Monday 19 February 2018

Paul Galvin: Old school to new cool

I want to see Luke Kelly, Liam Clancy and Ronnie Drew on T-shirts. We all know that Jagger, Bowie and Dylan have style. It's now time to celebrate our own icons, says Paul Galvin

Paul Galvin
Paul Galvin
Ronnie Drew as a member of the legendary Dubliners in 1970

Paul Galvin

You know how people ask, 'Which came first, the hen or the egg?' Well, it's a good question. I wonder how an egg possibly flicks the bean in the first place. Or a hen for that matter. From contemplating the whole hen and egg bean-flicking debate I arrived quickly, if somewhat circuitously, at the real question we need to debate. Which came first, fashion or music?

The relationship between fashion and music, and the influence of one on the other, is undeniable. Musicians have forever influenced and inspired what fashion designers do.

So many iconic musicians who have passed, live on through fashion as much as their music. Elvis, Jim Morrisson, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Tupac, Biggie, the other usual suspects, still live on in popular culture through T-shirts, for example.

How about some new iconoclasts? I want to see Luke Kelly, Liam Clancy and Ronnie Drew on some T-shirts soon please.

Of course many icons are still alive, such as Jagger, Bowie and Dylan. For me, Keith Richards is the most iconic. He had the best style and the best swagger of them all and some really great Tees have been made in his honour. However, not all the icons are male. Joan Jett has been just as powerful a force in influencing fashion and how women dress as any of the above.

As has Debbie Harry and Madonna, right up to Rihanna. Topman stocked men's Tees with Rihanna portraits this summer.

Which goes to show just how important creating and cultivating the right image is for a band or musician no matter the genre. A rock band should look and dress like a rock band. Like Kasabian. They are a proper rock band with a sense of style -- an unkemptness that makes it all look thrown together, yet fits the image of the band and their sound perfectly.

Serge Pizzorno is the coolest guy in rock'n'roll. He's all leather jackets, T-shirts,

skinny jeans, zip detail, chains, bandanas and headbands. Proper rock 'n' roll. Tom Mehigan beside him always looks the part too.

He goes for a more military look.

I watched the Vaccines perform at a festival on TV over the summer and just completely lost interest when I saw what they were wearing. Especially the lead singer. He was wearing a white shirt that was way too big for him with bold, mint-green vertical stripes on it. He looked like toothpaste. Or a patient. If he had walked past me along a hospital corridor I'd have understood. But a frontman in a band? Not having that. While musicians can shape fashion trends, designers do their bit in return. Dressing and styling artists for live shows and world tours and TV appearances is huge business, plus free publicity.

It's a whole cool-by-association symbiosis

that works perfectly for both parties. Hardly a hip hop song is released without a reference to some design house or other.

Though it's been reported that the notoriously introverted and elusive Martin Margiela has been less than impressed with his name checks from Jay-Z to Kanye to Tinie Tempah.

In summer, I love that nostalgic pop sound you hear from bands such as Friendly Fires and Hurts, fused with a little indie from The Wombats and The National.

It's the kind of music that makes me feel happy and nostalgic and grateful for everything that I have. But it's so difficult to categorise music genres anymore. A new one turns up every day. The style changes just as subtly. From rock to indie to folk to pop to alternative pop to electro pop to synth pop to shoegaze, to nu wave to nu rave. I could go on.

The latest influx of bands from LA, such as Foster the People and Young the Giant have that relaxed LA-style to go with their chilled-out west coast sound. Vampire Weekend brought the preppy look back, dressing like boys from a Tommy Hilfiger campaign.

Closer to home, I love how Friendly Fires look and sound. Ed MacFarlane, the lead singer, is all smart shirts with rolled sleeves, skinny chinos and brogues. He looks like he just walked off a 'GQ' shoot.

Hurts are another band who have a very distinct way of dressing to match their sound. Their music is a little more serious and romantic, grown up even, than Friendly Fires, and so is their style. Full on, old-world tailoring every time. Theo Hutchcraft has a fondness for double breasted suits and his hair is perfectly quiffed.

Adam Anderson looks a bit more Mod. He used to wear flares going out in Manchester that were so big he would smuggle bottles of beer into clubs strapped to his legs. The duo met outside a club when their respective friends were embroiled in a brawl. They were too drunk to fight and started talking music. Proper lads. The rest is synth-pop.

Ireland's not doing too badly when it comes to new bands with fresh sounds and a style to match.

The Script look like they love their All Saints. But it's the new kids on the block that are really setting the trends. The Chakras aren't afraid of blazers and shirts or skinny jeans.

Galway brothers The Kanyu Tree look like an advert for Topman but it's The Original Rudeboys who are most interesting.

Three inner-city boys with an urban style of dressing and a hip-hop sound infused with softer acoustic vocals and great melodies. Their style is modern and their songs deal with issues such as youthful ambition.

All three have their own style, which I like. Individually they will wear anything from tracksuit tops, to open shirts over vests, to buttoned shirts over waist-length duffles, shades and hats.

It's great to see young Irish talent who care about how they look. Dressing well sends the right message.

Which brings me back to my original question. Which came first, fashion or music?

They probably both came together.

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