The Elegance of Elvis

Quiff. Sunglasses. Giant collars. Sideburns. Medallions. Jumpsuits. Blue suede shoes. Leathers. Hawaiian shirts. Capes. Loafers. White shoes.  White belts. White flares. And that gold suit. Elvis Presley is one of the very, very few figures worthy of that ghastly, overused, underachieved word: Icon. Like the Byzantine images from which the word derives, Presley’s style is…

Lady Levis®

Jeans had been around for sixty years before it occurred to anyone that women might like to wear them too. Designed as tough workwear for miners in 1873, they had been swiftly adopted by cowhands and other chaps in the American west as comfortable, practical clothes. That’s not to say women didn’t wear the men’s…

Tiki Chic

One of the least-played records in my vinyl collection is Bing Sings Songs of the Islands. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was seduced by the picture on the front: El Bingo is resplendent, happily sporting several Leis and a sailor hat. It was only after playing half a side that…

Interview: Pink Martini’s China Forbes

Saddlers’ Wells is not a venue noted for its music. But then Pink Martini are not a band noted for conforming to stereotypes. Somehow their eclectic mix of exotic rhythms and styles seem more suited to the world of dance than trying to shoehorn them into one musical form. Besides. They have found their spiritual…

Vivien of Holloway

In the unlikely event anyone’s wondering what I wear when I go dancing, allow me to froth about  Vivien of Holloway – clothes made physically in London, 2016 but spiritually about 70 years ago in Hollywood. You’re met at the door by an immaculately-dressed lady, straight out of Mad Men, wielding a tape measure. This is…

Atomic Mid 20th Century Festival

It’s new! It’s Jet-Age! It’s ATOMIC! With a wham-bam, thank-you, ma’am blast of confidence like that, the new Atomic festival sets itself a high bar. But then Robin and Colette, Jerry Chatterbox and Miss Mary Ann know a thing or two about organising festivals. Both the Rockabilly Rave and the Rhythm Riot have been going…

The most beautiful song ever recorded

I make no apology for not choosing something hip and obscure as my favourite song of all time. It’s brilliant – and millions of people think so. Including me. Like so many children of the 70s, my first experience of I Only Have Eyes for You was Art Garfunkel’s 1975 hit. It’s a not-bad version,…

Vintage-Hunting in the USA

American Retro and Western classic memorabilia have a big following here in Britain – we love to collect everything from 1950s kitsch – gumball machines and carnival glass – through to gambling memorabilia and pyjama-party chintz. Much of what’s available here, though, is either replica, tatty original or very expensive. It’s hardly surprising – dealers…