There’s an exhibition on at the Tate Liverpool at the moment called Glam! The Performance of Style which looks interesting. Part of the show is a 1977 documentary called Roxette about young Roxy Music fans in Manchester getting dressed up to go see the band live. The whole movie is 30 minutes long and looks utterly fab judging by this short clip which makes me really want to see the entire thing (wish they’d used a different song though, don’t they know I posted “Beauty Queen” just last week!) I’d love to make it to Liverpool to see the show too but doubt if that’s on the cards.
There’s an excellent interview here with Nick Logan, the man who was editor of the NME during the punk late 70s (where he hired two unknown kids called Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons) and then went on to independently create Smash Hits and The Face which must be about as brilliant a track record you can get in the yoof culture business.
I was a keen NME reader when The Face first came out in 1980 and carried on reading them both for a few years, but increasingly it was the glossy newcomer I looked forward to getting the most. As a design student I ate up the influential, envelope-pushing layouts of Neville Brody and it’s slick production values which were a lot more attractive than a smudgy, inky newspaper. In comparison the latest weekly news about The Smiths wasn’t that interesting to me anymore and The Face just had it’s antenna and attitude better tuned to the new decade.
Looking at back issues now is like opening time capsules of the trends of the 1980s, and the contents of my own wardrobe too. The cover of the “Hard Times” issue above is exactly how I was dressing circa 1982: ripped 501s, studded belt, deck shoes, vintage 1950s shirt from Flip. Then a few years later, I (along with every hep young man in London) was wearing my 501s (always 501s) with chunky Doc Marten shoes and an MA-1 flying jacket, a look credited to the magazine’s fashion stylist Ray Petri. I still have the dark blue MA-1 jacket I bought 25 years ago, still in very good nick too.
I don’t know if Logan was a genius or just lucky, but The Face hit the streets at exactly the right zeitgeisty moment (Smash Hits too), catching the start of a style-obsessed decade when the word “designer” was applied to everything and a pop star’s haircut and trousers were considered worthy of serious notice. But the most inspiring thing I got from the interview was that The Face was never market-researched or focus-grouped or any of that bollocks. Logan just had an idea for a magazine he’d like to read himself and filled it with stuff he thought was interesting — that was the only criteria. As someone who’s suffered through hundreds of interminable and depressing marketing meetings that suck all the life out of any good idea, that seems like a dream come true and the only way anything great ever gets done.
Believe it or not but this is a Joy Division-inspired t-shirt being sold by Disney. I guess I should be outraged at this besmirching of a band that meant so much to me when I was 18 but I just find it funny as I’m too old to have a dog in that fight anymore. I might even get one myself.