After Topman's Britpop swagger show for SS15, we chart the pin ups who defined an era – and still make us swoon
Topman Design kicked off a Britpop resurgence via their SS15 runway yesterday with super slim silhouettes, tinted square aviators and parted mop-top do’s – all immediately recognisable with the pioneering forces of Britpop style; Liam Gallagher, Jarvis Cocker and Richard Ashcroft. In honour of Cool Britannia, we select the ultimate in 90’s Britpop pin-ups.
It just wouldn’t be Britpop without Jarvis. A penchant for high-heeled shoes, "What are you going to gain from wearing flat shoes? You're still tall, so why not just go for it?” and a devil-may-care attitude that hit its prime in 1996 when Cocker crashed Michael Jackson’s performance of Earth Song at the Brit Awards, stealthily snaking his way past the dozens of backup singers before turning around, pants down and slapping his buttocks at the crowd. In that fleeting moment, Cocker cemented Britpop’s snarky distaste for all things well...non-Britpop. We premiered an exclusive clip from Florian Habicht's Pulp documentary last week, which you can watch again here – close your eyes, and Cocker's seductive husk trips you back 20 years to those heady snake-hip limp-wrist days.
Defined as one of Ashcroft’s finest musical moments, Bittersweet Symphony brought the band critical success seven years after forming. However, due to copyright issues over the sampling of the orchestra track which appeared originally on a Rolling Stones song, the band never earned a penny from it and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger now sit alongside the frontman in the writing credits. Go on, resist riding the nostalgic wave those opening chords bring...
The ultimate king of Britpop (sorry Noel) – the younger Gallagher has been locked up, roughed up and had a brawl with just about everyone from his own brother, whom he famously called out in NME as “one of the biggest cocks in the universe”, to ex-arch chart-nemesis Robbie Williams, “I'd rather shoot myself in the balls than follow his advice”. While the Mancunian’s bad behaviour has continued long past his Britpop days (he’s even been banned from his local pub), there’s no denying that L. Gallagher spearheaded an era where Union Jacks, bucket hats and shaggy hair reigned supreme.
In James’s 2008 confessional-slash-book A Bit of a Blur, the world finally got a taste of the Fred Perry polo wearing, shaggy fringed bassist's hedonist lifestyle, “Not that I slept with every girl I met. It wasn't all I wanted to do, but sometimes it was all they wanted to do, so it was difficult.” While James now gets his kicks out of making cheese on his farm, a not-so-distant past of champagne nights, groupie five-somes' and a rough estimation that he’s probably spent £1 million on coke aside, James defines the Britpop era’s philosophy of just not giving a shit.
East London born and bred, Blur frontman and keyboardist Albarn has been arrested for hugging a homeless man, believes heroin made him productive and rocked a mean range of Harrington jackets. His lyrics about the everyday London grind of binmen, joggers and other 'parklife' dwellers led Blur into phenomenon territory, landing them in direct competition with Oasis for the title of what NME dubbed the ‘British Heavyweight Championship’ when both bands released their highly anticipated singles on the same day. Two decades later, during Albarn’s Reddit AMA with Dazed, a fan came clean about stealing both singles – Albarn was quick to forgive, revealing that both songs were ‘shit’ and not to ‘worry about it’.
Anderson changed the Britpop gears from sullen bad boy to glam androgyny when he appeared on one of Select magazine’s 1993 covers in slick leathers with skinny midriff exposed, just as their self titled album rocketed to the top of the UK charts. Taking heed from Brit legends like David Bowie and Morrissey, Anderson navigated his band Suede to create a distinctive sound that stood apart from the attitude-laden vocals of bands like Blur and Oasis.
The other piece to the Gallagher puzzle, alongside Noel and brother Liam’s volatile chemistry and bad boy banter, their Madchester sense of style known as 'baggy' (usually consisting of, you guessed it, baggy clothes) helped shape the attitude that ran so freely throughout the 90's. On winning the award for Best British Video at the Brit Awards in 1996, Noel grabbed the microphone and advised, "Has-beens shouldn't present awards to gonna-bee's" as Michael Hutchence of INXS handed him the prize. Later in the evening upon also winning Best Album, the brothers took to the stage and announced they'd like to thank "all the people" before breaking into Blur's Parklife melody, a dig at trumping Blur to the gong. Britpop politics dominated headlines, and arguably still rages in the hearts of loyal fans from Manc to London.
Self-confessed ‘weirdo’ Dean was an unlikely star of the Britpop scene. Struggling with the spotlight from the get-go and famous before writing a single song, Dean first appeared in Pulp’s music video Do You Remember The First Time. He came to prominence when, with guitarist Chris Gentry, he birthed their band Menswear after being interviewed by Select magazine on the revival of the mod scene. Branding Menswear as a “top new unsigned band” the boys were then obliged to actually go out and make it happen.
Compared to his musical counterparts, Coombes’s rap sheet remained pretty clean during the heyday of Supergrass. Getting arrested at 15 for possession of marijuana inspired the then-teen to write the breakthrough hit Caught by the Fuzz, but it wasn't until Coombes was 19 that Supergrass entered the pop chart strastosphere with their upbeat (unintentional) Summer anthem Alright. The success led to scoutings by Italian Vogue and Calvin Klein, all of which Coombes' and his signature sideburns, in true Britpop style, turned down.
Bringing up the rear in a predominantly male arena, Frischmann is something of a Britpop prodigy. Co-founder of Suede, Frischmann dated Blur frontman Damon Albarn for seven years, ultimately inspiring Blur's album 13. But it was her band Elastica’s ability to trump the boys in the States that was her biggest victory. With an almost genderless face of minimal makeup (if any), short, loose brunette locks and a wardrobe of men's shirts, leather jackets and Doc Marten boots, Frischmann claimed the title as the queen (or king) of 90's Britpop cool. In the below clip she talks about her thoughts on the album 13.