Monday, 30 November 2009

Motorhead, Hats & Keira Knightly - Hammersmith 28:11:09

Well, an interesting Knightly all round. You'll see why I wrote that exceedingly and very witty clever play on words in a moment. So Saturday arrived and myself and two fellow friends took to the streets of London with the intent of seeing that fine bunch of musicians and well known middle-of-the-road band Motorhead; supported by some chaps of equally high morale fibre, The Damned. However, before we set off for The Hammersmith Apollo, we decided to have a few "warmers into the bank" in Soho.
I was, however, slightly disappointed that I was only one out of the three of us not wearing a hat; even more so when the rains started to fall. That said, I was pleased with the choice of vintage leather jackets we all had decided to wear, even without prior conversation (we aren't like women you see); and of course we were all wearing the obligatory Jeffery West footwear. I was pleased that we appeared to look the part. We also popped into Blaqua on Carnaby Street to say 'How do" as it was on the way to our first calling point. The chaps there weren't too keen on joining us for the evening, and they were probably dressed in a style more suited to a Kinks gig. Anyway we visited a number of bars one of which was Garlic & Shots on Frith Street, where we drank a small tot of something that can only be likened to a full Vindaloo curry in a very small glass. Now feeling quite perky, the other chaps became hungry, and remained so even though I stated on a number of occasions that eating is in fact cheating. This appetite led us to a dark and mysterious underground place (of very high repute, I might add) on Dean Street. We were welcomed by a roaring fire and homely Georgian decor, and only a small number of people. A few flights of stairs led us to a door with "private party" on it, so of course we went inside. Unfortunately, this party wasn't for us...we were very, very surprised. The chap who greeted us (who I now know to be Benedict know the Team Captain in Starter for 10) wasn't too keen on letting us in, even though a fine looking young lady behind him did say...her words "oh come on, they look like fun" in fact, I'm quite sure she was pleading with him to let us in. But, by this time, however, they had blown their chance and we were heading back downstairs, for two of us to eat. The three of us now sitting in the corner, warm and toasty and blending in quite nicely with our surroundings, were distracted. A chap walked in, who can only be described as Captain Flashheart from Black Adder. A fantastic flying jacket and accessories to boot. Nice work we thought. However, it quickly became clear that this was an exceedingly clever diversion tactic designed to attract attention away from the young lady walking closely behind. This just so happened to be a very unassuming, yet clearly beautiful Keira Knightly. This is no word of a lie and thankfully the paparazzi were nowhere to be seen. I'd like to say they joined us and we chatted into the wee small hours, having much fun and sharing many anecdotes. But this was not the case, unfortunately we had to say our goodbyes and fulfil our initially intended objective of having a bit of a jig to Motorhead. This we did, with much frivolity. We missed the first two bands of Straight Lines and Girlschool, but caught all of The Damned and the entire set from Motorhead, who did not disappoint. Lemmy was even wearing a hat, which made me think we should start a "bring back hats" movement.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Jeffery~West Open Evening - Dandyism, Burlesque, Decadence & Rock 'n' Roll!

Last night, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the opening of the new Jeffery~West Head Office in Northampton, and I am so glad I went along. All the very latest designs were on show, some yet to go on general sale - and for me it was like being a little boy in his favourite sweet shop. If any designer was in need of inspiration, then my advice would be to pop along to the new store and soak up the ambience. From the coolest shoes on the planet, through the most imaginative imagery and sculpture, to great music and great people the evening had it all.

As soon as I arrived I had a Cuba Libre stuffed into my hand by Guy (Guy West co founder and designer), my picture taken for a local magazine (which I won't reveal as it is important to keep my identity under wraps) followed by a conversation with a young wench adorned in a very tight red and black silk basque with the customary stocking and suspenders. I had to pinch myself to ensure I wasn't just going off on one of my many fantasy day dreams.

As well as plenty of flesh on show, which was nice, there were some of the very latest shoe designs. If you aren't familiar with Jeffery~West shoes then shame on you! However, they have a very strong British music and dandyism influence behind them with the shapes (or lasts) each having names including Marriott, Lemmy, Cocker and Moon. After a few more Cuba Libres, and feeling quite squiffy, I sneakily took a few shots (which are a little bit wobbly) of the latest designs and have posted them here...don't tell anyone!

In the middle of the new store and hanging from the ceiling was what can only be described as something akin to a Victorian space exploration device or maybe even something from a time machine. Like everything else in the new store it looked fantastic and even though no one (apart from the designer Mark Brazier-Jones) knew what it was, please notice the chap, bottom left, scratching his head, but it slotted in perfectly.

To round the evening off there was some live music from a local band called Danny Connors & The Ladders. They played an acoustic set which clearly had a Paul Weller influence...and rumour has it (that rumour coming from a Mr Dan Evans of Jeffery~West) the band does have some links to Mr Weller himself. That rumour seems to check out, via the band's and the band member's MySpace profiles...which is most impressive.

So all in all a really great evening and a very Dandy experience...especially the twirling of nipple tassles!!.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Those Mods of the early 60's knew a thing or two

Now, I'm not talking about the "tickets" or the "numbers"- those who jumped on the bandwagon and decided to run a mock on English beaches and wear their parkas. (By the way, parkas or "wartime coats" were only worn by scooter riders in the wet to keep their suits dry.) To clarify, I'm talking about the few. The "faces" who set the trend and would be obsessive about the width of a lapel; the number and type of buttons on a suit; the curve of a cuff and the length of the vent in their jacket. They would set the trend and what was "in" one week, would very quickly be out the next. They had to be different and ensure what they wore, their hair, even how they stood was ahead of the game. All this to maintain their face status at The Flamingo or The Marquee club.

Here is an extract by Nik Cohn the British Rock Journalist entitled "Yellow Socks Are Out" (were they ever in?) that shows the obsessiveness of the era. They really were Dandies of their time.

"The look had many refinements. As well as its shortness, the jacket had narrow lapels and a rounded, scooped out hem. The shirts were small collared and, by the late fifties, button-down. The ties were skinny. Hair was worn short. Everything was skimped - narrow legs, pointed feet, no shoulders."

Then talking about shoes, the Cheslea Boot or Cuban Heel which became part of a "face's" uniform...

"It was a beautiful, ornate and decadent object, elastic sided with built up heels, maybe two inches high, which gave it a deeply hollowed instep. It spoke of heroics, of gunfights in the noonday sun, of violence and sex together."

Such fashion leadership back then was based upon being at the right place and mixing with the right crowd. It took balls. Today, the Internet enables us to research and create our own look - any mix will work no matter how eclectic. Such "tribes" as Mods, Rockers, Punks, Teds, Beatniks etc will no longer manifest themselves in the way they did in the past. People now have all the influence at their fingertips to make their own choice and selection, which is why we probably see a resurgence in many styles and types of music. It still takes balls, but is much more readily accepted. The style and attitude of Dandyism is very much alive and thriving.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Who the F**k is Flash Harry?

Through my years of cavorting around the Town and walking out with the ladies, I've been called a "Flash Harry" on a number of occasions. I've been called many other things too, but that is a different story. So, who is this infamous Flash Harry that people often refer too? Do they know? Or are they just using the term to describe someone whose personality demonstrates a somewhat over confident, stylish, self centred and hedonistic behaviour, with a focus upon the "now" with a complete disregard for any future consequences?
Well, apparently Flash Harry was a character in the St Trinian Films of the 50's played by George Cole, and by Russel Brand in the more recent remake. This character is more akin to a Spiv and hence I don't feel a close association.

Then, digging deeper, I find Harry Flashman. This is more like it! Another fictional character, this time from Tom Brown's Schooldays, but revitalised by George MacD
onald Fraser in "Flashman". These are memoirs of of Harry Paget Flashman who became a decorated Brigadier General in the British Army, and notorious for being a lovable scoundrel and sometimes being economical with the truth. It gets worse as he was also a cheat, a thief and a coward. However he was also able to woo every available woman, liked to gamble, booze enthusiastically and through luck and cunning he is seen by others as a hero. And here he can be seen in all his glory, a lusty wench at his feet and "sword" in his hand.

This is probably why he has been an influence in Dandyism; in fact even in fashion design and furniture design. Below are a couple of great examples:-

The Flashman boot from Jeffery~West, which are a number of boots and shoes purpose built around a specifically designed last call the "Flashman". They wouldn't look out of place in the officer's Mess would they? Neither would this "poker table" in inverted commas for a reason as the design seems to be ambiguous. A little similar to that old joke or sign you see in public houses..."liquor in the front, poker in the rear". I know, extremely uncouth, but probably a lot of I'm told.

So now you know who Flash Harry is...I now take it as somewhat of a compliment.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sebastian Horsley on QTV

One of Britain's modern day Dandy's being candid in a QTV interview. Note his comment on the Internet....very true!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Are Shoes Really Meant for this Sort of Shinanigans?

That video site YouTube is full of all sorts of's a bit like the telly. I came across a few clips that I'd thought I'd share. Now for me, shoes and boots need to be of high quality, reflect one's personality and be the foundation to showing off the rest of your attire. Of course, they also need to be comfortable and used for walking; the odd bit of boogie and parking under a lusty maiden's bed. I'm not sure about these clips however, they've opened up my eyes to something completely different and potentially a little sinister. Call me cynical, but I think these chaps are quite lonely and don't get out much. Take a look and you decide.

I like the fact he has another pair next to his chair on standby...just in case something happens. Which could be anything! This next one is just plain weird...not only does he have very poor taste in boots, he also needs to undertake a prolonged session of physical jerks to reduce the size of those hairy calfs. He must be a Septic.

And finally, this next one has a bit of a storyline! Note the title, a budding Steven Spielberg perhaps? Perhaps not. Starts off wearing some old tatty shoes and quite rightly changes them for a nice shiny pair of boots. I personally think he's recently returned from a trip to the shops and has got himself all excited and dressed up for this one....should have pressed his trousers though.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Need Inspiration for a New Look?

Then you could do worse than take a look at the "Look Book" at Sir Tom Baker. Everything from formal to Rock 'n' Roll, with suits with creative names including "Saville Rot", "Dance Macabre" and "Unknown Pleasures". Every dandy taste and occasion catered for.