HOW TO CLASH ART, MUSIC & STYLE | TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME ROCKER PAUL SIMONON

“Clothes were where my aesthetic instincts came out then. They helped make the group accessible.”

–Paul Simonon

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Back in 1976, it was the wily manager, Bernie Rhodes, who instructed Mick Jones to recruit Paul Simonon into the group that would soon become The Clash, simply because he looked the part. “I was a bit Bowie, a bit suedehead back then,” says Simonon. “And, more importantly, I was at art college. Mick liked that. He was always big on pop history. He knew all about Stuart Sutcliffe, who was Lennon’s best mate in the early days of the Beatles, and a proper artist. I remember Mick introducing me to all his mates– ‘This is my new bass guitarist, Paul. He can’t play but he’s a painter.'”

The rest, as they say, is rock’n’roll history. Together, at Rhodes’s urging, they recruited Joe Strummer to the cause, and the Clash became the coolest punk group on the planet.  When the London punk scene began, Simonon was a fledgling painter, fresh from Byam Shaw art college which, back then, was just up the road in Notting Hill. In the spirit of the times, he  drip-painted his bass guitar in the style of Jackson Pollock and learned how to play by writing out the chords and sticking them on to the instrument’s neck. His reggae-influenced bass playing soon became integral to the group’s sound.

Simonon’s traditionalist approach to painting is surprising given that, within the often volatile creative dynamic of the Clash, he was the conceptualist, the one who paid most attention to the visuals, the image. He painted the backdrop to the Clash’s rehearsal studio, and designed some of the later stage sets, including the dive-bombing Stukas that echoed their often explosive performances. You could tell the Clash were art-school punks from the start, what with those shirts stencilled with slogans and that paint-splashed bass guitar.

“That was the art student in me trying to find a look that would make us stand apart from the Sex Pistols,” he says, laughing. “The Buzzcocks were very Mondrian, and we were Pollock. As a painter, though, I’m essentially old-fashioned. Conceptualism just doesn’t do it for me. I love Walter Sickert, Samuel Palmer, Rubens and Constable. That’s just the way I am. I love putting paint on canvas, getting lost in the process of painting.”

–Sean O’Hagan

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones & Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

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The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

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1950’s BRIONI ROMAN STYLE TAKES TINSELTOWN | SACKING IVY STYLE

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Tailor Nazareno Fonticoli & socialite Gaetano Savini founded one of Italy’s most iconic fashion brands in Rome, 1945.  The pair wanted a name that would evoke both the ultimate in luxury, as well as being short and memorable for the American, fashion-forward men they were targeting. They chose “Brioni” — a small island off the coast of Croatia (once owned by Italy), that was playground to the rich and famous.

Fonticoli’s sartorial skill and Savini’s social networking prowess proved to be a potent one-two punch that rocked the boxy Ivy League sack suit, and stuffy Savile Row, back on their heels.  Their reputation and legend grew strictly by word of mouth, as Hollywood’s biggest stars (Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne to name just a few) became faithful customers and highly visible spokesmen for Brioni– a brand that would not see the need or desire to advertise in the traditional sense until some 40+ years later.

Along the way, they set the gold standard by preserving and innovating the art of fine Italian tailoring. In 1978, Brioni opened what is now one of Italy’s most highly regarded tailoring schools– offering a four-year program that not only keeps Brioni’s own talent teeming, but also the world’s best fashion houses and clothiers.  Bravo!

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Brioni Roman Style S.p.A. co-founder, Gaetano Savini with handsome Hollywood icon, John Wayne.

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In 1960, the young tailor from Abruzzo and the entrepreneur from Umbria made their mark as the world’s ambassadors of Italian Sartorial excellence.  Brioni melded ancient sartorial principles with modern industrial organization, thus staying ahead of evolving fashion trends and technology. via

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | TOM WOLFE THE ORIGINAL THIN, WHITE DUKE

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“There are just two classes of men in the world, men with suits whose buttons are just sewn onto the sleeve, just some kind of cheapie decoration, or—yes!—men who can unbutton the sleeve at the wrist because they have real buttonholes and the sleeve really buttons up.”

The Secret Vice, by Tom Wolfe

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In 1952, a promising young pitching prospect out of Washington and Lee University showed up for a tryout with the New York Giants (the baseball Giants, that is– they hadn’t yet decamped for San Francisco).  The prospect made a decent showing: three innings, three men on base, no runs scored.  Good screwball, nice sinker, not much heat.  “If somebody had offered me a Class D professional contract,” says the prospect– whose name was Tom Wolfe– many decades later, “I would have gladly put off writing for a couple of decades.”  But the Giants cut Wolfe after two days, and he became a giant of another kind. (Via)

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

Recently, in the wake of the recession, Wall Street greed, and the wreckage of Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns et al, the term “Master of The Universe” keeps getting thrown around to describe these fallen titans of Lower Manhattan.  Whenever I hear this term I always think of the man who penned it, my nominee for the TSY Style Hall of Fame, Tom Wolfe.

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1970s, New York City — Author Tom Wolfe — Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis

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Cultural Chronicler is another term that also gets thrown around a lot– I mean one well reviewed novel and Bret Easton Ellis was the voice of his generation (I remember I lived through it), but few American wordsmiths can actually lay claim to writing about the people and events that shaped a lot of the last 50 years of the 20th Century as a largely inside observer, and in the process coining some phrases that became part of the popular lexicon.

Tom Wolfe always managed to get underneath the surface of events and reveal the most primal of human emotions-greed, arrogance, courage, humor, longing-and come up with phrases like “Radical Chic”, “The Me Generation”, “Social X-Ray”, “The Right Stuff”, and one of his favorites “Good Ol Boy” which he used to describe the racecar driver Junior Johnson.

Other than being an avid reader of Wolfe’s work I have a somewhat personal connection.  For a few years we lived in the same NYC neighborhood and while I can never say I spoke to him, he was impossible to miss.  A tall man, with an aquiline nose Wolfe was always decked in an immaculate white suit, high collar Jermyn Street custom dress shirt, splendid tie, pocket square that screamed dandy, white shoes, and occasionally white hat.  His style was very much like his writing, elegant but with a sense of humor and irony.  I mean who dresses like that anymore!  Yet Tom Wolfe looked crisp on the hottest of days.

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Tom Wolfe — the American journalist, pop critic and novelist, 1980. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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TSY x GQ ITALY

 

I’m very pleased and proud to announce that THESELVEDGEYARD will now be a regular VINTAGE feature in GQ Italy.  TSY debuted in the March 2010 issue, selecting 10 timeless, real men of style– and we look forward to a long and prosperous partnership filled with lots of authentic goodness.

So friends– please brush-up on your Italian and follow along.

Ciao,

JP

Marlon Brando relaxing at home with typewriter, and furry little friend.  –Image © Murray Garrett

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James Dean on the set of “Giant” — Image by © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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Steve McQueen displaying his signature, perfect balance of allegiance and rebellion.

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THE TRENCH COAT MAFIA | ICONIC OUTERWEAR THAT’S ALWAYS IN STYLE

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“The trench coat is the only thing that has kept its head above water.”

–Jack Lipman

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Having spent years ridin’ the rails on the commuter train in-and-out of Manhattan, there are clearly two leading outerwear icons that are inescapable– the Barbour Beaufort, and the timeless Burberry Trench. Both are must-haves for the Northeastern climate in terms of their functionality, versatility and style.  It’s not uncommon at all the see a Barbour over a sportcoat or suit, although I oft feel the length and proportions are somewhat off– not to mention I like to keep the Barbour waxed within an inch of it’s life, and therefore it’s not exactly the best companion for co-mingling with tailored clothing.  For me, there’s nothing better than seeing a seasoned, well put-together professional sporting the old school classic essentials– Ghurka bag, Burberry trench, J. Press suit, and cordovans.  The trench is tearin’ up the runway right now, but don’t buy it for the reviews– wear it for its epic merits.

Now, if only proper headwear would make a comeback– and I’m not talking about knit caps.

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1985– Artist David Hockney Smoking Cigar Outside Barn. –Image by © Michael Childers/Corbis

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | FRENCHMAN JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmon*

JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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Jean-Paul “Bébel” Belmondo, sometimes hailed as France’s answer to Humphrey Bogart or Steve McQueen, took the international film scene by storm in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 classic Breathless. Check out a primer of his best films here. Belmondo, the sexy and stylish star of the Nouvelle Vague (the new wave of cult French cinema), worked with leading directors from Louis Malle to Truffaut, and was widely heralded for his comedic and action star talents (he routinely performed his own stunts)– but for some reason, he never really connected with the mainstream American audience.

Jean-Paul Belmondo’s seemingly carefree chic and sensational style were no accident– he had an innate sartorial talent that was light years ahead of his peers, and remains the benchmark for classic French street style.  In fact, he’s easily one of the most legendary style icons of our time– no doubt about it.

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Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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NOTES FROM THE SF UNDERGROUND | MAN UP, AND THE NEW MAIN STREET

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

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In the last few years we have been inundated by Washington and the media with news about the decline of “Main Street”.  I have to admit I have never been to this mythical place.  By the time I entered my consuming years, Main Street had long been shut down and all commerce was conducted at the rather impersonal confines of the local mall.  I imagine this mythical Main Street was a place with unique shops and businesses, where you not only went to buy a few things but catch up on local events, meet friends, and could even say hello to a proprietor by name (bit different then trying to get Hunter or Missy to help you at Abercrombie).  The customer mattered on Main Street; things were a little slower and had a lot more soul.  It was the opposite of the poor service, disposable products, and hassle that defines today’s buying experience.  I mean, I’m not for reckless consumerism, far from it– but shouldn’t buying something special for yourself be fun and painless?

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Worst Main Street, May 1951 –photo by Francis Miller

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The best way I can describe the Man Up pop up market that happened this past weekend is this– it’s part 1950’s trade association, part block party, part Hippie co-op (it is San Francisco after all), part European open-air market, and all punk rock garage band.  Having been in the menswear industry for the last twenty years, I’ll admit– I’ve become a bit jaded.  I thought what I would find were a bunch of hipsters, and I hate hipsters.  What I found were serious business owners– whose passion for their product was infectious, and who are strongly dedicated to producing well-made products that last, and make ‘em right here in the USA.   I found a new business model that cuts-out the middle man and creates a deep loyalty between the consumer, brand, and owner/operator.  I found business people who were generous, passionate, knowledgeable, and friendly.    I think I found Main Street in the age of social media.

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BUNNY ROGER | BRITISH STYLE ICON YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF

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Legendary Style Icon Bunny Roger fiercely donned.  He invented the tight-cut Capri trousers while on holiday on the island in 1949, and by the 1950s he was sponsoring a neo-Edwardian silhouette – four-button jackets with generous shoulders and mean waists, lapelled waistcoats, high-cut trousers – for plain, checked and striped suits. Accessories, whether a high-crowned bowler or ruby cuff-links, were indispensable.

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As a menswear nut, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit fawning over the sartorial splendor of the innovative, meticulous (and arguably neurotic) Prince of Wales.   And if you’re a true fan of the man credited with such style staples as turn-ups (trouser cuffs) and the Windsor knot (neckwear), you’d definitely be remiss in not knowing about the one and only– Bunny Roger.  Quite honestly, he’s definitely an acquired taste, and the dandy of all dandies– and now fabulously back in the spotlight with a recent inspiration nod from John Galliano.  Bunny Roger, with his epic style and fabled colorful persona is the definitely the yin to the Princes’ yang.  Bunny possessed a bold flair for tailoring and attitude that rivals his regal peer in terms of eccentricity, inspiration, and attention to detail.  To simply say he’s an original does not do the man justice.

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Circa 1951– Neil Munro (Bunny) Roger, (1911–1997), by Francis Goodman © reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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From The Guardian–

Bunny Roger was probably not the most fearsome soldier the allied army has ever had in its ranks. Fighting for the British Rifle Brigade during the second world war, he went to battle wearing a chiffon scarf and brandishing a copy of Vogue. Once, when his sergeant asked him what should be done about the advancing enemy troops, Roger, who liked to wear rouge even with his khakis, replied, “When in doubt, powder heavily.” When he ran into an old friend in the hellish, bombed-out monestary of Monte Cassino in Italy he responded to his pal’s incredulous “What on earth are you doing here?” greeting with one word: “Shopping”. As dandies go, Roger wasn’t a massive spender – he bought a mere 15 suits a year from his London tailor, Watson, Fargerstrom & Hughes, but, boy, was he ever particular. He liked exquisitely cut tartans, Edwardian-style jackets in pale shades of cerulean blue, lilac and shell pink, sharply tapered at the middle to show off his astonishing 29-inch waist. Roger, like all proper dandies, rivaled Oscar Wilde in the one-liner department. When a gobby cab driver yelled from his window, “Watch out, you’ve dropped your diamond necklace, love,” Roger replied, in a flash, “Diamonds with tweed? Never!”

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Shots From the Sotheby’s catalog– Bunny’s (along with his brother’s) belongings were auctioned off back in ’98 where several of Bunny’s neckties were snatched up by none other that uber-smooth crooner Bryan Ferry.

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