Browsing Tag Dandy Fashion

Dedicated Followers of Fashion: 1964 -1970

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Fashion Scene 3

The rise of the ‘Dandie’ man

In the same way that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were the main players of popular music back in the 1960s, the same could also be said of King’s Road and Carnaby Street as being the main locations to purchase young men’s clothing. The King’s Road being rather aptly named!  With the Beatles and the Stones, it was the individual members that gave each of those bands their personalities. The same could also be said of the shops and boutiques that littered these two London locations, which in turn gave both locations a personality of their own. With this article I am concentrating on one of these clothing boutiques in particular.

As with all the best stories, a lot of what happened was purely down to being in the right place at the right time. This and a lot of throwing caution to the wind!

Throughout my research I have been lucky to have been given first hand accounts by two people who were associated with ‘Dandie Fashions’ to differing degrees.

There is actually very little known and written about ‘Dandie Fashions’, which I find all the more surprising when you think about the kind of people who were associated with the shop. Where some boutiques are now held in legendary status, ‘Dandie Fashions’ seems to have slipped down the imaginary crack that also holds many bands, poets and artists. What made my research even harder, was that the information available on ‘Dandie Fashions’ has either conflicting dates or information or is just plain incorrect. Hopefully I will be able to fill in some of the gaps in the story and try to put dates to certain times that were significant in the tenure of ‘Dandie Fashions’. Frustratingly, some of the research has left me with many questions that still need answering and, because certain people who were involved with ‘Dandie Fashions’ are sadly no longer with us – those questions simply may never be answered.

‘Dandie Fashions’ was the brainchild of one person, and that person was John Crittle. John was born in Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia, in 1942. Little is known of his formative years and how he fell in to the world of men’s fashion design. John arrived in the UK around 1964.  He arrived before the main influx of well-known Australians that became household names – Germaine Greer, Martin Sharp, Philippe Mora, and Richard Neville, to name a few.  John had a striking image and a similar personality to match. Harnessing these fortunate attributes to the full, it didn’t take John long to get himself established amongst London’s young and hip in-crowd. A fortunate turn of events landed John his first real employment within London’s rapidly expanding men’s fashion industry, through meeting Michael Rainey, who was the manager of London’s most hip-and-happening boutique at the time, ‘Hung On You’. The location of this boutique initially was 22 Cale Street, Chelsea, later relocating to 420 King’s Road.  John would’ve been a designer and a fabric locator within this establishment. Rainey himself was an already recognised aristocrat amongst the ‘Chelsea set’. This was expanded upon when he got together with, and married, London socialite, Jane Ormsby-Gore. It didn’t take that long before the intimidating ‘Hung On You’ became the shop of the stars. Rainey himself recalls: “When The Beatles and The Who started to visit my boutique, I knew we’d made it.” ‘Hung On You’ even won some prized commissions to design and produce stage wear for The Beatles.

So you can imagine, within this elite circle of people, it was a natural environment for John to start networking and making a name for himself.
It became crystal clear very early on that John was never going to fit in with Michael’s aristocratic network of friends. John much preferred a beer in a pub to an art installation or a theatre show. Michael took an instant disliking to John’s uncouth behaviour and it wouldn’t be long before ‘the writing was on the wall’. With all this in mind, we can safely say that John would’ve been seriously thinking about going it alone around the springtime of 1966. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. ‘Dandie Fashions’ was now literally just around the corner.

56 Queen’s Gate Mews, Knightsbridge.

This is where my story gets quite complicated. You have to appreciate that all this happened nearly 50 years ago. Most of the names involved were very young men who were, lets say, living life to the full, and therefore one can expect a bit of memory fraying along the way!  As far as I am aware, nothing has ever really been written about the said location before. It has been recognised in print that there was a temporary location before ‘Dandie Fashions’ relocated to 161 King’s Road.

For John to make this all happen, he needed help from some friends, and he was lucky to have a good pool to call upon. Firstly, he managed to secure financial backing from Neil Winterbotham. Neil was one of the partners in the ‘Hung On You’ boutique. He also managed to secure the ‘Foster and Tara’ clothing designers for the business. Tara Browne was a well-known socialite amongst the in-crowd – being the heir to the Guinness fortune. Tara was interested in making his own way in the world, and when he moved from Ireland to London he also fell in with the young and hip from the arts and entertainment worlds. His interest in men’s clothing led him to starting up his own tailoring company, ‘Foster and Tara’. Added to this, he wasn’t short of money, so the safety net was always at  hand if the clothing enterprise came to nothing. John now had the financial backing and a unit that would make his designs. He just needed somebody to manage the new enterprise. This is where a smart and handsome 18-year-old, Alan Holston, enters in to the frame.

Alan was working for ‘Woolens of Knightsbridge’ when he came in to contact with John at one of London’s hip clubs, the Speakeasy. Alan recalls that John already knew his older sister.  John must have liked what he saw in Alan and vice-versa, as Alan quit a stable career at Woolens for an uncertain future as the manager of the new venture, ‘Dandie Fashions’! Whether employing somebody so young was intentional or not, I think it was a master stroke, as when someone is that age, consequences are usually an afterthought, and hey, this was the ‘Swinging Sixties’ after all!  The exact date of the opening is now lost in the mist of time, but  I can say that it would’ve been probably July/August 1966. Alan remembers the shop being tiny, with two small rooms. The back room/office had one table and chair.  In the main room was one clothed mannequin and a few books with pictured designs and fabric samples. There was no big fanfare opening ceremony. As Alan says, the shop “just opened!” Another interesting character also enters the frame at this point of the story, Michael Williams.

Michael started his career as a hairdresser. He was a stunning young man who had an exceptional taste in clothing. This got him noticed, by chance, by a model agency. This then led on to a very successful early career as a model, which in turn led to bit parts in films – one being ‘Smashing Time’. Michael says that it was a chance meeting at the then well-known coffee-house, ‘Kenco’s’, that he got to meet John Crittle. He says that John started talking to him because of his whole appearance. They quickly became good friends. Michael recalls John being a boisterous personality, but plenty of fun to be around. When John arranged his first fashion shoot for ‘Dandie Fashions’, he called in his handsome model friend (with the help of some lovely ‘dollybirds!’), to participate in the Hyde Park session. Michael also recalls in his assistance in finding the 56 Queen’s Gate Mews location, at a weekly rate of £25! Whether Michael actually worked at the Mews address is slightly unclear, but he definitely remembers being in the shop.

For ‘Dandie Fashions’ to really become a proper retail outlet, it would have to relocate – this was never going to be achieved while located at Queen’s Gate Mews. I strongly believe that John had big ambitions and felt that he had something unique to offer that was not available from the other established businesses in the world of men’s fashion at the time. I also suspect that John might have had an extra incentive in bringing his business to King’s Road, i.e. to get one over on his last employer maybe? Whatever his reasons, King’s Road was the one and only address he had in mind.

161 King’s Road

‘Dandie Fashions’ opened its doors within the new location in October 1966. Again, there was no big fanfare for this auspicious occasion. Alan Holston recalls the shop being a ground floor and a basement. All the walls were painted black. There was a long black counter with a glass top situated opposite the main entrance. There were hanging rails around the side walls. Some stairs were situated at the rear that led up to a stock room, office, and a changing room. We’re also lucky to have photographic evidence of this that shows all sorts of interesting Victoriana nestled amongst the jackets and shirts displayed in both windows. Alan also remembers American west coast Fillmore posters hanging on the walls.  One window display even had a large-sized picture displaying the head and shoulders of Mr Timothy Leary. ‘Dandie Fashions’ was an instant success and it seemed like the cream of the crop of London’s in-crowd couldn’t get enough of what John was creating. This was the perfect vehicle for Tara Browne’s tailoring company, ‘Foster and Tara’. As many will know, Tara unfortunately was killed in a car crash while on his way to meet the team of Dudley Edwards, Douglas Binder, and David Vaughan, to discuss the design for the shop front. This incident will forever be immortalised in The Beatles’ song, ‘A Day In The Life’. Tara’s untimely death also inspired The Pretty Things’ song, ‘Death Of A Socialite’. After his death, John bought out Tara’s share in the business and continued to use Tara’s tailoring company. The now-famous multicoloured shop front was completed in early 1967.

The shop became a kind of hang-out place, and even served as a hotel of sorts for some notable people, one being a certain Mr Jimi Hendrix, as well as John, and even his mother who slept over while on a visit from Australia. ‘Dandie Fashions’ clothed all the big names from The Beatles to The Stones – in particular Brian Jones, who really took his dandified look to unassailable heights while being adorned in the finest threads that Dandie’s had to offer. If you were a ‘somebody’ you really had to own clobber from Dandie Fashions.

Of course we can’t forget Jimi Hendrix, who loved to shop at 161 King’s Road, and as with Brian Jones, there is plenty of photographic evidence available of both gentleman sporting some incredible, to-die-for, garments from the shop. I did ask Alan who he rated for their sartorial elegance, and the two names that he mentioned were Andy Bown and Jimi Hendrix – Andy Bown being a regular customer from the Queen’s Gate Mews shop onwards.

As for the clothing, you could purchase jackets and trousers in the most beautiful coloured velvets and brocades, shirts in silks and satins, with ruffles and scarves. It really was an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ for any self-respecting peacock around town! There was the ‘off-the-peg’ clothing, but the bespoke tailoring service was the main criteria for shopping at ‘Dandie Fashions’; to have that unique garment certain to get you noticed amongst London’s main players on the social scene. Unfortunately, like most stories involving the rich and famous of the 1960s, a drugs bust was inevitable. One of which did actually occur within the shop. John got himself in to trouble with the law on a number of occasions, one of which ended up with him losing his driving licence. This is where Freddie Hornik enters the frame. Freddie worked at the Speakeasy and became friends with John. When John lost his licence, he asked Freddie to become his chauffeur, and from there Freddie ended up working in the shop.

Apple Tailoring

The Apple Boutique famously opened its doors to the public in December 1967. The shop was located on Baker Street. The colourful and eye catching mural painted by The Fool collective, became a landmark tourist attraction, as did gazing in the windows at the wonderful and way-out creations adorning the mannequins and rails, or just hoping to catch a glimpse of a Beatle. Neil Aspinall was the director of Apple Corp and was looking to expand on the initial Apple Boutique. The Beatles, as well as Neil, were all familiar with Dandie Fashions, and John Lennon had become good friends with John Crittle; their friendship being forged back when Crittle worked at ‘Hung On You’. In February of 1968, Neil bought 50% of Dandie Fashions, which made Apple Corps equal partners with John Crittle. In May of 1968, Dandie Fashions became Apple Tailoring. This saw the end of that wonderful Edwards, Vaughan and Binder creation of a shopfront, and in its place came a more serious-looking shop signage.

The purpose of this shop was to offer the discerning male customer a bespoke service, rather than the ‘off-the-peg’ service that was available at the Baker Street location. As well as this bespoke service, the basement of 161 King’s Road became a hairdressing salon, which was run by Leslie Cavendish. Apple Tailoring lasted longer than the Baker Street boutique but it too closed its doors in 1968. Apple Corps decided to withdraw from High Street commerce and handed the business and all the stock over to John Crittle. Unfortunately, after this business disaster, it was near impossible for John to claw back and make his business become viable again. The times had changed, as well as the fashion. The peacock revolution had now run out of steam and all the wonderful possibilities of only a year before had all but faded away.

The legacy…

John Crittle eventually relocated back to Australia, where he died in 2000. These days John is remembered for the fact that he was the father of the prima ballerina, Darcey Bussell.

Alan Holston made the wise decision and left Dandie Fashions as it was in the throws of becoming Apple Tailoring. Alan became the manager of the up and coming female designing team, ‘Deborah and Clare’. He was instrumental in their location to Beauchamp Place, SW3. Alan mentioned to me that the interior was designed by the then in-demand, fellow dandy, David Mlinaric. In the 1970s, Alan moved in to the record industry, working for Anchor Records. Alan is married with one daughter. And I am happy to say that he still looks stylish… once a Dandie, always a dandy!

Freddie Hornik left at around the same time as Alan. Freddie must have got a taste for the men’s clothing industry because he ended up buying out Nigel Waymouth’s stake in a dwindling ‘Granny Takes A Trip’. He injected some life in to what was once, only a year before, the most famous of all the boutiques. He would eventually take the GTAT business over to the USA where it again became a legendary name. Freddie and GTAT is another story!

‘Dandie Fashions’ never really became as well-known as ‘Granny Takes A Trip’, ‘Hung On You’, and quite a few more. The reason for this is unclear to me, as everything was in place, from the iconic shop front to the famous clientele. To the trained eye it is obvious to pick out who was wearing a ‘Dandie Fashions’ garment from the array of photographs we have at our disposal today via the internet. ‘Dandie Fashions’ clothing is highly collectable, and when a piece does hit the open market, it usually demands a suitably high price. It would be a dream for me to one day actually own a piece from that wonderful shop myself.


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Peter Feely

Married to Susie, both actively involved in the UK 60s scene for many years. My personal interest in 1960s culture goes back over 30 years, with my main two passions being music and fashion, both in equal measure. I run my own menswear label – ‘Perfumed Garden’ clothing, catering for the discerning dandy male - in addition to sourcing and selling vintage mens’ gear, with a particular interest in those hard-to-find jackets and shoes! I also run the Facebook group, ‘Psychedelic Clothing for Men: Then and Now’, with 2200+ members. Although I have no formal training in the fashion industry, what I do possess is a real passion, and through the years I have gained valuable knowledge of many areas of mens’ fashion from the mid to late 1960s. I’m also a musician and have played in many bands in my younger years. I’m an avid collector of music and music-related paraphernalia. I started running my own club nights back in the mid-1990s, and at present I run a psychedelic night in Derby – ‘The Perfumed Garden Of Musical Delights’. Through this I also get to DJ at many exciting events up and down the country

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July 8, 2015 By : Category : Articles Fashion Front Page Scene UK Tags:, , ,
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Shopping for the right gear – Pete Feely

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Fashion Scene 2

I am sure that from time to time, we all dream about what we would do if we were given the chance to travel back in time to a certain era in history. I could pinpoint where and when mine would be, and it would involve a lot of shopping! Once London really started to swing, it didn’t take long for the rest of the big cities to to take note and shops and boutiques started to spring up. Added to the shops, mail order catalogues and paying by ‘never never’ schemes became a more viable option for the
working classes.

Regal

Outside the Regal in Soho in the 1980s.

Let us fast forward to the turn of the 1980s. It is now well documented on how a certain concept album by The Who was turned in to a full blown movie. This then became the ‘ground zero’ for what became the first true mod revival. (Thought I must stress that the cult of mod never vanished in the first place!)  Not quite as well known however, is that there was a small but significant scene building up in and around the capital. This scene took its  image straight from the boutiques and shops of swinging London. The spearhead for this was Andrew Yiannakou. Andrew opened his first enterprise in Kensington Market and this eventually ended up in a shop on Newburgh Street. ‘Regal’ clothing’ lasted for about 18 months and then folded, as did the small scene that it inspired. ‘Regal’ clothing has become quite collectable and is most definitely worth looking out for.

Throughout the 1980s, and most of the 1990s, the only real places that men who wished to dress in a 1960s style, would be charity shops and jumble sales. (There were shops in London, i.e. Merc and Sherry’s, that did a great job, but if you wanted a specific garment, you really had to go down the bespoke route.) Specialised vintage fairs and shops didn’t come until much later on. With the advent of the internet and computers becoming an essential tool in most households, shopping as we knew it was about to change forever. People soon discovered that the internet could be manipulated for the buying and selling of goods to a much wider audience. From these beginnings we now have worldwide established websites, such as eBay and Etsy to name just two. In addition, we now have the social media phenomenon, and have reached the stage where we can showcase and trade specialised vintage garments from the convenience and comfort of our own homes. This is all well and good for the fast-paced life of a man in the 21st century, but ask yourself – is this ‘virtual’ shopping really as much fun as walking in to a real shop where you can receive great service and personalised advice on the garments you intend to purchase?

From time-to-time, treasures can still be found in charity shops, although this is minimalised today as most of the charities employ ‘experts’ who will hunt out items to sell on the internet, looking to make larger sums of money than if sold in a local branch (which is fair enough in my book!).

The actual retail shop has never died, and I think we are starting to change the way we shop again. We want to experience the whole feel of what shopping is all about – from looking through the rails, to feeling the fabric, to trying the garment on and seeing how it looks in the mirror.

I’m now going to mention some of the players in the recent and/or current
retail market.

Velvet Illusion

nm_apr_2015_velvet

For me, I have to start with ‘Velvet Illusion’, as I feel that this business in particular really did ‘move the goal posts’ so to speak. The brainchild of VI was an Austrian fashion designer named Mickey Wolf, the ‘Velvet Illusion’ enterprise started building in the late 1990s/turn of the new millennium. Eventually there were two shops running concurrently – one at Camden Stables market and the other located on Kensington Church Street. I personally had the pleasure of shopping at the Camden outlet a number of times. The shop’s interior was truly delightful and it felt like stepping back in time to a world of Verner Panton design heaven. The clothing on display wasn’t to disappoint either. The shop catered for both sexes and some of the garments could be classes as unisex. The male clothing definitely took a leaf out of what now is described as the ‘Peacock Revolution’. Sadly, this business closed it’s doors in 2007. And, like the ‘Regal’ label, ‘Velvet Illusion’ label items are now fast becoming collectable in their own right.

DNA Groove

nm_apr_2015_dna
‘DNA Groove’ is a name that is now synonymous with both mods and dandies alike. The man behind this business is Claudio De Rossi. Claudio opened up his first shop in Camden Market, London, in 2000. He then moved his business to a premises on Kilburn Lane. This shop lasted three years, and then Claudio decided to move to Spain and carry on the business via the internet and via retail outlets in Spain, Japan and the UK. Claudio says “I am the only micro-business (one man band) that produces quality, full head-to-toe, gents wear. Usually a small business will specialise in a few items, but in my case, I am the only place where one can obtain everything made under one single label!”

Ipcress Mod File

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I can think of only one other clothing label that can hold up to Claudio’s claim – ‘Ipcress Mod File’, based in Tokyo, Japan. ‘Ipcress Mod File’ is owned and managed by Satoshi Abe. Satoshi’s formative years were spent at the Bunka Fashion School. With this background, coupled with Satoshi’s love of mid-1960s style, it was inevitable that he would eventually open his own shop, and this happened in 2005. In addition to the shop, Satoshi has a well-established online business. A more indepth article on Satoshi and his business will hopefully follow in a future article.

Mendoza

nm_apr_2015_mendoza

‘Mendoza’ menswear can be found on Brick Lane, East London. Owned and run by Leroy Hamilton, and his right-hand man, Scott Ogden. The shop started in 2005 as a collective vintage shop. Eventually, Leroy took over the business and started to incorporate his own vision and designs to what we have now got today. ‘Mendoza’ prides itself on a second-to-none quality product, using British only manufactured fabrics where possible. ‘Mendoza’ also has a successful online business. As with ‘Ipcress Mod File’, I intend to cover ‘Mendoza’ in a more indepth future article.

Francois Nordmann

nm_apr_2015_francois

In most towns and cities, you can still find many great specialist vintage shops. These shops are always run by enthusiasts who in turn are usually obsessed with clothing from a bygone era. One of these shops is run by a certain Francois Nordmann. Francois’s inauspicious beginnings can be traced to his formative years rifling through his local thrift shops in Atlanta, USA. He says that treasures were easily found and he had to purchase the goods whether they fitted him or not, as he couldn’t bear to leave behind an item he had discovered! This hoarding instinct, added to his gift for finding the ‘right’ clothing, would inevitably end up with Francois opening his own shop.  When he moved to London in 1996, he eventually opened a stall in Camden Stables market. More recently, he has just moved his business to another premises still located in Camden. His shop is called ‘The Vintage Collection’ and you will find quality garments from the 1940s through to the 1970s. Francois is known for his amazing discoveries, and I now call him the Howard Carter of the vintage clothing world!

Dandy In Aspic

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Caspar de la Mare is the owner of the most well-known vintage business in London – ‘Dandy In Aspic’. Caspar’s parents mixed with certain musicians and arty types back in the 1960s , so it was inevitable that Caspar would be influenced by this upbringing. From a young age he sought out original 1960s garments wherever he could find them. As he got older, his wardrobe started to increase to such a level where he decided it would be a good idea to start selling some of his own gear. He started his first stall at Portobello Market, where the response was overwhelming. This in turn inspired Caspar on his unquenchable thirst in  finding new treasures to sell on his stall, and this now would also include selling womens vintage wear. In 2006, Caspar moved his business over to Camden Market where he has resided until most recently. He is now in the process of moving to a new property, staying in the Camden location. Caspar has got an incredible knack for sourcing such labels as ‘Take 6’, ‘I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet’ and ‘Lord John’.

With all the businesses that I have mentioned, one thing they all share is a great passion for what they are selling. In today’s drab world of retail shopping, all of the above go that extra step in making sure that the customer receives the personal service one would expect. And with businesses like these around today, men’s fashion of a certain persuasion, is in a much healthier position!


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Peter Feely

Married to Susie, both actively involved in the UK 60s scene for many years. My personal interest in 1960s culture goes back over 30 years, with my main two passions being music and fashion, both in equal measure. I run my own menswear label – ‘Perfumed Garden’ clothing, catering for the discerning dandy male - in addition to sourcing and selling vintage mens’ gear, with a particular interest in those hard-to-find jackets and shoes! I also run the Facebook group, ‘Psychedelic Clothing for Men: Then and Now’, with 2200+ members. Although I have no formal training in the fashion industry, what I do possess is a real passion, and through the years I have gained valuable knowledge of many areas of mens’ fashion from the mid to late 1960s. I’m also a musician and have played in many bands in my younger years. I’m an avid collector of music and music-related paraphernalia. I started running my own club nights back in the mid-1990s, and at present I run a psychedelic night in Derby – ‘The Perfumed Garden Of Musical Delights’. Through this I also get to DJ at many exciting events up and down the country

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April 29, 2015 By : Category : Articles Fashion Front Page Scene Style UK Tags:, ,
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