Friday, 12 December 2008

Anglophilia Dandyum Morte

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The U.K. has had its fair share of fashion-led subcultures. Arguably, this tendency dates to the 18th Centuary dandies, who either revelled in the strictures of 'correct' attire, or plumped for flamboyant, decadent dress, with a hint of gender confusion chucked in for good measure.
By the latter half of the 20th Centuary, the sartorial descendants of Beau Brummel, Dorian Grey and their ilk came in waves. The 1950's Ted's resurrected the Edwardian drape coats that gave them their name, (a look revived in the 70's, albeit through Glam, or in it's original form).
The 1960's belonged to the 'Mods', the least adventurous and most contrived of all youth movements, with everything from their look to their music plundered, and stolen wholesale from other youth tribes, not a single original idea between the lot of the fuckers! And they have the audacity to be 'precious' as hell about what IS or ISN'T Mod! Who the fuck just died and made this bunch of arsey chancers king's of the soul patrol, eh? They haven't got a clue where they came from, is their look and music taste 60's Stax soul, Philly soul, Motown? Is it 50's British Ska, Reggae? Is it 70's urban skin? 80's casual? Ask one, next time you're unlucky enough to meet a 'Mod', I guarantee he'll ramble incoherently for hours mentioning everyone from Hewey Newton and the black panthers to Stevie Wonder, to Wigan Casino to New Order to The Clash and all the fucking way back again! Now I know about The Clash, and do you think a band with ideals so drenched in socio-political ethics would want to be associated with the shallowness of this bland bunch? I reckon Strummer would be spinning in his grave like a fuckin' dynamo if he heard that!! But I have had to put up with drip's in tight suits trying to tell me that they had 'a Mod edge', now next time this happens, I'm going to loosen some fuckers teeth! If you let a 'Mod' talk for too long he'll try and tell you everyone from 'Sparticus' to the 'Queen fucking mother' were 'Mods', "You know, coz it's a state of mind being a Mod man!" FUCK OFF! NO IT'S NOT!
Now I'm pretty sure that 'Mods' are all 'Modernist' by their very name and nature, so why the fuck are all their figure heads decades past their sell by dates, why is their look a soooo fucking 'retro?' In fact the MOST retro of all youth tribes! And as for 'Paul FUCKING Weller!' Fuck off! My Dads more edgy and street than that miserable old feather cut fucker!
Luckily though, from the 60's Mod, the look, politics and music morphed into Skin- and Sued-heads, and saw their tastes honed then perennially revived. Even punk, whatever the protagonists might say about DIY, post – winter of discontent rage and anarchy, was a fashion movement: Just ask Vivienne Westwood!
All these models share common traits, regardless of the aesthetic – the clothes HAD to be expensive, they HAD to be ostentatious, they HAD to be immaculate, and they HAD to be worn first by working class young men. Given the high rate of fashion churn between the 50's and the 70's, it's perhaps a surprise that the last great revolution in men's clothing was sparked sometime in 1977 and holds fast to this day – The Football Casual.
I think this is something to do with brand. Where the misguided Mod might wear any suit, as long as it adhered to the conventions of ancient Italian tailoring, an early day's casual couldn't wear any old tennis shirt: Only a Tacchini would do! (or Fila or Lacoste!)
At the risk of offending some of my home town (former) hooligans, Casual began on Merseyside. When scallies first merged elements of Punk style with bits of David Bowie's proto-glam, plus an odd attachment to drainpipe jeans and, of course, the wedge haircut!
Then a little later, these supporters of Liverpool found themselves at a loose end in French and Italian city centers, thanks to their clubs European success, and took the opportunity to acquire (or, more accurately, rob) sports and casual-wear they knew fellow and rival supporters back home had no chance of finding.
Despite shifts in popularity over time, the brands favored by the first casuals are those seen on every British high street today, whether it's the makes brought back from the European away matches by scousers – Kappa, Lacoste, Sergio Tacchini – or brands adopted in the late 80's – early 90's - Burberry Stone Island, Acuascutum – and they're not just on football fans. The seemingly permanent fetish for early model Adidas trainers that can be seen on the feet of everybody from floppy fringed indie kids to perfectly respectable middle aged men,, began with the early casual preference for Samba's, swiftly followed by Stan Smith's. That nice shower proof cagoule your Mum has in the wardrobe dates back to casual anoraks, originally worn over Pringle or Slazenger jumpers, often made by the likes of Kappa, sometimes by Patrick. Admittedly, you don't see many people sporting Tommy Nutter jeans, fiorruci or Lois courds these days, but they're the exception to the rule.
His sartorial longevity is down to the brands as much as it is to the enduring glamour of the well-turned-out football casual. No. To be a dandy, Punk, skin, or even a Mod, involves an attention to detail shared by the casual, but thanks to branding, that attention to detail can be reduced to a basic list of clothing manufacturer's, rather than, in the case of the Mod, making believe that you need an in depth knowledge of black politics, northern soul, and Italian tailoring, when it's actually even simpler than the casual, as you only need to know the proper number of cuff buttons and have an eye for the correct width of a tie! THAT'S AS HARD AS IT FUCKING GETS! End of.

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