From Rubble to the Ritz: The Life & Style of Alex Turner

In ART & FASHION, Commentary, Commentary, HOME, MUSIC by Charlotte Dawnay

From High Green-teen to Undisputed Rock Icon

If I told my father that I was writing a fashion article about the evolution of a frontman’s hair and style, he’d probably call me a ‘big jesse’ or perhaps ‘not my son’. Although it’s hard to ignore the guidance of such a tolerant and reasonable man, I’m gonna go ahead and take you on a slightly obsessive journey through the evolution of an idol of mine whose look and attitude come second only to those of Elvis Presley. His name is Alex Turner.

2013ArcticMonkeys_Press_ZackeryMichael-240613There was one moment in Turner’s hairdo history that bid farewell to the bug-eyed teen from High Green forever, and transformed him into a Gretsch-wielding rock demigod: that moment was when our Alex decided to get down and greasy by combing his mop into a shiny, glorious Presley quiff. But before we get there we’ve got to wade through a devastating series of poorly placed lyric puns. Do Me A Favour and stick with it. Yeah.

The year is 2005, the boys have released their beer-fuelled, ball-busting debut single I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor and you need look no further than the music video to see that these chaps don’t look particularly fantastic on the dance floor, or anywhere else for that matter. The raw, angsty energy of this performance is enough to distract us from the fact that Turner is wearing his gardening clothes; a plain navy t shirt and what appears to be a pair of regular fit, brown corduroys. He also sports the classic mum-leaning-over-the-barber’s-chair-just-a-tidy-up-please haircut that every man wishes he never had.

This phase seems to last until 2007, with the odd addition of a tragically popped collar. That’s two whole years of Turner showing all the stylistic daring of an accountant from Coventry; his wardrobe seemingly limited to a three pack of polo shirts from BHS and the top half of an Adidas Originals shell suit. Despite there being A Certain Romance around this youthful, exciting stage in his career, Alex was hardly a Fluorescent Adolescent and his fashion would blossom over the course of the Monkeys’ climb from the rubble to the Ritz.

I’d rather not get into the brief yet painful Humbug era, where they all look like the kind of guys who, upon being questioned about their anchor tattoos, would flick their rollies at you and say ‘whatever’. So instead let’s delve into Alex’s stylistic influences. When he joined forces with Miles Kane, to form The Last Shadow Puppets, the duo donned dark, clean-cut suits and mop tops. Indeed, the video for Standing Next To Me is a full-frontal homage to Lennon and McCartney during the most screaming throes of beatlemania.

But more importantly, the year after the Puppets packed away their wincklepickers and hung up their drainpipes forever, Alex and the Lads teamed up with crooning rock legend Richard Hawley to release some of their heaviest and most brilliant material to date under his side project, The Death Ramps.

And perhaps more important than the music is how they look in the video. Hawley is a chain-smoking, Elvis impersonating bad-boy, and this vibe extends to the video for You and I, where they fuck about and ride around on triumph motorcycles and a black Jaguar E-type, interspersed with endless shots of cigs, bottles of beer, leather and denim. This, my friends, is the first, hair-raising appearance of The Quiff. It’s around this era that Turner develops a taste for biker boots, jeans and Triumph Motorcycles Ltd t-shirts on stage, like a skinny, British Marlon Brando. Richard Hawley – we thank you.

richard_hawley03_website_image_photography_standardWith the cataclysmic release of AM, Turner incorporated some overtly western and fifties elements to the leather look, such as wide-collared, button down shirts, rolled up sleeves that expose biceps and white leather loafers. The sparkling, silver blazer he debuted at Glastonbury was perhaps a nod to Elvis Presley’s unforgettably outrageous gold lamé suit. Being such a no-frills Sheffield lad, Alex would never openly discuss his stylistic choices, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he learned a lot from the understated cool of Hawley. I like to think of Hawley as a role model for Turner, judging again from the You And I video, where they embrace in the manliest of cuddles after a particularly testosterone-fuelled vocal take from Hawley, Tuner’s admiration for Hawley is clear.

And Turner’s behaviour of late very much resonates with this macho aesthetic; he acquired a new swagger to match his leather jacket, and a tongue rough enough to sand his nan’s new sideboard. This was very much on display when a drunken Turner stumbled on stage, insulted the BRIT awards and waxed lyrical about the resurrection of rock and roll. The speech may have divided people but we can all agree that Turner and the Arctic Monkeys are, quoting his two fingered gesture of a speech, ‘looking better than ever’.

Tom Smith

“Tom Smith is possibly the vainest man I know, however he does know a lot about the Arctic Monkeys.” – John Evans. This probably tells you all you need to know about Tom, although if you’d like to know more we can reveal that he is also a linguistics student at the University of Edinburgh. The rest remains a mystery.

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