It may be chilly outside but we've a warm, wonderful feeling about being launched in the Hampshire town of Stockbridge on Friday December 1st, 2017. Nicki Berman-Brown, la patronne of bon gout, is hosting a champagne party on the night and we'll be there, popping our corks. Brian is coming along to pop their Jackapoodle Poppy's cherry and, we hope, make puppies who will symbolise in a vital and very literal way the union of our two enterprises.
We're most terribly sad to post the news that Ben Amure, who took the black & white photos on our home page and our tube poster, succumbed to a wretched food allergy last month. At his funeral on August 5th we joined a packed congregation at Christ's Church Brixton to hear Reuben James and Soweto Kinch, amongst others, play their tributes. Reuben played "In my Solitude" with such sparing tenderness that it was quite heart wrenching. Ben was jazz crazy, and the in house photographer at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club - never could their have been a better match of man to metier. There all be a tribute night to him upstairs at the club on Weds August 31st.
Below, Ben with Soweto during a Bedlam shoot; Andy Davis; Casper; the first time we met him - thanks to Theo Jackson; in our studio; and the final black & white shot of him alone as taken by his talented "apprentice" Deborah Adelabu.
Visitors to the Cleaver Square Fete in May - at which we presided over not one but two tables - saw a model for the proposed new notice board outside St. Anselm’s. It is to be built and maintained by old style public subscription and donations from local businesses / associations. In this age of increasingly digital communication, it was noted by Lady C of EoB that there always seems to be someone who misses the memo about a local event, or who does not have, or wish to have, access to Facebook, Twitter et al. She mentioned the idea of a notice board to one of our many clients who are eminent in their field, local resident Edward Hutchison. Being a man of action, he appeared for his next fitting with a portfolio of preliminary sketches. For who better to mention it to than Edward, who designed (at world famous architectural practice Norman Foster) the bus shelters on the Champs Elysées. These were deemed so beautiful and functional that they were rolled out across Europe and are most recently installed in Edinburgh. It is a lovely thing when you can murmur a dream to have someone listen and progress its journey to reality.
The site outside St. Anselm’s church at Kennington Cross (the grand junction of Kennington Road and Kennington Lane) was considered the natural choice, for as well as having space the intersection symbolises a confluence of community, which we hope this monument will come to represent. A map of London shows how Kennington is the hub from which many roads and bridges run as spokes, and inspired by this, Lady C devised an emblem (see below) for the project. Our Auxiliary Graphics Department (our beloved Ian Vincent) then translated her original draft in Chanel "Peridot" nail varnish to a version in grown up graphics. To run parallel to the garden hedge of another top Bedlam model Rev. Aagaard, the board will create a “piazza” effect in front of the church and be built in materials sympathetic to the listed building (Portland Stone if funds allow).
Yet another of Bedlam’s clients, Andrew Wheatley of the Cabinet Gallery (due to open this summer at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, roll up, roll up!) joined the Board of the Board and proposed another local, Malcolm Brady, as structural engineer. Malcolm duly organised a meeting with Lambeth planning officer Doug Black who “did not doubt the design excellence” and gave us advice as to what would most likely be approved. As a result, we have now a pleasingly asymmetric synthesis of old style village church yard paper notices with a space age digital map of Kennington and its surrounding area on the other side, featuring the pubs, restaurants, galleries, farms and interesting local businesses that make where we live so great. Also incorporated will be a chalk board for those who can’t resist making their mark (a.k.a. organised vandalism); a panel for a weekly children’s art exhibit; seating; and an eave to protect people from the elements.
Please admire, below, Edward’s beautiful isometric drawing of our proposal, and the bank details to make it a 3-D reality! We have already had some most generous donations from Counter restaurant and LASSCOs in Vauxhall; the Three Stags and the TommyField; the lovely Boule-In Bullens; Caroline’s mum; Mr David Beck and many people at the fete. If anyone took a leaflet and made a transfer subsequently we thank you and have a share certificate for you, a covetable watercolour wash by Edward, to enhance your sense of ownership. Rev. Angus has kindly allowed us to use the parish bank account, but do PLEASE use “notice board” as a reference:
Account name is North Lambeth PCC
Account number: 34275088
Sort code: 60 60 04
As the memorial roll grows longer this year for artists that have shaped and inspired such creativity as we possess, it is some comfort to see that P J Harvey's latest album, "The Hope Six Demolition Project", went straight in at #1 last week, her first, long overdue, taste of the top spot:
Predictably it was bounced by Beyoncé this week, but it's to be celebrated that grown up music such as Polly's can still reach a commercial pinnacle after a career of sticking to musical principals. And playing on the record, an integral part of the band, is James Johnston - one of our newest clients, who happens to live across from Bedlam Mews, and is becoming a fast friend. This week we deliver his suit for the tour. Polly likes her band in black.
James' own band is Gallon Drunk, and he also does duty as a Bad Seed for Nick Cave. The first time he came over with his missus Nicola, to choose fabric and be measured up, we were beguiled, not to say fooled by his gentle way and lovely manners. Being slow on the uptake, we went to check out Gallon Drunk only to find that everyone we know had already "liked" and "followed" them. Not sure how we missed that memo. Anyway, thinking it only polite to get up to speed we watched them on Youtube and were slammed to the wall by the power that James unleashes onstage! Take a look, enjoy:
But wait, scroll back through the years, and what did we find in their archives?!?! Only a song called "Bedlam"! It was written in the stars, or on the back of a beer mat anyway, that we would one day dress James. Here it is to get your Monday roaring:
In the same weekend, Gregory Porter, a smoother songster to calm you down again, was on Channel 4's "Sunday Brunch" show (photo below), wearing his three-piece Bedlam suit in the John G. Hardy "Alsport" tweed, as promotion for his new album "Take Me to the Alley" went into fifth gear. It's released this Friday, May 6th, so here's hoping G can now spring Beyoncé and have his turn at #1.
Then came the broadside news about Prince on April 21st. Gregory was chosen to lead the tribute on the BBC's Later with Jools Holland on April 26th. Again Gregory was wearing the waistcoat from his suit, but showing you don't have to precious about mixing up the pieces with other separates. It looks great under his blue jacket and we felt a little tingle to see a bit of Bedlam doing its bit during a moment of tender drawing-togetherness.
My own personal Prince recollection was of going to a club in London one night with my flat mate of the time, who was possessed of a rare beauty that could possess a man's soul in turn (where are you now Jodie?). Prince appeared with his Sumo sized security and settled into a dark booth. Dark enough for us to not see in, but clearly he could scan the room for soon a Sumo plodded over and declared, "Prince would like your number." This was in the days before cell phones so our shared land line was inscribed and delivered. I didn't leave the flat for days, hoping to play receptionist-pimp, but sadly, it never came. Ah well. So much pleasure he gave me, I shall forgive him that.
You have but a few more days to catch the documentary film Palio on the big screens in the UK. GO!!! In the USA it opens on November 6th. Produced and directed by our friends John Hunt and Cosima Spender respectively, it is a documentary about the ancient horse race that canters around the town square in Siena. It is real life that makes fiction look inadequate. "Ben Hur crossed with the Godfather" is how we described it after the first screening we saw. Even though we knew the ending when we watched again on its first day of commercial release, it was still as goose-bump seat-leap thrilling as the first time! Book your tickets here: http://gb.thepalio.com/tickets
To help your heart calm down, relax with the beautiful book that John has published to accompany the film. As you turn the pages, each one more beautiful than the last, you will come across Fashion in the section on the cultural influence of the race. There, next to the princely Florentine House of Pucci, is only... scallywag us! For when we were introduced to John through the auspices of Nancy Hunt and Nile Rodgers, he asked us to see what clothing items we could imagine. Mark, inspired by the Leocorno contrada (the "Unicorn" neighbourhood), made a flowing, dynamic graphic which has since graced jeans for Nile and his godson Jasper; suit linings; and t-shirts. Order your copy of the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/099326770X/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_asp_QLixJ.5BE0MAG
Here's Gus demonstrating the heights you can reach in a Palio print t-shirt:
Here's Maestro Nile Rodgers wearing his jeans in the Duran Duran recording studio:
And here's the sherbet zing colour way that Mr Simon le Bon chose for his silk suit lining:
At the opening night last week, Cosima was present for a Q&A after the film. A lady in the row behind us requested the mic, and introduced herself as Sienese. She said they had come to fiercely criticise, find fault, and point out all the things they had got wrong. "There is nothing," she conceded," you have captured it perfectly!"
We do exhort you to see it, you will thank us!
The technology of posting a web article to the press page has defeated us so we shall make a "News" item of our appearance in the online chronicle of Kennington life "Kennington Runoff". We were really touched and delighted by how positive it is, and shall strive to find some dignity appropriate to our new regal status:
It was most generous of the parish of North Lambeth (or "NoLa" as I like to call it) to invite us to be a part of their summer fete, and for the Archbishop of Canterbury to give up his garden at Lambeth Palace for the purpose. So we had wares displayed and made a special Lambeth Walk t-shirt for the occasion, celebrating the long forgotten musical artist Lupino Lane. He made the song famous and there is a block of council flats on the Walk named for him, but how many of the residents, we wonder, know why.
In the programme of events, we noticed there was to be a dog show and wondered if there might be a "Naughtiest" or "Best at Chewing the Centre Tube from a Toilet Roll" category. There was not. But there WAS a Fancy Dress section. And so we made Brian an antique lace neck ruff (ruff) and four little paw rug (ruffles) and a velvet hat trimmed with a cockerel feather. We entered him as...
The Earl of Bedlam, as painted by Van Dyke.
And he came First. That'll be A#1. The Top Dog. He beat the Archbishop of Canterbury's mutt on home turf. Simon le Bon came for his fitting a few days later and enquired, "Where's Brian?"
"He's a bit busy doing press, interviews," I replied.
At the moment of prize giving, both Brian and I were (quite) hysterical. I thought I might explode with unholy pride. Brian just wanted to get his paws on the squeaky hedgehog that was part of his haul of trophies, and which took him about ten minutes to eviscerate. No photograph exists of him wearing all components at the same time, as that lasted about .001 of a second but this should give the gist of the majesty.
This week - of July 20th, 2015 - sees the unveiling of a new bunch (technical term for the smartly leather bound swatch books of fabric we show to clients) called "BEDLAM". Created by Gladson - parent company to our clothier Huddersfield Fine Worsted - in New York City, it was presented to us by the redoubtable Mr Harrop, who came down from Yorkshire with it. Gladson is still a family company and their fortunes were founded by salesmen they sent out across the prairies with cases of cloth to show the farmers who, they had heard, would be giving away a daughter, in the matrimonial sense, and might need a suit.
To celebrate this, they have created a Bedlam "pub" in their beautiful landmark building office on Fifth Avenue, across from Tiffanys. So if you're in the vicinity and fancy a game of darts and a cold beer, do please go in to say hello - suite 503, at 730 Fifth Avenue, at the HMS HQ. Their elegant ex pat Creative Director Justin MacInerney will be happy to show you the selection!
Bedlam's musical mascot, a young cat called Theo Jackson, has recently signed to cool NY jazz label, Dot Time Records. To mark this, we will have our first “Son et Fou-miere" at the Mews, when Theo will perform his recently released album “Shoeless & the Girl”. To promote it, he is doing a little tour performing his music in strange contexts, and non so strange as the Bedlam atelier. He will bring a keyboard, a bassman and someone to stroke the skins. We’re asking if people might kindly bring a bottle of plonk to please Apollo, Deus of da Groove, and we shall see what happens. We would ask you for an RSVP to LadyC@EarlofBedlam.co.uk so's we might get a sense of the invasion!
Here are some reviews of Theo’s album:
‘One of the most interesting jazz vocalists and composers to emerge on the British scene in recent years, Jackson can flit between ballads and rapid-fire scatting in the blink of an eye’ The Daily Telegraph
★★★★★ ‘Shoeless and the Girl is as close to perfection as a debut will ever be’ UKVibe
‘A genuine jazz talent… it is safe to say he has a bright future’ Jazz Journal
‘Listen out for Jackson’s beguiling song-writing skills delivered via his strong earthly vocals and alluring charm’ Time Out London
'Theo Jackson's second album, Shoeless And The Girl, is an old-fashioned kind of record. That's "old-fashioned" as in melodic, swinging, understated, lyrically engaging—old-fashioned in a really good way.' All About Jazz
The New Year is the traditional time for a little shake & spruce up. Much as we will never stop loving our original logo, with the vacant cell and its open door - wrought with the help of Utah Saints' Lee Dyson - we are now rolling out a new, crisp logo, with less frenetic detail, more clean coronets.
So if you have a piece with the original in it, cherish that and sign up quick as you like for a new one!
The photograph below is used with the kind permission of Mr Bailey wot took it. No, not THAT Bailey, rather ALFRED B, photographer and one time, he won't mind me saying, sewer for Gianni Versace. He has, therefore, a well honed sensibility when it comes to things beautiful and we are delighted that he asked us to create him a velvet jacket. The lining will be printed with a ciné camera as he is also a master of the moving image. His current project is singer and Bedlam client Gregory Porter, on whom he is making a documentary. We may even make a mumbling appearance.
One of our long standing suppliers is A.W. Hainsworth & Sons, in Yorkshire. Founded in 1783, the company won the contract for the British Army in 1813 which they still hold and as I never tire of saying, there are still three people called Hainsworth on the board. The scarlet of the Queen's Royal Guards is supplied by Hainsworths - http://www.hainsworth.co.uk/hainsworth-since-1783/gems/royal-guards/ - and we are making poppies from the same fabric - a fancy one for the ladies and a simpler version for the gentlemen (but don't let us pigeon hole you, wear whichever you like!). A black leather button is used as the centre, or one from my grandma's button box. Each are as they come for we are making them by hand. We are selling them for £5 and 100% of that goes to the Royal British Legion whose HQ is not far from us in Borough. Please drop me an email if you would like one: firstname.lastname@example.org
We were delighted to be invited to take part in the Kennington Country Life Festival at St. Anselm's - and then to win "Most Stylish Scarecrow" was... a relief! We dressed him up in the leather collared brushed cotton shirt, double breasted tweed waistcoat (with the shell buttons "wrong" side out) and the "Arthur" cord trousers, tied with string of course.
The overall winner was this chap created by the children of the Ethelred Nursary, and quite rightly so!
Available now for the first time on news stands, the third anniversary edition of Jocks & Nerds features the monumental undertaking that was the group photo of (some of) our gang. We were paid a trio of great compliments - first, that the magazine should want to include us; secondly, that they should reference us in the same frame as the famous photograph, "A Great Day in Harlem", when all the great jazz musos of the day were captured in a perfect storm group shot, so iconic it has its own Wikipedia entry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Great_Day_in_Harlem_(picture)
and thirdly, that they should book legendary lens woman Jill Furmanovsky for the gig. Jill is to music portraiture what Annie Leibovitz is to Hollywood fashion. She has taken everyone from Duke Ellington to Bob Marley and, indeed, got possibly Nile Rodger's favourite ever photograph of himself and Bernard with the Chic ladies at Hammersmith in 1979, and this Rock-God in action shot of Rodger Daltrey at the Rainbow Theatre in '67:
While we were disappointed that neither of those gentleman could join us in the end (Nile wrote: "Hey Mark, unfortunately it's absolutely impossible for me to be there, and it's a shame because that really is one of the best photos of CHIC ever!.. and I'd love to be there to be with you and the genius who took that shot...N"), we were honoured by a fine turn out of clients / friends including Andrew Roachford, Jake Arnott, Soweto Kinch, family and even two horses from the Vauxhall City Farm. The next blog to be posted will cover the day in detail but meanwhile, check out Jill's work here: http://www.rockarchive.com/jill-furmanovsky-prints.html ; and buy the mag!
A little over a week ago we brought home Brian Edward de Bedlam, henceforth the Hound of this House. He is Lady C's first puppy.
At the end of last week, we received a phone call at dawn's early light to ask if we could assist the greatly talented Mr. Gregory Porter. He had flown in that morning to sing at the Royal Albert Hall that evening as part of the BBC Proms Battle of the Big Bands (which will be broadcast on BBC 4 on August 17th). He had no evening suit to wear. Now Mr Porter is a man of stature and we tend to make samples in less impressive sizes. So we were about to regret that we were stumped at such short notice when our angel switched on her light and we remembered a dinner jacket on the rail waiting to be collected by Dolf Sweerts, a man of similar build and great good humour. We telephoned him to ask if he fancied performing vicariously at the RAH that evening and he said yes without hesitation.
Here is Gregory back stage with the Earl, and then on stage under the approving eye of Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Proms:
We were delegated to have a chance to watch what was an exhilarating performance. Props to Gregory's manager Heather for reviving the duelling bands idea that used to be the rage in Harlem. The next morning we went to Gregory's hotel to collect the jacket and took Brian along in his basket as he is too little to be left alone. He loved Gregory like a chicken chew and we think it must be mutual as Gregory ordered a suit from the hot-off-the-loom Worsted Alsport II bunch in a golden barleycorn and a waistcoat in, what else, puppy tooth check (son of Hounds tooth)! Quite rightly, Brian has taken this as a personal compliment. Here he is with Gregory and the fabric (from our pals at Hardy Minnis / Huddersfield Fine Worsted) is beneath it.
We are delighted to be making a suit for Chris Difford to wear on June 1st as one of the key players and organiser / host of Elton John's summer fund raiser for his AIDS Foundation. Book your tickets here: http://openairtheatre.com/production/home-coming-festival
It happens to be Mr Wesley's birthday as well so the party - to continued at Home House - will be particularly robust.
Before that, May 7th sees Lady C's anniversary. On that day we're hoping to welcome The Strypes to the studio, the young band managed by Chris and signed by Elton, also on the bill for the Regents Park open air theatre concert.
Bouquets to the usual address.
Bez, the beloved ambience conductor of epoch makers the Happy Mondays wore Bedlam for the launch of his new political party, the Reality party last week! He is also a keen apiarist apparently these days so one of his 50th birthday presents the week before was our "God Save the Queen (Bee)" tee which he was most delighted to receive. Both great photos by Elspeth Moore.
There's a host of great things to choose from on this link http://ican.auction-bid.org/micro2.php not least a bespoke suit by us! It can be for a lady or gentleman, and in a country tweed or city cloth by Huddersfield Fine Worsted who with typical generosity and good sportingness are donating the fabric.
Once you've bid (and won) that, you can throw your hat in for a watercolour by HRH the Prince of Wales, a night out with Sir Paul McCartney, all sorts of covetable treats.
We were honoured to attend a concert by the children of the charity's Meath School with the London Chamber Orchestra at St. James' Palace last month, part of the "Million Lost Voices Appeal". Here's us eavesdropping on Ma Butler chinwagging with the Duchess of Cornwall afterwards. Earl of Bedlam sits snug in the Duchy of Cornwall in Kennington so Camilla is our den mother (one could say??).
We collected the latest silky swag off the night train from Sussex - Schiaparelli Pink, Madder Rose (it gets madder?!?!), Squeeze of Lime, Five-Alarm Scarlet and Violent Violet.
Bamboo silk is eco-friendly and has anti-bacterial properties, that is to say, anti-glow for the ladies, anti-perspiration pong for the gentlemen.
Use as a lining or order a shirt, order one in every colour!Read More
Next week sees the fashion circus roll into town for the London Collections: Men. Barclays Bank has invited us to stage an exhibition in the foyer of our branch in Hanover Square on Monday and Tuesday Jan 6th and 7th. Situated just behind the Apple Store at Oxford Circus we'll be plum in the middle of the action. We will be there from 9.30 to 5.00 each day so please come in if you're passing, or even make a special expedition just to see us.
Here's a map. You must supply your own compass.
Delighted to be the filling in the John Smedley / John Lobb sandwich in Liz Jones' piece on "Best of British" in the Daily Mail today. They wanted British firms, making in the UK, using British materials. We tick all the boxes, you'd be shocked at who doesn't!