I was pretty stoked when Doug Gunn sent me a copy of — Vintage Menswear — A Collection from the Vintage Showroom — as I’ve long been an admirer. Being in the menswear trade myself, London has always been a favorite stop for inspiration, and there’s no better place to be inspired than The Vintage Showroom. The collection is insane and beautifully presented, covering everything from academia, sporting, hunting, motoring, military wear, workwear, denim– it’s no surprise that they are one of the most complete and prestigious vintage dealers in the world. Of special interest to me are all things related to motoring as you see below including vintage leathers, Barbour, Belstaff, etc., and all the great snippets of the history, construction, and function behind the pieces.


CHAMPION CAR CLUB JACKET, 1950s– “This is a simple, zip-up cotton jacket with fish-eye buttons at the cuffs and a short collar. What it signifies, however, is so much more. The hand-embroidered, chain-stitched imagery on its back places it squarely in the 1950s, at the height of the hot-rodding craze in the US. Hot-rodding was said to have been driven by young men returning from service abroad after World War II who had technical knowledge, time on their hands, and the habit of spending long days in male, if not macho, company. Rebuilding and boosting cars for feats of both spectacle and speed — often 1930s Ford Model Ts, As and Bs, stripped of extraneous parts, engines tuned or replaced, tires beefed up for better traction, and a show-stopping paint job as the final touch — became an issue of social status among hot-rodding’s participants. This status was expressed through clothing too. There were the ‘hot-rodders’ of the 1930s, when car modification for racing across dry lakes in California was more an innovative sport than a subculture, complete with the Southern California Timing Association of 1937 providing ‘official’ sanction. But by the 1950s, hot-rodding was a style too.  decade later it was, as many niche tastes are, commercialized and mainstream, with car design showing hot-rod traits.”  –Vintage Menswear, Douglas Gunn, Roy Luckett& Josh Sims

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The flamboyantly natty Savile Row tailor Tommy Nutter with his dogs. “Although tailoring was quite distinct from fashion then, Tommy Nutter changed the way men dressed,” says Dennis Nothdruft, who co-curated the 2011 retrospective (Tommy Nutter: Rebel on the Row) at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London along with tailor Timothy Everest. “And he changed the way Savile Row was seen. Before Nutters it was an exclusive, closed-off world. They didn’t even have window displays. Though, of course, the rest of the row looked upon him as an upstart whose shop was on the wrong side of the street.” (The huge purple candles in the shape of phalluses can’t exactly have endeared him to his neighbors… Another legend, Simon Doonan, was Nutter’s window dresser back in those days.) via


Tommy Nutter will always be known as the flamboyant bee in Savile Row’s stuffy bonnet. Trained as a traditional tailor, the sexy and innovative Nutter was not happy following the status quo of stuffy Savile Row and literally took matters into his own hands. He created a sensation with his bold, signature look– wide shoulders, unapologetic lapels, bold fabrics & patterns. Nutter soon became the darling of the celebrity and rock ‘n’ roll scene– clothing the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bianca Jagger, Elton John, Eric Clapton, The Beatles,  Vidal Sassoon, Twiggy, David Hockney, and many others. His influence can still be seen today, through the apprentices who worked under him (John Galliano for one), and in the young new designers of today (E. Tautz) who are rediscovering his work. Tommy Nutter has forever left a mark on Savile Row, and defined a moment in time when bigger truly was better.

Designers like Tom Ford (who favors strong lapels and chunky neckwear) have famously cited Tommy Nutter as an influence. Bianca on Mick Jagger’s arm as he struts in his Tommy Nutter duds– from the book Day of the Peacock by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross that is an incredible visual chronicle of the flashy and flamboyant menswear style from 1963-1973.

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“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”

― Jimi Hendrix

Too often in life we seek only to be heard instead of truly listening to, and understanding those who matter to us most– the ones that we love in this world. Jimi knew, and it would serve us well (me especially) to heed his wise words. At the end of the day, it’s the love that we give and receive– in other words, relationships, that make this life beautiful and worth living. Sometimes we must decrease so that the relationship can increase. After all, what’s more important–  being happy, or proving how smart we are and being right all the time?

Jimi Hendrix, 1967  Image by © Gered Mankowitz

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The PRPS NOIR Collection is not about black denim. Noir utilizes the best selvedge denim fabrics available anywhere in the world– with incredibly extensive washes and old school wear, tear & repair details that are authentic to genuine vintage jeans painstakingly collected over the years worn by real miners, mechanics, and laborers alike. Each jean is handmade and can take up to a week to produce. No one is doing denim at this same level. Noir represents the best of PRPS– true collector’s items.


My Friend Donwan Harrell of PRPS gave me a preview of his yet to be released denim line–Noir. Almost 10 years later, PRPS continues to innovate and evolve denim like no one else. In fact, you can thank Donwan in large part for the Japanese denim phenomenon that we have today– he was the the first American to manufacture jeans in Japan, using Japanese fabric and Japanese construction. No one else was doing it. In the founding days of PRPS, Donwan set out to find the best quality selvedge denim in the world, and it wasn’t at Cone Mills— it was Okayama, Japan. (Back then Cone was really struggling just to stay alive, facing stiff pricing competition from Turkey, India, China– and the whole “Americana, US heritage brands, made in USA” menswear movement hadn’t happened yet, so there wasn’t the appetite like we have today for American selvedge denim from all the denim brands that have cropped-up in recent years…) In search of the old vintage looms, Donwan found a family there that for generations had been keeping the quality and heritage of old school selvedge denim alive. One thing that many don’t realize is that Japanese weaving technology has long been light-years ahead of much of the world. The old Toyoda and Sakamoto shuttle looms dating back many decades were much more advanced than the Draper looms that Cone Mills utilized for Levi’s.

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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…

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. 

“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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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

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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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.

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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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.


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

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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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.”

“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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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.

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

Peter Sellers in “The Party”

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