posts featuring Nigel Waymouth and Amanda Lear and The London Scene (1969). Further information about Sir Mark Palmer. The Former English Boy Ltd model, now artist, Rufus Potts Dawson. And finally, the begrudging comments about the long-haired English Boy Agency models in the previous BBC documentary clip brought this track from The Barbarians to mind.

Monday, 16 January 2017

New York┃Fashion's Golden City (1967)

New York

Fashion's Golden City

Most other fashion industries of the world rely for solvency on the American store buyer: New York itself can import the best from Paris, London and Rome, and exacts the utmost in professionalism from her own fashion industry. The enormous demand in rich America has made New York the financial centre of world fashion, considers Cherry Twiss.

MINI-SKIRTED velvet doublet and orange hose photographed at the Electric Circus. Note: This particular photograph was chosen as the magazine cover shot for the seven page fashion report from New York contained within, but apart for the previous brief description which I found in the contents section, there were no other details included about it. However, I'm pretty sure that it is the work of the designer Diana Dew, which was available from the boutique at the Electric Circus. I've uploaded an illustrated example of her design from a print advert for the Electric Circus Store below, also from December 1967.

Muttonchop Dress in brown crepe and brown velvet by Diana Dew, available from the boutique at the Electric Circus, December 1967.

THE STRAIGHT SHIFT—another New York basic—is given a bosom-revealing top, by Rudi Gernreich, the originator of the topless swimsuit. A transparent caramel silk crepe bodice joins a lined wool skirt crepe skirt. Its lines are almost as pure as those of the suspension wires scanning the skyline of Brooklyn Bridge (Most shops ordered this dress with the bodice lined).

RUDI GERNREICH is so highly thought of that his clothes are donated to museums of modern art in the United States. This short silk apron dress, above, by him, the apron in a contrasting print, is supported by some of the ever-increasing youth of the Puerto Rican section of Harlem.

NEW YORK fashion is personified by the dazzling pink crepe dress above — dead simple and an obvious choice for the casually chic. It was designed by Leo Narducci, who specialises in the middle price range. It is coolly at home even in this no-women, no-whites atmosphere of a Harlem pool-room. The ''little dress'' is an American forte.

Electric Circus, New York

THE CONSPICUOUS EAST frames the long printed silk crepe shift above by Oscar de la Renta, the newest star in the New York design firmament. His design holds it's own with the ultra-violet lighting and psychedelic murals of the Electric Circus, New York's swingiest discotheque, in the East Village. The stimulants are drugs — the Circus is strictly non-alcoholic. The constantly changing colour films projected on ceilings and walls — stretched with jersey stockinette — and flickering strobe lighting give the illusion of being ''turned on''. Note Although uncredited in the magazine, I believe this to be a photograph of the Electric Circus mural artist 'Louis Delsarte' alongside the model, surrounded by his work on the stairway to the entrance of the club.

TUNIC AND SHORTS above, in wool, are by Oscar de la Renta, and typify the present classic's-can-swing trend of New York clothes. De la Renta's clothes are worn by the '''best dressed'' set, who like the Europeanised approach. These were photographed in the easy-going atmosphere of a Sunday game of boule in the Italian district.

MINI CULOTTES, above, by sportswear manufacturers like Ginori have invaded the American scene. Designed in brown twill, this whole outfit, from gaucho hat to the thigh boots, is clearly influenced by London. Only a confident pedestrian would take as background the intertwined overpasses of highways to and from Manhattan, the nerve centre of New York.

THE SHIRT DRESS, the New York classic stand-by, is softened and romanticised, above, by Donald Brooks in white organza strewn with organza tulips. The wind-blown look was caused by the arrival of of the half-hourly helicopter from John F. Kennedy Airport on the roof of the Pan American building, towering majestically over Park Avenue in the heart f New York. This service, scheduled to connect with Pan Am flights, speeds travel-worn passengers between airport and city centre in minutes.

AMERICANISED KIMONO, above, was designed by Chester Weinberg, whose clothes are an essential buy for hundreds of upper-income shoppers throughout the states. His reputation is based on his ability to create truly American designs out of ideas from all over the world. Doubly stating this dress's Americanisation is the blatantly Broadway atmosphere of the Fun City night-club, where scantily clad showgirls frug incessantly in large windows on the corner of Broadway and Times Square.

All images scanned by Sweet Jane from The Daily Telegraph Magazine, December 8th 1967, from an original editorial by Cherry Twiss, all photographs by Horn/Griner. Hair throughout is by Marc Sinclair of New York, Jewellery by Ken Lane and Sant Angelo, Shoes by David Evans, Golo, Hebert Levine and I. Miller, Stockings by Bewitching, Make-up by Revlon, Gloves and scarves by Sant Angelo, model uncredited. You can view one of my previous posts which also featured the Electric Circus as the backdrop to a fashion shoot here and discover more about it's creator Jerry Brandt here, and on The Bowery Boys: New York City History blog here, there are several posts about the club and various other New York venues on the excellent ''It's All The Streets You Crossed Not So Long Ago' blog as well as 'what can be retrieved from the Grateful Dead's weekend at the Electric Circus and an attempt to look at the club itself' here. Discover further information about 'Louis Delsarte' the artist who painted the murals inside the club and on the stairway featured in the photograph above on his website. Another iconic and long lost St Marks Place landmark in the form of the Limbo St Marks boutique "the East Village clothier of the 'tuned-in' generation." here, And finally, some rare psychedelic footage filmed inside the Electric Circus club here.