Mark Petty’s New Outfits
“Oh Romford! There is nowhere quite like it,” says Mark, “For Essex, the people are quite friendly.”
With London Fashion Week upon us and the change in the seasons requiring everyone to reconsider their wardrobes, it was the ideal time this week to pay a visit to my friend Mark Petty, the trendsetter. While there are many who pursue fashion in the East End, Mark’s approach to clothes transcends such frippery – for him, clothing is an unmitigated form of personal expression that redefines the notion of being a style pioneer.
Yet even more remarkable than the audacity of Mark’s outfits is the moral courage he summons to carry them off. Mark understands that the reaction he encounters on the street is a barometer of the degree of social acceptance of him as a human being, and this is why he refuses to be cowed or compromise his appearance for the sake of an easy life. The wicked humour and delight in colour that Mark expresses in his clothing is irresistible to me because it is a brave affirmation of life and personal freedom – specifically the right to be different. This is why Mark makes sacrifices to be able to afford these clothes, spending every penny he has upon their manufacture. In a grey world, Mark’s multicoloured outfits manifest his capacity for joy, and his regular presence in Brick Lane is an inspiration to us all.
The outfits you see here are all the product Mark’s feverish creativity over the last six months. Although Mark would not necessarily use these words, I do not think he would object to us describing them as – the Mark Petty Collection for Autumn/ Winter 2011/2. Essential Mark Petty style is characterised by the generous use of coloured leather with words and images applied in contrasted colours. He works in partnership with Mr Batty of Batty Fashions in the Hackney Rd who sews the clothes from Mark’s patterns. Mark and Mr Batty enjoy a symbiotic relationship something like that of Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana – in the sense that Mark brings the creative ideas while Mr Batty is a conservative force, achieving the practical make-up of the garments and occasionally offering (futile) resistance to the elements of Mark’s unfettered imagination that transgress his personal notion of social convention.
As we sat in Mark’s pink living room in Bethnal Green, he told me about his current obsession with shorts, some emblazoned with the names of places that have an emotion meaning for him and others carrying slogans of personal significance. Additionally Mark is passionate about the cultural identity of the regions, especially Wales and Ireland, as well as a possessing a fascination with English history and figures that inspire him – such as Boudicca, Robin Hood and Dick Turpin. As yet, Mark has only completed his Boudicca outfit in this projected series which means we have Robin Hood and Dick Turpin yet to look forward to.
It was in recognition of his Celtic origins that Mark chose to dye his hair red, emphasising his own Irish ancestry. This colour is also ideal for Mark’s Boudicca outfit which consists of shorts, jacket and cape, celebrating a woman who is a personal inspiration for him. “I’m thinking of changing my name to Boudicca O’Reilly,” Mark confessed to me, “Boudicca, because I admire the way she was able to command attention and O’Reilly, because of my Irish descent.”
Mark’s Welsh Coat.
The reverse of the Welsh Coat features dragons and a text in Welsh, “tydymgen nghy faillngweld” meaning “Hello my friend.”
Mark’s Irish Coat.
The reverse of Irish Coat features Irish dragons and the greeting “Top of the Morning.”
Mark in the short jacket he wears to complement his shorts.
“Boudica Rides Again” with applique design of chariot and horses.
This jacket matches the “Islington” shorts just visible.
Mark’s tribute to Dublin’s fair city.
Mark made these shorts as a souvenir of the generosity of spirit he encountered in Manchester.
Mark made these to celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare.
The first in a series of capes Mark is planning to protect him from the elements in the coming Winter.
Read my original profile of Mark Petty, Trendsetter
and take a look at Mark Petty’s Multicoloured Coats