Looking dapper in a classic Duffer of St George dove grey suit teamed with scarlet polo-neck, matching socks and black Mary-Jane shoes, the singer was at the city’s Borders bookstore to read from his contribution to Paul Gorman’s recently released music and style bible, ‘The Look’.
Rowland was introduced by the author as a subversive style figure who’d created an uproar after sporting “elements of feminine attire” (satin dress and matching pants) to promote his ‘My Beauty’ LP of 1999.
Showing an almost indecent obsession with cuffs, collars and ‘dainty’ footwear, Rowland spoke passionately about the brief period in 1969 when the UK mod movement turned to inspiration from the States to create the Ivy League look teamed with a skinhead haircut – echoing the US astronauts and GIs – to create a sophisticated statement far away from the caricature of the numbskulled boots, braces and white T-shirt-wearing skin of the tabloids.
Admitting that he loved the skin haircut because his own hair “was curly, grew outwards and (he) hated it”, Rowland mourned the fact that the subtle ultra-conservative-with-a-twist Ivy League look never got its day in the sun because tabloid misinterpretation destroyed it.
Following Rowland, author Paul Gorman read an interview with Sex Pistol Glen Matlock, which recalled stories of Malcolm McLaren and his Kings Road store, Sex, where Matlock began as their Saturday boy and arrived on his first day smartly turned out in a corduroy three-piece suit.
Speaking afterwards, Gorman said, “In terms of pop, it’s about visuals and image. I wanted the book to show that the people who created those visuals are actually sometimes far more interesting than the people who wore them. That’s pop – it’s all ephemera, but it’s important.”