Adolphe Menjou below, elegantly reigned as one of the best-dressed stars of the silver screen during the 1920s, ’30s & ’40s. The mustachioed sartorialist immediately brings to mind the dapper & distinguished gents of the Esky/Apparel Arts era of menswear illustration. He always dressed impeccably and carried himself in a way that few could. Look carefully at the picture below with the parrot on his shoulder– Glen plaid dress shirt & tie under a crazy, chunky houndstooth sportcoat.
Menjou above left, back in 1927 sans his signature full mustache and his flawlessy slicked-back hair. The bottom left photo looks so much like Morrissey that I had to do a double take– well, the image is actually a photoshop creation merging the two style icons.
Morrissey blew the ’80s youth music & fashion scene wide open as frontman for The Smiths, and carried on solo without missing a beat when ongoing tension between he & Johnny Marr finally became too much. I still remember seeing him on the cover NME (New Music Express) and knowing right then that guy really had something special. Lot’s of guys were quickly co-opting the look– hair piled high on top with a sharp fade on the sides and back, white tee, baggy thrift store sportshirt or cardigan, pegged levi 501s, and old brogues or creepers.
And back in those days, getting your hands on new (alternative) music was not so easy for the kids in the ‘burbs. The chains were all so corporate and sterile– carrying all the same top 40 dribble as everyone else. I’d go to Tower Records and there would be a sliver of a section called “imports” and that’s where I’d comb through to find what I’d read about in British music magazines, or heard on someone’s mix tape. Then I’d rush home and whole myself up in my room– listening to it over and over again on my headphones, soaking it in. It was exciting because you were literally hunting for treasure, and discovering a lot of great music through research, diligence and chance.
You feel more connected to something you’re personally invested, rather than when things come too easy– which is most things these days.
Hearing The Smiths for the first time was something you just don’t forget. I’d never heard anyone sing with both pure earnestness and emotion like Morrissey, and then switch-up and be so completely sarcastic and flippant on the next track. His sound and lyrics were completely unique, personal and moving–still are. And Johnny Marr’s shimmering wall of guitar God-ness was incredible– still is.