Arena Homme Plus: Buffalo Stance, part 1


I think I have mentioned in more than one instance that if ever I read any magazine from cover to cover, that magazine would be Fantastic Man. What I forgot to add is that there is another publication that requires as much, if not more, attention.

Oscar Lorenz-Peake, son of Mitzi Lorenz, wears black waistcoat with gold chain button, white detachable cuffs, and blu denim shirt: all by DSquared; hat and all accessories: stylist's own

Buffalo Family Collections, Autumn-Winter 2009, Arena Homme Plus 2009-2010 Winter-Spring. Photography by Jamie Morgan, Stylists: Barry Kamen and Mitzi Lorenz


The only reason why I do not devour Arena Homme Plus as diligently as Fantastic Man is that it takes more time to complete an 11-course meal than the usual 3- or 4-set – all levels of deliciousness kept constant.

Claude Simonon, son of Paul Simonon, wears black shirt and waistcoat: both by Richmond


I started following Arena Homme Plus when Matt Dillon was on the cover for its 2006-2007 Winter-Spring issue. My friend says he started reading it almost a decade before, noting that the fashion was better then. (Less commercial? Until I formally make a comparison, I cannot say, but fashion is also the main reason why I follow AHP.)

Justyn Page-Allen wears cotton mix trousers by Calvin Klein; hat, fur shawl, braces: all stylist's own


I have constantly been amazed by how the stylists and photographers who have worked with magazine have mashed up the clothes of the season with their own archives to produce editorials that push a strong aesthetic, an idea plucked from the current psyche, a trend, a social deviation or fetish – all the while fulfilling advertisers' requirements.

Neneh Cherry wears black chiffon skirt and black and white wool suit with red wool tartan panel, Comme des Garçons; vintage cotton granddad shirt, black chiffon scarf with floral embroidery, white and blue bamboo neck scarf, black chiffon hair piece, silver necklace, and bracelets: all stylist's own


But it was only with the 2009-2010 Winter-Spring issue, the "Propaganda" issue with Ed Westwick on the cover (given my limited AHP archives, since I haven't seen the issues before 2006), that the novelty, impact, and visual appeal of the editorials came out even stronger because they were united by a a single theme.

Simon de Montford wears black cotton silk velvet shawl collar cocktail jacket, white voile evening shirt, black bow tie, and wool tartan trousers (worn over shoulder): all by Tom Ford; all accessories: stylist's own


Buffalo. Aside from the animal, I have only been aware that it is also used for the red and black lumberjack checks. I didn't know that it was a movement in the 80s of stylists (when the concept first surfaced), photographers, hair and make-up artists, models, designers, and musicians, to push an aesthetic that was to become the uniform of the next decade.

Levi wears white cotton poplin shirt, silk tie, black waistcoat, and black trousers: all by Dolce & Gabbana; hat, stylist's own


"People tend to associate the word Buffalo with Bob Marley's 'Buffalo Soldier'," Ray once explained, "but in fact it's a Caribbean expression to describe people who are rude boys or rebels. Not necessarily tough, but hard style taken from the street ... a functional and stylish look; non-fashion with a hard attitude." (Click here for the entirety of the excellent article from The Observer written by Kathryn Flett, the first fashion editor of The Face, a decade ago)

Laurence Passera wears black zip-up wool coat, Trussardi 1911


The AHP issue commemorates the 25th anniversary of Ray Petri, the visionary and "stylist" at the center of the movement that inspired the next decade. That was how far ahead he was, besides the fact of being a "stylist" long before the job was invented.

Lauren Jones, daughter of Mick Jones, wears navy silk finish jacket and trousers, navy patterned silk shirt and silk tie: all by Louis Vuitton; necklace, badge, and rings: stylist's own


The way the articles moves around the theme (and off to their own directions) – from the fashion legacy (in terms of style, the actual items, and the output of subsequent designers) and the memories of the people touched by the movement to the actual shoots and the people in the Buffalo core group – is part-elegy and part joyful reverie. There are images of the iconic nylon flight jacket and colorful fashion illustrations of the time; profiles on Jeanette and Judie Blame; stories on the birth of SHOWstudio and Louis Vuitton's art collaborations.

Wade Tolera wears navy mohair blazer, white cotton shirt, and navy wool trousers: all by Dunhill; hat and poncho: stylist's own


There is a heavy undertow that pulls the text articles raging and ranting about the glories of the 80s and how AIDS and commercialization killed it.

Louis Simonon, son of Paul Simonon, wears gray double-breasted suit, Prada; vintage fur stole and shirt: stylist's own


Perry Elis, Halston, Keith Harring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Leigh Bowery, Derek Jarman, Bette Davis…

Femi Williams, son of Femi Fem, wears black knit shirt and poloneck: D&G; mirrored Ray-Ban gasses and black beret: stylist's own


The 90s inheritors: Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela (and the rest of the Brussels 6), then from them Raf Simons…

Wesley Felix, son of Tony Felix, wears cream wool suit jacket and trousers: both by Versace


One can't help but be infected by the deep and strong emotions of such a rich period where the decay of one era is right about to give birth to the next.

Levi wears gray wool blazer and gray wool trousers: both by Gucci; fake fur collar and jewelry: stylist's own


It's even difficult to paraphrase from the sources. That is why, as you scroll down the pictures of the members of Buffalo group and their relatives, I have decided to just straight away quote from Kathryn Flett's article. Right from the fount.

Barry Kamen wears navy wool jacket and trousers with faint pinstripe: both by Z Zegna; Buffalo hide bag, Nivaldo de Lima


In the early 80s, Petri coralled a pool of young model-muses (Nick and Barry Kamen, Tony Felix, Simon de Montfort, Howard Napper) and photographers (Jamie Morgan, Roger Charity, Marc Lebon), plus assorted, like-minded west London creatives: hair and make-up artists, musicians, designers, acolytes, allies, cohorts, and hangers-on for whom Petri, the cool, charming, funny, shy-but-gregarious nexus of the group was also a charismatic uncle confessor-cum-mentor-cum-role model.

Sid Charity wears gray Prince of Wales check wool jacket, white cotton poplin shirt, and gray Prince of Wales check wool trousers: Burberry Prorsum; carpenter's apron, stylist's own


Petri was born in Dundee and moved to Brisbane, Australia when his family emigrated there in his teens. By the mid-70s he was back in Britain, running a stall in north London's Camden Passage antiques market. Moving in creative circles among art students and photographers, he'd decided to become a photographer's agent, recruiting some raw talent in the form of Marc Lebon and Jamie Morgan. Still, he soon discovered he preferred a more hands-on approach to fashion photography: the casting and styling of images for which there was, at that time, only a very limited audience. "It can be no surprise that Ray showed up at our door," says Nick Logan, founder editor of The Face and Arena , "Other than i-D , where else would he have gone?"

Claude Simonon, son of Paul Simonon, wears black short jacket, Dior Homme; belt, Nivaldo de Lima; vintage knickerboxers and waistcoat, 21st Century Retro


In the early 80s, fashion photography was still largely the preserve of the glossies, but at The Face and i-D , Ray's vision coincided with the very beginning of what has subsequently become the commercialization and mass consumption of street style. Petri played skillfully with the iconography and mythology of the heterosexual modern hero and the homo-erotic muse. He created new breeds of free-range urban cowboys in Ray-Ban aviators and hats; a suited and booted beauty accessorized by a feathered Native American headdress; a smiling black boxer with a blowsy red rose tucked behind his ear; boys in highly polished brogues worn with tracksuits; Crombie coats teamed with shorts; sportswear and couture; kilts and diamanté and the definitive Petri Buffalo garment, the no-nonsense Nylon MA1 army surplus flight jacket, lined in bright orange, teamed with Levi's 501s: the look that evolved into the predominant urban male uniform of the 80s.

Declan Brody-Reid, son of Neville Brody, wears gray wool suit jacket and trousers: both by Jil Sander; vintage shirt, collar, and pin chain: stylist's own


From expressing the style of a small gang of west London movers and shakers, Buffalo hit the big time when the heavily pregnant Neneh Cherry took her Buffalo stance from Notting Hill to the Top of the Pops studio and the charts. Funny, but just a few years before the Spices and All Saints bared their big-bellies-as-fashion-statements, the sight of an eight-month-pregnant Neneh gyrating, fecund-but-sexy, on TOTP was a small stylistic watershed – if not the first sign that the 80s were all but over and the in-touch-with-its-feminine-side 90s were on the way. Though necessarily identified with the 80s, Petri would have much preferred both the 90s and the zero-zeros, politically, emotionally, culturally, socially and visually – but then Ray was always ahead of his time.

Tyson McVey, daughter of Neneh Cherry and Cameron McVey, wears black velvet cross-stitched jacket and white cotton shirt: both by Giorgio Armani


Petri was a fashion stylist long before this was a coveted job description and another amorphous by-product of the global fashion industry. Indeed, in the early 80s, selecting and arranging clothes on models was still known, if it was known at all, as "fashion editing", but he was an instinctive stylist, using his visual flair and magpie intelligence to produce elegant, unfussy and invariably sensual images of timeless modernity.

Tyson McVey wears burgundy, gray, and tan spotted silk shirt and gray cotton crinkle trousers: both by Kenzo; tie, hat, and braces: stylist's own


Petri didn't live long enough to get rich on the back of the fact that his visual influence has now been almost totally absorbed into fashion's mainstream, turned into a hugely successful, branded, marketable, logo-ised industry. Likewise, he never worked with many of the people in the business whom he has inspired directly – the gifted Austrian designer Helmut Lang, say, or, indirectly, the skilled marketeer Tommy Hilfiger, or David Beckham, or any of the tens of thousands of visually savvy teenagers and twentysomethings whose easy, confident mix of fashion and sportswear has been the predominant urban style over the past decade. But in high fashion circles, among names like Giorgio Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier (both of whom he knew well and collaborated with) to today's younger generation of career stylists on their fat, glossy-magazine salaries, advertising contracts and handsome retainers with the corporates, Petri's name commands awesome respect.

Marlon Roudette, son of Cameron McVey, wears cream cotton shirt, red velvet waistcoat, black pinstriped trousers, and gray frock coat: all by Paul Smith; belt, Nivaldo de Lima; hat, stylist's own


Ray Petri was a genuinely charismatic figure. The sort of man who, even if you had your back to the door, one still sensed had made an entrance. Tall, smiling and handsome with slightly sad eyes and a gently penetrating gaze, I first met him in the early 80s as a young fashion writer at i-D . He instantly brought out my inner, slavering groupie, but was always sweet enough to pretend he hadn't noticed. Then, in 1987, I moved on to become The Face 's first fashion editor and, for a while, learning on the job, I sometimes felt I was working under false pretences. In fashion terms, there was probably nobody whose approval I sought more than Ray's, but whatever he really thought about my wobbly fashion vision, he was never less than a gent and always treated me as a creative equal.

Sid Charity, son of Roger Charity, wears dark pink cotton/silk mix suit jacket and trousers: both by Lanvin; vintage gasses, stylist's own


In 1988, I vividly remember Ray coming into the office for a meeting. Seeing his face bearing the unmistakeable stigmata of Kaposi's Sarcoma, I immediately fled the office in tears and angrily walked round the block, muttering 'not fair, not fair, not fair_' before pulling myself together and - mascara messily smeared - having the meeting. Ray didn't bat an eyelid, he was far too big - and too cool - for that. But he was no saint and was not without ego. Indeed, before his death, he had enough of a sense of his burgeoning influence and potential legacy to be editing pictures for a project that, 11 years down the line, has evolved into a beautiful book, Buffalo , edited, written and designed by the Buffalo boys and girls he considered to be as close, if not closer, than family. And as Life magazine's Buffalo reunion portrait reveals, they still are. Now there's a legacy to be proud of.

Wayne Francis wears black hooded cape Givenchy; vintage Stetson hat, black silk rose brooch, and black combat trousers: stylist's own


(Will write more about Arena Homme Plus's Buffalo Stance issue in succeeding posts…)

Felix wears white cotton shirt and gray wool trousers: both by Iceberg. Herbie, Felix's son, wears white cotton shirt, Iceberg; stetson pork-pie hat from the archive of Ray Petri


Santiago Parilli-Ocampo wears dark brown and gray printed wool coat with fur collar and camel cotton trousers with suede trim: both by Roberto Cavalli; belt by Nivaldo de Lima; Stetson, stylist's own


Dave Baby wears gray wool jacket and black wool cinch-back trousers: both by Ralph Lauren; belt, Nivaldo de Lima; cummerbund, Judy Blame; all accessories: model's own


Frank Lebon, son of Mark Lebon, wears black wool jumper, black wool trousers, and gray wool coat: all by Yves Saint Laurent; t-shirt, model's own.

Tyrone Lebon, son of Mark Lebon, wears brown cashmere and silk cardigan and gray coat (placed on both Frank and Tyrone): both by Yves Saint Laurent; t-shirt, Mark LEbon for DoBeDo; trousers and jewelry: stylist's own


Tien and Sen Lebon, children of James Lebon, wear blue cotton shirt and denim loose shirts: Vivienne Westwood; all other clothes: stylist's own