Crushing on Dave Raimey

More than just a football uniform

In the early ’70s, if you knew anything about Toronto football, you knew about Dave Raimey. Considered one of the best running backs of his time, he was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2000. Though he played in both the US and Canada, he is best known for playing with the 1971 Toronto Argonauts, named the “greatest team that never won,” after they lost a Grey Cup game following a slip on some wet grass.

Raimey was known in his own right, frequently featured in magazine spreads and news articles, photo shoots and retail ads. This exposure had as much to do with his football playing than it did his groovy threads. Raimey’s eclectic clothing (most of which was hand sewn) made him something of a style icon in the ’70s, creating a cult of fans who followed him both on and off the field. Naturally, WORN is smitten.

How did you first get interested in sewing?
I started sewing years ago. We got hand-me-down clothes: my grandmother would go clean a house somewhere out in the wealthy part of town and bring back clothes that people would give her. I learned how to alter them to fit me.

Who taught you how to sew?
My mother died when we were eight, nine, 10, and 11. I was 10. So I became very attached to my aunts; there were four of them, but one sewed. She had a business going; she’d make hats for women. I used to watch her. Now my son, he sews. And he learned by watching me. I was a single parent, raising him by myself, and he watched me sewing. I bought him a Mustang, when we were living in Columbia, South Carolina. I reupholstered his Mustang for him, brand new seats. It was the first time I had done that, but it turned out fine, and I think that may have sold him on sewing.

So how old were you when you picked up your first needle?
Probably 13 or 14.

How did it evolve from there, from altering your own things to making clothes from scratch?
I used to make clothes, but right now I just alter things. I’ve been shopping at thrift stores for 30 years; I was shopping at thrift stores when I was playing for the Toronto Argonauts. I just always did that. I guess because of my upbringing, I love to shop at thrift stores. I have so many clothes, it’s unreal. Like nice stuff! Fabulous clothes, well-made, high-end clothing. You know, I will pay full price for stuff too.

I’m also really fond of reupholstering. I was a member of the Interior Decorating Society in Dayton, Ohio. Paid my dues! And I decorated a few houses for some folks that I knew. I just always liked that. I still re-upholster. In fact, I’m going home this weekend to get my machine. It’s real big and heavy; it’s a walking foot. I have other machines: here in town, I have three—sorry, four.

So do you ever go to a tailor?
Oh yeah, I go to tailors. I’ve got a jacket now that I’m doing. The shoulders, you’ve got to take all the padding out, and it’s such a complicated job. My real good stuff I take to the tailors! But, I’ve made vests and pants. I’ve even made hats! I made my daughter a graduation dress when she graduated from high school. It was a bold pattern, sort of form-fitting. But she wanted it, so I made it up for her, and she wore it. I was kinda proud (laughs).

What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever made?
I made a men’s jacket with pockets here and pockets there (pointing to his chest and sides), and epaulettes here. Black. I still have it, I made it a long time ago. Kept it all these years ’cause I was so proud of it. I’ll tell you a story: In elementary school in Dayton, Ohio, Grade 6, they had this class where half the year you could cook (home ec), and the other half was sewing. I couldn’t cook, but I got an A in the class. I made a corduroy shirt: orange corduroy. It had what they call a Billy Eckstein collar, a big collar. It went up and folded down. But the worst thing I did, is I made French cuffs on a corduroy shirt. It was ugly. I went home, put the shirt on, and the French cuffs were in here (points to the insides of his wrist). The teacher didn’t even notice. I ended up just making it short-sleeved.

Do you think that class influenced you at all?
Yeah, it did. It showed me how to sew the right way. Since then, I’ve been altering clothes, fixin’ things. I’ll buy a suit, take it home and put the cuffs on myself, and shorten the sleeves if I have to.

A lot of people would find it surprising that a football player was so openly into sewing in the 1970’s…
Yeah, I got kidded quite a bit about it.

Was there anything that ever bothered you?
No, never. You know they kidded me, and you can imagine what they’d say (laughs). They just did a special on our team (The Greatest Team That Never Won), and [the director] called me a fashionista. She said, “Dave, were you offended by that?” It doesn’t bother me, never did. I enjoy it because it’s creative, and it’s very relaxing. And I enjoy looking good and appreciating things that I’ve made.

I heard a rumour that you used to take your sewing machine with you when you traveled, is that true?
(Laughs) No.

Do you have fabrics that you lean toward, or things you like to make?
In the last ten years, I’ve liked vests, real loud vests. Loud and bright, you know, I think that it’s sharp for men to wear a white shirt, or short-sleeve shirt, and a colourful vest. I’m looking at making one now. I think it’s great to wear with a suit. Now they’re making sports jackets with that kind of design already sewn into them, I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but they’re really big right now. But I can’t find a pattern, so I’m going to have to make my own. That’s my next project.

Do you take a lot of pride in the stuff you make?
Yeah, everything. The stuff I’ve made, the stuff I build, the things I’ve fixed. With the knowledge I have, I try to do it the best I can. It’s the only way to do things. Like football, I gave it my all. Every game, every play.

Has anyone not liked something that you’ve made?
No, not that I’ve made. But one day I was wearing an overcoat, down in Dayton, and I loved the coat; I had got it at a thrift store. And some woman told me, “What you doin’ with that old coat on?” It hurt my feelings! I kept wearing it that season, but then stopped wearing it the next season.

Has your style changed much since the ’60s?
Yeah. I’ve always liked shirts with lace on them and they used to kid me, but I’ve always liked that. I think it’s sharp. Paisley, that is one style I did not like. And I never did like bell-bottoms; I’m a short little guy with thick legs, I never looked good in bell-bottoms.

I marvel at some of these designers, some of them are just geniuses, the way they figure out clothing for men and coordinate it. I look at a lot of that today, and there are some talented folks out there.

Do you think in another life that could have been you?
Yeah, but I’m not sure I would have been as good as some of these people I’ve seen. I would have loved to have designed clothing for men. Women’s fashion, I know nothing about that.

Is fashion more personal for you, or do you pay attention to trends?
I do, every now and then, in the magazines, but I just kind of dress how I like. I’ve been watching through the years, and they’ll go with the baggy pants, and then go to tight-fitting, and then back to baggy. They have a wide lapel and they go to a narrow lapel. I’ve watched all that, and said to hell with that, I’m just gonna wear what I wear.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Have They Always Looked This Good?

Condé Nast and the Evolution of Fashion Photography

It’s true: I don’t buy Vogue for the articles (another heiress has an adventure, hurrah!). I buy it for the spreads. The lush, high-budget fashion spreads will always be my reason to pick up a copy of the magazine—something that, as a fashion nerd, has always made me feel a little shallow. Thankfully I picked up Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast, a book all about the importance of fashion photography as an art form, and its many contributions to the fashion world. Now, thanks to editor Nathalie Herschdorfer, I feel much more justified in flipping straight to the pretty pictures.

Herschdorfer acknowledges in her introduction that she made a bit of a devil’s bargain—choosing to focus only Condé Nast’s contribution to fashion photography, and leave out spreads from rival Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion mags. This does make for a bit of a one-sided read, but she makes an effort to mention the other publications when relevant, which definitely made me want to do some research on my own. That being said, the photos Herschdorfer was able to find at this one publishing house are truly remarkable especially because she decided to narrow her scope further by focusing on the early work of Condé Nast’s troupe of ‘Old Masters.’ As a result we are given a selection of the most innovative and inventive images printed in the magazines.

The book is filled with over two hundred beautifully reproduced photographs, which are mostly from Vogue or one of its international editions, with the occasional image thrown in from GQ, Vanity Fair, or a few others. The most remarkable thing about looking at these photographs is how often the clothing seems almost irrelevant in the photos—despite Herschdorf pointing out that Condé Nast was infamous for criticizing his photographers for being too ‘artful’ when they lost sight of their sartorial focus. It’s especially easy to view the photos as high art once they are taken out of the context of the magazine page, and the truth is that the photos were never entirely about clothes. As Herschdorf points out, the success of Conde Nast’s photographers was based on their ability to highlight a mood or lifestyle as much as a model’s outfit. Herschdorfer herself pays little heed to the fashions displayed, usually only bringing up the styles when a photographer has directly contributed to or popularized them.

Two essays penned by fashion historians Oliver Saillard and Sylvie Lecallier round out the book. Saillard focuses on the symbiotic relationship fashion photographers developed over the years with the couturier, arguing that the success of a fashion designer is often dependent on how well the concept behind a line can be expressed through a photo. Lecallier is more interested in the relationship between the fashion photographer and the model. She focuses on how photographers have helped define beauty ideals by choosing to work with certain models, often introducing the next supermodel or look. There is also an interview with Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani focusing on the relationship between the fashion editor and the photographer, which offers an interesting look into the mechanics behind creating a fashion spread.

The book is broken up into four areas with brief summaries explaining why the photos you’re looking at are important. The narrative is filled with juicy tidbits about Condé Nast discovering young talent and the imminent threat of Harper’s Bazaar stealing them away. Sidebars offer helpful details about how things developed stylistically and technically—what cameras were used, who used them, and the intent behind the image—as well as who the photographer was, their relationship to Condé Nast, and how they developed during their time with the publishing house. The participation of well-respected artists further emphasizes the artistic merit of the form, with photos by people like Salvador Dali and Diane Arbus receiving particular attention.

Although the essays and interviews are all interesting reads, the photographs are still the most compelling part of the book. I loved flipping through and trying to guess when an image was from; the high quality of the reprint often made it difficult to figure out when a photo was taken. It was fascinating to see the artistry behind the average fashion spread, and read about how the fashion photographer has evolved to become such an important figure.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Stick It To Me

The DIY tattoo, coming soon to a party near you

I was attending a co-worker’s birthday party when, in need of a drink, I walked into the kitchen to find the birthday girl being pricked with a sewing needle and India ink. It was her present from a friend—and for a small fee, I was told I too could get in on the action. I declined. Was this really what the kids were doing these days? Stabbing each other with sharp objects and ink? Well, yeah, Katy Perry’s lover giving her a heart-shaped stick’n’poke in one of her videos definitely affirms the artform’s youthful revival.

I associate the rise of stick’n’poke tattoos with the recent popularity of all things punk rock, but it’s really a modern take on an age-old tradition. The Maori used sharpened bones to cut designs into the skin and then tap pigment into the wounds. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have used wooden instruments with metal tips and soot. And until the invention of the tattoo gun in 1891, Westerners used a tattoo method adapted from the Tahitians after explorer James Cook’s sailors took up the practice in the 1600s. These cultures used the same basic model: a sharp object dipped in some sort of pigment that was hammered/scraped/poked into the skin.

Since that first party, I have had more than one friend get drunk and break out a BIC pen for a quick and dirty tat. But I’ve also seen stick’n’poke stands at craft fairs, and I’ve witnessed more than one tattoo parlor advertise the old-school service. Most recently, I started working with a bunch of DIY tattoo enthusiasts who all frequented the same amateur artist. My coworkers frequently traded meals and scotch for one of her at-home tattoos. I decided to put my curiosities to rest and tagged along when my boyfriend went to her to get some new ink the old fashioned way.

The tattoo artist decided to remain anonymous, due to the murky legal area this all occupies, though she was more than happy to answer a few basic questions. Although she agreed with my initial assumption that stick’n’poke’s popularity has been partly fueled by the rise of punk and DIY, she says there is more to this resurgence than mere trendiness: “Everyone’s moving away from manufactured goods that were made as quickly and cheaply as possible. Everyone is going and getting handmade, crafted, made-in-America type goods, and the same is true for tattoos. People don’t want to get flash off the walls anymore.”

She first tried tattooing the more conventional way, apprenticing at a parlour in Montreal post-university, but says she hated the feeling of using a tattoo gun and ended up “drawing a bunch of shitty tattoos that people came to get on a whim.” She got her first pin-prick tattoo at 20 when a friend experimented by giving her “a moon that looks more like a piece of swiss cheese.” Despite this lukewarm introduction to the form, the artist has no intention of going back to the gun. For her, stick’n’pokes are superior because they’re cheap, heal quickly and, most importantly, are a slow process, allowing for an intimate experience for her and whoever she is tattooing.

My first query was, of course, a style one. Since the only DIY tats I’d seen before hers were punk emblems and prison tats (OK, those were only on TV), I assumed the form lent itself to a particular style. She quickly dismissed these restrictions.

“I think often people assume stick’n’pokes are limited to certain styles, like harder lines with not as much shading. But you can achieve anything with stick’n’poke, because really, a tattoo gun is the same just a lot faster.”

Her clients are evidence of this. Some get only straight lines and bold colours (my boyfriend opted for a simple design that mashed up his punk inclinations with some good old fashioned illuminati insignia). Others opt for shading and more complex images, like my coworker, who has a beautifully coloured rose, or my boss, who has Piglet holding a red balloon on her upper arm.

The resurgence of stick’n’pokes as a party game is not without its negatives. When I voiced my concerns about hygiene, the tattoo artist agreed, saying people need to be careful. “I get the fear of transferring disease, because it’s not often that you talk to someone who got a stick’n’poke tattoo that has been sterilized. Most people are drunk at a party and pull out some ballpoint pen, and use that ink and a sewing needle they probably didn’t even burn with a lighter. I think that’s a huge risk with their building popularity.”

Despite being worried about her drunk brethren, the tattoo artist still believes the rising popularity of stick’n’poke is nothing to fear. “I remember wearing plaid skirts and army boots and studded everything when I was 14, and that was frowned upon. Now you walk into ZARA and everything is studded. Who ever thought that would happen? With that I think comes stick’n’pokes.”

Like so many counter culture practices before it, stick’n’poke is slowly slipping into the realm of the socially acceptable.

Our anonymous tattoo artist gave us a quick rundown of how she gives a sterile tattoo from the comfort of her living room:

1 // Establish clean and dirty fields (both of which are lined with paper towel). The clean field is where you keep sanitized needles (she personally uses tattoo gun needles) and whatever super clean receptacles you’re keeping your ink in. The dirty field is for discarded needles and used paper towel.

2 // Slap on some rubber gloves and wipe the skin down with rubbing alcohol.

3 // Draw an outline of the tattoo on the skin with a thin layer of tattoo ink. Sometimes she will use transfer paper or India ink to draw a preliminary mock-up on the skin, but more often she freehands it.

4 // Dip the needle in the ink a few times to build up a layer of dry ink—this will help keep the ink on the needle as you go. Other people use a thread attached to the needle as an “anchor” to accomplish basically the same thing.

5 // Pull the skin taught so the image doesn’t get distorted and start poking. Dip and poke, dip and poke. Periodically wipe away excess ink with a wet paper towel.

6 // Once the tattoo is done wipe it well with a damp paper towel and then apply some aloe or other soothing lotion.

7 // Wrap the tat in saran wrap—to keep it clean—and then voila. Tattoo complete.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Claire Wornette

Our new photography intern talks Jesus Christ and the family cat

My parents are definitely to blame when it comes to my interest in photography. They taught me almost everything that I now know, and they still continue to impress me on a constant basis with the images they post on Facebook of my little brother and our family cat. I should actually add personal style to that list—my dad recently popped on a slideshow consisting of family photos from the early ’80s up until the mid ’90s and I could not believe how amazingly cool my mom, dad, and aunt all dressed. I think I gave them a hard time afterwards for not keeping every sweatshirt and pair of jeans carefully preserved for me to someday wear.

current inspirations

22 Tracks
22 Tracks is a really great music site consisting of 22 playlists of different genres, each regularly being curated and updated by different DJs from Amsterdam, Brussels, London, and Paris. Great to pop on during a house party, or more often in my case, drinking lots of wine at home in front of my computer.

Hyers & Mebane
New York-based photographers Martin Hyers and William Mebane take amazingly gorgeous, rich photographs of mostly non-human things. They went on a series of trips throughout the US and took photos of the insides and objects of peoples’ houses—incredible project I cannot stop staring at.

Everything Is Terrible
A website dedicated to found videos covering a wide range of topics & themes such as: ‘animals’, ‘cats’, ‘exercise’, ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘instructional videos’ and more. Literally thousands of hours of wild, hilarious and scary entertainment.

Dazed Digital Photography
A fun magazine in and of itself, I mainly visit their website for their photography section, which profiles new and emerging photographers with little interviews, galleries, and links to their personal websites and portfolios.

photography // Laura Tuttle