Thursday, April 23, 2009

Creating Beauty, Design and the Past






I spend a lot of time thinking about shapes and forms. Hours upon hours developing and trying to find out what the thin hair of difference is that creates genius vs mediocrity. With so much mediocre crap out in the world I am always terrified that I might step over the abyss and make or design something that is "mediocre" . Believe it or not as I was discussing with my friend John Chapman the other day, the difference between simple genius and today's fashion is often the concept of purpose. In the past every design, every line and every single cut seemed to be full of purpose. There was always a practical reason for each idea in a garment. The creativity was often the secondary thought. First you make a perfect garment, then you embellish it. Trying to understand that thinking in an age of computing and computer design is next to impossible. The task is daunting at best. I've spent the better part of the last 3 months trying to create new designs in the Zeitgeist of those long dead designers and it has been a fascinating process. We have had to unthink many of the ideas built into these jackets and unthink the way modern patterns are made. It is and will be a very scary process. I have been reticent to even share the results with my family. Hopefully I will have a jacket so beautiful that others will encourage me to bring it out into the world!

Friday, April 17, 2009

England, Punk Rock and Cate Blanchett







Part of my longtime passion with leather jackets has lead me to meet the global cabal of aficionados who share my obsession. Admittedly I was a bit late to the game of leather jacket collecting. I did not get serious about it until 2000. The jacket that inspired me was an Endura cafe racer made in California. That jacket was so cool with clean lines and a yellow racing stripe. I wore it and it reinvigorated my love of clothing. My first leather jacket was a gift, a loan from a friend really. It was a punk jacket and in Canada the only source of punk jackets was Brimaco. The standard copy of a Harley Cycle Champ D-pocket jacket was hacked and painted, safety pinned and studded. My friend Brendan lent me his jacket in 1986...it was his band jacket from the early 80s. I loved that jacket and found myself wandering the streets of Ottawa getting into all sorts of trouble in it.
The real catalyst for vintage leather was the publication of Rin Tanaka's books on motorcycle jackets in 2001. Many of the jackets in the book were sold by me and other friends of mine here in Toronto. It was so exciting to see jackets that I owned or held in my hands in a book! Rin seemed to connect a world of dealers and traders and other obsessive compulsives that had never even met each other except on the world of ebay and the internet. One of the key contributors to the books English side is my new friend Peter Makarski. Pete's London collections of English motorcycle stuff is legendary. Pete kindly lent me some pics of one of my most favorite women in the world wearing one of his jackets. Cate is as inspiring to me in her beauty as the jackets are inspiring in their design and authenticity. I listened to punk in the late 1970s as a 13 year old here in Toronto, and am always fascinated at the global network of music that connected us long before the internet via analogue vinyl.