Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Men's Fashion / Vintage Style

John Cooper Clarke: Brit Punk Poet

In this column, AnOther takes a retrospective look at the style icons of the past

John Cooper Clarke
John Cooper Clarke

Vintage Style venerates the Brit-punk stylings of poet and icon John Cooper Clarke

With his dark clothing, pointed shoes and signature backcombed raven coiffure, John Cooper Clarke acted as the inspiration for this week’s LCM Topman show. He penned a poem for the brand under the moniker Apparel Jim, which was placed on every seat in the audience, citing pea coats, heavy tread boots and pac-a-macs as the soon-to-be trends of A/W14: prophesising "apparel but not as you know it".

"The original ‘punk poet’, Cooper Clarke became famous in the late 1970s for his honest and outlandish rhymes"

The original ‘punk poet’, Cooper Clarke became famous in the late 1970s for his honest and outlandish rhymes. He toured with The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Fall, capturing the decade with his wild scrawls that detailed the cultural change of the time in poems such as I don’t Want To Be Nice, Majorca and Daily Express. His words also reference fashion of the time: In Drive She Said, he recalls “leatherette jeans, airwear shoes" and in I’ve Got a Brand New Tracksuit there's a celebration of “two-tone stretch nylon yellow stripes on navy blue.”

Nico and John Cooper Clarke
Nico and John Cooper Clarke
On some level, we owe Cooper Clarke for Alex James, who he inspired with his toothpick jeans, skinny suits, neckties and rock prophecies. Ironically perhaps, I Wanna Be Yours now sits within GCSE curriculums (alongside the Arctic Monkey’s AM album), and he was awarded an honoury degree last July for bringing poetry to wider audiences. One of Britain’s truest performers, he lyrically mashes humour and bravado with sincerity, anger and sadness and stands as a paean to Punk Britannia, his hair teased on end, ever waving a polka-dot cravat.

Text by Mhairi Graham

Mhairi Graham is fashion writer at AnOther and AnOthermag.com. She also writes for The Financial Times and Wallpaper* and came runner-up in the 2011 Vogue Talent Contest.

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