Bolo ties

•June 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This rather unusual bolo tie was made by Newcastle-based artist Carlos Rosati, who works under the name The Cloud Commission. Carlos is a graffiti artist, and is influenced by all sorts of street and naive art, including the work of railroad hobos – which I think is reflected in this tie.

I also have a bolo tie in the shape of a diamond, but carved in wood, similar to this. Carlos made that too. I wear them with the three remaining western shirts I still own, having done a fairly massive clearout of shirts earlier this year.

There’s some discussion as to the origin of the bolo tie, but there’s little doubt they first found favour in the West and South of the USA, with strong links to Mexican and Native American cultures, and of course, cowboys.

So popular are these ties, that the State of Arizona made they their official neckware in 1971 and New Mexico designated the bolo as their official neckwear in 1987.  It’s also th state tie of Texas. Which is exactly what you’d expect isn’t it?


Camp coffee

•June 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Although I’ve never particularly liked the drink, the Camp coffee label has always held a fascination for me, particularly sartorially.

My parents drank it, so even as a child I would weigh up which of the  stylish gents I most wanted to dress like. The brave Scots’ Guard, or the loyal Indian manservant. I had no particular awareness of colonial politics at that time, so I saw the native batman as being rather a romantic figure, perhaps attending to his master’s emotional and physical needs, as well as the polish on his Ghillie Brogues.

I did a search today, trying to find the label again, and noticed (that like all product labels with longevity) it has changed over time. Note how the Indian currently sits as an equal alongside the officer, when at one stage he stood by ready to be of service.

It still seems romantic though and is forever an image that brings me a certain kind of nostalgic peace.


•May 31, 2011 • 4 Comments

This wonderful portrait was taken by photographer Mr Kit Haigh in Whitley Bay. Mr Haigh uses old fashioned techniques and up-to-date equipment to create the sort of pictures that your grandparents would have had done perhaps once a year.

Mr Haigh lit me using an ancient theatre lamp, diffused through some strange plastic cloth and bounced off a large white board. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with a photograph. Lady Koo bought me the sitting as a birthday present – she sure knows how to buy a gift.


Brown pinstriped three piece suit with velvet collar – gift from my friend Mick.
Hilditch & Key shirt from a charity shop in Chillingham Road (£2.50)
Tie from The Buffalo Exchange in Brooklyn NYC ($5)
Spectacle frames by Toni & Guy (£30)
Pipe – Bent Apple from McGahey’s Exeter.

I dig the Pioneers

•May 30, 2011 • 1 Comment

With thanks to Dave Graney, who originally alerted me to the style of the West, here’s William Buffalo Bill Cody.

Dave Graney

•May 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been reading the writings of Dave Graney, an entertaining Australian musician, dandy and stylist that I first came across around the time of his Night of the Wolverine album.

His recently published book is called 1001 Australian Nights, and as well as being a tour diary, is also an autobiography, a series of reviews, and musings on his musical and sartorial influences. Of which there are many.

Dave Graney has spent his career avoiding the cliches of Oz-rock. He’s keen on exploring the sort of country music albums you find in the Op-shops of outback towns. He’s more likely to be listening to (and absorbing) George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Les Baxter, Serge Gainsbourg, Lionel Rose or Jimmy Webb, than he is the Mojo/Uncut dieties – Dylan, Young, Lennon etc.

Musically, he’s working with his partner Clare Moore to create songs that drift around the edges of country, exotica, urban storytelling and film soundtrack. Instrumentation is often free of drums and cymbals, and he employs six-string bass and vibes.

Sartorially, I’ve always been wowed by Graney. In the early nineties, he was sporting a sort of Buffalo Bill look, the kind of vibe you’d get on Deadwood. He was listening to Quicksilver Messenger Service and The (original US) Charlatans at the time. Then he reappeared in a gorgeous purple jumpsuit and pimp-style homburg. He’s worn leather waistcoats and a Cruising cap with a peak.

He goes against the grain and comes up trumps every time. He’s single-handedly reintroduced the cravat to Australia. And the safari suit. And the blazer.

He’s had a series of classic moustaches, and has never attempted to hide his baldness with a comb-over OR a crop. One day I dream of seeing Dave revitalise the classic Aussie civil servant/teacher look: Blundstones, long socks, stubbies, short-sleeved shirt with a tie.

In his book he talks about trawling the Op-shops of Country NSW on the hunt for vintage suede and leather clothing.  I can only recommend you take some time and spend it on Dave’s website, with his music, or with his book. You can only benefit from the influence of his originality.

Thank goodness for homosexuals!

•May 17, 2011 • 1 Comment

There are very few fashion trends worth a damn that haven’t had their origins in gay or black subculture. Mods dressed like slick American jazz musicians, skinheads adopted the dress of Jamaican street youth and both looked as camp as a bottle of coffee. These days many gay men want to look like skinheads, which brings the whole thing full circle of course.

One of the most hilarious educational films of the fifties is Sid Davis’ infamous ant-homosexual propaganda work Boys Beware, which I’ve attached below:

Ralph is of course a VERY stylish chap, as well he should be (dangerous homosexual predator that he is). He reminds me of my hero, John Waters. In the fifties, even the perverts were well-dressed.

These films are from the amazing Prelinger Archive. Check it out for some incredible style tips – this collection of out of copyright films from the 1940-60s should be your fashion bible.

Newcastle Fashion Week

•May 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Lord Leigh ParkLady Koo is quite heavily involved in Newcastle Fashion Week, whereas the beginning and end of my involvement will be this photograph.

Emerging from the City Library yesterday I was grabbed by Miss Tang, who asked me to pose for a photograph by Mr Roozbayani. Despite having read i-D since the third issue, and being a regular visitor to Hel-looks, this is the first time I have ever been asked to pose for a ‘straight up’.

I’ll be attending several of the events during Newcastle Fashion Week, including Lady Koo’s styling workshop and her charity shop challenge.


Hat – Flip Newcastle
Velvet collared brown pinstriped jacket (part of a three-piece suit) – Gift from a friend.
Kanga Kabisa shirt, made in Zanzibar, purchased in Stockholm (€40).
Edwin Jeans purchased at Union in Grey Street Newcastle.
Leather satchel, bought at a flea market in Helsinki (€1), but restored by Jake Wilson Craw.
Enamel St Pauli badge – bought from the FC St. Pauli club shop (€4).