The thing with the Manchester fashion scene is, for ages nothing happens and then all of a sudden EVERYTHING HAPPENS! Last Thursday night played host to three events all of which I was invited to attend. One was the relaunch of the newly refurbished TOPMAN in Manchester Arndale, a party with DJs, drinks and style consultations. The second was the opening of the first ever Kuyichi store in the UK on King Street and the third the Attitude Magazine men’s swimwear and underwear show at Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square! What is a boy to do?
Naturally the Attitude gig was a must, but luckily I also got to pop to the Kuyichi event just in time to neck a glass of Champers before closing! Here is the tale of 26th August 2010 for Mr McDowell.
It was 5:30 and we were running late, so after phoning Christopher to hurry him up (he was sat with his rollers in painting his toe nails) we minced down the canal to Exchange Square. The show was hosted within the menswear Department on the first floor of the super dooper department store and the whole event was organised perfectly (despite my name being originally absent from the guest list, epic fail, don’t they know who I am!?) The complimentary and ever-so-strong cocktails were poured by Patron Tequila and Coors beer (Light, naturally) was iced and on offer from various lovely gentlemen carrying trays. Muscle marys in aussieBum knickers were handing out copies of this month’s Attitude and St Tropez were spraying gay boys needing a bronzing before Pride. It was the campest I’ve ever seen Selfridges (probably).
Meanwhile, drink in hand, myself and my + twos (Adam and Christopher) meandered through the menswear collections to see the Manchester Pride Photography Exhibit on show exclusively in Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square. The exhibit features photos of various celebrities who all pledge their support for Pride and LGBT rights. Lovely.
Now, the naked men. The catwalk was square and boarded the menswear section so we took our seats, sandwiched between Dior and the tie collections, for a prefect view. David, the menswear buying director for Selfridges Manchester, took to the mic to introduce the night saying that ‘the attitude show is my favourite on the Selfridges calendar’. Bless him. Without further ado the music was cracked up and the boys were let loose to the horny, tipsy gays and their whistles (provided to ensure nothing about the evening was civilised).
The models nervously strutted out onto the catwalk, and if there was ever any confusion as to what was expected of them as male models the lovely people at Selfridges had ensured that instructions like, ‘walk this way’ and ‘strike a pose’ were plastered all over the floor.
Oh the clothes… The swimwear and underwear on offer was a mixed bag from boxers and shorts to near-thongs and speedos! Brands exhibited included aussieBum (of course), Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein (natch) and one of my new favourites and my personal brand of underwear for that specific night, Diesel. The last change saw the models sporting I HEART MCR PRIDE Tees which gave the campest evening on the Manchester fashion calendar the cherry on its proverbial cake.
After the show a rather hyped up and excited crowd returned to the bar for drinks as we snuck off to catch the last orders at the Kuyichi Denim store opening on King Street!
The usual MFN crowd were present although by the time we staggered in many had left. Still Faun (my new favourite shop assistant) popped open another bottle of Champagne for us and we took time to stroke the lovely jeans. It was at this point that I bumped into the lovely Martine Alexander and was finally able to put a face to the Twitter account! BONUS!
What a busy night it was, and now I’m off to get ready for Night One of The Manchester Pride Big Weekend! Blog post delights to follow!
P.S. was totally mentioned in the Twitter section of this month’s Attitude.
As you’ll be aware from my last post I recently took a trip to Manchester’s Heaton Park. Whilst frolicking in the faux rural beauty of the estate I took some time to remember that I’m supposed to be a cultured city dweller and so I visited an art exhibition held in the Dower House.
The exhibit was one of the work of Mancunion artist Edward Swinden. Who is Edward Swinden, I hear you cry? Well, he is a former journalist who worked for the Manchester Evening News and the Metro. He has since become a professional photographer, Swinden told Fashion Rambler that he “stopped working as a journalist for many reasons, but the direct one was that I was offered a job writing for the BBC, and it seemed too good an opportunity to turn down.” Swinden has always been interested in artistic photography, “I was always involved in various kinds of art, and in taking photographs. This became a bigger part of my life as time went on. In the end I decided to pursue it professionally”.
An example of Swinden’s work graces many of the region’s Waterstone’s Local Interest shelves in the form of that Manchester Gay Pride book, you have all picked it up to have a nosey! Only the exhibition at Heaton park was less about feathers and sequins and a little more about net hats, all-in-one suits and stripes. No, not a Christian Lacroix imitation a la Absolutely Fabulous but a series of portraits of Beekeepers! (as if you didn’t know).
Patel, Jitesh – Computer Consultant
“The future for me is honey, nuts, and good times.
Something the family can appreciate and share.”
Battle, Jim – Local Councillor
“I want to be part of Manchester’s bee plan…
doing a small bit for our city.”
Stanton, Mary-Christa – Nun
“We have a tremendous future if we properly use it. If we can get our families to be peaceful and happy that will happen worldwide. I think there are other planets with living things and one day we will make contact. But that will only be successful if we can manage our own planet properly.”
Nicol, Nathan – Social Worker
“Fun, happiness, and challenges. That’s what the future holds.”
Sylvester, Gill and Simon – Respite Childcare & Retired Surveyor
“You never know what’s around the corner.”
“You’ve got to be positive and optimistic.
Molyneux, Ian – Regional Bee Inspector
“I consider my children. I think they are the future. I worry about the
drugs and crime, and the environment they will be in.”
The exhibition, Beekeeper: to serve the Queen, featured 12 near life sized portraits from a selection of 41 Beekeepers from around the country, one image of them in their Beekeeper get-up and one image of them ‘off duty’. I’m not sure which images I love the most. Although I think it is safe to say that sci-fi super Nun is my favourite Keeper!
The ‘on duty’ images are static and mysterious. The uniform depersonalises the Keeper, they become one of many, like the Bee. The very nature of the word ‘duty’ creates connotations of work and hierarchy, like the life of a Bee. Swinden said of the ‘on duty’ images: ‘I wanted there to be an implicit military feel to the pictures, and a thoughtfulness. But other than that I gave no guidance to the sitters.’ I think Swinden achieves the military feel very well, without the portraits becoming threatening.
The ‘off duty’ images are a whole different concept. I had trouble matching the write ‘off duty’ photo to the ‘on duty’ partner as the sitters are completely transformed. The power, grace and collective purpose which their uniformed portraits produced has given way to individuality; they are no longer one of many. Swinden says ‘Stripped of their armour and sense of duty the beekeepers appear less powerful, but regain their individuality’. However, contradicting this step away from the-way-of-the-bee, the busy and cluttered home-settings of these images are strongly personalised habitats and therefore, in some ways, remind me of the crowded hive.
Swinden hasn’t ruled out another Pride escapade but told Fashion Rambler “I don’t think I’ll be around for Manchester Pride this year. I really enjoyed doing the photos for the book, but I think there are lots of other photographers who will make a great job of documenting this year, so I think I should look at doing something fresh for me.” The Beekeeper: to serve the Queen exhibition at Heaton Park has now closed but you can view the images at the project’s website here
Edward Swinden’s website can be viewed here,
copies of Edward’s Manchester Gay Pride book can be bought here,
and the Street B work and Beekeeper: to serve the Queen here.