Tag Archives: ralph lauren

APOCALYPSE THEN & NOW

I spent most of this weekend watching ‘Apocalypse Now’ on Blu-ray at the expense of a social life. It was worth it. In the UK, we’re frequently denied the good stuff on the Coppola side — what happened to a DVD of ‘The Outsiders’ (my favourite film ever)? In the US they’ve had the original film on a bare-bones DVD for over a decade, and a special edition for five years. We never seemed to get ‘Hearts of Darkness’ on DVD either. Then Optimum films took pity on us and gave us the entire ‘Full Disclosure’ 3-disc edition smartly repackaged, at a cheap RRP and they’re bringing out a Blu-ray of ‘The Outsiders’ on the 12th of September, 2011. I grew up with ‘Apocalypse Now’ but I overindulged.

As a small child I re-read the ‘Mad’ parody at my uncle’s house again and again, and was surprised that it bore little resemblance to the film when I got round to watching it – I was emotionally unequipped to appreciate the down-river journey, and I just liked the explosions and mirror punching. As a jumped-up teenager, I saw the parallels between Conrad’s text and the film.

‘Hearts of Darkness’ hipped me to the mythical plantation scene, just as various ‘The Exorcist’ documentaries told me about the ‘Spiderwalk’. Both excised scenes are effective, but I could live without them, but their eventual inclusion was appreciated. I love the idea that Coppola ditched the plantation because out of a temper tantrum in that relentless humidity above anything else — it obviously incorporated plenty of work but it was written out entirely, and that documentary does a fine job of showing just how much the trade and national press was quietly willing the film to fail, and the ruffled-looking Francis looks downright shell-shocked during the premiere scene at the end.

I loved ‘Apocalypse Now: Redux’ – restorations like the surfboard stealing and eerie Playboy prostitution for fuel makes for a deeper film, but what was startling was how elaborate some of the excised scenes were — they weren’t bland indoor excesses of dialogue, but vast set pieces. Coppola had evidently edited with extreme prejudice in the late 1970s. It wasn’t a Lucas-esque return-to-it-to-ruin-it affair, but something that felt like unfinished business.

As a barely related digression, FHM magazine had a ‘What’s Wrong With FHM?’ section years ago, where you could submit an error you’d spotted and win £20. I once read Phil Oakey in there saying that he had a real obsession with ‘Apocalypse Now’ in 1975, wrote in to point out that Phil was lying and got the money, which paid for a week’s food in those self-inflicted starving writer times. Alongside some kind of Q&A I had with ‘Front’ which I can barely recall, it’s one of two times a friend has seen my name in print and mentioned it to me. As a big Human League fan, I then felt remorse — envisioning someone showing Phil my smug little letter, and Phil calling me a “sad twat” beneath his breath.

Then I took it too far – I got my hands on the work print that ran at around five hours. Ponderous, bad quality, occasionally intelligible (Brando’s turn beneath extra fuzz was intolerable), it added layers of flab to the film in the two hours of unnecessary extras over the director’s cut. Out of some curious filmgoer’s duty I spent half the daytime watching it, occasionally drifting into a sleep that would be disturbed by a murky napalm blast. That put me off ‘Apocalype Now’ for a couple of years.

The sole exciting addition beyond ‘Redux’ — other than how much more of a dick Willard is in this version — was the resolution of the mystery of where Dennis Hopper’s Photojournalist went after Kurtz lost it with him and what happened to Scott Glenn’s Lieutenant Colby – a great actor left mute in previous versions – Colby shot the Photojournalist dead during his escape and Colby was killed by Willard’s special forces knife. It’s a sloppy scene in terms of editing and effects in its uncooked state — evoking that point in ‘Hearts of Darkness’ when the director feels he doesn’t know how to end the film once he’s at Kurtz’s compound — but it’s one of the meatiest deleted scenes in a long time. It even puts that excellent uncut Drexl hotel drug deal on the ‘True Romance’ DVD in the shade.

The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes that scene (plus the monkeys on a boat, with the tribal Doors cover) on a disc in a complete carry-over of the ‘Full Disclosure’ DVD set, but it’s the quality of the Blu-ray transfer for both official versions of the film that finally put bad memories of that muggy afternoon squinting at that screen away for good. Given the film’s lack of opening or end credits, it’s nice to get a copy of Coppola’s theatre-style programme for the film too — that theatrical idea echoes throughout his later films, whether it’s ‘Rumble Fish’s stagey feel or ‘Tetro’s operatic, overblown finale. And yes, I have to concede it — ‘Hearts of Darkness’ is an even better behind-the-scenes supplement than ‘If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of ‘Predator’. I love ‘Apocalypse Now’ all over again.





I also revisited Michael Gross’s ‘Genuine Authentic’ again in light of recent movements with the Ralph Lauren brands. For those who don’t know – the book was meant to be an authorised biography of Lauren, but Gross’s insistence on revealing a mid 1990’s indiscretion put the two at loggerheads, and the outcome certainly feels significantly cattier throughout as a result. But if you can get beyond the notion of Lauren as a narcissist (and I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t), the idea that he’s playing at high society, despite his humble origins, or the cowboy stuff as a grown-up form of playing fancy dress – which was always evident – then the book still aids in appreciation of what Ralph built.

‘Genuine Authentic’ indicates that Polo Sport was the brand’s reaction to Hilfiger and the “urban” dollar it chased (and the use of Tyson Beckford as the brand’s face was a shrewd one), but it’s denim that’s depicted as Ralph’s white whale and the thing he pursues to perfect, but constantly fails with – RRL is periodically lampooned as one of Ralph’s whims. As the book ends, on mentioning the RRL store opening in Soho in late 2000, “Vintage jeans can run into the thousands — and some of the salespeople in the store, who collect rare jeans themselves, will tell you why. They have the time. The store is often empty.”

I wonder if a revision would include the RRL line’s ascent in recent years? Still, like the excellent ‘Swoosh’, despite an agenda (‘Swoosh’ was partly penned by J.B. Strasser, the widow of Rob Strasser who helped Nike conquer with his marketing genius), it’s an absorbing read that’s unsullied by any official company line.

‘PORT’ #2 is pretty good. Even if the promo video talk of a revolution on paper never fully materialised, it reads like a faintly more accessible ‘Monocle’ (it’s all about the briefings these days) and the features on Harry Gasner and David Remnick are excellent. Martin Amis on teen hitmen in Columbia is an alarming read, but the Remnick piece justifiably takes cover space — if you’ve ever had a tight editing deadline on anything and felt that pressure, consider the content that Remnick and the ‘New Yorker’ crew have to put out weekly to the terrifyingly thorough standards that the likes of E.B. White laid down all those years ago. If a great writer like Remnick claims he feels like a “pretender” in his role there, then how fraudulent are the majority elsewhere, pumping out ad-led crap on a bi monthly or quarterly basis?

This week I had to buy another grown-up watch, because I’m too old for digital. But no Rolex or Omega can compete with my love for the Three 6 Mafia ALIFE G-Shock that my friend, Mr. BJ Betts got me a few years back. I’m way too old to be wearing this, but it reminds me of a happier time, plus my fondness for the music of Juicy J and Three 6 — who I think get better and better — in the present day. This must be one of the most lazy/restrained collaborations ever – for all the skull tees and lean consumption, they just put ‘666’ on the strap and ‘MAFIA EDITION’ down the sides. I kind of respect that, but I hate the fact I’m ancient and can’t wear this stuff any more. Having said that, age won’t stop me from enjoying that new Gunplay mixtape.

‘Crack & Shine International’ looks very smart in the flesh. Shouts to Topsafe for this one. The silver on black reminds me of the ‘Unexplained’ book of mysteries I grew up with that left me emotionally scarred for life with an array of pictures of spontaneous combustion victims and ghosts in churches. Of course, this is a graffiti book rather than a ghost book, but I hope it affects a generation of potential weirdos in the same way.

PAJAMA RICH

“These ain’t even real clothes/Homey, I’m pajama rich.”

Kanye West on ‘Start It Up’  Lloyd Banks ft. Fabolous, Kanye West, Ryan Leslie & Swizz Beatz)

Kanye done did it again. The master of the outlandish boast declared himself “Pajama Rich” recently, declaring his expensive attire to be nothing more than bedwear. That’s hip-hop in full effect right there. After some tactically executing bad behaviour  that afforded him PR for months, he seems to, as Jack Donaghy put it in a recent ’30 Rock’, be “Reaganing” —the phenomenon of succeeding in all his tasks and error-free living. You don’t need to read a single more sentence regarding the man’s new album—nor do you need to read any more about his Rosewood approach to dressing. That’s because the album is instant classic and not dressing as if you’re fourteen when you’re thirty plus is a given. But to taking pajama rich concept a little more literally, to be able to saunter around in bedwear without risk of sectioning is truly living the dream. I want to see bedwear become the next hip-hop style movement.

I’m thinking of something a little more structured than T-Boz, Chilli and Left Eye’s vast swathes of unflattering fabric back in the 1990s. If you’ve felt a curious sense of liberation wandering to the local shop in pajama trousers, trainers and a tee for dairy products, media and tobacco products, that’s because it’s a feel good style. Band of Outsiders and Opening Ceremony’s cooler-than-thou collision resulted in some excellent sleepwear and Ralph Lauren’s Polo empire puts out some pieces at a pricepoint that veers towards luxury without breaking the bank. They’re my perennial loungewear of choice, offering the perfect mix of comfort and the faintly excessive. Do you really need the horse and rider on your PJs? Yes. yes you do. There’s a certain joy in it, even if it’s only impressing you, the wearer. Polo’s plaid creations are phenomenal and the very notion of a button-up pajama is gloriously old-fashioned and strangely decadent—a patterned suit specifically for sleep? It’s the kind of thing that fast-living should’ve—but thankfully hasn’t—phased out.

I’ma let you finish, but Turnbull & Assar’s Sea Island pajamas are the ultimate. Sea Island cotton, cotton piping and mother of pearl buttons in a selection of beautiful Bengal stripes is aspirational nightwear. It’s some regal gear for lazy behaviour and dandyish lounging. Despite their 24-hour openings, Cardiff’s Tesco store recently outlawed pajama shopping. It’s interesting that pajamas were never developed as attire especially for sleeping. They can be pretty effortless and elegant. I’d triple-dare them to eject me, red-eyed, from the instant noodle section in that kind of slumberland finery. Homer Simpson knew the score during Springfield’s first (and only) ‘Do What You Feel Festival’ sauntering down the street in dressing gown and novelty slippers—“This is great. I can finally look like I want and not get hassled by the man.” Damn right.

FAUX-LIFES

When Vado dropped a Polo tribute that barely took it further than an underwear tee, he got a bit of a blowback. Supreme’s Polo-themed collection a few years back seemed to cause an E-kerfuffle that’s been swept under the carpet too—while Ralph’s output is a household name, it still carries an aura that unofficial brand guardians are keen to retain. Despite their frequent felonies, every original Lo-Lifer deserves commission for the gear they popularized. Remember Kanye’s “Ralph Lauren was boring before I wore him” line on the Rhymefest track aggravating FI-LO and company? It’s a powerful thing. How many emcees rocking the horse on their gear were genuinely down? It’s hip-hop’s equivalent of the Sex Pistols in Manchester. Many claim to have been down since the beginning, but few were. Legend has it that Zhigge were down, and there was talk of Fabolous being an affiliate. You know Meyhem Lauren is officially down—check his site, because the gear pictures are phenomenal, and the “Suicide Crew” shot (below) is the tip of the iceberg shirt.

There’s a lot of fanboys globally claiming Lo-Life status but missing the point. Kids are keen to remake 1992’s wardrobe, but while the respect for the originators is there, you can’t buy status second-hand or earn your P-Wings on eBay. The gear might be superb, but you need to appreciate the context.

Lo-Lifers helped push Polo and Polo Sport into an arena that needed an injection of style beyond weirdo dress shirts, unattainable Dapper Dan bootleg styling and Starter coats and sportswear. They altered rap’s aesthetic for the better, and that didn’t come easily. For those that love to hear the stories, the Lo-Life movement was rife with injuries, deaths and incarcerations. Paragon was terrorized. Apparel and assault sent members to Riker’s. There were foot chases and near-misses. little was paid-for. To claim to be on the same level for paying indiscriminately for any ’88-’97 ‘Lo output insults the originators. It’s inevitable that every authentic act is followed by a hundred weaker imitations that lack the same nerve. You can’t just throw together anything lurid and vintage either. You need to rock it properly. Everyone loves Polo and everyone hoards Polo. One group of Brooklynites just took it way further. Respect the originators. This is a moment-in-time, a group of groundbreakers taking it too far and one of the definitive eras in apparel obsession. OG Lo-Lifer Shillz Da Realz’s Blogspot is a trove of information too, and hopefully that book he’s just started putting together will see light-of-day.

It’s a repeat performance on this blog (it was thrown up here earlier last year) but just because it deserves to be constantly available, the Lo-Life story from September-November 2000’s editions of The Source is below. It’s a little story that must be told. yeah, garment preoccupations are global, but the Lo-Life contribution is legendary. These guys took it up a notch. It deserves documentation.

LAZY MIDWEEK BLOGGING: MORE RALPH LAUREN

Oh shit, more Ralph Lauren talk? Like the anonymous caller that ushers ‘Protect Ya Neck’s Shaw Brothers headnod “Ah yeah, again and again…

It’s been a busy week. I’m feeling lazy, work is breaking balls and I was desperate for something to fill this evening’s blog void. If in doubt, I fall back on a couple of things close to my heart – Polo and Champion. I think I’ve exhausted the latter, but there’s always mileage when it comes to the former Lipschitz’s empire. First things first, I’m re-reading Dana Thomas’s ‘Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre’ – essential reading for the brand fiends out there – though it’s worth noting that while the fragrance industry catches an slap to the head in Dana’s book, Hermès and LV are still projected as premium. If you’ve never picked it up, from the headquarters of brands to the truth about manufacture and Rodeo Drive’s origins, plus the LVMH interest in Asian-friendly outlet shopping, it’s a good one for the commuters out there looking for more insight than the usual vapid fashion week talk.

The real appeal of Ralph Lauren lies in those visits to the wood-furnished Ivy League looking stores, where to quote Lenny Leonard on clocking the Fleet-A-Pita van outside the Springfield power plant, “It looks like it doesn’t even need our business!

In tribute to Ralph, here’s a few recently unearthed Polo-centric happenings – firstly, the always-excellent (seriously, for spotting James Jebbia’s brief classroom TV appearance he gets props over here) Martorialist just talked Zhigge, and noted that they’re pioneers of the Lo’ Life references on record* as well as wearers of some fine garments linking the group to Hiroshi in a roundabout way that 99.9% of bloggers would lack the knowledge to execute. A little remnant of my ‘New York Magazine’ pillaging post from last month, the ‘Ralph’s World’ cover story from September 1993 is based around the opening of the Polo Sport store and the launch of RRL (“The leather jacket, the worn-out flannel shirt, the beat-up hat represent living, not fashion’ he spits out the last word.“) and is a good piece of Ralph history.

In line with my attempt at doing my bit to kill the e-pollution of retrospective pieces, my token spot of retro-offsetting arrives in the shape of a short Q&A with Ralph from the new ‘Man About Town’ via Philip Utz – I laughed at editor-in-chief Huw Gwyther when he appeared on ‘Dragon’s Den’ asking for cash. The joke’s on me, because this is a good publication (I’ve never picked up ‘Wonderland’) – Simon Foxton is in remarkably restrained mode, still on a young black teenagers vibe (and I’m not talking whiteys with dreads and Reverse Weave hoodies), but showcasing some clean Polo and Purple Label pieces in a Parisian setting. The shoot’s right here, but the interview is worth your time too.

*Though the non-major label antics of Boostin’ Kev preempt Zhigge by a year.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE’S ONLINE ARCHIVE

Last year if you were short of a blog post inspiration you could just go and plunder LIFE’s image archives or go steal something from A Continuous Lean or The Selvedge Yard and add your own half-baked commentary on it. You could also up a lookbook that had been posted several times already, again, with a sprinkling of pointless opinion. But Google Books – aka. the print industry’s nemesis (don’t worry print, techno-book won’t replace pulped trees in my affections any time soon) just made blogs even easier. I plead guilty to abusing this online resource. Vibe’s up there almost in its entirety (a few holes in the mid ’90s), as is Spin, but the crown jewel is New York Magazine’s back catalogue. Shouts to Sofarok for putting me onto some pieces from the magazine’s past pages last year. It still packs a kick, with some excellent writing – the KAWS cover last year and the Dash Snow piece a few years prior were good, but over the years its been in the proximity of some zeitgeist moments by mere blocks, while we wannabes were soaking it up from a distance.

GWARIZM relevant highlights of a casual browse? A Valentines issue from February 1986 with the romantic tale of Futura 2000 and then-wife Christine Carrie, a tiny piece on Supreme from May 1994, a couple of weeks after the store opened, some coverage of the Phillies Blunt phenomenon from August 1992, a lengthy Ralph Lauren interview that’s actually picked from a conversation from the out-of-print, but pretty good (get your Amazon Marketplace on and you’ll find it for a penny plus P&P) ‘Fashion: The Inside Story’ by Barberalee Diamonstein on Rizzoli from October 1985. Mark “Search all issues” and bookend your terms with speech marks to stumble across gem after gem. Considering the excellent Rolling Stone magazine archive cost around £40, that New York Magazine hands it over like this for nada is a major bonus. You want more? Hunt down Craig Unger’s ‘Attitude’ article from July 1982, Unger’s ‘The Lower East Side: There Goes the Neighborhood’ piece from May 1984, ‘Prep-School Gangsters’ by Nancy Jo Sales from December 1996 and ‘Hard-Core Kids’ by Peter Blauner from May 1986.

But the absolute best part of a trawl is Anna Wintour’s work as then-fashion editor of New York Magazine between 1981 and 1983. There’s a lot of reasons why she commands such respect, but look to the ‘New York, New York’ shoot from March 1982 to see Ali, Dondi White and Zephyr getting involved – also note the use of a bike courier in the same shoot – prescient of the current editorial clichés used in efforts to look edgy. Go article hunting right now, right here.

But I’m conscious I’m dwelling on the old, so here’s a new concept – retrospective offsetting. To counteract the old stuff revisited, here’s some newness that gets me hyped:

ARC’TERYX VEILANCE GORE-TEX ENVELOPE

I heard about this method of promoting the excellent Arc’teryx Veilance line at Capsule earlier this year. Conceptually a GORE-TEX envelope sounds like something Ghostface would mention in a lyric back when he spat lines like “Meet the black Boy George, dusted on my honeymoon/Bitch like my wife, she popped my Ghostface balloon.” As a result I needed to own this. Steve Mann kindly gave me one of these oddball promo artifacts. That the envelope inside it tough to remove is irrelevant – this is one of the best pieces of PR ephemera this year, and when the year is out, you’ll all be cock jocking Veilance. Trust me on that one.

‘ANIMAL KINGDOM’

Australia should, with that hazy, slightly sweaty atmosphere that comes built in with any motion picture shot in any of the country’s suburbs, churn out some brilliant crime films, but bar ‘Chopper’ and the deeply disturbing but necessary ‘The Boys’ (hunt it down if you can stomach it), the curse of the knockabout Guy Ritchie twattisms meant films like ‘Two Hands’ and ‘The Hard Word’ fell short despite their potential. Post ‘Underbelly’ there should have been a new breed of flicks. With good buzz after a Sundance showing last Summer, the Melbourne-based ‘Animal Kingdom’ looks intelligent, beautifully shot and deadly serious. This full-length trailer is slickly edited, culminates with a nice matter-of-fact typeface and uses Air Supply’s ‘I’m All Out Of Love’ to winning effect. do we have a potential classic on our hands?

NIKE SFB MID BOOT

Nike seem intent on getting you excited with their new releases if you got bored to tears with the Air Max 1 tsunami (Patta are the exception to that boredom) – the SFB Mid Boot is a more crowdpleasing use of the military technology the brand’s been pushing and it’s another Free soled classic in the making. Is it getting a UK release? Apparently not. This is to the Revaderchi what the Wildedge was to the Wildwood, even if, wisely, it steers clear of anything corny like ‘Air Revaderchi 2010’, it’s an update of both versions of the whimsically titled ACG release. Ace.

ASPIRATIONAL APPAREL

Blog post from February 2009.

Without dwelling too much on an argument that’s been e-debated to death, I want my kids and my kid’s kids to be as inspired by hip-hop attire as I was. How much importance should we place on apparel and footwear? A lot. Case study- I lost respect for Guru when I clocked him wearing cropped trousers and adi Goodyear shoes at London’s Jazz Cafe a couple of years back. That and Solar’s beats were the nail in a solo coffin. Yeah, I’m shallow, but it finally split the solo artist from the Gang Starr years in my psyche.

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