Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is it CP Company? Is it Engineered Garments? No, it’s Debenhams

I am absolutely in love with this new coat from the s/s 2010 collection at Debenhams. Literally, I’d marry it and take it on holiday to Magaluf, if I hadn’t been wed last September.

Designed by John Rocha for his collection at your mum’s favourite department store, it yet again proves how Debenhams’ policy of getting proper designers in to do quality clobber is paying dividends. The fact this coat looks like it should cost 400 notes, rather than its actual price of £70, is testament to the quality that can be found on the high street if you look hard enough. Just don’t tell everybody. Shh.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Buying rambling shoes, without the intention of going rambling

I’ve always liked a bit of “mountaineering chic”, you know, Berghaus coat, woolly hat, clumpy shoes made in Austria etc, so when I saw on the excellent Oneupmanship that F-Troupe’s “Rambler” model was going for fifty notes, it was straight onto the Schu website. The contents of the package is displayed in all its glory here.

The key to wearing hiking shoes is making sure they’re part of an appropriate outfit. You can’t wear them with a suit, skinny jeans or even a light summer get-up. What you need is thick jumpers, dry-as-a-board indigo denim and coats that not only resist the weather, but go round to its house and break its legs with a baseball bat.

Sadly, as I’m sans Berghaus at the moment, I'm having to place mine with a K-Way waterproof coat and some rather fetching Japanese jeans courtesy of Uniqlo. Not bad, and it certainly beats the German fashion of coupling your boots with a pair of tight Speedos.

Even though we’ll soon be entering spring (no, really), you’re looking at a good two-to-three months looking like Chris Bonnington, before the boots and coats are put away in favour of boat shoes, pumps, chinos and Harrington jackets. And with Adidas relaunching their range of hiking shoes, it looks like we’ll be dressing for the north face of the Eiger for some time to come. Right, where’s the rope and crampons?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The pre-acid house late ’80s

Looking at the new season collections, it’s like travelling back 23 years to 1987. The drainpipe jeans and smackhead-influenced rock “chic” of recent years has been replaced by something a little smarter. A look that harks back to an earlier time (1986-88), which in itself was referencing another era (1950s America).

Though barely remembered, by all but the most anorak-ish of fashion er, anoraks, this was a great time for clothes, as the picture above, taken from the brilliant new 80s Casual book, demonstrates. The scally look of the mid-’80s, with its slim-fitting silhouette was superseded by something altogether looser. Out went the Farahs and Shermans, in came chinos, baggy jumpers by brands like Armani, Chipie and Chevignon plastered with retro slogans, and jeans from Ball and C17. This probably explains why I started wearing a blue, nautical blazer by French Connection and trying to look serious in pictures (below).

Over the top of this new uniform. you couldn’t go far wrong with a chino-coloured cotton jacket, often bought from Next, a brand at its absolute zenith during this era. The look was topped off (literally) with a bouncing quiff, cut short around the sides for that Milan catwalk-meets-Elvis-on-holiday-in Capri look. And who rocked it better than anyone? That’ll be the chap below.

I remember going to Stoke away with Liverpool on a grimy, rain-sodden day in January 1988, dressed, as my mate’s dad said, looking like “an ice cream man” in the full chino garb. No longer was I a wannabe scally, looking to the terraces of Anfield for my sartorial inspiration, something else was calling.

I now knew there was a bigger world out there, one I’d seen on programmes like the peerless Rough Guides on BB2 and Channel 4’s Network 7. One in which posh girls of easy virtue were impressed with what you wore and people went to Milan to buy clothes, rather than St John’s Market in Liverpool. They all danced to weird Eurodisco and this strange, but infectious music called house. I liked the look of this world very much. I’d make it my business to get to know it better.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

What football means to the people…

The first clip is – though I'm guessing here – from an awards ceremony for the Greek club, PAOK of Thessaloniki. It’s special for a number of reasons. Firstly, the song, obviously some age-old supporters’ anthem, is fantastic, a supremely catchy tune with just a few lines that everyone knows. Then there’s its relentless repetition. Sung over and over again by everyone from old grannies and granddads to chunky lads on the top balcony who are obviously a bit useful with a flare and a flick-knife, the song buries itself in your consciousness, refusing to let go until you find yourself humming it on the bus, in meetings at work, in bed even. And finally, near the end, while the sparkly Eurovision-style presenters try and bring some order back to the ceremony, you’ll notice – and I can’t believe I’ve witnessed this – both a nervous-looking, tinpot army general, wondering whether to break it all up or not and A GREEK ORTHODOX PRIEST taking pictures of the scene with his mobile phone. Really, does it get any better?

The two following clips are in stadiums. The first comes from the Argentine team San Lorenzo, whose supporters have taken the club anthem/bouncing interface to a whole, new, undreamt-of level, while the second is of BIll Shankly’s lap of honour at Anfield following Liverpool’s League Championship triumph of 1973. Note in this clip how Shanks has his photo taken by several snappers, each of whom is a replica of the doomed photographer in The Omen. Also, look out for the none-more-’70s pitch invader, who’s resplendent in flares and the absolute key item of any football fan from that decade – the butcher’s coat. Fantastic.