The Online Mod/ern/ist Archive

archive of original modernist recollections and information .
we are glad to hear from anyone with memories of the time, but we do not rewrite history .

4 Mar 2012

Memories & Photo's of Birmingham Mods Del Evans & Gill Taylor

Writing this takes me back to an exciting time in my life, back to July 1960 when I had just finished 3 years at Moseley Art School in Birmingham. I studied Dress Design , Pattern Cutting & Dressmaking also History of Costume as well as other Art subjects.
I didn’t want to wear what everyone else was wearing I wanted to get my own look. I cut my hair into a bob and tinted it with Color-Glo Black Tulip, I designed & made a collection of dresses, coats and bags mainly in black, navy & grey. I’d meet my friends from Art School at the Stage Door Coffee Bar just off High St. in Birmingham city centre and also The Old Stone Cross in Dale End where Spencer Davis played and Steve Winwood sang long before they were famous. It was there that I met my husband to be Del Evans, we were interested in the same things – clothes & music.
In early 1962 we were looking thru’ a French magazine and there was an advert for Gitanes cigarettes the model had his hair cut in a french crop and he had a very stylish look, we really liked it and started recreating it.
Del started designing his own suits and having them made to measure at Hepworths in New Street Birmingham. He had a navy 2 piece with chalk stripe, high lapel, 4 button with double vent and ticket pocket, a black and white tweed 4 button with flap pockets including ticket pocket and double vents,a black Irish tweed jacket with Ghillie collar and flap pockets also a Ghillie collar suit in navy pin stripe.
We bought shirts and I removed the collars so that Del could wear stiff white collars fastened on by back and front studs. Our favourite shirts were charcoal grey or black and white gingham. Del also had a black and white gingham giraffe tab collar shirt which he is wearing in one of our photos with a pale grey lambswool sweater, Ghillie collar suit and topped by a black leather coat which he designed and I made for him. When wearing his suits he would always have a silk pocket handkerchief and a knitted tie in navy or black. Del has always loved button down collar shirts and still wears them now.
It was fashionable at one point for Mod lads to have walking sticks as shown in one of our photo’s and when we went to the West End Ballroom in Birmingham on a Sunday night they would dance with them.
There was a boutique in Brighton called 13 and a half where I bought a genuine french onion sellers black and white striped top which I still have.
I designed and made many clothes for myself usually on a Sunday morning to wear at the West End Ballroom on a Sunday night amongst my favourites were a navy wool skirt and jacket with scallops and a navy and cream flowered collar,a navy crepe dress with white flounces on the collar and cuffs, a black linen skirt and jacket with large flower design, a pair of french round sunglasses, a black nylon trench mac, a denim hipster skirt with belt and a blue patterned top with flounced neck and cuffs.A brown leather jacket and skirt worn with a black polo neck jumper and a black leather waistcoat with a scoop neck. These are just a few of the many clothes we had, they are shown in our photos.
Sometimes on a Saturday morning we would catch the train to London to go to John Stephens and the Mod Male. We heard that Anello and David the theatrical shoe makers were selling cuban heel chelsea boots and we went to get a pair.When we got there we were amazed to see the queue of Mods waiting to get into the shop to buy them .We waited in the queue for ages but the shop shut before our turn. When we got back to Birmingham I got their phone number and arranged for 2 pairs to be sent by post. Del is wearing them in one of our photos.
The KD coffee house was a popular place to meet up especially on a Saturday morning before going to the West End on a Saturday afternoon.The West End was a great place to go to on a Sunday night there was a DJ and around 9 there would be a group on. The Whiskey ago go and The Golden Eagle in Hill Street were really good places to go.
We still wear Mod style and Del likes to wear smart suits with button down shirts in deep colours or black and white gingham. I still design and make my own clothes and work as a designer dressmaker.

By Gill Taylor now Gill Evans