Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The King of Carnaby Street | Mod Man

My one-month stint in London in the summer of 2004 gave me the perfect reason to begin researching the impetus of the peacock revolution in men’s fashion that swept the streets of the West End in the mid 1960s. The commercial center of it all was Carnaby Street, where any young mod could find the look that was changing the face of fashion at the time. For the boys, the look meant androgyny and challenge by way of a super skinny sillouette, long hair, floral prints and heels.

The ring leader of this look was John Stephen, later deemed the “King of Carnaby Street.” His flawless taste and polished business savvy allowed him to open a stream of stores that catered to the masses in search of London’s new sense of cool. By the end of the nineteen sixties, his reign was established and his idea to give young men something new was a giant success.

Stephen himself is reported to be a conservative dresser. Donning only a gentlemen’s suit, white shirt and tie, his primary accessories were his beloved white German shepherd and Rolls Royce.

By reading and combing through the streets of varied neighborhoods, I have come to realize that John Stephen’s mission to give men a new sartorial freedom was not a mere flash in the pan of the sixties. The mainstream success of the mod look was a publicized follow-up to an underground identity formed in gay subcultures as early as the mid nineteen fifties. Stephen’s early mission included importing slim legged French trousers and white turtle neck sweaters to be sold to his fashionable homosexual mates.

I haven’t thought about this in a long while. Revisiting these photos I took while in London have re-sparked my interest, re-lit my fire. Ironically, a recent stroll through VMP dug up an advertisement from a 1958 issue of a carefully distributed British physique magazine called Mod Men that features John Stephen and his line. It even gives the address of his early Carnaby Street shop, (later to become His Clothes), that existed well before the rest of the mod-pop insanity of the “swinging sixties” even started. I’ll go there next.

Mr. Stephen is on my list of people I wish I could have known. Given that he is no longer around, I will simply have to bask in the glory of someday owning a fine sweater-shirt of my very own. If I could have my choice, I would take mine in either lime or sand.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Word to Wise Seamsters and Seamstresses | A Lesson From The Opera

If you are sewing on an industrial sewing machine equipped to sew leather (or any sewing machine for that matter), please use a needle guard. If you don't, you could sew directly through your thumb, pass out cold, and have to go to the emergency room. Let my experience be a lesson to you.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Unknown Beauty | Marion Morrison

A new book on the early years of John Wayne's career shows a stunning, and in my opinion hugely surprising, photographic look at the handsome young actor. It is no wonder Hollywood wanted this guy as their poster child. I would have too.