Summer isn't all shorts and sandals, it can also be a time for formal occasions and those days when you just feel like making an effort. Putting on a suit, after a break, can be, almost, liberating. It's that old feeling of a uniform that runs throughout British menswear and that comfort in feeling 'dressed'.
A checked suit adds more interest, a waistcoat adds more formality and a black vinyl raincoat adds, well, it just ADDS! See more of the vinyl trend - here
Credits - Coat - ASOS, Suit - Remus Uomo, Shirt - Simon Carter, Shoes - Base London
Being British, there is no escaping football, and in turn, footballers. On the back pages, the front pages and every page in-between, these spoilt young men are entertainment, both on and off the field.
The new book ‘Saturday Night Fever Pitch’ by Simon Doonan - The Magic and Madness of Football Style - is a celebration of the beautiful game through the lens of fashion.
Left - Cover of Saturday Night Fever Pitch. More disco balls than 'Golden Balls'!
‘I love nothing more than to contemplate Andy Carroll’s man bun. Where others see reasons for mockery – a swishy sarong, a bleached mohawk, a camo-painted Bentley – I see mysterious self-disclosure, creativity, swagger and style. This is the lens through which I view the world of footie. I am, therefore, less ‘Fever Pitch’ and more ‘Saturday Night Fever Pitch’.
Who knew that Simon Doonan, Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York, would be such a football fan? But, then I suppose it’s all part our new understanding and inclusive society!
Footballers combined with fashion is like watching a car crash: you can’t take your eyes off a bad one. But, they have the income to make even the most expensive things disposable - unfortunately, the terrible tattoos are relatively permanent.
What they do influences, for better or worse. Just look at the recent furore regarding the gun tattoo England player Raheem Sterling had on his leg. These guys are young, the world is at their feet, quite literally, and they have hundreds of thousands of pounds in their pockets. They won’t get it right every time. Would you?
Right - Still the king of 20th century footballer style - George Best
This book looks back at footballers and their shopping habits from before the maximum wage cap was lifted and through the decades up until the present day. A couple of things are missing from the book - Freddie Ljungberg in his Calvin Kleins and that terrible cross-eyed sculpture of Ronaldo’s head!
There are plenty of LOLS at the Wags, managers, cars and hair styles. It would have been good to see a best and worst dressed list, but I suppose it’s all subjective and changes through time.
David Beckham and George Best are the pillars in the book, but it’s worth picking up just to see Victoria Beckham in her 2006 Baden Baden Wag phase of perma-tan and pneumatic tits. Though she’s changed, many women will be taking this look to the grave.
It’s interesting to read that Paul Smith helped George Best with his fashion boutiques in the 1970s and even helped decorate that modern house he had built. The bath was so big George never used it because it took so long to fill.
This is a fun romp through the silliness of footballers and how they spend their money. Some of the headings are a bit cheesy and tabloidy, but that’s, I guess, part of the fun. I don’t think the title is as humorous as Doonan thinks because football and fashion doesn’t need any help in upping the campery.
Left - Mike Summerbee of Man City with the precursor of the car CD player, 1967
This would be a good gift for any guy interested in contemporary culture, not just football or fashion. Now, where would Dolce & Gabbana and ripped jeans be without all those footballers?!
Saturday Night Fever Pitch: The Magic and Madness of Football Style, by Simon Doonan, published by Laurence King - £19.99
Like men's style books? Read TheChicGeek review of House of Nutter by Lance Richardson
Founded in Greece by Anastasios Anastasiou, over 30 years ago, Frezyderm is well-known for its paraben-free ingredients which are gentle enough for the most sensitive of skins and guaranteed to give complexions a radiant glow.
This transparent serum sunscreen glides on with a velvety feel which is non-oily and leaves no white marks. Also perfect for those suffering with acne or rosacea, this water resistant sunscreen blurs imperfections, absorbs sebum, has a matte finish and is available in 30 and 50 SPF.
Left - Frezyderm Sunscreen Velvet Face SPF 30 - £19.50
TheChicGeek says, “Meghan Markle is supposedly a fan of this. I’m still undecided on whether that’s a good thing!
First thoughts, the packaging is cool, if a bit overly packaged for only 50ml. It’s a container within a container, which looks, at first glance, like an overweight syringe. I’d try and design this to be more streamlined because you want something easy to put in a pocket or bag or take on holiday.
The branding of ‘Frezyderm’ is too small for you to take any notice of the name. I’d never heard of it before.
As for the product, you think it’s going to be another standard white suncream and out comes an almost clear and Royal Jelly-like gel that goes on oil-like, and, just when you think it could be too greasy, it dries to a matt and soft finish.
It’s really good. It’s light and not heavy at all. I tried the SPF 30, which is plenty for a standard daytime. If you’re out in the sun for a long period or on holiday, I would reapply every couple of hours because you sweat and just to be on the safe side.
If you’re one of those guys who doesn’t think it’s worth buying a separate sun product for your face, then think again. Sun damage is the most ageing to your face, so think of this like an anti-ageing product and don’t be stingy when applying it.”
Let’s take a moment to step back and see how fashionable men are looking at this moment in time. You’ve probably noticed a proliferation of thick moustaches - well away from the month of Movember - alongside lean and toned bodies all clothed in fitted, retro sportswear. It’s hard not to see his counterpart mirrored from the late 70s or early 80s. An era of disco, gay liberation and pre-AIDS.
Left - How men are looking today - lean, toned and a hair top lip - Gone is the bearded and tattooed hipster
This isn’t just gay men either. Young straight men and homosexual men are almost indecipherable in how they look, today, bouncing the trends off one another and have the confidence to do as they please, rather than worry about being labelled either way.
I was recently in a gay pub in East London. In walked three young guys all proudly sporting cropped hair and thick moustaches. I thought it was interesting how they looked like the same young men from nearly 40 years ago. I wondered why all these things: the clothes, the body shape and facial hair styles, had all collided back to this one point in time. And, then I thought, maybe it’s because we’re entering a Post-AIDS era?
Right - Two Supermen, 40 years apart - Henry Cavill & Christopher Reeve
Thanks to medication, HIV can be prevented and people who do have it can no longer pass it on. Medication such as PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) can stop HIV from taking hold. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed and it recently became available on the NHS.
Consciously or unconsciously, it feels like we can finally celebrate this time because we’re no longer scared of it. Previously, looking at the images from that era had a heavy melancholy knowing what was to come and how many men didn’t make it out of that decade. But, it feels like that has lifted. It’s a mental freedom that the fashion industry is clearly relishing and focusing on this hedonistic era and image of hyper-masculinity.
Popular Instagram accounts such as ‘TheAidsMemorial’ celebrates the lives of men who lost their lives and it’s interesting how contemporary these images look. Publications such as ‘Gayletter’ play with retro homoerotic imagery and books such as ‘Fire Island Pines’ , is a collection of Polaroids from 1975-1983 of men holidaying in Fire Island in Long Island, New York, and they look like a contemporary men's swimwear shoot. Recent films like ‘Tom of Finland’ focuses on the illustrator who drew the fetish/leather side of gay men and can be seen throughout the recent AW18 collection from Moschino.
Left - Photography book - Fire Island Pines by Tom Bianchi
This is obviously centred on the gay community, but gay men influence straight men, so quickly now, and vice versa.
“In the inimitable words of power PR Samantha Jones of TV show ‘Sex and the City’ (fictional, of course) "First comes the Gays, then the girls and then the industry"!says David M Watts, Editor & Publisher, Wattswhat Magazine.
"Gay men have historically been regarded as trend setters when it comes to fashion and style. However, the resurgence of male erotica imagery making its way into mainstream fashion has more to do with lazy millennial designers looking back and copying 80s and 90s imagery rather than using it as inspiration to create something new,” says Watts.
Right - Moschino AW18
Contemporary films, documentaries and TV shows such as Ready Player One, Stranger Things, The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Antonio Lopez: Sex, Fashion & Disco - Read TheChicGeek review here, keep us continually coming back to the 70s and 80s.
“I think nostalgia is a feeling which anchors us in a constantly-changing world, and that period between the late-Seventies and mid-Eighties, pre-AIDS crisis, pre-Section 28, and the birth of the Gay Liberation movement, is sometimes seen by gay men as a golden age of hedonism and queer sexual politics. Hence the continued popularity of the music and style from that period,” says Lee Clatworthy, Writer and Press and Media Officer for Sparkle - The National Transgender Charity.
"I think this style has filtered down to the mainstream because of the availability of cheap flights to cities like Berlin, which has a large queer art community, but is also a focal point for innovative electronic music and club culture at present.” says Clatworthy.
Gone is that built, steroid-fed and hairless muscular body of the 90s and in its place is a more natural yet Instagramable toned shape. It’s more youthful and suits the current fitted style of men's clothes.
Trying not to fixate on the moustache too much, but it’s definitely one of the defining factors linking the two eras, one thing to know is, it’s not the twiddly gin-drinking Victorian type, but the solid Magnum PI style. The many years of Movember would have played a part in its return, but it’s most probably a reaction to the hipster beard.
Left - GQ Style SS18
“I would say guys wearing the moustache are normally stylish and looking to stand out a bit more in a world of beards. It normally means they are confident in themselves too.” says Tom Chapman, Founder of the Lions Barber Collective.
“I think the obsession with facial hair as a whole has been with us for a few years now, but people are starting to feel confident with a furry face and beginning to experiment with different shapes. There are so many choices when it comes to the moustache which can be easily changeable and stylable.” says Chapman.
Right - Selfie from Pinterest
“The thicker, denser looks with less styling have definitely come from those 70/80 icons such as Freddy Mercury and Hulk Hogan and I would say that young men are most definitely influenced by iconic TV and films. They have a powerful way of making something feel cool or stylish.” Chapman says.
While this ‘PrEPpy’ look has already been strong, particularly amongst East London gay men, it is definitely being pushed out into the wider male aesthetic. As we move further away from the bearded hipster, this seems to be its cool replacement. It is starting to influence straight males who won’t even know where it’s come from.
Or, it could simply be just a lot of young men with moustaches. It’s only a theory!
Left - Clearly influence by Tom of Finland, GQ Style SS18 showing the lean, toned and tached male look
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
Lalique has announced the launch of its new men's scent, L'Insoumis Ma Force. It opens with fruity lemon notes mixed with spicy cardamom and green apple. The heart features lavender balanced with violet leaf, rosemary and green camphor, rounded off with a sensual wood and amber base. The perfumer is Fabrice Pellegrin.
TheChicGeek says, “Translated as ‘rebellious’ and ‘my strength’, this is a classic fougère with the 90s note of choice - green apple. While not its main focus, Lalique fragrances are pretty good and I usually like the packaging. Often inspired by the frosted/art-deco style of his most famous glassware, the Lalique bottles are affordable nods to the super-expensive originals. This is a bit of a let down as a bottle and is not very memorable.
The fragrance enters a busy space for the lavender-based with a woody base with a lemon/green top, but, of its type, it ain’t bad. While there are a lot of these around, this certainly has the freshness, scents of this type have, without that annoying synthetic after-note - read cheap - you find with less expensive variants.”
Left - Lalique - L’Insoumis Ma Force - 100ml - £72
It would be hard for a documentary about Alexander McQueen not to be good. His talent was such that, twenty year’s later, the clothes and production can still hold their own against anything produced since.
I can remember watching CNN Style with Elsa Klensch - fashion, beauty and decorating! - this was the 90s remember: no internet and hardly any fashion on TV or in the media - when the ’13’ show with Shalom Harlow being sprayed by the robots was shown and I can remember looking at the TV and feeling the energy through the television. This was fashion as performance, as art, yet relatable and totally modern and contemporary. It opened my eyes and raised the bar.
This documentary is much more personal than the sell-out exhibitions at the Met and, subsequently, at the V&A, and that’s the joy of fashion documentaries - read #ChicGeekComment Is ‘Peak Fashion Documentary’ Killing The Fashion Tome?
The ‘brand’ doesn’t dominate and this is McQueen’s life story split into different sections while highlighting specific shows. His family features heavily - his sister and his nephew - who talk open and honestly about McQueen and things that shaped him, affected him and motivated him.
It was interesting to be reminded of the raw yobbishness of 90s McQueen. The Burberry check shirts, the gold necklaces and the complete lack of self image. For somebody with such good taste in designing and cutting clothes, it never really moved onto him or around him He didn’t seem interested in dressing the part or living that kind of life surrounding by beautiful things and I think this is where Isabella Blow came in. She was everything he wasn’t: obsessed with how she looked, aristocratic, living surrounded by antiques and beautiful heirlooms in her country house.
Opposites attracted, but they had an affinity with their darker sides. Both committed suicide and would use their creativity as a mask as well as a crutch.
This documentary is intense and it’s comprehensive - about 95 minutes - I think by the time it hits Netflix I would split it into 2 episodes. People like looking forward to watching a second instalment.
What Alexander McQueen had was not only imagination, but the technical skills to make clothes worth spending money on. As Tom Ford says in the film, when the theatrics and show-pieces were stripped back what was left on the hanger was some of the best cut and more stylish clothes ever.
Eight years after his death we’re still just as fascinated by his life and his place in the fashion history books alongside people like Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga is assured. It’s just a shame his career wasn’t as long, because, being selfish, I wanted so much more.
Regardless of whether you like football or not, they'll be no escaping the World Cup when it starts in Russia shortly. I can't remember how many 'years of hurt' it is now, but, expectations aren't particularly high with regards to the England team. That doesn't mean that I don't care.
Settle down in front of the TV and start shouting, "Come on, England!"
Credits - Cardigan - A Day's March, Shirt - R.M. Williams, Jeans - Paul Smith, Shoes - Base London
The man who defined the tailored look of the 1970s, Tommy Nutter, is a little bit like Beau Brummell in so far as he always seems like an enigma, as a person, yet his name runs throughout the history of menswear and is continually name checked. Anything bold with large lapels is always a reminder of Nutter’s style. The classic Tom Ford suit is basically a rip-off of Tommy Nutter.
This biography doesn’t just look at one Nutter’s life, but two. Tommy’s brother, David, a photographer and also gay, is the main source of first-hand information and the book follows both lives, intertwining throughout. The comical jobs they both do and the situations they seem to find themselves in makes for a really fun biography.
While Tommy is the centre, it’s great to hear about both their lives at the whims of the rich and famous of that era. From Bianca Jagger to John Lennon to Elton John, they were all wearing Tommy’s clothes while being photographed by David.
Left - Tommy Nutter modelling his own design
Tommy feels like a true creative which means he lacked the business skills and ruthlessness often needed in the fashion business to get anywhere. You get a sense that while a pioneer of the suit, Tommy was also constrained by it. He was constrained to bespoke suiting, particularly, which, due to the quality and labour intensiveness, would only ever be on a small scale and his dreams of creating a bigger ‘brand’ was restricted by centring around this one garment.
Whenever he tried anything else, outside of this area, he didn’t seem to grasp it or be able to make it work. The strong shoulder, huge lapels and contrasting fabrics became not only his signature, but his style straight jacket.
This book is great, you’ll speed through it. The best bits feature Elton John. I knew Tommy had created Elton’s 1980’s straw-boater, 'I’m Still Standing' era clothes, but I hadn’t realised he was there from the start. David became one of his inner circle and follows him around the world with manic energy. Everybody is in here: Beatles, Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Diana Ross.
Unfortunately, having died from that big disease with a little name, Tommy’s voice isn’t here and it would have been nice to hear from Cilla Black as she seemed to have a lot of love for him. But, the main voices are: Edward Sexton, his main cutter and Peter Brown, his boyfriend and the Beatles' manager, even when conflicting, but, that’s, ultimately, history and people’s differing viewpoints.
I remember sitting next to Jeremy Hackett at a dinner once, he started his company selling vintage clothes, and I asked him if he ever came across any Tommy Nutter, as you never see it anywhere. He said he once had some from Andrew Lloyd Webber, but it wasn’t particularly interesting. It feels like all the best pieces were commissioned by the rock stars and celebrities of that era and are probably still languishing in their storage warehouses somewhere.
There was an exhibition at The Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey, a few year’s ago, which brought together some of Tommy’s best clothes. Cilla Black’s were there and I remember how small Ringo Star’s and Mick Jagger’s mannequins were.
This feels comprehensive and very well researched by Lance Richardson. The majority of the book takes place in some of the most exciting times and places of the 20th century: London in the 1960s and New York in the 1970s and this energy is what makes the book flow.
I’d love to hear what Elton John remembers. His shopping addiction seems to keep Tommy in pinstripe trousers for a while and his partying and 1970s wardrobe are all off the chart.
David Nutter is still alive and living in New York, and while Tommy died in 1992, this end segment of the book is very emotional, the glamour and era makes this a must-read for anybody interested in not only men’s clothes, but photography, music and the fashion business.
House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row by Lance Richardson - Chatto & Windus - £25
If the headlines were to be believed you’d think the high-street was in terminal decline and everybody was withdrawing at the speed of knots. Store closures across the board and brands shrinking to survive, it’s armageddon on the high-street, they scream!
The retail market has always seen brands or chains crash and burn over the years. It’s part of the retail renewal cycle and allows others to appear and grow.
Left - River Island's new expanded store at Milton Keynes' Centre:MK
"As consumers, we are becoming more and more demanding, each new level of service experienced serves to simply raise the bar even higher. In the UK in February 2018 online accounted for 17.2% of total sales (source ONS). Whilst this is still increasing (15.6% in February 2017) it is still a relatively small proportion of total sales meaning that over 80% is from the high-street. So, it is clear that the high-street is far from dead but it is evolving at a rapid rate - Darwinism on the high-street if you like, where the process of evolution naturally culls the weak whilst the strong prosper and survive,” says Andrew Busby, Founder & CEO Retail Reflections.
Continuing to grow, online retail sales leapt to 18.8% last month - April 2018 - and it won’t be long before it hits 20% and maybe even 30%. For the offline retail optimist, though, it means 80% is left for the taking offline in physical stores.
But, while the focus has been on chains closing stores - M&S announced 100 stores closing by 2022 - there are a few strong and growing brands stealthily tightening their hold and grip on the high-street. The focus is on bigger and better stores in premium locations: less stores but better.
As brands vacate premium sites other brands can cherry-pick and expand into the gaps, but only in the top tier of shopping centres and cities.
For example, both Zara and River Island are carrying out major expansions of their stores at Intu Lakeside. River Island will be doubling the size of its store to 21,000 sq ft while Zara will treble its store size to 35,000 sq ft making the stores among the largest in the retailers’ portfolios. They are the latest retailers to invest in flagship stores at Intu Lakeside since H&M doubled the size of its store to 36,000 sq ft and Next opened an expanded 70,000 sq ft store in Spring 2017.
When Banana Republic vacated Westfield White City, Zara took the opportunity to create the biggest branch in the UK. River Island recently doubled the size of its store in Centre:MK in Milton Keynes. The retailer doubled its existing unit to 20,000 sq ft to accommodate the brand’s full range of womenswear, menswear and children’s fashion ranges.
Nick Tahir, River Island, Head of Menswear Buying says, “We have over 280 stores in the UK. In an increasingly competitive high street, it is important to keep River Island stores looking fresh, relevant and exciting. With 30 years heritage, naturally some stores will require a makeover and in some towns/cities and that has been a key focus for us, we have also been increasing our square footage, to accommodate the needs of our customer and our growing divisions (for example we launched RI Kids and RI Mini only a couple of years back and the demand is consistently growing).”
“Although retailers are seeing an impact on bricks and mortar due to mobile and online, retail is still the biggest mix of sales for us. With our heritage, stores will always play an important role. They are the heartbeat of the River Island. The challenge for us and our peers in the industry, is to keep our customers coming back again and again. We do this by enhancing their shopping experience – whether that’s through pop-ups and exclusive events, or through offering something that our customers can’t find with some of our competitors; take Style Studio for example, our complimentary Personal Shopping service. It is vital for us to keep revamping and improving our store aesthetic to draw footfall, creating theatre through VM and windows and of course constantly refreshing our product offering to stay relevant and exciting.” says Tahir.
As stores grow larger at key shopping hot spots, retailers can give fewer locations more attention and fine tune, update and invest in those locations. But, what this will also mean is many towns will lose their well known names and become secondary as the money is sucked into fewer, bigger places.
“Most retailers with a large store estate have too much space so what we're also seeing (landlord rent restrictions aside) is an expected re-sizing and in some cases re-purposing of space eg. Debenhams considering renting out space to WeWork.” says Busby.
“All this means that the stores which survive will need to be far better than those we currently experience. For example, the poor quality of the Toys R Us stores was a major factor in it collapsing into administration.” he says.
“But the fascinating dynamic is that quality and customer experience in store is largely dependent upon the particular shopping journey ie. if it's a distressed purchase then the customer just wants to get in, find what they need, pay and leave - as seamlessly as possible. However, if it's for say a luxury item they may well welcome, indeed, seek out engagement and advice; being quite happy to spend far longer. Both journeys will be judged by different criteria. The trick for retailers is to recognise what journey we're on and act accordingly. Facial recognition and AI is going a long way to be able to tell what mood we are in when we enter the store.” says Busby.
Right - Zara's new store at Westfield Stratford
The shopping centre companies know this too. The recently abandoned £3.4bn tie-up between Hammerson and Intu failed, I think, because Hammerson were probably only interested in a handful of their top sites like Manchester’s Trafford Centre. Trying to offload or revive the others would be costly and a distraction and knowing where the market is heading, it knows it’ll probably be able to bid on what it wants individually if Intu starts to wobble in the foreseeable future.
In order to survive it’s going to be about fewer players with less but stronger sites. As more close, it strengthens those which are left. If you believed the newspapers you’d think that every retailer had given up on physical stores, but the clever ones are only getting started. When the growth in online slows or plateaus, these proactive retailers will be positioned to take full advantage of the eventual return to the high-street.
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
For Paul Smith’s new ‘Hello You!’ fragrance, perfumers Fanny Bal and Dominique Ropion say they were inspired by Paul Smith’s celebrated use of colour. The fresh, sparkling citrus opening is followed by a very British aromatic lavender heart, blended with a fruity apple accord. The base notes underline the strong masculinity of patchouli and vetiver, magnified with the sensuality of ciste absolute.
TheChicGeek says, “I really like Paul Smith, the man and the brand. He’s probably the nicest man in fashion. But, I’ve always got the vibe that he doesn’t really know that much about fragrance and therefore has never given it his full attention.
His past fragrances have never been that distinctive, which is strange for a man who happily paints shops fuchsia pink - LA - and Minis stripey. They were also quite young and priced too cheaply.
Anyway, there’s a new men’s one on the block called ‘Hello You!’. A play with Paul’s famous 1940s pin-ups, usually found on the interiors of his wallets, it sticks to the classic rectangular bottle with a screw cap.
I like the name, but, it feels like the kind of packaging I wanted 15 years ago from him. It’s a shame they didn’t do a choice of male or female pin-ups, it would have felt more contemporary - I was thinking ‘Cooey’ for the male one!
The fragrance is still young and it is priced to sell, but I find I’m having less and less patience for these types of fragrance. I really want something special from Paul Smith and for him to have the same confidence with fragrance that he has with colour.”
Left & Right - Paul Smith Hello You! 100ml - £45