Sunday, 30 January 2011


I first met Iain R Webb as a St Martins student around 1978, we immediately struck up a friendship, I worked in Covent Garden shop P.X. most people came by at some point, and I remember Iain coming by to tell me he'd just been on a drive to the countryside with friends, they had decided to make a style shrine on the dashboard of the car which included a picture of me! I was flattered to say the least. Since then Iian went on from fashion design into the world of fashion writing... A regular fixture on the front row of the most credible shows, I often bump into him on these occasions, always a great catchup moment I hasten to add, with this book Iain has managed to capture the furore of the catwalk both on and off stage.
Here we are at a recent book signing for Postcards From The Edge Of The Catwalk (above), I just had to attend this one! The book itself contains imagery from the 80's to the present day, there's no chronological order here, rather the photos fall into a poetry of their own.
A visual diary of fashion moments, the iconic and familiar parade via a series of snaps, it's interesting to see models, designers and us the dedicated fashion show goers become part of the spectacle. There's something very personal to Iain's pictorial evidence where the stage is the main feature, but the surrounding moments and build up are lovingly documented.
Going to see a fashion show is good fun! I generally go and see friends shows being on the peripheries of fashion, the amount of creative energy that goes into getting a 10 minute show just right always astounds me. The anticipation surrounding these occasions often leaves us, the audience, gasping.
The spectacle and who's who in the front row is as much part of a show as the show itself. In Postcards... all is revealed. This is Iain's dedication to the fantastical world he inhabits, a place where for mere minutes, month's worth of preparation come to fruition.
Designers, designs, celebrities, models, photographers, writers, muses, make up artists, hairdressers and friends get equal amounts of homage in Iain's visual account. The passion and humor is apparent, infact working in and around fashion takes pure dedication and focus. Professor Webb is one such person.

Published by ACC Editions

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Since forming at the end of 2009 R O M A N C E have been diligently crafting a sound that looks set to place this fledgling band in the midst of rock giants in years to come! If you feel like flinging yourself around ahead of the pack get track Burn Like Fire for free and play loud!

Monday, 17 January 2011


Somehow I had to chuckle when entering the saucy world of naughty 'Normah', the name of artist and designer David Holah's latest exhibition and I suspect alter ego.
David Holah is an old friend of mine, we met whilst he was studying fashion at North Middlesex University, it was there he teamed up with Stevie Stewart and created seminal fashion house Body Map in the 80's. Revolutionary in respect to surface design, innovative in cut, Body Map stepped up and epitomized the concept of body con in an era when shoulder pads ruled the mainstream. It's no surprise then that Body Map went on to design costumes for the Michael Clark dance company where their sense of body form complimented Clarks shape shifting moves with ease.

Today Holah combines his love of print and style with a personal exposé in the form of a visual diary. Normah is tongue in cheek, she winks, wiggles and provokes the viewer into submission. You have to love her... she's a cartoon of humorous and escapist stereotypes, but scratch the surface and the she-male, he-she that Holah has created pokes fun at historical female role-playing. Normah irons and pouts, Normah attempts work on a male dominated construction site in a film short and takes the piss in most comical fashion trashing gender do's and don'ts. I particularly enjoyed the mirrored prints and the notion that the viewer becomes part of Normah's picture.
Slogans and symbols layer multiple imagery, the effect unravels a depth but can be taken on a number of levels. The initial effect is sugary and camp, peer closely and Normah question's social commentary in a decorously dark style.

Currently on at gallery Ketchum Pleon down in Folgate St, E1.

Sunday, 16 January 2011



Punk, post punk, no wave… call it what you like there was something afoot in the mid 70's. Imagine you’re in NYC, slap bang in the city that never sleeps, everything’s going on, the CBGB’s is open, and the new movers and shakers in town are getting gritty conjuring up the music and art that has since become the footnote to movements on a global scale. James Chance swaggered into the foray and and pop! there you have it... the rest is history.

Going back in time, did you think you were creating something special?

Er, yeah I think so… I mean we didn’t take it all that seriously I think there was a lot of humour attached to the music that a lot of people missed. It wasn’t like we were totally serious tortured artists… we were all pretty light-hearted about the whole thing. But I think I was certainly aware that we were doing something, but it wasn’t like I was thinking we’d have any commercial success with, it just didn’t seem like it would be possible to be commercially successful. It really did surprise me, although I did always want people to be able dance to what I was doing, I did have some ambition outside to just playing for a few artists outside of Soho.

What is the secret to the longevity of your music is?

Erm, well probably just by having an unique style, the kind of material I do, my own funk or jazz, you know it's always kind of filtered through my sensibility and I don’t determine to any category or movement. I think I’m unique, that when you’ve got something totally individual that’s what lasts.

Also part of it seems to be your sincere passion, I was touched reading your experience and how the women in your life influenced you, you seem to have punctuated your life by noting and paying homage to the women in your life.

Yeah, that’s true, there haven’t been that many really, two main ones Anya Phillips and Judy Taylor, Anya who I’m still with. I had a very brief period of going into a typical rock star trip with a whole bunch of different women, that didn’t last, but since I’ve been with Anya that sort of faded away.

Do you think you’re romantic?

Yeah I guess you’d have to call me a romantic…

Over the last 30 years the UK always looked towards New York for inspiration, I was curious about your work with Lydia Lunch…

Well Lydia was on of the first people I made friends with and I met her in CBGB’s. She was only about 16 she had just come from Rochester, New York which is quite a horrible place up state. She was kind of dancing around, that got my attention because nobody danced at those clubs, there weren’t any dance floors, people were just into being cool, and posing, no one danced. And that kind of irritated me you know, to me rock 'n' roll is always about dancing so that kind of got my attention. So we got talking to her she showed me this sort of prose thing she had written and I was really impressed with it… and then a short time later she sort of knocked on my door of this little apartment I had on 2nd Avenue and said she needed a place to stay. She ended up moving in with me for about a year although we were not like really, girlfriend boyfriend. We had a beat up old guitar, acoustic guitar, and she showed me these songs she had been working on a little bit, they were some of these Teenage Jesus songs and I think most people would have told her to get off you know, but I encouraged her with it. That was kind of how Teenage Jesus started. That was like 1977. She always planned to have a very minimal sound but it got to the point where she decided she wanted it so minimal she didn’t want me in it anymore. She basically fired me!

Sometimes life’s all about letting go though…

Yeah, it was a good thing, that’s what gave me the impetuous to start the Contortions.

Amazingly your 57 years old and you seem to have the same passion and enthusiasm on stage as when you started out…

That’s the place I probably feel most comfortable, on stage you know. I’m not comfortable in normal life just being a normal person doing everyday stuff, I’ve always felt like kind of an alien or something some how. Normal life – I just don’t connect with it but when I’m on stage everything kind of clicks, although one thing I hate is getting all sweaty.

With 'Twist Your Soul' you’ve selected some wonderful rarities…

Oh yeah, I didn’t want to have the same old tracks, and also they wanted a second CD of live tracks… and also I pretty much wanted to concentrate on the funk sides of things. I really more or less decided to put my personal favourites on.

What’s it been like performing at The Victoria (Pub in London)?

The first time it was sold out the second time not so sold out, other than that aspect, I loved playing there, people were singing along which really amazed me! I really like having young fans you know, because people my age are they … you know, I mean I don’t go out to shows myself much you know, people when they're older, well they love their music just as much but they’re into their own lives, you don’t have so much time or energy for it… or enthusiasm.

I kind of feel sorry for young people in a way, I mean I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s things were so much more wilder then and there was so much more happening in the world, I feel really lucky to have grown up in that time. To grow up in the world today would be horrible.

The pace of life can be so fast, sometimes with creative endeavours things aren’t allowed to develop, their seems to be an urgency…

Yeah, when you get into the commercial side of the music industry it seems worse than it used to be, because there’s a lot less money in the industry than there used to be so the record companies are trying to squeeze everything they can out of you. One thing about not having a major record contract is not having all that interference with the music, I’ve never really had to deal with that. But on the downside my recording career has been quite spotty. But you know, I feel I’ve kind of been preserved in a way, I still have some sort of enthusiasm left for performing.

I'd like to ask you about your personal image and style, is dressing a thing you think about and how did you find your personal style?

Well to be perfectly honest it was pretty much created for me by Anya Phillips, if you look at pictures of when I was in teenage Jesus or really early contortions before she was around I look quite different, I kind of put myself in her hands and let her totally create a style for me, it’s pretty much served me all these years with out very little changes. I guess I’m pretty conservative in the way I dress, because I pretty much stick to traditional things like suits. I not a very casual person you know, I always want to look sharp… I never wear t-shirts, I hardly wear any jeans…

Is that a generational thing?

I don’t know but everyone at CBGB’s was concerned with their style you know, one thing that really impressed me was that each band had their own look and style that went along completely with their music. That aspect made a deep impression on me, when I first came to New York my vision was to be a jazz musician but that was one thing that really put me off the jazz scene was their style. Which was so awful, they were just so mired in the hippie era. And I just couldn’t stand that and they couldn’t comprehend my style at all, it just didn’t compute with their idea of what a jazz musician should look like.

Here's some quick fire questions, what’s your all time favourite meal?

Favourite meal… rhubarb yogurt! I have a thing about yogurt; I practically live on yogurt sometimes! When I’m on the road especially, each country has different kind of strange flavours of yogurt, in England I always buy rhubarb yogurt.

Do you like Frank Zappa?

I like the Hot Rats, I haven’t heard it for a long time, and I like some of the early Mothers Of Invention too, not all of it but some of it…

Who is the all time coolest person to ever walk the earth?

Probably Lester Young…

Words- Princess Julia



What is it about the human compulsion to adorn oneself, to dress in a particular style, to strike out with a 'look'? Considering mankind is the only thinking 'being' capable of intellectual decision making, on a mundane level 'dressing' could be considered a subject that functions as part and parcel of everyday life with boring respectability, but for us with a vent towards developing a personal style there are endless possibilities to the dressing up box. Projecting an image apt for the various roles we play in society vs. the sense of individual taste and selecting an image of unique beautification is as intriqueing now as it's ever been.

Glamour as a concept is an invention of the the 20th Century and is generally associated with the advent of film in Hollywood, glamour became an iconic theme played out both in lifestyle and imagination from it's onset. The sense of escapism celebrated via this medium at once expanded on formal notions of beauty. Class distinction, wealth and artistic interpretation became blurred, decadent and fantastical imagery seeped into the everyday world of mere mortals. The influence of movie stars upon the general public created an enduring global obsession with glamour and it's trappings which remains as fierce today, albeit in a slightly corrupted way! With theories on glamour and anti glamour abounding, here we are in the 21st century still debating ideals on acceptable and thought provoking extremes. It has to be said the most 'normal' kind of glamour can look freakish if it's not to your tastes.

Andre J is one such person who is questioning the perceptions of the norm. His 'look'? Describing Andre J in layman's terms seems somewhat irreverent, bearded and bewigged Andre strolls around town in a series of looks that combine couture and high end fashion resulting in an assemblage of his own perceptions. His main angle focuses on glamour, but there is no genre tagging here and I wonder if he realizes that he may be changing some notions of acceptable beauty, 'The world is becoming much more 'unisexy'... simply because we are all made up of X and Y chromozones, masculine and feminine.' Adding, 'It's just a thing that is happening naturally. Gender is a label, just a box... as in art, it holds it's own interpretation, everyone sees something different'.

Growing up in Newark, New Jersey Andre always had a strong sense of being 'different', raised by his single mother who upon reflection he recalls may have played a part in his sensibilities, 'I remember when I was 3 my mother tied a pyjama top round my waist, put one of her long wigs on my head and took a photo of me. she wanted a girl!' Andre continues, I''ve always been different, I would say from the age of 6 when I was molested, I knew I was different and that incident confused me sexually...' Perhaps these two events may have played a part in setting Andre apart but the hero in our story has a way of dealing with the negative in a most positive fashion... 'Today when I put on my makeup up I got the answers to what I was seeking.' Andre continues with a true air of sincerity, 'I constantly added lip gloss and it put me in the zone. When you take an additional 5 minutes to with yourself, opposed to neglecting yourself it really works. When you look glamourous you act glamourous and what you wear has a direct phycological effect to how you act.'

Since his timely departure from Newark, a stint in LA for a year, Andre soon realized he had the potential to be an authentic superstar. His strength lies in an undaunting belief in the form of a personal mantra 'positive energy and individuality'. Like a shinning knight armed with lipgloss Andre J really does feel his message is relevant. Does he feel like he's a role model? Here Andre reveals his socially aware side, 'Yes I do, though perhaps, I feel more like a mentor. I go to The Lower East Side Girls Club in New York, I go and talk to the girls about feeling good about themselves, respecting themselves.' With a caring and community minded approach to survival he passes his message on. His other charities include The Life Ball in Vienna and Designers Against Aids in Anterwp, 'If I can make it easier for people to express themselves, even if it's just one person then it's a job well done.'

Ending up NYC in 2003 Andre sauntered into Pat Fields, 'I Just walked into the shop, I had a bald head then with a headscarf on, a bindi on my forehead and stack heels.' Talking about Pat, Andre has fond memories, 'She loves the kids that express themselves, that are edgy, that are daring, she thrives on that.' Before long Andre became a spokesperson for Pat Fields, 'I became the PR Director of the boutique'. Speaking to the press and looking after clients such Amy Winehouse and Victoria Beckham, Andre was soon to be 'discovered' walking down a New York street. 'My first real shoot was for V Magazine shot by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.' Then came French Vogue, 'I got that that through stylist Joe McKenna.' (Who really did find Andre in street strolling mode!) 'Shot by Bruce Weber that just changed my life because it was so contraversal. It was 2007, I had a 3 page feature in French Vogue, I was dressed in heels, there had never been a cover with people smiling on and I was the considered the 2nd black male ever to grace the cover. Carine Roitfeld, editor in chief said it was fresh!'

Optimistic and positive Andre J spreads the love and the power, his mission may be simple, 'When I came to London, I wanted to do what I did in New York... I got all the boys wearing high heels, when they came through Harlem and Brooklyn they came in full glam! They saw that it can be done from reading about me and they felt liberated! It was so inspirational'. Capital cities are where Andre excells, 'If I hit the big cities I can make it anywhere... next I'm hitting Toykio, I'm going to take over the world!'

Spending his time between the streets of New York and here in London where Andre has become quite firmly instated into our subculture, bumping into Andre is always brings a smile to my face and recently artist Wolfgang Tillmans had the same experience resulting in a portrait of Andre J chatting on the phone in one of his latest exhibitions in Berlin. Strangely I do always wonder what other people see, because once you get past the male and female signifers Andre's beauty and style become the main focus, Andre is quick to reply laughing and telling me the kind of remarks he might get on any given day, 'What the fuck, what is that... is it a man? Occasionally somebody will say, 'You are beautiful'! Provocative and confrontational maybe but Andre says, 'I feel sexy!' adding, 'I am fashion, it's about style, I am the look, this is what is translated into my everyday reality. My references have ranged from Cher, Diana Ross and Tina Turner. But lately I'm inspired by the future... broad shoulders and birds. I think my look will gradually progress into other things... always with the beard, i've been told by Tyra Banks I should never remove it!

Words - Princess Julia