Magazine article The Spectator

Wearing Well

Magazine article The Spectator

Wearing Well

Article excerpt

Fab Gear: The Beatles and Fashion Born in the same year as John Lennon (1940), I was a sucker for the Beatles from the start.

They were the accompaniment of my youth, love's obbligato. I liked their music because it replaced the raw animality of rock 'n' roll with sophisticated melody. I think Schubert would have been proud to have composed 'Yesterday' or 'Hey Jude'.

Also, unlike most of the rock 'n' roll hunks, the Beatles were skinny. So was I - grievously thin - and it was a relief that we skeletons could now come out of the cupboard. In the early photographs of the Fab Four, wearing the monkey-suits their manager Brian Epstein insisted on, they look quite tame; but their hair was already long enough to outrage rednecks. 'Mop Tops' was the gibe of the moment. Like the term 'Impressionists' around 1874, it was accepted as a compliment, a badge of honour.

I was in a taxi from JFK airport to New York in 1980 when the driver told me that Lennon had been shot. Of course I was sorry; but I had never much taken to Lennon. I saw him as the boy who would have bullied me at school. (Recently his son Sean said: 'He sang a lot about love, but he didn't spare much for me. …

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