Wednesday, January 4, 2012
1981: Never mind, someday, maybe
I've had many style icons over the years: David Sylvian, Lloyd Cole, Morrissey, that bloke from The Farm. Even today I look to Hugh Laurie or Daniel Craig to see what the stylish fortysomething man about town should be wearing. Naturally I could never look that good but I'm not quite ready for John Lewis menswear or Dunn & Co., so it's still worth a try.
But we have to go back 30 years to see where it all began. When I seriously started taking in interest in the way I looked, a later starter at 16 perhaps, I'd pinpoint Haircut 100's Nick Heyward as the man who kicked it all off.
My first term at sixth form, living away from home with family friends and I had decided I really needed to reinvent myself from the shy and awkward lank-haired teenager in the blue Harrington jacket I was still rather unfashionably wearing from the previous year after seeing hundreds of teenagers going the full Human League and wanting desperately to be a part of that.
Step one: I parted my hair and let it hang over my eye.
Step two: The charity shop trawl and a visit to Top Man
Step three: A new me
Haircut 100, with their thick-knit Arran pullovers, suede jackets, ski jumper, those peg trousers and brown cords, not to mention the lace-up brogues and checked scarves was all so late '81, so now. For some reason it really appealed to me. Though I was rocking the Phil O hair, I was not about to do the same with the Steve Strange make-up. I had found a style to aspire to which was much more comfortable, much more me. If only I had learnt that lesson there and then. KLAXON! Legwarmers! But that's another blog entry.
So how did the 100 get their hair like that? There was no hair gel in those days that I could find. If you wanted to make your hair do something it shouldn't then it was soap or flour and water, neither of which was ideal for longer than about three minutes. That tousled look would escape me for some years to come.
When I interviewed Nick Heyward about 10 years ago (he was in the bath - relax, I was on the other end of the phone), I confessed my admiration for his look at which he was amused but unsurprised. Half the fun of that band was their image. There wasn't a lot else. Look at them now - they look like a bunch of surveyors. But it was a look that was copied countrywide. It looks largely dreadful now - I'd openly mock were I to see someone wearing some of this stuff in the street today.
I didn't quite pull it off of course, but it certainly felt better. Amazing how much confidence you get when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Girls look at you. And you never look back.