These guys from our 1978 fall catalog just completed a major business deal, landing their private jet in a secluded wooded area where they know they will not be detected.
Tomorrow they will go to several banks and make several deposits.
Tonight, they will sleep in a rustic cabin surrounded by 25 million dollars in unmarked bills. There will be a flash of sadness that the adventure is over. And then with a toast of Blanton’s single barrel, a resolving contentment to let it be what it was: one last job.
It might not be fall yet but trust us, the season is coming fast and you’re going to need a sweater. You’re probably already packing additional layers in this transitional phase, as football begins and night swimming becomes less of an option.
These dudes from our 1976 holiday catalog know the deal. Thin sweaters are the move. Warmth without bulk.
With temperatures plummeting and our Snow Shop open for business, we can think of no better way to set the stage for ski season than to gaze upon the stunning, strange, retro-futuristic glory of perhaps our favorite piece of Nordstrom memorabilia of all time. Behold, WinterSki ’77-’78: Saga of Light.
Continue reading for more skis in space, naked people modeling eyewear, and cryptic quotations. (Sample: “We drifted, transported through the essence, nearly weightless.” Huh? Long live the late ’70s.)
French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and director Serge Gainsbourg was kind of like the Kanye West of his time—you know, a creative genius. A jack of many trades. A genre-hopping musician, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. His lyrics utilized styles of wordplay that would make most rappers (and even self-described word-nerd copy editors—we checked) scratch their heads. (Mondegreen? Spoonerism? Check Gainsbourg’s Wikipedia page for definitions.)
Gainsbourg also managed to sweep some of the best-known bombshells of the 1960s and ’70s off their feet. Check out his 1968 ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ duet with then-ladyfriend Brigitte Bardot above, for example. The song is based on a poem entitled The Trail’s End, written by Bonnie Parker herself just weeks before her Depression-era crime spree with Clyde Barrow came to a grisly end. Gainsbourg’s apparent fascination with American culture is interesting—especially as we find ourselves paying homage to all things French, with our limited-time French Fling Pop-In Shop. (And, as Monsieur West is zealously requesting croissants and collab’ing with minimalist French label A.P.C.)
Below, find some favorite photos of Gainsbourg and guests—all via the essential repository for all things vintage and jaw-dropping: The Impossible Cool.
Perhaps he was not classically handsome. And legend has it that he passed out drunk after taking Jane Birkin to some questionable venues on their first date. But what Gainsbourg lacked in other areas, he made up for in his keen ability to wear a suit like he was born in it. Check out those fitted shoulders, wide lapels, and devil-may-care shirt collar.
Brigitte Bardot, Gainsbourg’s partner in crime in the song above, cleaned up pretty nice, too.
…But who wore it best? Invented in England, perfected by the French—Gainsbourg makes a trench coat look almost as good as Bardot. Note his expert use of accessories: gloves, smoke, icy stare.
Not a bad run: After breaking up with Bardot, Gainsbourg rebounded with English singer/actress Jane Birkin—but’s that’s a whole other story. Here, he rocks the “jacket-as-cape” look about 40 years before the current crop of street-style stars attempted it.
Growing up in Aberdeen, Washington, in the 1970s left Gabe Johnson with memories of girlfriends who smelled like bubblegum and vodka, a penchant for explosives, a taste for illicit cartoons—and a zealous sense of nostalgia for America. The “real” America, as he puts it; and specifically, the mom-and-pop treasures that dot the highways and byways of this great nation, in the form of watering holes, record stores, auto shops, and other legendary landmarks that locals hold dear.
The latest undertaking of Johnson’s company, Horses Cut Shop, involves sharing the stories of those local haunts via T-shirts—the sale of which benefits the small businesses themselves.
Shop a few of our favorite shirts at the bottom of this article. First though, join us as we trace the history and influences of Horses Cut Shop, in the words of “Professional Boat Rocker” Gabe Johnson himself:
Origin Story. “Horses Cut Shop was started as unincorporated meeting spot for artists, riffraff, musicians and people who wished to create their own ‘reality,’ if only for one day or night at a time. The world wasn’t giving me what I wanted in terms of community, so in 2009 I decided to create the conditions that would.” [Watch a video about Gabe and said meeting spot that we made last Christmas.]
Smells Like Home. “Horses Cut Shop, as an entity, was styled after the American Fraternal Orders (Moose Lodge, Elks Lodge, Eagles Club, Knights of Columbus, etc.), and the ’70s summers of my youth in Aberdeen. The Cut Shop was a fortified compound in upper Fremont [in Seattle] that smelled like smoky burnouts, farm animals, whiskey, gas, mayhem and the ever-present dangerous machine. (This Flickr link provides photographic evidence of three years spent just under the radar of Seattle’s Finest.)”
A New Hope. “The Cut Shop experience was anchored by a monthly Sunday Brunch that we managed to pull regularly, on a volunteer basis, without fail for three years before the shop closed due to sale of the property by the owner. Ultimately, money was needed to continue the experiment in another location and in a new way. Hence the foray into the T-shirt business. The sale of T-shirts that celebrate and support ‘real’ America, an America that’s hanging on by a thread, seemed in-line with my ultimate goal of preserving and shaping the kind of world I want to live in. The T-shirt business is a vehicle for storytelling and simply a cover for my illicit love affair with America and the riffraff that makes her hum.”
Core Beliefs. “I believe beauty and knowledge can be found in the soul of inanimate objects. I tend to worship things that were built for use, community and to outlast the maker. In this sense, a wrench is like a record store and an old tavern is like a worn-in pair of boots. These objects—these places—are constructed with deliberate intention; they’re the embodiment of the American Dream and the products of our country’s worship of self expression and individualism. I want to acknowledge them and celebrate the creators/makers behind the name and logo.”
– I was born and raised in Aberdeen, Washington, along with four generations of my family.
– My favorite place to be is either lost and/or in some type of trouble.
– I’ve been arrested and charged with “Mayhem” twice.
– I believe that if you’re respectful of the differences in disposition and avoid harming others, there are no rules and everything is permitted.
– I believe the America I love peaked during the summer of 1979. Specifically, the evening of July 26th, 1979.
– The slow death of my hometown (Aberdeen, WA) has had the greatest affect on me as person.
– I may or may not have founded The Comstock Commission in 2008.
— — —
Under the Influence. Gabe’s influences include, but are not limited to:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK18NP4kB7U Men of Substance.“The Bandit (Burt Reynolds’ character in Smokey and the Bandit), Hunter Stockton Thompson, Jack Tripper (Three’s Company character) and Steve McQueen.”
Wild Women. “Jane Birkin, The Runaways, Lynda Carter, Nancy Sinatra.”
Miscellaneous: “That poster of Farrah Fawcett, girls that roller skate, Evel Knievel, being put in/let out of handcuffs, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Apocalypse Now, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, skinned knees, cherry bombs. As is probably evident by now, I left my heart in the Aberdeen of the ’70s.” [See Gabe’s Tumblr for further odds, ends and vintage awesomeness.]
— — —
Made from America. A few of our favorite Horses Cut Shop shirts (which double as a checklist for your next road trip). All are made in the USA and benefit the independent businesses that emblazon them.
Following in a tradition that’s shone the spotlight on rock legends like Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Perry Farrell and Slash, the latest John Varvatos campaign features perhaps the most hallowed guitar god of all time, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, alongside blues-rock rising star Gary Clark Jr.
Designer John Varvatos had the following to say about the campaign, which was inspired by classic black-and-white portraiture and shot by Danny Clinch at London’s Rivoli Ballroom: “Jimmy Page has been a music and fashion icon of mine since 1970. He has been a major influence, and I am honored to call Jimmy a friend. Gary Clark Jr. is the real deal—an amazing guitar player, singer, songwriter and friend. Having ‘The Master and The Young Guitar-Slinger’ together in our campaign is a dream come true.”
— — —
As cool as the campaign imagery is, we’re just as interested in the music that inspired it. Below are John Varvatos’s personal favorite Led Zeppelin tunes—handpicked by the designer himself, exclusively for Men’s Shop Daily. [Song selections are his, commentary is ours.]
1. ‘Tangerine’ – Given Zeppelin’s reputation for practically inventing the brute force of what’s now known as heavy metal, it’s interesting to see Varvatos’s first pick highlight a sentimental ballad from the band’s folksy third record, 1970’s Led Zeppelin III. We’ve included a live version from the infamous 1975 Earls Court shows as well—largely because it’s a trip to hear frontman Robert Plant’s between-song musings uttered in his proper English lilt. (It’s easy to forget how soft-spoken he is, considering moments like the Viking howls that open the same album.)
2. ‘Kashmir’ – This epic from 1975’s Physical Graffiti puts the band’s signature sense of sheer force on full display—even with a tempo that’s methodically plodding, and the lion’s share of decibels emanating only from Page’s guitar and John Bonham’s measured drum pattern (bassist John Paul Jones mans keyboards on this one). Again, we pulled from the classic ’75 Earls Court performances, to hear Plant’s backstory…And also included an excerpt of Page jamming with Jack White and The Edge, from the 2009 documentary It Might Get Loud.
3. ‘Dazed and Confused’ – One of Led Zep’s most recognizable acid-blues masterpieces, characterized by the dream-like solo section in which Page routinely wailed on his guitar with a violin bow, is in fact a cover of a 1967 song written by Jake Holmes. We’ve always thought Zeppelin’s studio version, which appeared on their eponymous 1969 debut, sounded a bit stilted. The live versions above (left, from disc one of the live compilation BBC Sessions; right, a purportedly ‘lost version’ we just discovered on the internet) are loose, loud, brimming with the band’s patented improvised interactions between members, and feel like they might explode in a frenzy and/or fizzle out in disarray at any moment. In other words, Led Zeppelin at its best.
4. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ – The pulsating, overdriven rhythm that opens 1969’s Led Zeppelin II erased any notion of a sophomore slump—and inspired decades of visceral guitar riffs to come. Page described the snarling amp tone as ‘rude,’ and if you’re able to decipher Plant’s feral yelps, his lyrics are none too polite either. The studio version (left, above) is solid gold (literally)—but we included the live version (right) because seeing Bonham’s blur of drumsticks during the psychedelic interlude makes it even more transfixing. Extra credit: Check out this 13-minute BBC version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ that gets rudely interrupted by a raucous montage of Zeppelin’s blues influences, from John Lee Hooker to Elvis Presley.
5. ‘When the Levee Breaks’ – The band had legions of fans since their first record—but with stratospheric successes like ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV went 23x platinum in America alone. One of the record’s most satisfying sonic moments requires sticking around for the final track (based on a 1929 song by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy, about the Great Mississippi Flood). The transition from muddy, minor-key verses to Page’s glimmering guitar chords at 2:30 never gets old—nor do Bonham’s steadily thundering drums, which even the Beastie Boys (at their rowdiest in 1986) had to respect.
6. ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ – Any amateur guitar picker worth his weight in sheet music has tried his hand at the tricky opening notes of this one—but it’s the turns the song takes from there that are more indicative of the Led Zeppelin ethos. While the band always dabbled in a variety of styles (folk, funk, eastern, medieval, orchestral, even reggae), here, multiple influences unfold seamlessly within a single song. The 1979 live version to the right displays an unapologetically brutal guitar tone from Page—an interesting choice given the song’s tender start and finish.
7. ‘Heartbreaker’ – Another tour de force from Zeppelin’s sophomore album (which remains perhaps the most crystalline embodiment of the blues-rock building blocks that informed their entire career). Again, the studio recording (left) is classic, but small details kick the live BBC version (right) into overdrive: Bonham’s furious fills, Jones’s gnarly bass sound, the brief ode to Bach during Page’s famous unaccompanied solo, and Plant’s upper-octave shriek that punctuates the final note.
— — —
John Varvatos was also kind enough to recommend his 3 favorite tunes by Gary Clark Jr., who appears alongside Jimmy Page in the campaign imagery above. The New York Times has called Clark Jr. the next Jimi Hendrix (the third track below happens to incorporate a Hendrix cover)—take a listen for yourself:
Between month-long radio takeovers and the inescapable audio inside your office’s elevators, Christmas music can become one of the least-merry aspects of the holidays. As a personal gift from us to you, we combed the internet (and picked our office-mates’ brains) for under-the-radar Xmas gems to put you in the holiday spirit this weekend. Pour some eggnog, hit play—and take a well-deserved break from The Chipmunks and Zooey Deschanel.
Run DMC. Remember when rap was almost wholesome? Here, the guys save Christmas and praise Mom’s homecooking, all with signature attention to detail (note the Cadillac logo on Santa’s sleigh). Extra style shout-outs for DMC’s dapper DB coat and Run’s Portland Trailblazers jacket.
Wham! As unlikely as it seems—for a Christmas song, a Wham! song, and especially a Wham! Christmas song—a small, completely unscientific poll in our office found very little to be annoyed about by this song. It’s kind of catchy, but not cloyingly so. Oddly soothing. Do you agree, or have we had too much fruitcake?
Boyz II Men. Remember that time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Will ruined Christmas by not getting the world’s favorite ’90s R&B group to sing a capella at baby Nicky’s christening? Us neither, because it never happened. Miracles are real! Especially on sitcoms.
Band Aid. OK, this one might qualify as over-played this time of year. And has some truly mood-dampening lyrics if you listen closely (everyone, please do something charitable this yuletide). And ranks high on the A.V. Club’s list of most-hated holiday tunes. BUT: It’s worth watching just for the all-star ’80s lineup’s throwback hair stylings. Subtitled en español for a feliz Navidad.
David Bowie x Bing Crosby. The Thin White Duke has done more than a couple surprising collaborations over the years, but…come on. Worlds collide, minds blown. Are we the last to know about this? Click to about 1:48 if you prefer to skip the stilted banter—not that you should, it’s TV Christmas-special solid gold.
Dogs. To the uninitiated, this kitschy Christmas classic probably comes off as just another entry in the vast canon of cute cat videos, baby sloths, bunnies riding goats, and hamsters on pianos that now saturate the internet. But get this: The original recording was created by a Danish ornithologist in the 1950s, and was one of the first examples of modern-day pitch manipulation and audio splicing. We chose to show the “cover version” above because it looks like dogs are actually performing it live (they’re probably all computer-animated robots, who knows)—but to hear the original ’50s version, click here.
In the spirit of our long-running ‘One Holiday at a Time’ policy—in which our stores wait patiently until the day after Thanksgiving to unveil each year’s Christmas decorations—we decided to dig up some vintage Nordstrom gift catalogs to marvel at over your morning-after breakfast of leftover ham and a double-wide slice of pumpkin pie.
The illustration above opened the 1961 gift catalog from Best’s Apparel, the company Nordstrom merged with in its first foray into above-ankle fashion. (Remember, we started out as a shoe store.) Here’s a men’s spread from the same 1961 mailer—”…definitive pages that thunder with masculinity…”: