Style Icons: The Bangles

bassists, Eighties Fashion, John Taylor, picture spam, Style Icons, the bangles

I had already started musing independently about The Bangles as forgotten style icons, only for them to pop up in conversation the other day. That settled it for me. And so I started hunting for my picture spam….

There can’t be many girls around my age who didn’t want to be a Bangle. The obvious choice was, of course, the almost unnaturally beautiful Susanna Hoffs. But, in retrospect, they were all pretty worthy of a bit of worship; particularly bassist Michael Steele, former member of The Runaways and all-round excellent bassist and singer. I feel like I spent a good chunk of a few years singing their songs into my hairbrush, imagining that I would one day have clothes and hair (and, of course, a voice) exactly like theirs. I avidly listened to, and studied the pictures on, A Different Light and Everything. If I’m totally honest, Madonna didn’t do it for me so much. Not in comparison to that.

I love the early shots of them in their pseudo-Sixties girl group get-ups, through their skintight lycra, puffball skirts and lace tights of the mid-Eighties, through to the more psychedelic, hippy look towards the end of the decade. And let’s not forget the perpetually enormous hair and Sixties-influenced make-up. I’m sure they must be due a lot more respect than they are afforded these days, particularly compared to most of the dreary girl-with-a-guitar whining that goes on in the charts right now. The Go-Gos and The Runaways are always being cited, but don’t let’s forget The Bangles.

And if Susanna Hoffs wasn’t already annoyingly beautiful enough….

Seeing stripes….

brian jones, david bowie, Duran Duran, george harrison, John Taylor, keith moon, marc bolan, stripeyness, the who

I have a confession to make; I’m afraid I go weak at the knees for guys in stripes. Not any old stripey thing, I hasten to add, but nicely tailored Sixties or Seventies numbers (and a bit of early Eighties stripey shirt action, Duran-style). I’m not sure where it came from, or why it has such a strange effect on me, but I’m not sure I really care. I’m just enjoying the view…..

(sensory overload….Pattie in Ossie! George in stripes!! Where to look, where to look….)

There’s something about those Eighties bassists…

bassists, david sylvian, Duran Duran, Eighties Fashion, japan, John Taylor, martin kemp, mick karn, spandau ballet, synth

Okay, maybe I can only summon three to mind whilst writing this [will add more if I can think of them] but still…they do seem to be ageing rather well, don’t they? Recent concert photos of Mr Martin Kemp got me thinking about how dishy he and Mr Nigel Taylor still are – and then I remembered that Mick Karn isn’t doing too badly either. I’m more of a Sylvian kinda girl, but Karn comes a close second with interesting hair and make-up….

If it’s good enough for The Bass God….

Duran Duran, John Taylor, vivienne westwood

…then it’s good enough for me. Fabulous Vivienne Westwood squiggle top I just spotted on eBay, and Mr Nigel Taylor had the same one in blue!

Style on Trial : a.k.a The Two Johns

1960s, 1970s, 1980s, john bates, John Taylor, mary quant, terry de havilland, zandra rhodes

Some of you may have caught last week’s first edition of Style on Trial on BBC Four. I would have blogged about it earlier had I not been so caught up in the ballet….

Style on Trial is part of a season where the “great” British public will choose their favourite era of style from the Forties through Nineties. I have put inverted commas where sarcasm is intended, since we all know how stupid the GBP can be when it comes to voting for things. [Just look at Tony Blair. Boom boom!].

Anyway, so far so typical. But what’s this? There are slightly lacklustre line-ups for the main panel-based programme, presented by Lauren Laverne and Stuart Maconie [now them’s two style icons if ever I saw ’em…..yes, sarcasm intended again….], in the Forties and Fifties categories (presumably limited by life expectancy).

Then lo and behold, the Sixties panel includes the awesomely fabulous and debonair Mr John Bates

and the Eighties panel includes the awesomely beautiful and edible Mr John Taylor.

(This photo is dedicated to WendyB and scanned in by the lovely Miss Senti)

One intellectual/creative crush, and one lustful/musical.

Only if they had invented time-travel and fetched Ossie Clark for the Seventies edition could I have been more pleased with their choice.

It also throws up the interesting conundrum of how they will approach the whole mini skirt hoopla. The usual Mary Quant nonsense will surely incur the polite disdain of Mr Bates in the studio, so will they actually dare to mention this in one of the footage films which connect the panel discussion? I’m intrigued…..

The Eighties edition will probably find me melted into a puddle, in amongst cooing at the New Romanticism of it all.

Oddly, my own beloved Seventies era is slightly underwhelmingly represented by Zandra Rhodes, Wayne Hemingway and Terry De Havilland. All of whom I think are fab, but none of whom make me go ga-ga.

I’m waiting to see all the programmes before I decide which might be my favourite era. Frankly I love them all, but they all have their drawbacks as well. Do I offer my loyalty to Mr Bates or Mr Taylor? Or do I refrain from making that decision and go with Zandra and Terry? Decisions, decisions…..

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!

Duran Therapy (Or, Where Have All The New Romantic Boys Gone?)

1980s, Duran Duran, John Taylor, Ms Peelpants' rants, new romantic

Being as I am rather in a bad mood with men at the moment (but only the ones who’ve actually ‘done me wrong’, dear possible male readers -assuming I have *some* male readers- not you sterling chaps) and the weather is making me flop rather than pop, I’m seeking therapy in all forms. My current favourite type is Duran Duran.

I’m in a bit of an Eighties mood at the moment. Proper Eighties though. Proper New Romantic extravagance which could, quite frankly, be from any era and was itself a version of Glam Rock (my usual homeland). But the electric beats and boys with big hair and make-up are currently floating my boat. Although, saying that, a gift-wrapped Gene Hunt wouldn’t go amiss either.

A few weeks ago I went to Liverpool to see the Durans and, thankfully, my slightly obscured view of the stage (get some raised seating, Echo Arena!!) had one exception of a nearly perfect tunnel view of John Taylor. Who might just be the most beautiful man ever to have lived.

I’ve had a thing for him ever since View To A Kill, and that naughty little eyebrow raise after his shooting frenzy. My main squeeze as a five year old (I started young) was Morten Harket, so I never obsessed about John T. as much as I might. My taste has also, latterly, tended to lean towards the slightly more unconventional looking men of the world. But when Double D made a comeback with Ordinary World and Come Undone in the early 90s, I completely fell in love with his slightly more rugged prettiness and *that* excessively ruffled shirt from the latter video. I’m not sure it gets much sexier than that?

[Some kindly soul has also created a compilation of swoonworthy John Taylor moments on YouTube (for serious fans only).]

Now, thanks to the lovely Miss Senti and Penny Lane [the best possible type of groupie and the loveliest gals I could hope to meet], I’ve taken to occasional forays into New Romanticism at Electric Dreams nights. There’s nothing more wonderful for someone like me, who was born at completely the wrong time, than to dress up authentically with kindred spirits without a care and to lose yourself in music which makes your heart skip a beat. I want to do it with every era I possibly can. It’s the most amazing feeling.

My profile picture to the right is from the last time we went (I wore Sarah Whitworth and had the side hair-do) and this time I wore a dress by Symphony of Shadows and unfortunately it was so hot I had no choice but to put my hair up (which feels desperately unnatural to me…).

We do totally lose ourselves in the era. Watching Duran Duran and Adam Ant videos, laughing at Nick Rhodes’ clear revulsion at location filming (regard the length at which he holds his sparkler away from his hair in this video) and what it must do to his hair and make-up, cooing at John Taylor’s cheekbones, running away screaming in horror at Simon’s hair and clothes in the All She Wants Is video and booing every time possible Duran screentime is wasted on models, children and Andy Taylor.

So on Sunday when I emerged from the Eighties cocoon we had created this weekend, I found myself anticipating people looking a certain way. I was expected to see big, highlighted hair and mascara on each and every man I walked past. Oh! the crushing disappointment when each and every one failed me. I don’t even want to go to Hoxton,
before anyone says it, because they just don’t do it properly. In fact, no one does it properly. Even at the Electric Dreams night. The men just don’t make an effort.

Where are all the New Romantic boys?

If you find one, please return him to me immediately. A-thank you.