I want to talk about baker pants, do you know what they are?
Oh no, not those. Baker pants are American military trousers. They’re called baker pants because I imagine at some point bakers wore them. But I’m not sure.
I’ve got three pairs.
They’re incredibly comfortable, cool in the summer, warm in the winter, I like the straight leg and the high rise of them as well. It’s quite a masculine trouser but it also looks great on women. I’ve worn them since I was 16.
They should be flat-fronted and straight-legged. I like them in olive, made from cotton sateen, which is quite shiny when it starts off but gets very soft over time. They’ve got square-oblong pockets that are visible and a button fly. I have one pair from the Vietnam war and they have a mysterious tear in them which I always wonder about.
Yes, it was the summer of 1976. I’d been to see Roxy Music the previous autumn at the Empire Pool in Wembley, it was when ‘Love is the Drug’ was a big hit and for their tour ANTONY PRICE had designed outfits around this G.I. theme. BRYAN FERRY looked like a US Army officer who was on a night out at a dance. He was amazing and had these smart straight-legged khaki trousers, a buttoned khaki shirt with epaulettes and a tie tucked into the third button on the front of his shirt. Those straight trousers really struck me. You couldn’t really get straight trousers at that time unless you went to Sex or Acme Attractions which were quite expensive. So I saw these straight army trousers and went to an army surplus shop in Hendon to try and find some. I picked up a full khaki shirt and trouser set just like BRYAN but I also found a pair of olive-coloured baker pants and I fell in love with them. There’s that unbeatable feeling where you’ve found something really nice, really hard wearing, almost by chance.
As original baker pants are increasingly hard to come by, I actually don’t tell anyone where I buy mine now. But I like seeing people in them and there are some newer versions made by the Japanese label FENNICA which are really excellent. One thing that I found out retrospectively was that MALCOLM McLAREN loved these trousers too. I knew him later in life and he told me this story of when he went to Florida in 1974 with the New York Dolls. They split up and he and SYLVAINE SYLVAINE drove to New Orleans and they needed appropriate clothing just to get around so they went to an army surplus store and they bought baker pants because they were really comfortable and you can just wear them with anything. He brought a pair back to London and they became the basis for bondage trousers.
Yeah! They’ve got exactly the same design but they put double zips in the back which tightened them. So if you look at the first pictures of those, of JOHNNY ROTTEN wearing them in September 1976 in Paris and looking really chic, that all started from this pair of trousers that MALCOLM brought back from Louisiana. He absolutely loved those trousers.
PETER YORK is my style hero. He’s actually my hero all round. Without him and NICK KENT I would never have become a writer. He’s just so well dressed and so amazingly presented. And really smart and funny and still kind of avante. You can’t contain him within any kind of respectability.
In the early ’90s I was living in Los Angeles and got into this scene that was all about a rat-pack, Vegas lounge lizard look: sharkskin suits, money clips and buckled red fake snakeskin shoes. You can see it in the mid-90s movie ‘Swingers’ with a young VINCE VAUGHN, but that was a bit late and more of a Hollywood fantasy. It was a reaction against acid house and casual wear and at the same time it was a bit gritty, a bit dirty realism. I was hanging out with people like EL VEZ, the Mexican Elvis, who I later managed for a while actually. Those sorts of people. Very gritty but quite dressed up.
I wear a lot of blue. GORMAN is an old Irish surname meaning ‘son of blue’. I have a tattoo of the family crest on my shoulder and that has this particular type of azure blue on it. It’s got three swords across a field of azure because apparently the ‘Gorm Men’ were the nutters in battle who would strip naked, cover themselves in woad dye so they were completely blue and then charge over to the enemy and scare the bejesus out of them. So I don’t know if I’m predisposed to this taste for blue but I usually have at least two blue things on at any time. I’m wearing a blue shirt and blue shorts now actually.