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Photography

Stepping Out Cool In New York

I came across this photo in my files while I was look for something else. It’s a crop of a street scene in lower Manhattan in New York. I am on the pavement and two men are walking across the street towards me on the crossing. Both wore hats and one was Asian. I couldn’t see the other man because he had dark glasses on, but maybe Hispanic. The trilby that the Asian man was wearing was a fashion statement. All their clothes were, and looking at it when I came across the photo took me back to think about when I was still at school.

I had a pair of Hush Puppies, brown suede. I think I wore that brand from my mid to late teens. I thought they were cool. I wonder what word I used to describe them, because I doubt whether it was ‘cool’. Then I developed a whole thing about revolting against looking cool and that included not cutting my hair or my beard. The idea was not to be or to look artificial or the product of artifice in any way. It’s a forlorn hope, but the intent was there.

I know I took this photo because I thought the men looked both cool and at the same time slightly ridiculous. Just a little bit, because it is a free world and maybe it is fun to dress up. As long as it doesn’t become a straight-jacket that controls thought and experience.

Hair Styles

Here is my big thought. Hair styles are what set human beings apart from the animals. Start with the hair style and everything else flows out from them.

Tamara and I knew a woman (she is dead now, G-d rest her soul) and she had a great French cut, hair shaped and tapered in on the back of her neck. She had a very experience-filled life, fleeing countries and ending up in arty England. Despite her age she looked great with that well-cut style.

Bottom line – Tamara keeps telling me to buy some clothes – get rid of my mall-man fleece and buy some decent clothes. And I don’t know what to get.

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Photography

Flamingo and Duck

Flamingo and Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Spot the duck. If I am right it is a Black-bellied whistling duck. I can’t see a black belly, but the colours on the head and neck look right.

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Photography

How Will He Get Out?

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Photography

Highland Cattle

We saw them grazing on a small road in Hampshire a few miles outside Winchester. In the featured image (and the third photo below) the cow is scratching its back against the low-lying branch of the tree.

Highland cattle are a Scottish breed that originated in the Highlands and Outer Hebrides islands and were described as far back as the 6th century CE.

Highland cow in Hampshire
Highland cow in Hampshire
Highland cow in Hampshire scratching its back against the low-lying branch of the tree.
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Photography

Water On Leaf On Stone

Water On Leaf On Stone
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Photography

Mary Quant: Freedom In A Dress.

On Tamara’s recommendation we went to the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A in London. Your intrepid reporter reports…

Because of Mary Quant and her Bazaar shop in the King’s Road, Chelsea ceased to be a small part of London; it became international. Its name said there was a new way of living and a new way of dressing. It was a break: It wasn’t what your mum wore, any more.

In 1960, Quant and her partner flew to New York, just two years after the first commercial transatlantic flight. British newspapers publicised Quant’s exciting venture, epitomised in a terrific photograph of Quant and her partner Plunket Greene. They are hand in hand but separated; each is a complete person – woman as well as man. With them on a lead is a very English sheepdog, and they are all running down Fifth Avenue in New York, running towards us into a bright, free, go-getting future.

American journalists pushed her ‘kooky’ look, which increased her celebrity status. Quant pitched her clothes and ideas to US buyers in upmarket department stores. She met fashion editors and she got down to business – touring the garment district, she was at home in that world, impressed and eager to make the most of the scale, pace and organisation of American ready-to-wear. Her ground-breaking designs were displayed in New York store windows.

Manufacturers spotted Quant’s unique ‘Chelsea’ style and its appeal to the youth market and youth culture, and recruited her for their designer collections. Quant learned about efficiency, scaling, pricing and sizing from American manufacturers, and in exchange she gave them British ‘cool’ that American consumers adored. By 1965, she was regularly commuting between New York and London. She was international.

Mary Quant’s designs are sexy, but only when they are worn. On their own they are boyish, echoes of schoolgirl uniforms, designed for a small bust, a small frame. The colours say freedom and ownership, owned by those who wore them.

The exhibition is on at the V&A in London until the 16th Feb, 2020. It’s on two floors, with videos of Mary Quant talking about how she started, what she did and why she did it. And of course, there are the clothes.