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cool and the gang... when rock stars dress up

The worlds of fashion and music have always been inextricably linked so it's surprising that until now nobody has come up with a series looking at the connections between the two. Step forward the good folk at - where else? - BBC4 who bring us Oh! You Pretty Things, a three-part documentary presented by Lauren Laverne which kicks off on Wednesday night at 9pm.

I'd have thought that the 1950s would have been the perfect starting point for the programme, what with Teddy Boys terrorising the hell out of ordinary decent citizens with their brilliantined duckarse haircuts and flowing drape jackets but no, the focus in the opening instalment is on the 60s so we can have few complaints there.

One of the clips on a cliptastic show is of the Small Faces going mental buying gear in Carnaby Street boutique Lord John. Not only were the band one of the most under-rated outfits of their time but they also happened to be quite dapper wee gents to boot. Mods to a man, the Small Faces looked just as good as they sounded, a look which you can still see about the place. Indeed, when the Blades returned for those two amazing gigs at the Olympia last December the audience resembled a Mod convention.


Honestly, every second person was wearing a Fred Perry or Ben Sherman and it wasn't just chaps and ladies of a certain vintage either. Check out the online videos for young Tallaght band Gangs and you'll see that certain styles retain their cool down the decades for the simple reason that they look great and are smart into the bargain.

I can't help but laugh when I think how those hipsters wandering about the place today, with their ironic facial hair and that ridiculous no-stockings and skinny jeans look, are going to feel when they look back at their selfies in a decade's time and weep with embarrassment. That'll be fun and no mistake.

Among the other delights awaiting us on Wednesday are the sight of Cilla Black in a mini-dress inspired by the costumes in the Richard Burton movie Becket and an examination of the way the Beatles and Rolling Stones (inset) moved from their relatively simple early looks (the Stones look like trainee accountants rather than a threat to society) into the realm of colourful psychedelic garb as the whole Swinging London scene exploded. Then again, it could have been the drugs.

Awaiting us in future programmes are the gaudy delights of Glam and the DIY couture of Punk in the 70s and the sheer madness that was the New Romantic movement in the early 80s. Thanks Beeb4.

>>> george byrne