Monday, April 18, 2011
Mick Jagger wearing a dress is not a conventionally pretty sight, but it is only one of the images in The Day of the Peacock: Style for Men 1963-1973, a 144 page hardback written by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross. Ross was the first menswear editor of British Vogue and he has reprised the ten year renaissance of dandyism in 'Swinging London' of the 1960s, accompanying it with an excellent selection of new-to-me photos from the fashion shoots he organised in the era. Published by V&A Publishing, the book captures the time, from Tommy Nutter (tailoring) and Vidal Sassoon (hair) to Blades and Mr. Fish (shops).
The 1960s in England began the transition from what were then known as the multiples, chains of stores offering inexpensive made to meaasure tailoring that once represented 75% of the suits sold in the UK, to the Italian ready to wear brands that dominate the market today. An England that had finally recovered from the Second World War swerved away from conventional dress with a vengeance, as changes in fashion paralleled changes in music and culture generally, and then veered back just as quickly ten years later. Despite all the fuss, in terms of the era's lasting impact on men's clothing I can think only of the turtleneck sweater worn with a blazer, a combination whose popularity at the time was described as turning male gatherings into parodies of German submarine commander conventions. But it was all great fun while it lasted.