Thursday, February 26, 2009

Note To David Colman: The "Peacock Revolution" Was 40 Years Ago. Check Your Own Clips.

The lede on David Colman's Styles front-page story this morning on trousers makes a clever-sounding reference to a "Peacock Revolution" in men's fashion during the last decade.

Sounds cool. We're always interested in revolutions, and we'll read almost anything about pants.

But a quick check of the historical record reveals that the "Peacock Revolution" has been over since the 1970s. At least, that's what David Colman told us the last few times he mentioned the "Peacock Revolution" in print.

Colman's lede this morning was clever enough to catch our attention:

It is one of the driest, slyest ironies of the Peacock Revolution of the last decade. As men have turned themselves out in dandified splendor, they have all but neglected the signature aspect of the peacock’s glory. That is, the tail.

The tail! Ha, we get it!

But a quick search of Google, Nexis and the NYT index for a revolutionary manifesto revealed that no such upheaval has occurred since the invention of the bell-bottoms.

On January 6, 1969, NYT reporter Leonard Sloane first reported the phenomenon in a story with the headline: "In Men's Wear, It's a 'Peacock Revolution.'"

Reports from the revolutionary front pretty much disappeared for the next three decades, until it was revived in the NYT by...David Colman!

In an April 19, 2007 story about men's underwear, Colman wrote:

Not since the Peacock Revolution of the ’60s has there been such variety, all of it going to disprove a cherished maxim of men’s wear: that a man is more loyal to his brand of underwear than to any other article of clothing.

Then, in a December 13, 2007 piece on men who wear pelts, Colman commented:

Unlike the over-the-top fur pants that wandered down the runway at Gucci a few season’s back — they looked like holdovers from the fur-happy Peacock Revolution — smart designers like Marc Jacobs, Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent, and Lucas Ossendrijver at Lanvin are confining fur to the linings and trim of coats and hats.

On October 30, 2008, Colman's coverage of the revolution continued in a 1970s reminiscence with yet another reference -- that time placing it properly, in the 1960s:

This fin-de-1970s moment was the culmination of the fumbling style awakening called the Peacock Revolution, begun in England a decade earlier.

It's a little confusing, but at least you have to admire Colman's revolutionary spirit. It's a constant call to arms. Or legs. or tails.

UPDATE: We've gotten this amiable response from David Colman:

Per your nytpicking over the dates of the Peacock Revolution:

I had hoped to make it clear by referring to "this decade's Peacock Revolution" that I was referring to a P.R. that was NOT the original, which as we both know was long ago. Similarly, one might refer to "this decade's Gilded Age," which I think we would accept while knowing that the original was also long ago.

I am glad, however, that you got the joke, and that you also got to catch up on my clips. And who knows, maybe you are better dressed for it now?


David C.

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