The Look Presents… is a new fashion label founded by journalist, writer and pop culture historian Paul Gorman and Max Karie, fashion consultant and co-owner of the Soho boutique Shop. The label, which is available online and in-store from Topman, launched in June with a range of t-shirts from cult 1970s designers Wonder Workshop, including a reworking of their infamous Wild Thing t-shirt that first time around was worn by an array of rock icons including Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan, Mick Jagger, and Robert Plant. The second collection, unveiled in August, is a range of t-shirts from legendary 1960s figure Nigel Waymouth. Which has been joined this month by The Look Presents… Priceless, a capsule collection of suits, shirts, ties, and coats designed by Antony Price, famous for his work with Roxy Music and Duran Duran. Priceless will also be available from the new Topshop/Topman superstore in New York from November. In addition, a Look Presents… Special Edition range has just been launched and is availble exclusively from The Look Presents… website.
The Look Presents... Wonder Workshop (Special Edition)
For Gorman, the label is the latest part in the extraordinary journey of The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion, his beautifully presented and meticulously researched book that in telling the story of post war pop culture through the prism of clothes, also tells the alternative story of pop music. Gorman wanted the book to come from both the point of view of an “informed fan”, and also from the key protagonists, because, as he says, “if you want to find out about Elvis’s clothes then it’s got to have Bernard Lansky in, if you want to find out about the Beatles’ clothes then it’s got to have Dougie Hemmings in”. The impressive line up of contributors from both the music and fashion worlds also included David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Ronnie Wood, Nancy Sinatra, Malcolm McLaren, Paul Smith, Hedi Slimane, and Betsey Johnson.
The Look has completely overturned the boundaries of what a book might be, having already transmogrified into a music CD, a London club night, fashion shows, Q&As, and exhibitions. In addition, The Look is an influential blog, with which Gorman wanted to establish an appreciation, a dialogue and a celebration of menswear in which, “Iggy Pop could stand alongside Pete Doherty, as people who look damn good”.
The Look Presents... Nigel Waymouth
The idea behind The Look Presents… was to choose, as Gorman puts it, “era defining people”, but in that, the intention is not that The Look Presents… should be an exercise in nostalgia. Gorman and Karie, both see it as taking inspiration from the spirit and the attitude of all those key combustible moments when the inter-linked worlds of fashion and music collide, which, as Gorman says, “is as relevant to Hedi Slimane as it is to Bernard Lansky.”
The links between music and fashion have always been to the fore with the pop-boutiques of Max Karie and his business partner Pippa Brooks, as Karie explains: “We set up along the lines of the rock business in that we viewed clothes as artists. You’d look at each collection as an album, and there needed to be a hit single. Everything we sell has kind of a feeling of being marketed; that’s why we’re not so much a fashion shop as a fashionable shop.”
Their lineage of shops in tiny Soho premises began in 1995 with Shop in Frith Street, which became The World According To… in Brewer Street, and is currently Shop at Maison Bertaux, in Greek Street. Each of their diminutive boutiques has been highly influential, and have always, as Karie says, “punched above their weight, but always with integrity”. This has distinct parallels to his view of The Look Presents’… collaboration with Topman as being akin to an indie record label, of the ilk of Mute or Factory Records, teaming up with a major. “Topman is pop today with menswear,” he says, “I love working with them because they’ve got the customer, they’re on the case, and they’ve got the right price point, and they’re not naff, they’re not overtly trendy, and the customers they’ve got are great; they’ve got it!”
The Look Presents... Priceless
Karie first worked for Antony Price in the early nineties in the role of “general dogsbody”, having met the designer at the club night Sacrosanct where Karie DJ’d. He sensed the times were absolutely right to pitch Price as one of The Look Presents… designers, because Price’s “slightly slutty, rocky style is spot on; there’s a recession so you put on a pink suit! It just feels right.”
Collaboration is key to The Look Presents…, as Karie explains, “Paul is the historian, he’s the person that can introduce the timeline, he’s the one that knows all this information, which I find fascinating, then I tune into the product, and really decide which bit of the history we should do.” With regard to working with Price, Karie says, “I give him the parameters and he creates within them and it’s fantastic; I haven’t designed any of it, I’ve just helped him zero in on which categories.”
I ask Karie and Gorman what they would like peoplI ask Karie and Gorman what they would like people to take from the label. “Just enjoy wearing it,” says Karie, “feel really good in it; like Antony’s range; I want to get a suit and I just want to feel good in it”. Gorman, says, “What I like about The Look Presents… is that we can move outwards with this really disparate bunch of oddballs, but, you know, we’re Ian Drury’s crowd, we’re all a little cracked all of us, but hopefully we can make a bit of a difference”.
The Look Presents... Priceless