Exploring Menswear: Chapter 7 – New Briton

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2010 by clare1988

New and exciting visual languages are made through reflection on and challenges to cultural heritage.

Basically talking about pastiche, the mixture of cultures and the influence of all of the previous dandy’s.  The New Briton is a summation of all the typologies addressed in Cicolini’s book because it draws on many of the same references, but it is also a unique strand in its own right as it so deliberately seeks to challenge fixed understandings of what it means to be British in the Twentieth Century. That said, the New Briton’s exploration extends beyond Britains borders and reaching other cultures through the use of technology, immigration and cheap travel.

Andreas Kronthaler design director at VWestwood

Mehbs Yaquib designer Sketch

Stephen Jones milliner


Exploring Menswear: Chapter 6 – Terrace Casual

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2010 by clare1988


Meticulous attention to detail and dedication to functional ostentation positions country and leisure style in the urban environment.

The Terrace Casual arose out of the Skin style, which in turn evolved out of the Hard Mod. The Hard Mod came about as Mod culture was subsumed by a more mass-market, and the original Mods and their fashionable imitation during the mid 1960s began to break apart, hardening into a stark, stripped down look.

Sport and youth clubs were cultivated as a moral site for the making of national and regional identity of the Hard Mods and the Skins. The values behind this changed around the early 1980s when sport (esp football) as a driver for oppositional working-class culture became diluted by a more consumerist subculture – for the new Casual, working class culture was defined by aspiration, and personal wealth as a measure of success.

Cicolini relates this back to dandyism and in particular Brummell’s obsession with immaculate presentation and faultless attention to detail as a way of distinguishing oneself from the masses or working classes. The Casuals the distinction was to separate themselves from the violence and punk culture of the Skins.

Following Brummell’s example, the Terrace Casual is engaged in the positioning of traditional upper class ‘country’ style in the urban environment, co-opting it for the pursuit of inner city leisure rather than the management of rural estates.

Chris Wass shop owner The Phoenix Pub

Exploring Menswear: Chapter 4 – East End Flaneur

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2010 by clare1988


Rooted in a flamboyant urban camouflage, the East End Flaneur is a media-savvy neo-bohemian.

The Flaneur (Charles Baudelaire, and later Walter Benjamin): an urban voyeur, an individual who lived life on, and inspired by, the streets.

Fashion and dress is closely linked to environment, a particular location as a source of creative inspiration. The “East End” part comes from the location: London’s industrial district in the east where young designers, stylists, publishers, artists, musicians and DJs found the place as an environment where they could escape the pervasive and homogeneous culture of mid-1980s England.

“The East End was a blank, definitively urban wasteland on which they could build an alternative and insistently non-conformist culture” (Cicolini 2005, 66) East End dandyism manifests itself in numerous ways:

• Quasi-military iconography of a functional ostentation

• Revival of vintage branded goods and bohemian lifestyles

• An aesthetic stemming from the extravagant sartorial style of rock outsiders

Luca Cazal guitarist for The Cazals

Each of these are influenced by their context in an intense and passionate engagement with the realism of urban life – “a potent cocktail of back street tailors, glass fronted city banks, dive bars, flower markets and the area’s darker history of violent confrontation, gangsters, gambling, boxing and the seductive pleasures of the music hall and prostitution.”

One branch of this style 1990s-2000s was rooted in a flamboyant urban camouflage in reaction to a growing national ‘terror’ psychology perpetuated in the media/government. Using military tested fabrics and styling, blade and slash cutting, and camouflage prints, turning the tools of the establishment against themselves.

(Maharishi, Vexed Generation, Griffin and 6876 produced “supermodern clothing…designed to respond to the physical and psychological demands of transitional spaces such as roads, railways, airports and the street”)

Johnny Vercoutre proprietor for Time for Tea

“We conform to nothing, we rebel, we offer something alternative, something personal. I would call that dandy.” The East End Flaneur is the ultimate expression of the music, fashion and art trinity that characterises London street style today. It is this focus on originality and personal identity that forms the sole link between these supermodernists and another feature of the East End Flaneur, which tallies more closely with the eccentric, 1960s rock surrealism.

“… a breeding ground of bohemianism… the East End’s high-speed, DIY, hit-and-run art-making… was seen as a miniaturised version of punk rock’s cultural revolution: an overturning of the old established order by young, fast, sharp and shocking artists.”

Bohemianism: the collapse of art into life

Alistair Mackinven guitarist with The Country Teasers & Cunst

Exploring Menswear: Chapter 3 – Neo-Modernist

Posted in Uncategorized on December 7, 2009 by clare1988

Sharp tailored suits, with crisp, clean lines, cut from luxurious materials in sombre tones, this wardrobe subverts tradition. The 21st century Neo-Modernist is defined by his ability to look backwards and forwards, to the street and the salon.


French poet and modernist Charles Baudelaire:

“For the perfect dandy…enamoured as he is above all of distinction, perfection in dress consists in absolute simplicity, which is, indeed, the best way of being distinguished.”

Charles Baudelaire

The nineteenth-century definition of modernity was beauty inspired by industrialization and an urban context, with a rejection of ancient ideals of the exquisite.

The twentieth-century definition of modernity expanded to include an emphasis on the use of contemporary technologies and the higher order of structure and function, which was influenced by Bauhaus architectural modernism.

The clean lines and sober formalism of Bauhaus architecture

Another important development within modernity at this time was the emergence of the teenager.  Modernity blended with youth culture at the arrival of the zoot-suited hipsters who set the tone for teenage rebellion across the western world. The notion that “dignity and a resplendent, stylish appearance are incompatible elements of masculinity” were challenged by the Zooties.

Soldier inspecting a couple of zoot suits at the Uline Arena

East Coast Modernists (inspired by Gil Evans and Miles Davis “Birth of Cool” 1950) favoured a pared-down look, modern, sharp, slim and fitted, “a look that stylistically mirrored their music” (Cicolini 2005, 42).

The British Mods came next and “transformed the style into a religion”:

“college-boy smooth cropped hair with a burned-in parting, neat white Italian rounded-collar shirt, short Roman jacket very tailored (two little vents, three buttons), no-turn-up narrow trousers with 17inch bottoms absolute maximum, pointed-toe shoes, and a white mac folded at his side” (Colin MacInnes 1959)

British Mods


  • Working class English youth
  • West Indians
  • Innovation and creativity in the 1950s Caribbean style
  • Savile Row
  • Hollywood
  • East Coast Modernists

The Mod signalled his isolation from middle-class England through his leisure choices (drawing on international urban culture):

  • American burger bars
  • Jazz and R & B
  • Italian cafes and scooters
  • French clubs, films and haircuts

Mod culture rose and fall through to the twenty-first century with the most notable development being a more graphic, Op Art-inspired feel on top of the slim-fitted silhouette of previous years.

Alexander McQueen's take on the Op Art influence of the mods SS2010

Ben Sherman claims to be the original British Mod brand

In twenty-first century England, clean lines and muted colours once more afford relief from the riot and parody of Postmodernism that has dominated British fashion since Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano.

The Neo-Modernist style blends the major concerns of each modernist movement:

  • Contemporary abstraction
  • A focus on structure and materials
  • An internationalist outlook

It also draws on established sartorial traditions, subverting them through materials, form and function.

Cicolini claims that Alexander McQueen epitomizes a Modernist perspective on Savile Row tailoring traditions, in particular his collaboration with Huntsman (one of Savile Row’s most established bespoke houses) in 2002 to create a capsule collection redolent with Modernist influence.

Alexander McQueen now has his own menswear collection which he shows each season and which he defines as ready-to-wear at Savile Row standard,

“The construction and architecture of the pieces employ the core techniques I learned during my four-year apprenticeship on the Row. You have to fully understand the construction of clothes before you can begin to manipulate them. What I’ve done is to take these traditional techniques and inject modernity.”

Some of his looks from various collections

His collections draw on inspiration as varied as: “Sombre morning suits and Jewish ceremonial dress, Mod and Skinhead crombies and blazers, slim-legged Mod trousers and one-button jackets, and 1970s romantic rock’n’roll. What I want to achieve is clothing for individuals, a focus on quality over trend.”

This gives me an idea of what sorts of things inspire other designers, and maybe I’ll start to be drawn to a few different areas myself. I love London designer Kristian Aadnevik’s look, see below.

www.kristianaadnevik.com He only designs womenswear but it is worth taking a look at, some of it is breathtaking. Love this illustration of his.

Kristian Aadnevik

Exploring Menswear: Chapter 2 – The Gentleman

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2009 by clare1988


The standard-bearer for contemporary quality informed by tradition, the epitome of sartorial propriety.

Giorgio Armani Spring 2010

Brummell’s direct stylistic descendant is The Gentleman. In the twenty-first century the new Gentleman’s most important quality is success and the power that success affords; second, is the reflection of his power through discreet and coded means. These men favour the sartorial anonymity of monochrome; the muted elegance of a grey or navy suit, black lace-up shoe, white shirt and modestly colourful tie reflect the subtlety of Brummell’s own approach.

Giorgio Armani Spring 2010

Contemporary tailors Timothy Everest, Charlie Allen, Carlo Brandelli and Richard Anderson are the drivers for gentlemanly discretion in the twenty-first century. Whilst they uphold key values – quality, propriety and discretion – these tailors bring a fresh eye to an established sartorial tradition.

Charlie Allen

Signature style: weightless, stripped-down drape with a soft natural shoulder line; ‘it should look like it’s made by an angel’.


Charlie Allen sketch

Richard Anderson

“Design is simple for a tailor with artistic flair. But a designer without thorough sewing training cannot tailor. There is a whole world of people who want to be wooed by innovation and novelty allied to quality and service. Today people want to be [smarter], they want to be fitter, and they want to look younger. I can make them look better by making them clothes that not only fit them but suit their bodies and personalities.”

 Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson Bespoke for men

Timothy Everest

Originally an architect, Everest is one of the leading practitioners of what he describes as the ‘new bespoke movement’. Opening his studio in the early 1990s after an apprenticeship with Tommy Nutter, he has collaborated with many important creative minds and has worked as a creative consultant to some of Britain’s best-known brands.

What is the classic British tailoring style? Structured but slightly clumsy, painstaking detail, a slight military feel and an eccentricity in the choice and matching of fabric.

The characteristics of the Timothy Everest house: I’ve always been interested in the history of British tailoring and have to admit to a degree of nostalgia, of looking at that history in quite a patriotic, rose-tinted-spectacles kind of way. So what I try to achieve with Everest is to take the essence of that quintessentially British style and to develop it into something more modern. The Everest style is slimmer, handmade and focuses on colour and pattern. I do try to evolve the silhouette over time. But bespoke is about giving the customer the choice and the control. It’s helping clients look their best.


Timothy Everest

Carlo Brandelli

Creative Director of Kilgour, Brandelli, defines classic British tailoring as elegant, dignified, restrained, understated, fitted proportionally correct and balanced. In terms of British tailoring in the stylistic sense he understands it as a narrow shoulder, slightly waisted jacket, clean chest definition and a flat-fronted, moderately narrow-legged trouser. Kilgour’s approach to classic British tailoring is that they set out to be the definitive bespoke tailor and the first truly modern, elegant luxury menswear brand to combine heritage and the finest craftsmen with modern, relevant design principles

“A true dandy is what I’d define as a Gentleman, a man who understands the importance of wearing the correct thing, but is not obsessed with it. A Gentleman is confident and understands occasion.”

The key tailoring pieces for a Gentleman’s wardrobe:

  • A one button, single breasted, charcoal, Super 100-weight worsted-wool bespoke suit is the ‘little black dress’ of menswear
  • A navy, self-stripe, modern take on a blazer, worn with jeans
  • Three-quarter-length covert coat in a charcoal grey wool and cashmere mix
  • A puppy-tooth worsted wool, single-breasted suit with a peak  lapel for that uber-cool event
  • Single-breasted suit with slanted pockets in dark navy mohair with a slight two-tone
  • The one-button, single-breasted, chocolate brown suede jacket


Carlo Brandelli suit

Gustav Temple, one of the founding editors of The Chap magazine:

Gustav Temple

  • Understands dandyism to be “a life dedicated to elegance and beauty and making a statement through clothing and attitude”
  • Defines the ‘chap’ as “a new concept, borrowing heavily from dandies and Gentlemen but hopefully creating something new”
  • Believes the lifestyle of the ‘chap’ is “not about posturing, it’s a whole way of life, an alternative existence… it’s not accepting the status quo, not accepting that you should live the same way as others”


And to finish off, here are some images from Giorgio Armani Spring 2010 (www.GQ.com/fashion-shows/)

Inspiration: Wildlife Artist in Textiles Annemieke Mein

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26, 2009 by clare1988

While wasting time lounging with my cat on my parents bedroom floor I for some unknown reason pulled a book out from the bookshelf. I don’t even know what made me choose it but once the first page was turned I was glued to it. Inside a compilation of birds, butterflies, frogs, bees, flowers, dragonflies, moths and plants fill up the pages… but they are extraordinary in that they are all made from fabric, paint and sewing threads and are all in some way 3dimensional. They are all the work of textile artist Annemieke Mein.


I’m going to keep this short because my blogs have been soooo long so far and this is one of many inspirations to come no doubt. Anyway here is an exert from the book:

“the line between art and craft is being bent and breached these days, but there are only a few practitioners who can make it disappear completely. The astonishing work of Annemieke transcends these and a few other categories besides. Embroidered and painted relief tapestries and fabric sculptures erase the distinction between naturalistic and impressionistic portrayal.”

And here are some images from the web.. but I should scan some nicer quality ones from the book. It would be amazing to see these in a physical sense, a picture in a book isn’t the same, and then transferred to the computer you lose even more.

Dragonfly cape

I love the background and water ripples just as much as the subject

what an amazing artist

I’m just getting excited thinking how can I interpret her techniques. The possibilities are endless.

Exploring Menswear: The New English Dandy and his origins

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2009 by clare1988

I’m looking at this amazing book to learn more about menswear. I’m going to go through the introduction now and in later posts I will explore each chapter of the book.

Cicolini, A. 2005. The New English Dandy. London: Thames and Hudson.

The term ‘dandy’ invites an impossibly diverse range of interpretations and definitions. Alice Cicolini investigates extensively the New English Dandy, or as she puts it “the surging international profile of British menswear [focusing] on six styles that define the contemporary English dandy”. (For my purpose I’m not going to worry about whether menswear is designed by London designers or not, its all such a global thing now anyway).

She looks at:

  • The Gentleman “the inheritors of a classic tailoring elegance, masters of subtlety and detail”
  • Neo Modernist “the reappearance of Modernism in English style and its heritage”
  • East End Flaneur “a particular bohemian dandy informed by music, art and design”
  • Celebrity Tailor “the arbiters of superstar taste and notoriety”
  • Terrace Casual “the Mancunian revivalists of working-class style”
  • New Briton “the designers and dandies engaged in re-interpreting contemporary national identity”

Here are some images of menswear that I love.. and just as an experiment I’m pairing each image with one of the six styles, so I can look back on it and see how inaccurate I was in my knowledge of menswear and the New English Dandy.

The Gentleman? Philip Sparks SS09

The Neo Modernist? Claude Grant AW09

The East End Flaneur? Obscur mensrag.com

The Celebrity Tailor? Editorial from 2magazine (Sean Opry)

The Terrace Casual? Conference of Birds SS09

The New Briton? Tom Ford Mens SS09

Cicolini does make sure to mention that although there are vast differences between the various groups, there are shared traits underpinning the deliberate choices the men from each are making.

“Consideration, neatness, awareness of the importance of detail, appreciation of line, investment in quality and an enjoyment of a certain distinction that an understanding of these elements combine to afford – all are characteristics that defined the style of the original dandy’s dandy of 1790s Regency London, George Bryan ‘Beau’ Brummell.”

Robert Geller AW09 and Beau Brummell

Robert Geller AW09

The rest of the introduction Cicolini talks about the definition of the dandy which I am going to include a bit of, because it is so integral to menswear.

Beau Brummell is one of the most significant figures in history in relation to menswear. He was the turning point in history which saw men leaving the extravagant dress to the women. Cicolini describes him as having been a “flamboyant puritan; a man who rejected the trappings of a cosseted aristocratic lifestyle, the silks, velvets and lace cut to create an exaggerated figure, whilst at the same time displaying a shrewd recognition of the importance of aesthetics, form and line in the making of the modern man.” He was the first dandy.

Ellen Moers (on Beau Brummell) in The Dandy:

“Legend is confused about the nature of [Brummell’s] style. The popular version has always been that he dressed too obviously well, with fantastic colours and frills, exotic jewels and perfumes. The accurate report declares that he dressed in a style more austere, manly and dignified than any before or since….Brummell established a mean of taste appropriate to this last Georgian age, which took pride in its application of the principles of restraint, naturalness and simplicity to the modest spheres of interior decoration and personal appearance”

Austerity (H&M campaign, photographer: Pierre Bjork, Stylist: Andreas Lowenstam)

Brummell’s taste was transformed by a number of writers into a way of life:

Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Adventures of a Gentleman) gave it maxims – rules to live by.

Jules Barby (Du Dandysme et de Georges Brummell) turned diary recordings of Brummell’s life into a handbook for an attitude and a lifestyle.

Charles Baudelaire (Le Peintre de la vie moderne) remodelled the dandy as a modern hero, a political, spiritual and social revolutionary.

Walter Pater drew on Baudelaire’s potent blend of idealized dandyism and the English Romantic to create his own manifesto of decadent aestheticism.

Decadent aesthetics still within Brummell’s austere, manly and dignified style? Ontfront FW0910

Cicolini: “the desire to challenge the status quo through the veneration of style and beauty unites later radical, bohemian and flamboyant dandyism” – from Oscar Wilde, to Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Leigh Bowery. (Note to self: look each of these legends up)

Flamboyant(ish) dandyism – James Long SS10 – Carolyn Massey SS10 – A Child of the Jago SS10

James Long SS10

James Long SS10

Carolyn Massey SS10

A Child of the Jago SS10

A far more modern interpretation is club and music promoter Matthew Glamorre:

To me dandyism is socio-political confrontationism through dress. True dandies satirize their times, leaders, public and politics. Dandyism is a refusal to play by society’s rules of banality and conformity. Whether these rules are aesthetic, social or political, the dandy is a self-ostracised outsider.”

Oak’s fall editorial could be a good example of this, but then again maybe Craig Lawrence 2010 is closer to the mark.

Oak magazine editorial

Craig Lawrence 2010

Towards the end of the introduction Cicolini mentions where the dandy is in the Twentieth century and uses the term Metrosexual while also exploring the fact that nowadays it is hard to find distinction and differentiation from each other, as well-renowned forecasting magazine Viewpoint said:

“We are increasingly engaged in making our world special. More people in more aspects of life are drawing pleasure and meaning from the way their persons, places and things look and feel. Whenever we have the chance, we are adding sensory, emotional appeal to ordinary function”.

Kranedesign – check out the zip tie!

Cicolini ends with Christopher Breward’s point that there are two kinds of dandyism – one which is associated with political/sexual/social resistance, the other which is a commercial and corporeal engagement with the urban marketplace – and she explains that this book The New English Dandy attempts to unravel the two by exploring the varied interpretations of dandyism which are evident in contemporary England.

Social resistance (editorial 2magazine)

Commercial urban dandy (Popissue09)

That was an effort.. next chapter!   =|