13 June 2012
Camberwellian Mark Baxter is the co-author of a new book on style: The A-Z of Mod. Along with writer Paolo Hewitt the local boy has put together a book that details all the major Mod players and how they have influenced music and fashion for the past 50 years, writes Michael Holland...
The book’s launch was in the High Temple of Mod, the Fred Perry store in Seven Dials, which itself is the nice nephew of Soho’s dodgy aunt across the road, and at the event were tailors, writers, music promoters, photographers and ex-football thugs, or ‘Casuals’ as they would probably like to be remembered…
Plus, of course, original Modernists who shopped in Carnaby Street when it was a grubby little back-street; 50 year old retro Mods from the first revival, and others from subsequent revivals, ending up with 20 year old Lambretta Boys parked up in their Parkas. Everyone there was checking out everyone else, comparing Ben Shermans, ogling Tonik Mohair, eyeing up slim, well-cut trousers that tapered to 14 inches,and loafers with or without tassels.
Those with vintage 60s jackets stood out, even though those wearing them were too young to have bought them the first time round.
I caught up with Mr Baxter between book signings who told me that the writers spent 3 months on research and 3 months on the writing, and this launch comes hot off the back of Outside Bet, the film that was made from their last book, The Mumper.
Hitting 17 at the same time as Quadrophenia came out was a big influence on Mark becoming a Mod.
Add that to the rise of The Jam and he was hooked. Forever.
‘Paul Weller was our spokesman,’ he says after a long swig of lager. ‘Back then he name-checked bands, films, books, people, all of a Mod persuasion, both old and new, and I would then check them out’. He says that this was the education he never got in school.
But for Mark Baxter it is the clothes that have been his greatest passion: ‘The fashions hit home most of all, and that is something that has stayed with me… It really was a lifestyle choice back then, and to a certain extent, still is today.’
He looks sharp in his ‘touch of seersucker with an open neck’ and has developed his own style now, which includes a very 21st century ‘man-bag’ that he is rarely seen without. But some things never die: ‘I still buy the latest Weller album,’ he tells me. ‘Paul is top boy for a lot of us of a certain age… I have had the pleasure of meeting him a few times now and he never disappoints.’
A staunch member who will always be a Mod, Mark Baxter now lives the dream with his books. I asked for a final quote and, like Weller, he did not disappoint:’ Be a modernist, it's the only way.’
The A-Z of Mod can be bought in all good bookshops and on Amazon
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