Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.

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Bakelite as worn…

Necklaces

Unusual necklace

Unusual necklace

Tootie Fruitie

Tootie Fruitie

Lemons

Lemons

Cherries and Von Teese

Cherries and Von Teese

On the beach

On the beach

Mahjong

Mahjong

 Bangles

Vogue Bangles shot

Vogue Bangles shot

Reds

Reds

School mistress

School mistress

Oooh bangles

Oooh bangles

More reds

More reds

More bangles

More bangles

Modern vintage

Modern vintage

I've got more than you

Mine are better than yours

I heard that!

I heard that!

Idiosyncratic Fashionistas

Idiosyncratic Fashionistas

Greens

Greens

More green bangles

More green bangles

Giometric

Giometric

More giometric

More giometric

Friends

Friends

Colours

Colours

Bangles galore

Bangles galore

Bo Ho & bangles

Bo Ho & bangles

Ambers

Ambers

A couple

A couple

Style

Rockin the bling

Rockin the bling

Twins

Twins

Vintage modes

Vintage modes

Red earrings

Red earrings

On your bike

On your bike

Too many rings

Too many rings

can't have too many rings

can’t have too many rings

In the swim

In the swim

In the shade

In the shade

Fall colours

Fall colours

Casual

Casual

Fashion Icons

 

Josaphine Baker

Josaphine Baker

Nancy

Nancy

Iris Apfel NYT

Iris Apfel NYT

Dita Vontese

Dita Vontese

coco-chanel-wearing-maltese-cross-cuff-photo-by-man-ray-1935

coco-chanel-wearing-maltese-cross-cuff-photo-by-man-ray-1935

Kate Moss

Kate Moss

For me the BLJ occupies a really special place in my psyche.  It represents the rebel within that I cannot quite fully release.  It takes me right back to my teenage years and the music I loved, punk rock.  Anyone who wore a leather jacket could look cool.  Well perhaps not anyone.  For example, Brad Pitt is struggling here.

Brad Pitt

And these guys used to look cool but whatever happened to them?

The Beatles

It reminds me of all those strong female musicians of the last Century, like Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)

Chrissie Hynde

Joan Jet from the Runnaways,

Joan Jett

The Slits,

The Slits

Gaye Advert

Gaye Advert,

Patti Smith, Debbie Harry,Debbie Harry

Suzie Quatro

And Suzie Quatro, who had her first number 1 in 1973 with Can the Can.

And all the really cool boys wore them too.   The bands, the rock artists all looked so cool in their BLJs.  It represents strength, and although they are all much the same, there is something individual about a BLJ.

The Ramones

The Ramones

The Clash

The Clash

Lou Reed

Lou Reed

Bruce Sprinsteen

Bruce Sprinsteen

Johnny Thunders

Johnny Thunders

Keith Richards

Studded BLJ

On the face of it, they are similar in style, but they mould to the body of their wearer and can be customised in either ostentatious or very minimal ways.

A man in a BLJ is way too cool for school and a woman in a BLJ can take on the world and not just this one.

Since the age of 17 I’ve always owned a leather jacket.  It is hidden away in my wardrobe and I am ashamed to say rarely gets worn, but it reminds me of the inner me,  le rebelle sans cause!

I remember searching the markets of Camden for my first leather jacket, it had to be perfect and then I found it in the Freeman’s catalogue (anyone remember these) in the days before the Internet.  It was tiny and made of really soft black leather with all the right details and I loved it.  Then I loaned it to a friend and it got stolen.  My next BLJ had an eighties style to it as did the next one, which was thick and heavy and way oversized, as worn in those days.  Then more recently I purchased another BLJ very similar to my first one.  It must have been out of the wardrobe all of 3 times.  It is quite simply a crime and must be rectified as soon as this blog is complete.

There is no doubt that the BLJ is a cultural icon.  Historically it hails from across the pond.  Favoured by US police for its waterproof and protective qualities.

Marlon Brando in The Wild One

Marlon Brando in The Wild One

It became the ultimate symbol of cool in the 50’s being worn by the likes of Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” a 1953 outlaw biker film, directed by Laszlow Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer.  Brando played the iconic gang leader Johnny Strabler.

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean confirmed its coolness in Rebel Without a Cause, a 1955 American film about emotionally confused middle class teenagers, directed by Nicholas Ray.

And later it became the uniform of bikers and Hells Angels.

It was cool way back in the day, worn by style icons like Nancy Cunard and her Barbaric look ivory African bangles.

images.jpg

Today BLJ’s are inextricably linked with Heavy Metal, Glam Rock, Punk Rock, Rock n Roll, the list goes on, Madonna,

Lady Ga Ga.

Anyone who wants to add a little bit of cool to their wardrobe simply rocks up to the party in a BLJ.  Andy Warhol did.

When the TV shows and films of the 70’s and 80’s depicted life in the 50’s and 60’s, they used the BLJ, The T-Birds in ‘Grease’ and

The Fonze in ‘Happy days’ are examples of this. 

 

The BLJ was the subject of a book published in 1985 and written by Mick Farren, chronicling its history over a seventy year period up to the mid 1980s.   “The black leather jacket has always been the uniform of the bad.”   He sites Hitler’s Gestapo, the Black Panthers, punk rockers and the Hell’s Angels.  

And we all remember Arnold Schwarzernegger in The Terminator, when he steels the biker’s outfit from the Hell’s Angels in the cafe bar at the beginning of the film.


The BLJ is clearly an icon of the cool but sometimes I would like to think it all started with a cold female biker back in 1949.


A Passion for Things

 

Amputation devices through time

Amputation devices

I woke up this morning and thought time to write a new blog.  We are in France at the moment, the weather is wonderfully hot at least over 35 degrees and my mind turned to bakelite once again (and why not?).  Well I am still bemoaning the fact that I had declined to purchase the most gorgeous little bakelite Box Brownie camera in a leather case from a vide grenier for 5€.  But worry not, as this is not another blog about bakelite and not even about people who collect bakelite, as I have previously touched upon Andy Warhol’s penchant for collecting carved bakelite bangles.  He also collected cookie jars and had over 175 when he died.

Andy Warhol's Cookie Jar Collection

Andy Warhol’s Cookie Jar Collection

No! I am thinking about when items are gathered together in a collection they always seem to me to be more than the sum of their individual parts and have a significance and beauty all of their own.  I am not really considering the psychological reasons why people collect or the very different and wacky things that are collected.  Rather than be too Freudian here I like to think that people collect either for fun, to rekindle childhood memories of perhaps toys played with in the past; or for investment, because a collection may be worth something in the future; or for a sense of achievement because it could be fulfilling to complete a collection; or a collection may demonstrate a sense of identity and individualism.  Collecting is what we humans do, and it is and has been an essential tool for the historian and anthropologist.  If humans didn’t collect then we wouldn’t have the wonderful contents of many of our museums today.  And for me, collecting isn’t just having a couple of items that are similar or the same, it is having that particular amount that makes it into a collection.  Considering the “odd number rule” I would say it’s got to be a minimum of three items.  Anyway having done a little research courtesy of the web I realised that people collect the most weird and sometimes horrible things.  From celebrity hair, to tattoos, to used toothbrushes.  For those with a nervous disposition or weak of stomach, and that includes me, I shan’t be venturing into this area of collecting.  See what you think of the following collections and do let me know what you collect, if anything.  (Images mostly courtesy of Pinterest).  

shoes

Shoes

Voodoo masks

Whitefriars glass

pyrex

Pyrex

Paperweights

Vintage cameras

Vintage cameras

Vintage tins

mirrors

Old bottle collection

Old bottle collection

If you want to read more on the subject of collecting then check out Marjorie Akin an anthropologist from the University of California, who has written an essay, “Passionate Possession: The Formation of Private Collections,”