out in a crowd
Roxy Music were Seventies
glam-rockers par excellence. But don't overdress if you're going to
their reunion gigs, warns Tony Barrell
The Times 2, 1st June, 2001
t's a tough call. Either you go with the
white tux, bow-tie and the slickedback hair or you settle for the
animal-print number with the Cuban-heeled tinkle-pickers. Tricky. Music
concerts aren't dressy affairs any more. I mean, you went to see Simply
Red quite comfortably in jeans and a shirt (not forgetting those nice
brogues). And you would have felt silly crooning along to Lifted at the
Lighthouse family concert in anything more glam than a tracksuit.
When Roxy Music reunite for a world tour this month, it won't just be
a chance to hear all the old songs again: it will be a long-awaited opportunity
for their fans, old and new, to relive an unparalleled epoch of style
and fashion. The Seventies may have been the decade that taste forgot,
but Bryan Ferry and his band showed pop stars and their audiences how
they should be dressing in the post-hippy age.
Suddenly it was out with the couldn't-care-less blues-rock uniform of
washed-out denim, cheesecloth and Silvikrin hair, and in with such neglected
notions as style, elegance, glamour and individualism. In I ()- , 2 Ferry
led the way with his blue-black lounge-lizard quiff and his spangly militaristic
stage gear. No other band before, or since, has raided the 20thcentury
dressing-up box with such artful abandon. Roxy gigs soon became populated
by rows of Ferry, Eno and Mackay clones, wearing art-school or flea-market
versions of the band's latest togs. "I'd often look out at the audience
before the concerts and I'd see all the imitators in the front row,"
recalls Antony Price, the fashion designer behind the band from the beginning.
"Whatever new outfit we'd put Bryan in, by the second week of the
tour they'd all got one. The kind of men he seemed to attract were detail
obsessed, as men often are."
Women, meanwhile, chose to emulate the glamour models pouting from the
band's album sleeves. Or they modelled themselves on the air-hostess look
favoured by the backing singers on the Siren tour, in their crisp blue
uniforms with cream gloves draped over their shoulders. "They wore
corsets underneath which took their waists right in and pushed their breasts
out," recalls Price.
Whatever you choose to wear, don't get carried away - there is a danger
that you'll upstage the band. Ferry, Mackay and the guitarist Phil Manzanera
have a combined age of 159, and by the end of the band's last incarnation
in 1983 had already toned down their stage duds. Wearing your best outfit
and simply sticking a bright flower in your hair. or putting on a discreet
piece of antique costume jewellery, will still get a thumbsup from the
On the other hand, don't be frightened of standing out in the crowd. "Everybody
is absolutely terrified of looking different these days," moans Price.
"People should stop worrying about whether or not they look the same
as everybody else and start worrying more about not being exciting and
- Men still have a range of classic Ferry looks to choose from. There
is the obvious choice, the Bogart-style white tuxedo with bow-tie, circa
1973. A black dinner suit would be a good alternative.
- You may, however, be more comfortable in a khaki or beige army-style
shirt like the one Ferry wore on the Siren tour in 1975; a black tie,
tucked in between two of the higher buttons, would be an authentic touch.
- The other truly snappy dresser in the Roxy ranks was the sax player
Andy Mackay, who modelled bright suits, Cuban-heeled winkle-pickers,
retro sunglasses, stringy bow-ties and a pomaded DA haircut.
- Women can still look fantastic by copying the album sleeves, though
only the daring will arrive in minimal underwear. A skimpy jungle dress
such as Marilyn Cole's on the Stranded cover may be more practical.
- There is no alternative to high heels. If you want to be clever, try
imagining what a Roxy girl would look like now; recent collections by
Alexander McQueen and Anna Sui are perfect for a 21st-century Roxette.
- Pillbox hats, like the one recently worn by Stella McCartney at a
Chloe show, were a Seventies audience favourite. 0 Wear mother-of-pearl
- a witty reference to the song of that name.