Category Archives: Film

➤ Burretti movie adds an epic and essential chapter to the Bowie story

Starman, Freddie Burretti, film, biopic, Lee Scriven, David Bowie, The Man Who Sewed The World, glam rock, fashion

Connected by otherness: Burretti and Bowie

Click to zoom down to Andy Polaris’s film review

◼ BETWEEN 1970 AND 1974 FREDDIE BURRETTI not only became David Bowie’s teenage lover but gave visual expression to the singer’s pop ambition. When they met Bowie was 23 and married to Angie while former Mod face Freddie, with his 28-inch waist and voluptuous long-hair, was as sexy as many another 19-year-old in that moment when David Johansen, Marc Bolan and Bowie were creating what became known as glam rock. But Freddie and David clicked instinctively in what Bowie calls their “otherness”, much of which derived from their sexuality. His career rebirth as an alien on Planet Earth was a masterstroke of pop invention and it was Burretti who created the exotic and brazenly sexual one-piece style of costuming in lush fabrics that we associate with Ziggy Stardust.

A new documentary biopic was previewed in London last night and not only breathes fresh life into familiar Bowie music but pieces together a unique chapter about his personal relationships against the austere climate of Britain in the 70s. Director Lee Scriven captures on film a score of eye-witness accounts, chief among them Freddie’s brother Stephen, his special friend and flatmate Wendy Kirby, his younger It-girl protégée Daniella Parmar, and biographer Kevin Cann.

Freddie Burretti , David Bowie, fashion,

Burretti stripes 1973: Bowie photographed on the Aberdeen express by Mick Rock

Titled Starman: Freddie Burretti – The Man Who Sewed The World, the biopic’s impact is cumulative. Burretti described himself as “just a dress designer” – raised in Hackney, transplanted at 14 to Bletchley in the home counties, then escaping at 18 back to London to live the life – yet by the time the on-screen talking heads arrive at GQ editor Dylan Jones, it becomes clear that a body of opinion today ranks Burretti alongside giants such as Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood and even Alexander McQueen, whose design talent blossomed more than a decade later.

Indeed, Burretti’s “stylish, yet slightly whimsical approach to tailoring” and the enduring influence of his adventurous cutting in several suits of the moment during 1973–74 is thoroughly acknowledged in the V&A catalogue to its touring exhibition, David Bowie Is. The singer’s blurring of the line between stage wear and day wear persuades an impressive list of high-fashion designers to admit their debt to him, including Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy whose SS2010 show opened with a black-and-white striped blazer in a blatant tribute to the one Bowie was famously photographed wearing on an intercity train in May 1973.

Bowie told Fan magazine in 1974: “Freddie is extremely patient. He just listens to my ideas and has this sort of telepathy, because whatever I think of in my mind he produces for real. I just hope he’ll continue to design incredible clothes for me.”

The tragedy is that the Burretti-Bowie partnership ended that year, over a “financial disagreement”, according to Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now. Immediately, Burretti slipped out of the public eye.

, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, glam rock, man-dress,gay issues,

Curious magazine, 1971: Bowie wears his Michael Fish “man-dress” and plans to create a band called The Arnold Corns to showcase Freddie as “the next Mick Jagger”

The affair had begun in Kensington’s fashionable gay disco Yours Or Mine beneath the Sombrero restaurant. The Bowies were regulars, and one night David spotted Freddie cutting a dash on the up-lit dancefloor. Angie Bowie crossed the room to ask him and Wendy to join them for a drink.

Angie said in 1999: “You have no idea how handsome this man was. Freddie was wearing white Spandex hotpants with a navy blue sailors trim and a sailor shirt with short sleeves out of the same white Spandex edged in navy on the collar and sleeves. He looked totally Scandinavian with high cheek-bones and lots of blond hair, but he was tall and had big hands and feet speaking of his artistry and physical stamina. Every night he made new clothes to wear. He was so brilliant.”

At last night’s screening flatmate Wendy also remembered that day: “Angie approached us and asked us to have a drink. We hesitated and that’s what’s missing from the film – our sheer arrogance. We nearly said no!” She added: “Watching the film was quite strange. No one imagines their youth will be portrayed on screen and it was a little unsettling. I think the film was an affectionate glimpse of a time long gone. I didn’t appreciate at the time how talented Freddie really was. Lee’s film brought home how exceptional his work was. I’m proud to have known the man who was ‘just Freddie’ to me.”

❏ Read on for the reaction of Andy Polaris, ex-Blitz Kid and 80s pop singer who regards Bowie as one of rock’s serious gods.

➢ Starman director Lee Scriven’s website

“man-dress” , Wendy Kirby, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, fashion,

Angie and David at home to Freddie: the host wears his Michael Fish designed “man-dress” that was banned from his American album cover for The Man Who Sold the World

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1970, Where to draw a line between glitter and glam

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2011, I danced in Bowie’s lost Jean Genie video, by Wendy Kirby

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2010, A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices by Kevin Cann

Last night’s preview: click any pic below to launch slideshow



Freddie Burretti, Daniella Parmar, fashion,Ziggy Stardust

Designer and It-girl, Freddie and Daniella: striking a pose that David and Angie came to emulate

Andy Polaris, singer

Andy Polaris

❏ Starman: The Man Who Sewed The World gives a fascinating insight into the relatively unknown life of fashion future legend Freddie Burretti. This working-class lad had a creative mind able to absorb everything he loved about Mod fashion, having taught himself to make his own clothes at an early age. With enough dedication and focus to learn tailoring as well as the youthful dynamics of the dancefloor, he was obviously adept at observing styles and reworking looks to his own vision.

A chance meeting at the disco lead to the serendipitous collaboration with Bowie and the singer’s as yet not fully realised Ziggy Stardust wardrobe. These bold textured prints and coloured jumpsuits were, and are, extraordinary for capturing Bowie’s otherness at that time. Aladdin Sane prints that looked like Liberty worn by the androgynous male rock star blew our tiny minds back then.

What I loved about the movie was seeing the genesis of Freddie’s glamour vision in a mundanely drab landscape played out with the innocence of his mainly, it appears, female friends notably Wendy bf and Daniella protégée. Wonderful to hear their counterpoint stories of that inner ciricle involved in Bowie’s creation of Ziggy with Freddie’s ascendant talent and confidence.

The pairing of Freddie and Daniella wearing his clothes is groundbreaking. Looking at those photos we see the androgynous beauty of Freddie (like a still from James Bidgood’s 1971 cult movie Pink Narcissus) teamed with Daniella’s Asian complexion and short spiky blonde crop. They had already created David and Angie’s classic image before the rest of the world saw it!

fashion, David Johansen, David Bowie

Coordination of styles, 1973: which came first, Johansen of New York Dolls or Bowie in Ziggy coat?

In fact, Daniella also anticipates Ava Cherry singing with Bowie in Young Americans several years later when we note the similar styling – how did that happen?

From my own black perspective, a brown or black face was something I would immediately zone in on, seeing someone like you up there on a stage and hanging out with the stars. Marc Bolan having the black Gloria Jones as his wife was a big bloody deal to some black kids, for sure.

Freddie’s whole look seems to have been adopted wholesale by David Johansen of the New York Dolls, so the influence of this young British designer can today be recognised rippling out into the wider pop culture although it probably wasn’t acknowledged at the time. Maybe a parallel could be drawn between Freddie and Alexander McQueen – both gay and from working-class backgrounds – though McQueen came to work with Bowie as an established star, whereas Freddie created an image that made Bowie a star. Today it is unreal to imagine any designer could achieve such pivotal pop success without a massive team behind them.

➢ Video: Andy Polaris sings Mr Solitaire on Top of the Pops


2015 ➤ Another three days inside the head of Shia LaBeouf

film, Shia LaBeouf, Rönkkö, Luke Turner , art,#allmymovies , metamodernism

Dozing off: Shia LaBeouf viewing #allmymovies this week in NYC

film, Shia LaBeouf, Rönkkö, Luke Turner , art,#allmymovies , metamodernism

Click pic to watch Shia viewing #allmymovies

◼ ZZZZZZ!!!!! You may have just missed the latest immersive real-time art project from the compelling marriage of Hollywood and bleeding-edge European art, as manifested by the LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner collaboration.

Shia LaBeouf, the very #Iamsorry Californian film star with artsy pretensions, has just spent three days in New York City inviting fans to sit with him through #allmymovies – or at least, all those he has made in the past two years with the ex-St Martin’s luminaries Nastja Säde Rönkkö (Finland) and Luke Turner (GB) under the banner of metamodernism. (In May Central Saint Martin’s graduates enjoyed the LRT treatment of this year’s highly metamodern BA degree show with a live stream of #introductions in which Shia declared “Something has happened. Beauty is at work”.)

This week’s live stream from NYC finished last night but you can still catch up with Shia’s ordeal at New Hive or take the easier route by viewing individual projects at the LRT campaign website.

film, Shia LaBeouf, Rönkkö, Luke Turner , art,#allmymovies , metamodernism

Sharing a metamodern joke recently: LaBeouf (centre) with Turner and Rönkkö

➢ Update 17 Nov – Best bits from a remarkably dull interview with the artists afterwards:


Several times in the interview, LaBeouf and his collaborators discuss the elitism of the art world. However, as LaBeouf asserts, it’s an attitude prevalent in the film industry, too. “The movie world is just as elitist. I get emails from people in the movie world, people telling me, ‘You gotta maintain mystery.’ But truth will always find its way out there. Sincerity is the new punk rock.”


“Despite battling with those negative feelings beforehand, afterwards it was clear that the effects of the project were entirely positive. “I walked out loving myself,” he says. “Not in some grandiose, ‘You’re fucking awesome’ way, but like (I was) part of a community. You’re a part of this human thing. You’re in this human thing. I’ve always felt as though, ‘I’m just an animal in this human thing. And I’ll play the human game. I’ll wear the human mask.’ But coming out of there, it’s the first time I’ve actually felt part of this – it was very humanising for me. I walked out loving myself.”

➢ Read a handy overview of last winter’s #Iamsorry performance at Dazed online

➢ Oh, the irony: famous pop star also says #Iamsorry


➤ A dance sensation: Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck to music by Venetian Snares

Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

◼ YOU ARE ONE CLICK AWAY from a mesmerising, funky, brilliant music and dance and video sensation as Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Must be viewed at full-screen. Music by Venetian Snares.


Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

➢ Remix of Billie Holiday’s version of Gloomy Sunday, released on Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett in 2005 by Venetian Snares, aka Canadian experimentalist Aaron Funk

Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you.
Angels have no thought of ever returning you
Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all,
My heart and I have decided to end it all.
Soon there’ll be candles and prayers that are sad I know.
Let them not weep, let them know that I’m glad to go.
Death is no dream for in death I’m caressing you
With the last breath of my soul I’ll be blessing you.

Darling, I hope that my dream never haunted you.

You know my love of dreams. . .


How James Brown revolutionised music and became the voice for Black America

James Brown, Chris Sullivan, funk, biopic

James Brown live at the Apollo, 1962: “When I said ‘Die on your feet don’t live on your knees’, I became Soul Brother Number One”

➢ British deejay and commentator Chris Sullivan describes how the Godfather of Funk became the most successful African-American musician of the 20th century – at Alpha, the men’s lifestyle magazine:

Almost every owner of a TV or radio in the world has danced to James Brown’s inimitable grooves at some point in the last half century, even if they don’t know it. Recently, producer-songwriter Pharrell Williams sampled Brown’s hit My Thang on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 2011 single Gotta Have It, while his 1970 hit Funky Drummer has been sampled a record 929 times. Altogether Brown’s tunes have been sampled 4,500 times by everyone from Eric B and Rakim to Public Enemy. Accordingly, I’d contest that he is the most influential single recording artist of all time.

“James Brown is magic,” declared an awe-struck Michael Jackson. “I’ve never dared speak to him, but I consider James Brown my greatest teacher.” Meanwhile Mick Jagger, who spent hours watching him as a youngster, admitted to “trying to steal everything I could,” from the master. . . / Continued at Alpha Magazine

➢ The whitewashing of James Brown: Why were all the producers, writers and the director white on the new movie Get On Up? – At the Huffington Post


1980–2014 ➤ Ten inspirational reminders from the 80s to stir today’s young to action

Waldorf Hotel, Spandau Ballet, Blitz club, New Romantics, youth culture,Blitz Kids , To Cut a Long Story Short, London, clubbing, DJs,

Waldorf Hotel 1980: seated at centre, Spandau Ballet, house band of Covent Garden’s Blitz club, home of the New Romantics movement, plus support team of Blitz Kids who helped put their first single To Cut a Long Story Short into the UK singles chart at No 5, on 6 Dec 1980. Average age 20, everyone had a specific role to play in staging and promoting the band: seven musicians, six designers, three media and management, three club-hosts, two DJs, one crimper and 22 egos. Photographed for the Evening Standard © by Herbie Knott

◼ TEN OF THE MOST POPULAR POSTS visited here during 2014 confirm Shapers of the 80s as an “invaluable website” in the words of British historian Dominic Sandbrook. Grounded in the 1980s – the most explosive decade for British youth culture since the Swinging 60s – our eye witness reports and monthly reviews of British nightlife were originally published in magazines such as The Face, the “style bible” of its day. Our recent commentaries monitor fresh interest in the revival of 80s music and attitude during the past five years. Year-ending visit figures at Shapers of the 80s during 2014 have increased year-on-year by 16% to total 210,000.

Much unseen vintage video footage was discovered by the producers researching Spandau Ballet’s biopic, Soul Boys of the Western World, which proved an eye-opening slice of social history when it was released this year. Every frame reveals the sheer energy and commitment to hedonism and creative self-expression that characterised a generation of school-leavers who in the economic gloom of 1979 faced the threat of no jobs ever in their adult lives. The parallels with Britain’s protracted austerity today are obvious and we might hope the lessons of the 80s will again inspire the young to take their fate into their own hands.


Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open a Top of the Pops performance of Wham Rap! in another window … In the original music video (no longer viewable in the UK !!) “man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the video, pictured, by reading our landmark Face cover story on The Making of UK Club Culture, now reproduced at Shapers of the 80s. (Screengrab © Sony BMG)

➢ Read: 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture

Blitz Kids, No Sacrifice, Chenil gallery,Kim Bowen, Jeremy Healy, Stephen Jones, fashion, London

No Sacrifice was an alternative fashion show in 1980 organised by Iain R Webb and mounted for art-school refusés: outside Chelsea’s Chenil Gallery, Kim Bowen as ever sports a hat by Stephen Jones (right), Jeremy Healy at centre. Photographed © by Mick Hurd

➢ Who’s who among the Blitz Kids: 50 crucial nightclubbers who set the style for a decade

Terry Doktor , Carmel Johnson, Rhonda Paster, Axiom, fashion Underground club, Spandau Ballet, gig

New York 1981: Before Spandau Ballet introduced America to electro-diskow at Manhattan’s Underground club, the Axiom fashion cooperative staged a runway show of New Romantic outfits. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, first Blitz invasion of the US by Spandau/Axiom

London,Sullivan,Dirt Box, Mud Club,Wag club,White Trash,Sallon,Nightlife ,The Face,Swinging 80s, clubbing

First published in The Face No 39, July 1983

➢ 1983, Who’s who in the new London nightlife boom

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road in London by Steve Johnston

➢ 1980, ‘Your own i-D counts more than fashion’

Blitz club, London 1979, Iain Webb, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth,

Real Blitz Kids versus the TV version: George’s boyfriend Wilf and Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy

➢ 1983, Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace

➢ Six rewrites punk history with an outlandish claim about the Not-Really-From-Bromley Contingent

➢ 1982, “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

➢ 2014, Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet biopic premiering at SXSW

➢ 2009 till now – Index of all posts at Shapers of the 80s