Mensday: Prince Charming

Eighties Fashion, Mensday, menswear, new romantic, prince

Someone never forgot the Importance of Being Dandy. That person was Prince. I used to crush on him quite badly in my early teens and I’m certain it’s all tied up with my love of flamboyant male dressers and New Romantics. Prince didn’t just do stripes, he did spots as well. He didn’t just do a bit of colour, he was all-over purple. The man is a sartorial genius as well as a musical one. Prince, how I do adore thee…

Mensday: Immense sadness

david sylvian, japan, Mensday, mick karn, new romantic

I did have another Mensday post lined up, but I have decided to postpone that until next week. I’m genuinely quite upset to hear that the great Mick Karn has passed away. I’ve only become a [huge] Japan fan in recent years, and I’m sure a lot of people don’t know them at all, but Mick’s talent transcends all this.

With love and thanks for everything your music has meant, and continues to mean to me. xx

Fantasy will set you free…

anna karina, dale bozzio, groupies, gtos, harlow, jane kahn, kahn and bell, lene lovich, miss mouse, new romantic, pamela des barres, pan's people, psychedelia, sandie shaw

Sometimes I have those crushing moments of clear, crisp reality and remember that people (people other than Lady GaGa, I mean) don’t dress up in truly fantasian styles these days. Unless ‘wags’ or ‘porn stars’ were your childhood fantasy.

What about raggedy dolls, warrior queens, belly dancers and silent film goddesses?

Whilst I continue to [apparently] shock the world with my, ooh – gasp!, novelty duck and rabbit print Miss Mouse dress. Honestly. They don’t know from shocking…

Reasons to own a time machine: The Rum Runner

Duran Duran, Eighties Fashion, jane kahn, new romantic, reasons to own a time machine, the rum runner

Yes, yes, of course I’d like to go back to the Blitz Club. But, me being me, I would make sure my first stop was The Rum Runner in Birmingham. The mirrorplex walls, neon lights, zebra print upholstery….and those five gorgeous boys who became the house band. Amongst other things: Nick Rhodes was a DJ, John Taylor was on the door, Andy Taylor flipped burgers and Roger Taylor collected glasses. Do we detect a somewhat cushier job for Mr Rhodes there?

The Berrow brothers (later managers of Duran Duran) relaunched the club in the late Seventies, inspired by Studio 54 in New York, and it became the New Romantic heart of Birmingham (via the Roxy and Bowie nights, mirroring the genesis of Steve Strange’s Blitz club). Martin Degville, the Durans, John Mulligan, iconic designers Jane Kahn and Patti Bell….hell, even Pete Townshend and Boy George paid them a visit.

Rhodes and Taylor created an amazing compilation album, Only After Dark, from their favourite tracks of the time. I’m horrified to see it’s now selling, second hand, for £90-odd on Amazon. Keep an eye out on eBay, or just download what you don’t already have from this amazing playlist they created as well. That is the kind of music which makes me want to cry with its fabulousness. Both Ends Burning? Adolescent Sex? Just mop me up…

“The Rum Runner menagerie was typically English, small, innovative and eccentric, filled with drama and humour. It was warm and friendly with a big personality.” Nick Rhodes

Sounds like my kind of place. Sadly, it was torn down in 1987. Now where IS that time machine?

Duran Duran – Planet Earth – shots from their days at the club.

The Beat – Mirror in the Bathroom – filmed at the Rum Runner.

Bit of skirt

Eighties Fashion, new romantic, sarah whitworth

Apologies for the lack of posting the last few days; I’ve had Miss Senti and Miss Charley in London for the weekend, which has been very lovely. It also meant I finally got to give my newest Sarah Whitworth piece an outing, albeit a briefer than expected one, which I got from the lovely lady herself. It’s so special, it needed a photo all its own.

I’m cooking up a blog all about her work and my complete adoration of her clothes, so fingers crossed I can get that finished soon. Complete and utter genius….

Some time on a trip to Uranus: Hunting Venus

Duran Duran, gary numan, new romantic, spandau ballet, synth

Several years ago, when I was in the first throws of my New Romantic love affair, a friend told me about something she’d seen on ITV a few years prior, called Hunting Venus. It starred Martin Clunes as the floppy-shirted bassist and Neil Morrissey as the flamboyant lead singer of a New-Rom group called The Venus Hunters, who are kidnapped and blackmailed into reforming the group. Danny Webb appears to be doing a mighty fine impression of Andy Taylor, I’m not quite sure which drummer Ben Miller was inspired by but I’m fairly certain Mark Williams is only channeling Nick Rhodes sartorially. Either that or he’s seen some interview I missed out on….

She loved it so much that she bought the soundtrack and recently gifted it to me in a clear-out. By now I’ve got most of the tracks on there anyway, but it’s still a nice thing to have. I never did see it at the time, and I still can’t find any evidence of it having been released on DVD. I desperately want to see it now, of course, especially after finding it on YouTube. In poor quality and with the soundtrack disabled for several parts, I’m not sure I want that to be the first time I get to see it.

Anyway, because the title track (Starburst; co-written by Jools Holland no less) has been stuck in my head ALL day and making me laugh like a drain every time (yes, I have a childish sense of humour) I thought I would inflict share a clip with you. Watch out for Simon Le Bon, Tony Hadley AND Gary Numan making cameo appearances. Why has this not been released? Why??

We’ve Got a Bottle of Hair Dye and We’re Gonna Use It…

Eighties Fashion, fuzzbox, new romantic, strawberry switchblade

Thought I would share possibly one of my favourite Eighties videos (and songs) by the fantastically low-budget girl group Fuzzbox (a.k.a We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It). I mainly remembered them from the later Eighties when they came back with a slicker sound, look and Barbarella-concept video for International Rescue. But I also remember my eldest brother speaking fondly of how ‘punk’ they used to be. I’m sure he’d now cringe at the idea that Fuzzbox were ever vaguely proper punk. But when I went a-hunting for inspiration for the New Rom nights, I discovered the early Fuzzbox videos and was hooked.

I honestly really wish I could style my hair and dress like these girls. I think I have a built in taste-limiter though. I usually end up more Roxy-girl or Strawberry Switchblade-esque. But perhaps one day I’ll say ‘to hell with it’ and dye my hair pink or something. The crimping and make-up I think I’ve got down pat….

Funk to Funky

1980s, adam ant, antony price, ashes to ashes, danielle dax, Duran Duran, human league, jane kahn, new romantic, perri lister, picture spam, strawberry switchblade

In honour of the new series of Ashes to Ashes starting tonight (I’m currently pausing for a moment to resist the urge to bounce around….oh what the hell, bounce bounce bounce!) here are some random early Eighties images….if you like that kind of thing!

Mmmmm…..gratuitous soggy Durans shot…..

Frilly white shirts and travels….

annacat, boy george, jane birkin, john bates, John Taylor, new romantic, patrick lichfield, vivienne westwood

Apologies for the brief break in blogging! I’ve been having a lovely little break with some friends up in Yorkshire, where I saw the fabulous Boy George in concert and got appropriately New Romantic-ed up again, and then rushed back yesterday for the launch of Richard Lester’s book on John Bates. I will be reviewing the book after I’ve got over the giddiness at meeting my design icon again, so stay tuned!

I pity the fool who doesn’t dress up and make-up for Boy George gigs!

I also visited the Lichfield retrospective at Nunnington Hall, which I can highly recommend. There’s even a photo of the delicious Oliver Reed which was a nice surprise as we went in. The infamous Jane Birkin in Ossie Clark photo was there, as well as a contact sheet from the rest of the shoot (some of which I preferred to the final definitive image).

Swing your pants! It’s Jane Birkin in Ossie Clark!

The house is National Trust and, aside from a very bizarre and slightly uncomfortable atmosphere in the upper floors [though I did not see a ghost, unfortunately], is well worth a look around as well.
The only disappointment was that they didn’t mention he had his own range of frilly shirts, sold through Annacat, in the Sixties! But that could only ever be a disappointment to someone strange like me!

Yeah Baby! Lichfield does his Austin Powers thing alongside Janet Lyle of Annacat

Oh and talking of white frilly shirts…. On a day trip to Liverpool, I officially fell in love with a completely divine white shirt in Vivienne Westwood with three enormous bow ties down the front. In my current deliriously New Romantic phase, where I often find myself gazing longingly at photos of John Taylor in a ruffly shirt [it’s hard to decide which of those two things I want more], there can be little better than an actual Westwood one. I don’t often post about modern pieces, and I still can’t find a photo to show you, but I make the exception for Vivienne because she’s the very definition of fabulous! Of course it’s a Gold Label priced at about £350, Miss Peelpants does nothing by halves, but a girl can dream can’t she?

In lieu of a photo of the Westwood shirt I want, here are some gratuitous images of John Taylor in white shirts.

Any excuse!

Fashion Icon of the Moment: Perri Lister

1980s, Duran Duran, fashion icon of the moment, new romantic, perri lister

One time Hot Gossip dancer, member of Steve Strange’s Visage, long term girlfriend of Billy Idol and the gyrating topless blonde in The Chauffeur video, Perri Lister is an absolute icon of all that was fabulous about the early Eighties.

With those huge, feline eyes always made-up beautifully to the hilt and her angular but still feminine figure…oh, and that insanely frothy, madly coloured hair, she is the very essence of the New Romantic ethos.

No mere arm candy was she though. As well as being a talented dancer, she co-wrote many of Billy’s biggest hits and provided vocals for him, for Visage and for her own short-lived group, Boomerang.

She’s also still completely beautiful and seemingly hasn’t aged a bit since her Eighties heyday. Perri, we salute you…and request personal make-up lessons immediately!

The Chauffeur. Lack of Durans are slightly made-up-for by fabulously evocative and stylish video (and Perri of course!)

On Italian TV with Visage performing Fade To Grey