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The Iconic Jimmy Page in Vogue Italia

The Iconic Jimmy Page in Vogue Italia

Music and fashion have always merged seamlessly with no shortage of pop-starry collaborations. Pop's greatest chameleons from David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust–era glam to the Sex Pistols' edgy no-frills anti-fashion continue to rule the catwalks and styling generations. British music legend Jimmy Page follows Iggy Pop, Slash, Paul Weller and Jane's Addiction Perry Farrell as the latest rock god to front American menswear designer John Varvatos' spring campaign.

White-haired and elegant, the Led Zeppelin guitarist is pictured posing moodily alongside the 28-year-old surging Texan blues star Gary Clark Jr in a series of gorgeously stark black-and-white ads called The Master & The Young Guitar Slinger. "Jimmy Page has been a music and fashion hero of mine since 1970," enthuses Varvatos, a self-professed music junkie who recently opened a lifestyle boutique on the site of the former New York punk-rock Mecca CBGB's and built up his $80-million clothing and accessories empire by playing into the greatest of all male obsessions: the rock 'n' roll fantasy. "The first time I heard Led Zeppelin, I think I was 14 or 15, it changed my life. He has been a major influence and I'm honored to call Jimmy a friend. Gary Clark Jr. is the real deal – amazing guitar player and songwriter. And having them together in our campaign is a dream come true."

Shot by photographer and documentary filmmaker, Danny Clinch at south London's shabbily grand Rivoli Ballroom – itself the setting for many music greats down the years, including Paul McCartney, Tina Turner and Kings of Leon – the portraits are accompanied by a short black-and-white film, which is already clocking up impressive Youtube hits. The video shows Clark Jr, recently described as ‘the next Hendrix' by the New York Times, singing and strumming on the guitar in the empty ballroom interspersed with shots of Page, looking mysterious and wistful in black, cruising the London streets in the back of a black cab.

Few consider Page a style icon regular, but whenever designers dabble in 1970s retro, they inevitably name-check Zeppelin, the band who with their fancy clasp of crushed-velvet flares, sheer Regency shirts and silk scarves helped define the decade's flamboyant peacock style.

New York indie rapper and international scenester Theophilus London – known for mixing hip-hop with high-fashion and raking up countless big-name collaborations of his own – thinks the new campaign with Page positively rocks. "Varvatos' brand of grungy urban tailoring has a real attitude and youthful vibe. The slim-cut suits, vintage T-shirts, scuffed biker jackets, mohair sweaters and 1970s-era Mick Jagger flowing shirts have a timeless cool that never goes out of fashion. And Jimmy Page, the star of the all-time greatest rock band, demonstrates the easy elegance of this aesthetic."

"Jimmy Page virtually created the classic trashy rock-star look," says Pogues star Shane MacGowan who knew Page in his Led Zeppelin heyday. "At the time, he had brilliant fashion sense, the band looked like Cream who always had the best clothes. Jimmy usually wore black leather trousers and black tops slashed to the waist. Then they started getting into cloaks with runes on them – that looked pretty stupid. Obviously I preferred the black leather."

As Pamela Des Barres, the super-groupie who slept and partied with everyone from Mick Jagger to Jim Morrison, amusingly recalls in her sex-drugs-and-rock'n'roll tell-all I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, Jimmy Page "was always in the mirror, shirtless and in skin-tight leather, primping his splendid image, and putting perfect waves in his long black hair with a little crimping machine. He used Pantene products, and whenever I smelled them, for years afterwards, I remember being buried in his hair."

"I used to go and see him in 1971 when Zeppelin were the biggest band in the world," remembers MacGowan, back in the day, when music fans came to gigs and they moshed, smoked, got smashed on the head with beer bottles. "They used to do an incredibly long and very loud set. Jimmy had this thing, where he would stop in the middle of Dazed and Confused and for half an hour he would bugger around on the guitar with a cello bow, really loud. It was very clever, that was the thing people talked about, it made an amazing noise. He's a great guitar player; rock had finally become a classical art form. Victoria and I met him recently at a restaurant in Chelsea after our hotel set on fire. We were evacuated and had to go have breakfast. Jimmy spotted me, came over and said hello and we had a long chat about all kinds of stuff, drugs, black magic. I reminded him that I used to steal his food in a lesbian club called Louise's that we both went to in Soho in the 70s. I thought he looked great and he hasn't gotten fat or anything."

MacGowan, a legendary hell-raiser in his own right, says Page embodied all the excess of the 1970s. "They used to chop up hotel rooms with samurai swords and get mud sharks to have sex with groupies in LA; Frank Zappa did a whole album about that," he says of Led Zeppelin's dissolute lifestyle, which set the virtually unattainable standards of mindless depravity for the bands that followed them. "Jimmy bought Aleister Crowley's castle, the one where he raised the devil, for millions and that is when the bad luck started for him. Various kids died and then John Bonham died. The thing was Jimmy got into black magic in America and Crowley was the grand wizard. Crowley always needed money because he was a junkie, but he didn't tell Jimmy that he had raised up the devil in this castle and then ran away because he was scared shitless and left the devil there halfway between heaven and hell. Crowley got pangs of conscience and said: ‘I don't think I can sell you the castle, because the devil's in there, in a really bad mood' and then Jimmy Page doubled his offer. He was so into the occult he had the mark of the Beast on his trousers." It just goes to show that the devil doesn't just have all the best tunes – he has all the best clothes too.

L'Uomo Vogue, February 2013 (n. 438)

Photo by Danny Clinch

Candy Store Rock Gifts

Novel gifts for the consummate Led Zeppelin fan, as well as the best selection of quality gifts and accessories for musicians.

This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 7, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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