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Friday, 25 May 2018

John Simons - 'A Modernist' a film by Mark Baxter, Lee Cogswell and Jason Jules.

It's safe to say that this piece of work is absolutely stunning. Bax, Lee and Jason have produced something that is not only a tribute to the great man but an education in itself for its viewers. John Simons is a British institution and someone who in my opinion has never been given the spotlight he so duly deserves. Without John many would not know style, they would not know more than what is in front of them on the high street. John has given so many people so much and 'A Modernist' takes you on the illustrious journey from 'Clothesville' to 'The Ivy Shop' to his current residency on Chiltern Street in 2018. The title 'A Modernist' is absolutely perfect, John truly is a Modernist in every sense of the word, the only person I can compare him to would be Bowie and for me he personifies Modernism. Put it this way you won't see any fellas with daft haircuts and Union Jack jumpers cutting into his store anytime soon.

John brought the American Ivy look to London and in general England! He kitted out the Suedeheads, Skins, Mods and the general menswear aficionados about town. With the release of this film people will definitely realise just how much he has done for British menswear  and just how many lives he has affected over the years. With contributors such as Weller, Suggs, Kevin Rowland, Robert Elms and Paul Smith you just know you're among the proper sussed crowd here, no pretenders, no mod life crisis geezers wearing target tees, just proper fellas! The origin of the 'Harrington' jacket is touched upon and you are told how a leading actor 'Rodney Harrington' wore a Baracuta G9 in a film and from that day forward the short, smart jacket we know was coined the 'Harrington'.

It's so much more than clothes and that's the real message here. Art, culture, music and working class heritage all bundle into one to give you a taster of a world that brings joy to everyone who enters it. Jazz, soul, culture and style are just some of the ingredients that make up this wonderful mans shop and world in general. John is a pioneer to British Menswear and this film makes that clear, giving him the recognition he deserves in full. Kevin Rowland states that there should be a statue dedicated to him and I completely agree on that one. John has given so many people so much and I don't think he realises just how positively he's affected all those lives! The blender that is Modernism has an integral mix of Ivy, Continental and of course British street style thrown into it. This documentary brings that to the fore and takes the viewer on a journey that sadly, many people will never go on.

You have to be eternally grateful to John for all that he has shown people, all that he has created, he is a modern day artist and a perfectionist of his craft. Take his window displays for example, they're stuff of legend and he has been putting them together since he was a young man, and they are a far cry from the rubbish seen on the high street on a daily basis. John carefully plans these, thinks about his customers as individuals and provides them with a complete experience from viewing a window display to purchasing and item. Creative, forward thinking and most of all a gentleman, John Simons is one of a kind and a god-like figure to the world of menswear. I for one am eternally grateful for all that i have discovered though him. The film comes to a close with a shot of John playing Sax in his shop window, perfectly executing a jazz solo, a stunning end to a stunning film. I take my hat off to Bax, Lee, Jason, John and all the contributors and cool cats who made this film what is it! Onwards.....


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger