I was in my office, laboratory, warehouse…I had just finished a very complicated pattern for an important client to be delivered the next day. I didn’t want to go straight home and decided to stop and listen to some music for “decompression”I selected one of my vinyl records from the collection that I had brought to the office. “Klacto Vee Stedstein” by Blue Rondo A La Turk. It certainly would give me a charge for sure !!
I used to listen to this record in 1984 when I was a SPIV. The record was released in 1982, but in my country these things arrived much later than all the other countries…of the world !!
I liked their look, those Zoot Suits and that hair all slicked back and the Latin Beat, but with a taste of London. To me they were the group that started the 80 s Cool New Sound in London. They were, perhaps, the ones who bought jazz music back to the masses and to peoples ears again.
They had mysterious names: Geraldo D’Arbilly, Chris Sullivan, Kito Poncioni, Choco Mick, Christos Tolera.
Tolera was the one with which I most identified. We had the same hair and dressed according to my own taste. He had a nice face and I had seen him in other videos of the time.
I felt a strange urge to to try and find him and my net searches revealed to me that he had become or had always been, a painter, a style icon, an artist and an actor and had appeared in many videos of the 80 s and 90 s . I especially remember him in a Sade video.
I won’t tell you how I found him, but I did find him that very night and just wrote to him hoping to be able to make contact with someone who, almost 30 years earlier, was one one of my favourite characters and one of the example of style and consistency that influenced the way I see fashion, style and my search for used clothing. A character that belongs to “The Tailor Pattern Suppor – Stories”
We get to know each each and exchange a series of relaxed and friendly emails. It almost seemed we had known each other for years.
I have to go to London for a customer fitting and ask Tolera if he would have the time to meet and have a chat. He was returning from a business trip and replied “Yes”.
London. End of September.
We arrange to meet for lunch. I was in Shoreditch and propose The Drunken Monkey in Shoreditch High Street, a place where I had been the night before with some old friends. The Drunken Monkey is a mix between a pub and a Chinese restaurant. I’m arriving from Abbey Road. He tells me he’s on his way.
I get to the traffic lights and see him through a crowd we smile and laugh at each other because we are both wearing a Beret.
He says to me. “I’ll take you to a nice little place near a shop where I have to take a pair of shoes and so you can give me some advice”. !! Christos Tolera that takes me to place and asks my advice.?!! We have known each other for a lifetime !
We sat in this very nice and intimate place. As well as the beret we were also wearing a German Granny T-Shirt and we made each other laugh. I wore a 1ST PAT RN jacket and Farah pants. He was wearing Edwin Jeans and a 1960 s aviator leather jacket (US Army) and a Vetiver …
He shows me some ribs just arrive from America to replace the jacket ones. A not so smart tailor had ruined his jacketand he was trying to get it fixed so I gave him my advice on how to attach them to avoid damaging the coat.. a simple cultural exchange.
Then I asked him about the pomade he used on his moustache at the time of Blue Rondo and he told me it was a pomade that he had found in an old shop where they sold theatrical supplies. The pomade was an old Hungarian paste and it was called Zwirbel Paste Hungarian Moustache Paste. I wrote it in my notebook.
We talked about used garments and how we had changed our look over the years but the roots always remained the same. I had the confirmation that that we were similar and how the culture and passion for certain things brings people together even if you do not know each other or live miles apart.
We talked about Jazz, Beatles, Girls, life …
We talked about the feeling you have when you come from a small reality. Me from a provincial town and he of Greek origin from the suburb of a big city like London . There was not much difference in the end.
I asked him if he was still on good terms with his former band-mates and he told me they were remixing their songs and also that their first album will be reissued on early 2014 . If I think about the night I played that record it gives me goosebumps.
The lunch was over. I asked him to wear my 1ST PAT RN jacket. I knew it was a little tight for him but the desire to see it worn my one with a face like that, drove me crazy. He told me “Nice jacket my friend…It’s a pity it’s a little tight” and I said “Now I got your size my friend” ..!!!
The rest is history.