I’m 21: Mod

‘A real mod does not choose to be a mod, they discover that they are a mod. It is not just a fashion statement; it is the way you feel and act and express yourself. Mod is in the soul.’ Amy

The ultimate mod-con Mod keepsake; I’m One: 21st Century Mods is an exhibition of mod magic. With a foreword from renowned music journalist Paolo Hewitt, an interview with the New Untouchables DJ Rob Bailey, photographs from fashion photographer Horst A. Friedrichs – which are whimsically narrated by quotes from those who are now part of the culture – the book is a treasure trove of the contemporary Mod scene and its participants.

Mod is a subculture that encompasses the super-cool: it was a story of rags to riches without the riches, and was a movement that centred on the impeccably neat and seriously smart cool kids of the late sixties. It didn’t matter if you had ten pence or ten million, if you were a Mod, you were immaculate. The men sported slim cut suits, meticulously polished fringed loafers, and most iconically the M51 Parka. Women were androgynous; eyes were carefully painted with liquid liner, and blunt, sharp haircuts were all the rage with even shorter skirt hem-lines to follow. You’d often find them coasting the streets on their Lambrettas and Vespas; soul, r’n’b and ska music providing the ultimate soundtrack to their hedonistically hip lives. Mod wasn’t just a phase, it was a twenty four hour occupation; it was the pot of gel on your dressing table, the beads of sweat that lined your forehead as you grooved to the Who; it was the needle on the record player, the petrol in the engines, the pint of beer at the local.

Whilst the subculture was consciously engineered and labelled for those who championed eccentricity, individuality and impeccability, its mantra is enduring: be cool and look smart. Friedrich’s book documents the mod vibrations that have travelled their way into the new millennium. The seemingly eternal mod style is captured in a wholesome fashion: the intimacy of kisses, of applying eyeliner in the back bathroom stalls, to the open reaches of the street, dancefloors and beyond. The book aims to showcase how the smart, urbane style is recycled, re-mapped and revived with a contemporary slant, nodding here there and everywhere to a subculture whose cool factor is fundamentally timeless.

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