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Sunday 30 October 2016

Book Review: Ready Steady Girls - The Other Side Of The Mod Equation

Being a Mod was a lifestyle synonymous with style, soul, Italian scooters, amphetamines and an all-encompassing twenty-four hour lifestyle.The scene was reported to be predominantly made-up of art students and working-class teenagers, who were deemed to be narcissistic, hedonistic and avowedly consumerist.

The boys however were not alone. Perhaps fitting for a movement that was so very hard to define and that existed under the radar for so many years, an even greater revolution was happening within its own ranks
 
In the foreward to Ready Steady Girls - the other side of the Mod equation - the new book by Mark Baxter, Jason Brummell and Ian Snowball - Claire Mahoney(Journalist, Broadcaster and Mod) says: 

'Mod has always been a very male domain. But behind the peacocks in their three-button jackets stood a no less flamboyant breed of bird: the Mod girl.'

Many female mods dressed androgynously, with short haircuts, men's trousers or shirts, flat shoes, and little make-up — often just pale foundation, brown eye shadow, white or pale lipstick and false eyelashes.

Miniskirts became progressively shorter between the early and mid-1960s. As female mod fashion became more mainstream, slender models like Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy began to exemplify the mod look. 

Maverick fashion designers emerged, such as Mary Quant, who was known for her miniskirt designs.


And so begins 'the first book of its kind to offer an insider's view on what makes a girl a Mod and why.'

Ready Steady Girls lets the girls do the talking. Their passion for fashion and eye for detail is just as committed as those of their male counterparts.

The boys among their number threatened to subvert the class system, the girls challenged on a whole other level; and when the boys descended into tawdry uniformed beach fights the baton was picked up by the girls with their own unique styles and individual challenges to the societal norm. 


Mocky Marzan De Cabo says: 'Mod is my whole life. That crazy feeling that invades my soul everytime I dress in my Mod clothes, listen to Mod music and party with other like-minded people.'

In chapter two - Icons & Idols - Celia Lucchitta, among many others, lists her icons from the sixties that includes models, actors, musicians and singers. 

Celia lists Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Jane Fonda and Cathy McGowan. While Rhoda Dakar adds Emma Peel's outfits, as well as a continued desire to become Emma Peel herself!

Chapter three delves into the Modernist's preferred mode of transport, the scooter.Annabelle Lichfield offers the truism that: 'Scooters are just like the clothes - streamlined and stylish with no frills. It's almost impossible to look un-cool riding a scooter.'

Shelia Hughes sums it up nicely: 'Sea-spray, candy-floss and two-stoke.'

In the wonderfully named chapter - Daylight Turns To Moonlight And I'm At My Best - the female Mods delve into the night when parents were left in front of the telly and their new found independence was explored to the maxim.

Val Weedon reminisces about seeing the Small Faces and, after the show, walking back to the car with them while holding Steve Marriot's hand! 

On the other hand Connie Sullivan says she's been to many Mod gigs and lists her favourite as The Specials at Brixton Academy in 2013. 

And so in - As It Was In The Beginning, So Shall It Be In The End - what of being a Mod in the present day?

Karen Amass: 'I've been back in the scene for over a dozen years. It sounds like a cliche but I don't believe it ever leaves you.'

Ready Steady Girls is a book presented with all the style and detail of the Mod scene itself. It offers, by way of testimony and beautiful photography, the flip side of the Modernist coin .. the side that's just important .. the female Mods.CLICK HERE to purchase.  

by: Mike Cobley




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Photo: Sam Marks and Laura Pitt-Pulford

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