‘THE GREAT PLAID PARTIES’

Written by  on August 9, 2013 

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This fabulous set of vintage menswear photographs comes from an  article originally published in the October 1957 edition of “Life” magazine in which staff-writer John Graham sets out to expose to the general public the rather extravagant & bohemian social activities of a small group of Hollywood  avant-gardists.In 1957, this particular group of ‘Hepcats’, ‘Hipsters’ and ‘Barn-Burners’ began to host a series of exclusive parties at the legendary Chateau Marmont hotel, which was located at 8221 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.The parties became known as the ‘Great Plaid Parties’ and enjoyed a certain (if short-lived) notoriety, due not only to the  exclusivity  and ‘elitist-hype’ they generated , but largely because of the regular attendence of a group of major Hollywood stars such as James Dean, Sammy Davis Jr, Henry Fonda, Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Perkins and Robert Stack, who brought electricity (and infamy) to the proceedings.The people, the ambience, the dress-code and the mood of the parties was strategically and consistently hip, cool and cutting-edge; in addition, these colourful soirees screamed wealth and luxury to the casual, ‘outside’ observer.The dress-code for men at these functions was (naturally) plaid, which was worn in a formal, yet flamboyant manner; this usually took its form in the shape of rather striking plaid tuxedos – preferably with an attitude to match (interestingly, although plaid was embraced as a ‘hip’ fabric amongst style-enthusiasts of the day, ‘Middle America’ at that time considered it to be the fabric/style of a counter-culture – one which was more suited to brigands and rebels!).Before John Graham wrote his article about the ‘Great Plaid Parties’, the identities of the big movie-stars and other party attendees had been secret/guarded, however, with such decadence now openly flaunted in the world’s press for all to see, worried studio heads threatened to terminate the contracts of their participating contractural stars unless the parties were disbanded; this ultimatum meant that the ‘games’ were finally over – but, fortunately for us , “Life” magazine captured this unique and stylish moment in time for prosperity, lovers of pop-culture and fashion-history.The stunning pictures shown here display a unique slice of decadent, but oh-so-dashing, colourful and swanky Americanna!

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  ©Copyright LIFE magazine 1957.

Text ©Copyright House Of Retro/Gary Alston 2013

Category : CAFFE RETRO