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Keanan Duffty is a bit of a rebel — a British-born musican-turned-fashion designer who counts David Bowie and Avril Lavigne among his clients — so it’s no wonder his new book is titled “Rebel Rebel: Anti-Style.” The 144-page book, coauthored by Paul Gorman and scheduled to be released on Sept. 8 by Universe Publishing, highlights the conversion of pop culture and fashion.
This story first appeared in the August 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
From Elvis Presley and James Dean to Johnny Depp and Gwen Stefani, Duffty explores the “heritage and history” of such fashion staples as the T-shirt and leather jacket, and how they have inspired rebel style.
“By its very nature,” Duffty pens in his introduction, “rebel style is indefinable. It’s like quicksilver: try and grasp it and it disappears. There is one certainty, however: those people who possess it…look as though they couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of them or what they are wearing. They exude confidence and charm, drawing all eyes to them.”
Take the ubiquitous T-shirt, Duffty added in an interview. “No one thinks of a T-shirt as rebellious today,” he said, “but it was outrageous when Brando wore it on screen.” And the white tuxedo jacket made famous by Humphrey Bogart was also adopted by Sid Vicious. Items like these, Duffty believes, “have become real talismans of style.”
The book is broken down into chapters for specific apparel items — Jean Genie for denim, Vive Le Rock for T-shirts and hoodies, and Do the Do for hair, makeup and body art. “When you walk into vintage stores, there are different sections for tuxedos, prom dresses, etc.,” Duffty said. “We approached the book the same way.”
And if Duffty and his partners at Oxford Collections are successful, there just might be a Rebel Rebel apparel collection sometime in the near future. Duffty had collaborated with Oxford Collections, a division of Li & Fung, on his Keanan Duffty for Target and Bowie by Keanan Duffty collections of men’s wear for Target.
Mark Wolk, president of Oxford Collections, said of the book: “There’s something really terrific here — icons challenging the fashion status quo.” He said he’s in discussions “about how to leverage the title and create a brand.” Wolk said he sees a line that would be centered on tops and would sit adjacent to premium denim collections. “I think there’s a great opportunity for this brand in young men’s. I’m talking to midtier retailers now.”
Although any apparel collection would come out after the book is released next month, Wolk said: “Our aim is not to rush to market, but this is a particularly enticing concept and we see it as something with legs.”
To create buzz for the book, Duffty said there’s a Sirius radio show scheduled for Sept. 10 and his band, Slinky Vagabond, will play at John Varvatos’ Lower East Side store in the former CBGB’s in early October.