Saturday 16 November 2019

Paul Galvin: Trend spotters

Pro Green wearing Topman jacket and shirt with polka dot square
Pro Green wearing Topman jacket and shirt with polka dot square
Polka-dot shirt Topman.

Paul Galvin

Cool singers and rappers have gone dotty over them, as have designers and their artist friends, so it's about time you embraced polka-dots, says Paul Galvin

As a very good friend of mine said about a young lady we both knew one time, "She's coming on leaps and bounds".

He was referring not to her abilities as a long-jumper, high-jumper, or any other athletic ability she may have possessed, but to the marked improvement he had noticed in her looks.

As he was my very good friend, I decided to look beyond this gross objectification of the fairer sex and focus on the choice of words and the well-intended compliment-cum-insult. He meant well.

My own mind is all about leaps and bounds, too. It's all leaps and no bounds. Coincidentally, or perhaps consequently, I'm thinking a lot about polka dots at the moment.

Another man coming on leaps and bounds these days is the boy Professor Green. In a sartorial sense, I mean.

His story is an interesting one. Born on the wrong side of the Hackney tracks, PG knows all about street style and attitude. Both were evident in his early work. He was all dirty lyrics and hoodies.

Today, a slicker, smarter side has become apparent both in his dress and his music. Maturity has enveloped both.

Puma has made him a social ambassador, rather than a brand ambassador. Which is fitting, really, as he's much more of a social icon than a brand schmaltzer. That said, he knows his APC from his Givenchy and wears both.

It was something else I saw him wearing on the front of a magazine recently that put him back in my mind as someone who can, and does, influence how young people dress.

On the front cover of 'Topman Generation' in-store magazine in early summer, he wore a black suit with a white buttoned-up shirt, no tie, and a polka-dot pocket square.

This highlights a man who appreciates good dress. He knows how to dress up and dress down. He has mastered the art of keeping his street appeal while also embracing more high-end fashion.

So while he wears high-tops and varsity jackets, he doesn't look out of place in a smart suit with a slick quiff, either.

I've been keeping an eye out for polka dots ever since. Slowly but surely, they appear. A polo top here, a shirt there, a jumper next to it and now polka dots abound.

I'm seeing so many dots I'm half expecting them to come bouncing down the street, like in a Jose Gonzalez video.

Topman is always the first to push a trend and it's gone dotty. Personally, I don't like the full-on polka routine. To wear it properly, I'd go for the subtle pocket-square reference with a suit, or a polo shirt peeking out from under a V-neck.

Socks and ties are an age-old way for men to address the polka-dot trend.

Fashion dictates that any trends are led by womenswear.

Beau Brummell, the dandy himself, made the polka dot part of his attire as early as 200 years ago. Brummell is the man credited with making the suit and tie part of British men's fashion attire.

He's also the man who invented dandyism. Who remembers 'The Dandy' magazine? That publication was inspired by Brummell. So there. He'd know a thing or two about polka dots.

Then again, we could just do what we've always done -- let the women at it and copy them in our own charmless way.

For real polka-dot indulgence, Marc Jacobs is ahead of the fashion mob again. But not without the considerable and conscious effort of a Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, who lives full-time in a mental institution at her own volition.

Her artistic interpretation of the world, a series of dots mainly, can now be bought in fashion through her collaboration with LV.

The French house leads the way in artist collaborations as H&M does on the high street. No one is off limits.

Kusama was a contemporary and friend of Andy Warhol, and the collection is now available in the form of shoes, dresses, trench coats and the legendary LV monogram bag.

The collection shows in London for six weeks and has caused a real stir. Expect all other designers to follow suit and expect nothing to be off the polka-dot limit.

I will sign off with a salute to another of the music industry's brightest young things. Labrinth is a multi-talented singer/songwriter, producer and very snapper dresser from the UK. I'm sure you've heard of him.

Have you noticed his excellent taste in clothes?

If not, I advise you to have a look at some of his music videos. This guy isn't afraid of bright colour, short pants with suits or buttoned-up shirts.

Check out the video for his big hit 'Earthquake'. Look very closely. Those of you with a beady eye for fashion will spot the polka dot.

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