Back at Modstock 2 in 1994 Pip! Pip! with the full blessing from Dr Robert at NUTs HQ came up with the novel idea and concept of a Modstock Fashion Show, not as a lecture or guide as to how to be a ‘mod’ but more as a way of showcasing some of the great fashion, style and clothing that is out there now, inspired by the Modernist tradition. That mixed with a nice dose of performance ‘art’, scene sourced authentique models, onstage scooters and so on, it all rolled into place alongside the live showing of our bespoke Fashion Documentary ‘Ready, Steady, Sew!’ (big thanks to Angie Smith, Pete, Caspar De La Mare, and Sean Wilson & Alex Rupprecht from Boychild and The Gene Drayton Unit Soundtrack) we felt we had a decent shape of an evening that was fresh and fun!
So when Modstock 3 in 2014 came about we thought we would rinse and repeat but with even more fun and games! Enter Caspar de la Mare from Camden vintage clothes shop, A Dandy in Aspic, was given the task of staging the Modstock Fashion Show he knew he’d have to give us more than just a simple catwalk.
We also invited Adam of London whose fine line of British Classic ready to wear was to opening proceedings with a nice classic no nonsense approach and appeal that rightly displayed the sheer quality of their cloth making experience at its zenith. A few tech hitches aside (our deepest apologies to Adam and his team), their segment of the show set the bar pretty damn high. The mix of pin-through cotton shirts, knitted and silk ties with matching pocket squares, exsquisite cut suits that hung to perfection, the cut and silhouette meant that they simply did not have to try too hard at all to get the message across. Their clothes do the talking, end of! Well done chaps for pulling it off! Their music and visual selections melded nicely into their show and left everyone to seek them out at their stall for more information. A job well done all around! Our thanks to Ritchie, Adam & Jeremy, a big tip: seek them out for you next round of shopping chaps!
Next up was the longer and much more theatrical and arty approach of one of the scenes’ great characters Caspar and his team of dedicated believers.
After a few exchanges between Pip! Pip! and Caspar by the magic of Skype, he managed to come up with a piece of true mod theatre. Based around a day in the life of a mod couple who go on a day’s shopping trip to London, the show featured a hand-picked group of models who Caspar knew from in and around the scene, Each who wore a selection of original 60s vintage clothing from Caspar’s own emporium and menswear specialists Adam of London.
“I decided to make the young couple the main focus of the piece with all the other models as extras showing a cross section of 60s styles from the early to the more swinging styles of Carnaby Street as would have been seen on streets of London at the time,” says Caspar. “I was trying to paint a picture of what it would have been like during that time and capture some of the spirit of the era using a fairly minimalistic and stylised approach aided by a carefully chosen projected slideshow and soundtrack.”
“This was a piece of entertainment that seemed to bring back fond memories to many who were watching as it reminded them of what it was like in the early days of the mod scene”
The A Dandy in Aspic segment of the Modstock fashion show was an unexpected (and highly enjoyable) piece of theatre with four scenes revolving around two central characters, a young well-dressed mod couple on a day trip to London to buy some fab new gear, hang out in a Soho coffee bar and then go to a nightclub to show off their new clobber. (A very familiar scenario played out across the decades within the mod scene).
In three of the scenes they remained frozen in time whilst all the action goes on around them with all the other models as extras. Showing off a cross section of fashions as they would have been worn in the 60’s ranging from early styles to the more swinging Carnaby Street variety. And lastly finishing with a simple but, well- choreographed group dance number. In between the scenes whilst the stage was being set we were treated to Jimmy Smith’s ‘Organ grinders swing’.
The show began with a well-lit stage, and a row of eight empty black and white chairs, with a backdrop slide show depicting various images of 1960’s London, a very visual opening. Next came some sound effects, which, slowly became clear as that of a train arriving at a station. Complete with made up station announcements. At this point twelve models, six men and six women, all wearing overcoats in a variety of colours, patterns, fabrics and styles entered the room in single file and stood on stage with their backs to the audience. After a very familiar “mind the gap”, the women turned and sat in the chairs holding up magazines and the men turned sideways and stood staggered in front of them with one arm up in the air as if holding a handle on a tube train, and the scene was set… very very clever indeed!
The voice of a young man came over the PA and a young mod couple then came running onto the stage through the audience and took their place on two vacant seats. The sound of ‘Go-Go train’ by Mike Stevens and the Chevelles filled the room and the models began moving as if on a travelling train with the exception of the young couple who remained frozen though out. At various intervals the name of a made up station was announced and all sound and movements ceased. A model would leave the scene followed by another and then a third. Each time a catwalk pose was struck at both ends of the stage to show off their outfits, before they exited and disappeared behind a screen. This continued at each ‘station’ until there was only the young couple left. They then left the stage having reached their “destination”, and the lights went down. The audience responded with a very enthusiastic applause and cheering. That was great! Very clever staging
When the sound of ‘Jimmy Smith organ grinders swing’ could be heard, and the slide show changed with the chairs being replaced with other props it became apparent that more was to follow.
The lights came back up and we could see two full clothes rails at each end of the stage, with two mannequins, one male and female each dressed in a stylish long double breasted coat. A simple and very effective way to represent a boutique. After another voice over the young couple entered and made their way over to the two rails and froze into position. The sound of ‘Swinging London’ by The Hazy Osterwald Set then began to play, with each model taking their turn entering the boutique from behind a curtain (dressing room) and admiring their clothes in an imaginary mirror and then walking over and checking out other gear on the rails, to try on. Before coming back to the mirror with another outfit in hand. The action continued around the couple until the music faded out and the young couple were the only ones left on stage. They each held an outfit and walked over to the mirror before exiting through the curtains. The clothes shown in this scene were mostly of the later swinging period and very colourful. Ladies trouser suits, culottes, men’s dandy jackets, candy striped blazers. In the background a slide show of 60’s boutiques, fashion and mods/people trying on clothes helped add to the boutique feel. Again huge applause and cheering as the lights went down.
The slide show then changed to images of 1960’s coffee bars and girls in mini-skirts .And the stage was re-set. The lights came back up, and we could see four black and white tables with black and white chairs. After a voice over with reference to ‘frothy coffee’ the young couple entered with coffee cups and shopping bags and sat at a table. ‘music to watch girls go by’ (an instrumental version) set the scene and the stage was transformed into the exterior of a Soho coffee bar, with models entering the stage and sitting down for coffee or disappearing into the cafe. A succession of mini skirted models walked across the stage in a highly choreographed fashion striking poses from left to right. All the while, being admired by two seated male models drinking coffee. Another couple were looking through newly purchased (original) 60’s LP records of soul, jazz and rhythm &’ blues, another model reading a newspaper. Before leaving the stage each model showed off their outfits to the full. A good cross section of mod, beat, and classic 60’s styles with a summery flavour and some classic sunglasses in tow. An extremely stylish scene .One of the best performed segments in the show. It really made you feel like you were outside in the summer sun enjoying a frothy coffee with them. Good job!
The final scene wrapped up the show within a nightclub, to the sounds of ‘The in Crowd’ by Dobie Gray and ‘Burt’s Apple Crumble’ by The Quik in front of a backdrop slide show, of 60’s night life and dancing. On a stage were six chairs and a black and white chequered dance floor.
This was performed in two parts. Beginning with models walking on stage as couples, to the sound of Dobie Gray, and criss-crossing each other from left to right, striking a catwalk pose at each end of the stage, highly stylised choreography. The men were all wearing Italian cut three buttoned suits in a variety of complementary colours, very sharp, and stood to the right of the stage, as if standing at the bar. The women who were all wearing various evening outfits of silver, gold, black, all sat down on the chairs.
The scene ended with the young couple entering the stage to the sound of ‘Burt’s Apple Crumble’. Wearing the outfits that they had in their hands in the boutique scene. After walking to the front of the stage to strike their catwalk pose. They then start a very simple clapping dance. With each of the other couples joining in until they are all dancing in unison. As the music began to fade out, each couple bowed before exiting and then reappeared through the curtains to line up along each side of the stage. They all turned backstage and gestured for the creator of the show Caspar de la Mare, who then came on through the curtains, took a bow and proceeded with all his thank you’s as he was also the compere too!
This was a very simple story, but presented in a very stylised and stylish way and really gave one the feeling of being transported back to the 1960’s with great attention to detail from the make-up and authentic hairstyles provided by Jenny Green to the props, original magazines and newspapers (Evening News), original 60’s A to Z, coffee cups/saucers etc. and of course all the original 1960s clothes that were being showcased. Judging from the rapturous applause at the end, the audience enjoyed it as much as the models did performing it.
All in all a very entertaining and enjoyable evening was had by everybody. Massive thanks to all that were involved!
Photos by: © Ramees Farooqi