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 fun....so 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!