I spent a highly enjoyable lazy Saturday afternoon rifling through various instalments of Eddie Piller's excellent Modcast. Highlights included Chris Sullivan waxing lyrical about my old stamping ground from my London days, the Wag Club in Wardour Street. Then there was Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter talking about The Mumper and Outside Bet. Not to mention the Quadrophenia special.
One particular interview, however, deserves special mention. I had seen pictures of an exhibition entitled "The New Faces" on Modculture. They were impressive, there's no question about that. But I hadn't heard the more detailed story behind them. That was to be put right by the Modcast in question, with photographer Dean Chalkley, the auteur behind the short film of the same name.
The film can be found at SHOWstudio and the description is as follows:
Focusing on the sartorial passion and commitment of young British Mods in the twenty-first century, 'The New Faces' is a documentary showcasing the continuing popularity of the sixties-born youth cult. A study of eight Mods bound together by a shared passion for smart dressing, rare soul, socialising and dancing, this film short is directed by photographer and filmmaker Dean Chalkley.
What's clear from the outset is that the subjects of the film are at top sartorial end of the modernist spectrum. They quote the simplicity of Ozwald Boeteng and enthuse about Claudio De Rossi at DNA Groove. And they look the part, right down to their inch wide ties.
The attitude of the protagonists is an eclectic one. There is talk about mod being a personal passion, that develops from within, and of picking up bargains in charity shops. Then there is the shared love of music, especially northern soul.
Chalkley has created a small piece of social history, one that will be used as a reference point in years to come. In a sense, it is a time capsule, portraying the essence of a moment, in the same way as Absolute Beginners, Mark Feld's interview for Town magazine and Bronco Bullfrog.
It stuck in my mind for the rest of the day, kept me thinking about the visuals and what had been said. It struck me that modernism is wonderfully diverse. Maybe it always has been. Not everyone will agree with what is said here and, in a double dip recession, many will not be able to afford the bespoke tailoring. But, in a sense, that doesn't matter. There is no correct way to "do" modernism. There never has been. It's all so individualist.
This short film will inspire. There will be clued up kids out there who will see these boys (rightly) as examples to aspire towards. They will visit charity shops, save up for clothing they can't afford, search out old northern soul tunes. In doing so, they will create their own scenes, with their own logic and impetus, as well as their own individual approaches to all things modernist. And that's how the whole thing continues to evolve. In fact, there are no doubt some doing exactly that right now, who have taken an influence from the film and are moving in their own unique direction. And, if that happens to be the case, this excellent film will have played it's part in the ongoing, evolving modernist process.