Here’s the Naked Suit we made with Spencer Tunick for British Esquire on the cover of Christopher Breward’s fascinating The Suit, which is being published in April by Reaktion Books and looks at the story and significance of this most familiar and, in our view, aesthetically and practically perfect garment.
The book – co-written with Denise Hung and with some very nice pictures by Elodie – explores how we are what we eat mentally as well as physically, with each of the twenty chapters devoted to a specific mood.
We particularly like the scallops with cauliflower, fennel and saffron (right), which appear in the chapter entitled Selfish. Not a repast that we would want to share.
Available from Amazon and other discerning stockists.
Dress-down Friday has never really taken off in the Congo.
The Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes (The Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People) or Les Sapeurs of both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring Brazzaville-Congo have much better things to be getting on with. A civil, peace loving people in a horribly war torn part of the world, this unique body of men offers a dandified masterclass in dignity.
The history of Les Sapeurs can be traced back to the influence of the French colonisation of the Congo in the early part of of the 20th Century and, in particular, 1922 when one Grenard André Matsoua, a native Congolese, returned from a trip to Paris dressed as the nattiest, most outré Frenchman ever. Needless to say, his appearance was greeted with much enthusiasm and quickly copied, and so was born the first Grand Sapeur.
Now, as then, Sapeurs-style is all about flamboyance though, curiously, it is not without constraints: not more than four colours (including white) should be worn at once. And by contrast, while Les Sapeurs of Brazzaville more than like a splash of colour, those of Kinshasa prefer a subtler, more monochrome look.
At the same time that punk was getting too bloated and boorish and blowing itself out, a theatrical costumiers called Charles Fox had a bit of a clean-out and in doing so inadvertently played its part in creating one of the most sartorially dazzling subterranean scenes ever witnessed.
London’s clubs of the late 70s represented a fantasy world of fun and flamboyance that was all about escaping the grey gloom of Britain’s recession. Anything went and the immaculately and resourcefully presented habitués of places like Blitz, Billy’s, Hell and St. Mortiz needed no encouragement in putting Charles Fox’s unwanted Regency dandy, Roman centurion and Victorian sweep and the like get-ups to good use.
Art Director and photographer Graham Smith and Chris Sullivan (Blue Rondo à la Turk, Le Kilt) were there and it is their pictures and words that make this book a genuinely fascinating inside look at a unique time.
Phil Oakley in Richard James for Jas Tang’s forthcoming book on creative folk
Here’s lighting maestro and cobbler extraordinaire (he says he fashioned the shoes above by sewing Richard James fabric onto an existing pair) Phil Oakley as he will shortly be seen in Jas Tang‘s forthcoming and as yet untitled book about singularly creative folk
Save for the hat, that’s all Richard James he’s wearing.
More from Jas’s book when it’s published at the end of the year.
Phil Oakley and hounds in sunny Hastings by Jas Tang
Sade performs at Live Aid – Wembley Stadium, 13th July 1985
British GQ editor Dylan Jones’s The Eighties: One Day, One Decade is an enjoyable and enlightening look back at a watershed era using Live Aid – that one day, July 13th 1985, bang in the middle of the decade when pop performed as one to feed Ethiopia – and its performers as a means to explore the issues of the age. For example, Paul Weller’s Style Council neatly leads us to Margaret Thatcher, Red Wedge and the miners’ strike and, sadly, Freddie Mercury to the tragedy of AIDS.
Jones was at Wembley for Live Aid and of that and the concurrent concert in Philadalephia there is some wonderful stuff that won’t be lost on fans of This Is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner’s brilliant 1984 music biz mockumentary of the same period: David Bowie planned to duet with Mick Jagger from a space shuttle, Status Quo’s Francis Rossi described the performance as “No different to me than any other gig. I had already done a gram of coke and half a bottle of tequila before we went on stage,” and Paul Weller told George Michael, “Don’t be a wanker all your life. Have a day off.”
Of course, Saint and soon-to-be ‘Sir’ Bob Geldof was the man who made it all happen, cajoling the acts to perform for nothing and the people to “give us your fucking money”, which, embracing the Thatcherite ethos of small government and individual responsibility, changed charity forever and can surely be blamed for the urban nightmare that is the chugger. These days we give and are expected to give as a matter of course, which isn’t altogether a bad thing.
And then there was the effect that Live Aid and its astonishing global audience of 2 billion had on the acts. Pop music – witness the recent London Olympics’ and Queen’s Jubilee concerts – is now a part of mainstream culture and more the soundtrack of the establishment than anything to do with hoping to die before you get old. Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Sade (the only female act at Wembley, weirdly), Madonna, Duran Duran… Twenty-eight years on and into middle-age and beyond, it’s remarkable how many of those that came together to feed the world were inadvertently given a new lease of life of their own and are still at it.
As the author says, Live Aid was “a weird anomaly of a day that set in motion a series of events that had such a huge effect on our lives that sometimes those effects appear incidental, often imperceptible”.
BLITZ appeared in the early eighties and documented the decade that saw the rise of the stylist and fashion making its way out of the clubs and into the mainstream. The birth of British fashion as it is now, really.
The Face and i-D were the other two style magazines of the time but they, in turn, were always a bit more interested in music and what was going on on the street. BLITZ kept its eye on the higher, more glamourous ground.
Iain R Webb was BLITZ’s fashion editor from 1982-1987 and in his fascinating As Seen in BLITZ: Fashioning ’80s Style (ACC EDITIONS) he has revisited and brought together over one hundred of his fashion features from the time and added previously-unseen archive content, original images and tear-sheets. Marvel at Comme Des Garcons, Jasper Conran, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Katharine Hamnett (who first exhibited alongside in Richard in Paris in 1987, the year that he redefined the Savile Row suit) and more.
Richard’s latest addition to our bookshelves and a neat lead-in to the V&A’s forthcoming From Club to Catwalk exhibition.
Pyjamarama - Rod Stewart in Rolling Stone Images of Rock & Roll (Little, Brown)
A study in gentlemen’s bed-head chic.
Tired of ‘cheesecake’ pictures, Rod Stewart appeared in a pair of pyjamas that his old mum had just bought him for this portrait taken by Ian Dickson at the Royal Garden Hotel, London in 1974 for another book on our shelves: Rolling Stone Images of Rock & Roll (Little, Brown; 1995).
It’s not a standard service, but contact the Bespoke shop if you’re interested in a pair of bespoke pyjamas or two (made with all the know-how that goes into a bespoke Savile Row suit) in whichever of our many, many exquisite cotton poplin shirtings takes your fancy.
And (see below), talking about other uses for cotton poplin shirting, we also have a limited number of very nice, light, ready-to-wear dressing gowns.
Richard’s latest addition to our bookshelves: London In The Sixties by Rainer Metzger (Thames & Hudson), a rare, unsentimental, outsider’s perspective of the decade that continues to define our home city.
The book is the latest in a beautifully illustrated series on cities and their dynamic moments (‘twenties Berlin, Paris between the wars…), that German historian Metzger has contributed to.
London in the Sixties by Rainer Metzger (Thames & Hudson)