STEVE MCQUEEN, RICHARD AVEDON & RUTH ANSEL | HARPER’S BAZAAR, 1965

At first look there are obvious reasons to love this (February, 1965) cover of Harper’s Bazaar magazine– Steve McQueen of course, and the amazing photography of the legendary Richard Avedon. But there is another visionary manifested here, not often spoken of, especially back when this was on the newsstand. Ruth Ansel.

Ruth Ansel was a female pioneer in the world of graphic design. To read Ruth’s tales of her early days working with legends and creating a burgeoning new art form is fascinating– even though I’m not a graphic designer myself, there is so much that I appreciate and admire. An interesting footnote– 22 year old Ali MacGraw (pre-McQueen days) worked under Diana Vreeland at Harper’s Bazaar until she was finally convinced by a bevy of photographers to get out from behind the camera and strike a pose. And the rest is history, as they say…

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When Ruth Ansel put Steve McQueen, photographed by Richard Avedon (also the guest editor), on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1965, it was the first time a male appeared on the cover of a women’s fashion magazine. 

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“Point to an iconic magazine cover of the last 40 years, and chances are it was designed by Ruth Ansel. Since 1961, when she talked her way into the art department at Harper’s Bazaar, Ansel has defined the look of some of America’s visually influential publications. In the 1960s, her work for Bazaar captured a transitional moment in fashion and society. In the 1970s, she became the first female art director of The New York Times Magazine and in the 1980s she created the look of Vanity Fair.”

–Carol Kino

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STRAY CAT STRUTTIN’ STYLE | BRIAN SETZER AND THE BOYS ROCK THIS TOWN

I loved the early days of the Stray Cats back when they were young, raw and fresh from Long Island. Seeing lil’ Brian Setzer in these grainy old pics (if you can help out with any photo credits, I’d appreciate it!), some even from his pre-tattoo days built like a matchstick with a pile of hair that entered the room a full minute before he did…well, they are a sight to see. Their style was pretty tough back in the hungry years before the big payday when they rocked on a steady diet of engineer boots, creepers, skinny jeans, polka dot thrift shop tops with cut-off sleeves, bandanas and a sneer. Soon the look was gobbled up by the mainstream made-for-MTV crowd and regurgitated into a uniform with elements of new wave / new romantics fluffy hairdos, argyles, leopard print, gold lamé, Zodiac boots, and over-sized sportcoats.

Give the Stray Cats their due. Not only were they heavily responsible for a resurgence of interest in American roots Rock, Rockabilly, Swing, and Greaser culture– Brian Setzer was honored with being the first artist since Chet Atkins to be granted a Gretsch artist model guitar built and named for him. A true reflection of how strongly he was identified with Gretsch, and how he helped cement them with a new generation as the true player’s guitar for anyone serious about Rockabilly and the like. After the Stray Cats, guys like the Reverend Horton Heat, Mike Ness (Setzer played on Cheating at Solitaire) and others like them have carved-out their own sound and legacy on a Gretsch– and they owe a nod to Brian Setzer for paving the way.

A young and well-coiffed Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats back in the early 1980s

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1982, Paris– A couple of lean, mean rockers Thierry Le Coz & Brian Setzer. Brian and the Stray Cats hit the road for the UK and Europe early on, as the Teddy Boy movement and the strong  love abroad for the Sun Records & rockabilly music legends (Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy, and many more) called them there to make their mark. Thierry (yep, he’s French) is a great guitarist and started out in the Rockabilly band Teen Kats back in the early 1980s, and met Brian and the boys while they were there touring Europe.  Le Coz moved to Austin, Texas in ’84, played with Will Sexton in Will and the Kill among others, and is still doing his thing. I love that pic of them, great style.

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SEXTON BROS & ARC ANGELS | AUSTIN, THE BRAMHALL LEGACY & VAUGHAN…

I love Texas. There are more Rock, Country, Folk and Blues music greats from the Lone Star State than you can shake a stick at– not to mention the colorful and storied scene they created that lives-on today. The loyal fans who were around back then dutifully keep it alive through a rich oral history.

My buddy Bruce is one of those guys. Ask him if he recalls when the Sex Pistols toured through Texas in ’78 and his eyes light up like a Christmas tree. Before you can catch your breath, out come tales of the filth, fury & raucousness of that time like it was yesterday– “You mean that Sid Vicious kid?  Yeah man, of course I remember it. It was a mess! He was runnin’ his mouth, spittin’, and swingin’ that bass around like a baseball bat on stage– mowin’ people down.  They wanted to kill him!” Ask him about Charlie Sexton, and out come tales of the early days of him and his lil’ brother Will playing in clubs before they were teens…then with the Vaughan brothers (Jimmie & Stevie Ray)…and Charlie’s much-loved band, Arc Angels, with Doyle Bramhall II, son of the legendary Doyle Bramhall…and how Doyle (Senior) and the Vaughan brothers own history together (among many others, Jimmie and Doyle both came out of the legendary band, The Chessman) was foundational in laying the groundwork for the Dallas / Austin music scene in the 1960s & 1970s that is so prolific, relevant, and vital to this day. Whew.

These three families– The Vaughans, the Bramhalls, & the Sextons, are forever entwined with one another in the history of Texas music. Everyone knows about Jimmie & Stevie Ray Vaughan, ’nuff said. Doyle Bramhall (Senior) is a legend who left his mark on this world that sadly lost him back in November. Doyle Bramhall II is known for his early days with Charlie Sexton in Arc Angels. Young Doyle went on to be a singer in his own right, and a much in-demand guitarist who has backed-up some of the greats like Roger Waters and Eric Clapton. Then we have the Sexton brothers…

Charlie Sexton was often railed as a Post-Wave pretty boy, which he definitely was during his mainstream popularity. (I remember a few of the hip girls in High School with Charlie Sexton posters on their walls, and tee-shirts emblazoned with his pouty lips & piled-high coif on their budding chests.) His rising star somehow failed to reach its promised heights back then, but over the years Charlie has silenced his critics by becoming a very well-respected musician (his guitar playing is simply incredible) and producer who has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in the business– Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, to name just a few. And for you hipsters out there– he even played with Spoon on Austin City Limits back in 2010. Will Sexton is less known, but no less talented– and perhaps even the more sensitive, thoughtful musicians of the two. Definitely more folksy, in a good way. (In all fairness, the video clips I chose of the Sexton brothers are of when they were very young, back in the ’80s, in fact. I think it’s safe to say we all have some fashion / hair moments from those days that we’d all like to forget. Go on YouTube to see their current work, which is very solid.) Charlie and his little brother Will went off on different musical paths, but those paths will bring them together again, as both make their mark in the annals of Texas music history for us to savor, and the next generation to discover.

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July 4th, 1982 — A very young Charlie Sexton,13-yrs-old, playing with the Joe Ely Band (which toured as the opener for The Clash back in the day– you heard me right, this kid opened for The Clash.) at Gilley’s, Pasadena, TX. That Rockabilly look would carry through to Charlie’s next band, the Eager Beaver Boys– in fact, the hair would get higher and higher. –image Tracy Hart

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THE ITALIAN PRINCE OF PRINTS | RENAISSANCE MAN EMILIO PUCCI

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Emilio Pucci is a name synonymous with incredibly chic prints that rocked runways, movie stars, and rich socialites alike during the ’60s & ’70s. (Sophia Loren and Jackie Onassis were among the many fashionable tastemakers to follow him — and Marilyn Monroe was even buried in a Puci dress.) His look was so signature in its modern, graphic designs and rich colorations that you could literally spot a Pucci a mile away. Emilio Pucci’s look became iconic, and lives on as an ever-present influence in womenswear today.

His design talent notwithstanding– I’ve always found Pucci’s personal story even more colorful than his designs. Born with noble blood, the young Pucci enjoyed a life of academic excellence (earning his Master’s degree Social Science from Reed College in Oregon, along with his Doctorate in Political Science from the University of Milan), civil service (Pucci rose to the ranks of Captain and served as a torpedo bomber pilot in the Italian Army during WWII, he even befriended Mussolini’s daughter and aided her escape from Hitler’s vengeful grasp), and was an accomplished athlete who was on Italy’s Olympic Ski team. It was his love of skiing that first led him to design outfits for his team at Reed college. In 1948, while on a trip to Switzerland, Pucci’s striking ski designs this time caught the eye of a Harper’s Bazaar photographer, and set his career as a fashion designer in motion. Stanley Marcus was an early supporter of Pucci’s and was instrumental in establishing him in the US. The rest, as they say, is history.

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1959, Florence, Italy — The legendary fashion designer, Emilio Pucci, with examples of his work. — Image by © David Lees/Corbis

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1959, Capri, Italy  — The Florentine fashion designer, Emilio Pucci, lunching with his wife Christina. Pucci once had the guitarist who is serenading them flown to London to lend authentic Italian atmosphere to a show. I love this picture. — Image by © David Lees/Corbis

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DESIGNER ANDREA CAMPAGNA | KEEPER OF THE ITALIAN TAILORING FLAME

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A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of meeting with the Italian tailor and menswear designer Andrea Campagna. I will always remember walking by Barneys that day and stopping to look at the window (a shrine, really) that they had dedicated to Andrea, and his lineage. I was profoundly struck by the incredible legacy that he is a part of– and is now passing down to his own son.

You see, Andrea’s father was the master tailor– Mr. Gianni Campagna of Sartoria Domenico Caraceni, who himself had apprenticed under the master tailor Mr. Giovanni Risuglia– whose most notable personal client was the legendary style icon Gianni Agnelli. Both men are considered to be among Italy’s finest tailors ever. When I tell him this upon our meeting (like some idiot), he says to me modestly and with a warm, acknowledging smile, “Yes. It’s a good start for me.”

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“My father, he started very young. Usually, our tailors, like my father, all start between 6 and 10 yrs old. Actually, my son is now doing some stitching after school. The tailors are kind of jealous when they teach their trade– so they teach you very slowly. What you could learn in 4 yrs– they teach you in 10 yrs. First, they want to see if you’re the right person. Second, they are a little jealous. It’s a process, that took them all their life– and they don’t want anyone to learn it faster than them.” 

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THE PARTY THAT IS PETER SELLERS | 20TH CENTURY’S COMEDIC GENIUS

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Peter Sellers was a complicated soul– reportedly a violently moody, self-loathing manic depressive with a voracious appetite for drugs and women. His wild lifestyle undoubtedly weakened his heart (in 1964 alone he suffered 13 heart attacks during his marriage to Britt Ekland), and led to his untimely death at the age of 54 in 1980. Admittedly Sellers was not always the funnest guy in real life, but he was undeniably a comic genius onscreen. I never was one for The Pink Panther films, maybe I didn’t give them a fair shake– but I love the madcap classics The Party (directed by Blake Edwards), What’s New Pussycat? (screenplay by Woody Allen), Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick’s dark classic), and the simply brilliant, Being There. He hung out with George and Ringo from The Beatles, and had a penchant for style that matched his rock star lifestyle. Peter Sellers will go down as one of the most unique comedic talents of the 20th century.

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1968 — Peter Sellers in “The Party” directed by Blake Edwards

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Peter Sellers in “The Party”

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“GREGORY’S GOING TO GET SCREWED-UP FROM TIME TO TIME– AND SO AM I.”

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“Our whole world as we knew it was shot to ratshit.  I ought to write a soap opera.” 

–Cher

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Being a child of the ’70s, the one over-riding vibe stuck in my memory is that it felt messy. Very messy. Nothing felt solid, like it could all collapse at any given time. Maybe we were all dealing with the after effect of the ’60s free love, drugs, rock & roll deal– only now there were kids, complicated relationships, and worldly responsibilities popping-up that we didn’t feel ready for and certainly didn’t fully embrace. Still hanging on to our freedom– no one wanted to admit it was time to grow up and get real. We graduated from pot to cocaine and hard drugs, and went back to our father’s crutch– booze. Too much.

Looking back on these pics of Gregg Allman and Cher, I’m struck by that feeling. Two messy lives, neither one able to get out of their own way, coming together for an epic meltdown. People magazine, and the like, would have all the coked-out celebrity fodder ever needed to fill the racks at the supermarket checkout lines. Business was strong. Life felt cheap. You better at least look fucking fabulous if you want to survive.

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Cher, smoking in bed, in the grip of a 1,000 yard stare… The Allman Brothers Band (and  fans) did not have kind words for Cher– likening her to their own ‘Yoko Ono’ for distracting Gregg and the resulting disintegration of the group. Truth is, Allman was seriously coked-out and a mess.  His weight dropping down to 125 lbs at one point. His head was all fucked-up from the loss of his beloved brother Duane Allman in a motorcycle wreck. Then, unthinkably, almost exactly a year after Duane’s tragic passing–  ABB bassist Berry Oakley also died in a motorcycle wreck only about a block away.   

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1973, San Francisco– Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band –Image © Neal Preston/Corbis. While with Cher, Gregg Allman found himself labeled a snitch for testifying against ABB’s road manager Scooter Herring in exchange for his own immunity in a drug case. Seems Scooter was busted for supplying Gregg with 1/2 gram of cocaine a day– he reportedly even saved Allman’s life once by resuscitating him during an overdose. Cher stood by her man claiming, “Gregory makes a great villain because he’s taken drugs. They acted as if he had turned his road manager into a drug dealer when it was the other way around.” Most folks didn’t see it Cher’s way. Allman’s name became mud in Macon– death threats were flying and the locals wanted his head. Even the federal judge on the case smelled a rat stating, “the person who ought to be prosecuted is Mr. Allman.” Gregg claimed things were cool between he and Scooter, and that they both understood what Allman had to say and do to escape a prison sentence. It was all cool. In Allman’s mind, if anyone was the fall guy it was him. Somewhere in the middle there lies the truth.

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THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF RAY GORDON | — THROTTLED –

One of my big regrets of the year is that I wasn’t able to squirrel away the time & resources to make the trip out for –THROTTLED– Ray Gordon’s rad photography exhibition held last February at Wieden+Kennedy (Portland, OR).  Ray was cool enough to share some of the amazing pics, which just makes me feel even shittier for missing out on what was no doubt an epic event.

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– THROTTLED — Photograph by © Ray Gordon
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– THROTTLED — Photograph by © Ray Gordon

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– THROTTLED — Photograph by © Ray Gordon

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PEOPLE ALWAYS CALLED ME BLONDIE | AT SOME POINT I BECAME DIRTY HARRY

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“Hi, it’s Deb.  You know, when I woke up this morning I had a realization about myself.  I was always Blondie.  People always called me Blondie, ever since I was a little kid. What I realized is that at some point I became Dirty Harry.  I couldn’t be Blondie anymore, so I became Dirty Harry.”

–Debbie Harry

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Debbie Harry of Blondie, Coney Island, NY, 1977 — Image © Bob Gruen

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“It was in the early ’70s and I was trying to get across town at two or three o’clock in the morning.  This little car kept coming around and offering me a ride.  I kept saying ‘No’ but finally I took the ride because I couldn’t get a cab.”  

“I got in the car and the windows were are rolled up, except for a tiny crack.  This driver had an incredibly bad smell to him. I looked down and there were no door handles.  The inside of the car was stripped. The hairs on the back of my neck just stood up.”  

“I wiggled my arm out of the window and pulled the door handle from the outside.  I don’t know how I did it, but I got out. He tried to stop me by spinning the car but it sort of helped me fling myself out.”

” Afterwards I saw him on the news–  Ted Bundy.”

–Debbie Harry

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Debbie Harry, NYC, 1976 —  Image © Bob Gruen

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1978 — Debbie Harry of Blondie — Image by © Martyn Goddard/Corbis

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ALTMAN’S “McCABE & MRS. MILLER” | TSY REQUIRED VIEWING

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1970 – ’71 was definitely a high-water mark for Film Director (not to mention a badass photographer to boot) Robert Altman.  Hot on the heels of M*A*S*H (1970), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) was released and became, what many consider to be, one of Warren Beatty’s finest roles, and one of the best Westerns (or anti-Western, if you will) ever made according to many film aficionados.  It wasn’t your typical red-blooded Western by any stretch of the imagination. See it for yourself.

There was a definite charged energy on the set (shot completely in B.C.)– the reported tension between the egomaniac Beatty and the chill Altman– not to mention the sexual energy between Beatty and Christie, who were deep in the throes of a passionate love affair– is there any other kind of affair with Beatty? Then there’s the haunting film soundtrack including the legendary Leonard Cohen that accompanied Zsigmond’s “flashed” film negative. A truly ballsy move– Altman and Zsigmond shot the film “pre-fogged” through a number of filters to maintain the visual effect they wanted, rather than manipulate it in post-production. That ensured that studio wimps couldn’t later tune-down the film’s look to something more safe and conventional. Vilmos Zsigmond’s brilliant work would garner him a nomination by the British Academy Film Awards.

Enjoy these stunning images from the film and on set. Beatty, even being the huge ass that he was/is (seriously, bedded 13,000 ladies, WTF?), looks stunning (crushing it in a beard, bowler and fur coat)–and Julie Christie is definitely no slouch either. Hubba. Altman is throwing down some serious grizzly style as well– check that fringed suede jacket towards the end of the post.

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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