Patrick Michael Hughes Senior Fashion Editor
The edge of the nineteen sixties was the threshold to a significant era leading to cultural, political and underground movements. Punk, Bronx born Hip Hip, Glam-rock, trickle down economics, AIDS, Thatcher government, New Wave, post Cold War identity crisis with succeeding periods of creative expressions leading to informing following generations the names may have changed but a true rock and roll dream can never die.
Slinky Vagabond originated with British fashion designer Keanan Duffty during the 1990's.
The name is firmly situated at the intersection of music and fashion. The early years of the band included Duffty, David Bowie, Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols, Clem Burke of Blondie and the Ramones along with Pete Shelly of Buzzcocks. The current version of Slinky Vagabond is a collaboration between Duffty the Director of Fashion Programs at Parsons School of Design, guitarist /song writer Fabrio Fabbri of Palimoda International Fashion School, Tony Bowers founder of Simply Red, David Mahre and noted keyboard player and film soundtrack composer Dave Formula. The sound of the group mixes a familiar glam era Bowie style with a unique melodic rock inflections.
In 2021 the group released King Boy Vandals recorded and produced in Fabbri's Wolf Mountain studio, he credits the pause of the pandemic, forcing the the halt of touring for the strength in the song writing composition and guest appearances. The album explores the beauty of decay abandon places 'ghost-towns' masqueraded in love songs. There are connections to environmental ghost towns such as the northern Ukrainian town Pripyt which was evacuated after the explosion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It also recalls the Salton Sea's Bombay Beach in California a lost, mid twentieth century popular destination which hosted Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys which is not derelict.
Duffty describes the body of work as 'A full-blooded rock and punk record that shifts and slinks alongside searing guitars and muscular drums...'
King Boy Vandals explores 'the deeper reaches of dark rock clubs, gritty and dirty and very much alive. While many of the songs on King Boy Vandals had their genesis in the last two years (recording sessions took place in 2018 and 2019 with many of the guest performances happening digitally during the 2020 lock-down, some songs like “Primadonna” and “Fear No Evil” have beginnings further band in the past.' According to Duffty, “Those two songs are totally rewritten versions of demos I did for Velvet Revolver,” The sessions were produced by Earl Slick (David Bowie). Beefing up the song from its skeletal beginnings, he and Fabio collaborated to finish the song. “For this new Slinky Vagabond record, I kept the old lyrics and Fabio wrote new music, which is what you hear on our record." Scottish musician Midge Ure OBE recorded guitar parts on ‘Primadonna’ and we think it has a vibe of The Rich Kids," a band formed by Sex Pistols' founder Glen Matlock.
'Primadonna' is second single release and the second song on the ten track album. The stylish video was produced by Fausto Fabrini who added playful animation as gestural fashion commentary. The dreamy progression from street to shopping and nightclub- music venue are supported by drawings which act as idiomatic expressions of time travel supported by documentary footage of 'Youth-Quake' shopping districts in London. It's stroll through fashions associated with an era known as 'Swinging London' from 1962-1969. Specifically 'the in crowd' haunts, on Carnaby Street and Kings Road where youth could find optimistic, glamorous, re-worked vintage styles skirting innocence. Slinky Vagabond's use of vintage news reel is a clever play in the age of instant media.
The video's charismatic concept is an imaginary stroll down the Kings Road with German -Italian Anita Pallenberg one of the model/muse of the Rolling Stones and band member Brian Jones' girlfriend. The base reel is a marvelous primary source document, capturing the shifts in fashion generations. It was the rise of boutique culture, fashion collections created right out of art schools such as Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins found a chic clientele in London's youth driven fashion clusters .
The video provides a glimpses of destinations such as; the intimidating entrance of Nigel Waymouth' s Granny Takes a Trip, a boutique looking to the rise of psychedelic counter culture, melding art, music and the growing taste for vintage fashion to Barbara Hulanicki's globally known, carefully curated and cleverly decorated BIBA, whose 'Art Deco style' interiors by Tony Little were the ideal setting for a wide range of brightly colored feather boas.
A intrinsic highlight in the video is the facade of former Vogue fashion editors Christopher Gibbs and Michael Rainey's boutique Hung on You. The men's boutique was a noteworthy facilitator in the 'Peacock Revolution' challenging the notions of quiet behavior vs flamboyance pushing the boundaries of gender. Hung on You is also an often repeated lyric in 'Primadonna'. The Hung on You boutique was also the later 1971 location of Let it Rock the earliest music, Zoot suit and brothel creeper venues under the entrepreneurship of Malcolm McLaren . It was the first venue where another generation of rock and roll devotees could buy Vivienne Westwood's distressed t-shirts a first client was Alice Cooper.
“Too Fast to Live and much Too Young to Die” is also a repeated lyric in 'Primadonna'. It's iteration is a play on McLaren's second boutique name where a fashion and lifestyle vision come closer to Punk Rock, S&M and the growing Trans sensibility in fashion. The preamble to the fabled SEX boutique. The phrase is also a battle cry for the true rebel at heart. The Slinky Vagabond video also gives a nod to the the documentary work of British film-maker Julian Temple who began his career making short films about the Sex Pistols, later the Kinks, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones.
Slinky Vagabound's release happened on the same day as the British Fashion Council's announcement of the September line up of yet another hybrid fashion week and a social media press junket of Danny Boyle's anticipated series 'Pistol'.