Though Mark and I know loads about clothes, gear, schmutter, not looking like a Ted, how to wear a backpack etc. our man in the South and Proper issue 12 contributor Colin Chapman has some serious fashion writing credentials on his CV. Not only does he write the ace Sharpened lead blog, he is also the menswear editor at LDNFashion.com and has just been signed up by the Guardian’s fashion blogging network with special props going to the clued up Col for immediately mentioning how miserable their previous fashion ‘expert’ Petridis was. So before he becomes the new face of Chanel, we thought we’d find out what his fave five is…
Many people would choose something well loved here, like a favourite, battered pair of work boots, but I’ve chosen something brand new and quite delicate. I spotted these shorts at Omar Kashoura‘s show back in June last year and knew I had to have them. There is something very English about the cream colour and the cut with the pleats, and the fabric is incredible: 100% washed silk herringbone. They’re like a louche Brideshead take on cricket whites, although the collection is actually influenced by The Beat Poets and the Burning Man festival. Omar works the door at Horsemeat Disco in London so has seen his fair share of bohemianism. The label inside says ‘beautifully made in the UK’ and they really are.
The Isherwood diaries, (3 volumes – one’s on loan to my mate in China – plus ‘Lost Years’, a ‘recreated’ journal) are almost sacred objects in my house. Born in Cheshire, Christopher Isherwood traveled throughout Europe as a writer and spent the rest of his life in America, still writing, as a sometime Hindu monk, Hollywood screenwriter and gay rights activist. He met literally everyone and travelled everywhere at a time when most British people hadn’t taken a flight. His life is guaranteed to make you feel boring and like heading to the nearest airport but the writing is so pared back and direct, never a word too many. There’s an incredible sequence where he recounts traveling by bus from New York to California in the ‘40s to start a new life there that is just great reportage. He was rude about everyone but most of all about himself. Reading the final entry in the last volume was like losing a close friend you’ve come to depend on for their total honesty. He might be known for the Berlin Stories and A Single Man but for me these diaries are his greatest literary contribution: a spur to living life to the full and pursuing real happiness.
It’s such a familiar image but I’ve always said if I could own one piece, it would be an original print of Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe from the cover of Horses. I knew the name Patti Smith long before I heard her music, I think it was Adam & The Ants’ ‘Young Parisians’ that brought her to my consciousness in the first place, and I would still say it’s what she represents that I appreciate her for, as much as her music. I love the androgyny here, the spare black and white, details like the loose tie and the horse brooch, all captured by Mapplethorpe’s intelligent eye. For me this is part of New York mythology but it’s also an aesthetic ideal. Were I a fashion designer, this image would be permanently on my moodboard and something I’d return to time and time again for inspiration.
Ever since I started listening to dance music I’ve had limited attention span when it comes to music. I very rarely listen to albums by a single artist, as I just get bored, DJ compilations are about the only thing I’d listen to uninterrupted. Podcasts have really revolutionised how I listen to new music, and currently Tim Sweeney’s Beats in Space is the cream of the crop. The show’s so eclectic but there’s a consistency there: it’s always a very metropolitan sound, with that druggy, deadpan undercurrent. The guests are the very best at what they do whether they’re playing sparse techno, indie dance or spaced out disco edits and Tim’s DJing just gets better and better. I love the way he can work Sex Gang Children and anarcho punk bands like The Mob into a mostly house music set. And having his own psycho listener Victor calling in just adds to the story, though I hope there’s no Play Misty for Me ending; Tim’s far too sweet for that to happen to.
I’ve noticed a tendency for people to talk about their bikes in this spot but I want to give a shout out to our Border terrier, Scout. She’s perfectly adapted to city living, expert at hopping on and off buses but also a real ‘doggy’ dog, happy chasing squirrels in the woods or dashing along a deserted Cornish beach. Owning a dog in central London makes you a member of a tribe; it connects you to the place and to other dog owners in a way I couldn’t have imagined. We’ve made more friends in the last two years based on walks in Haggerston Park than ever. She comes to art openings with me, visits designers in their studios and has a strong fan base at The Nelson’s Head, our local pub, full of artists, mad gay eccentrics and their dogs. Scout’s a legend.