An exposé of the underrated designer who helped shape 20th-century European aesthetics.
In his debut work of nonfiction, Australian journalist Richardson explores the life of Tommy Nutter (1943-1992), the British designer who contributed greatly to the unique fashion sense of 1960s England. Mapping out Nutter’s life from beginning to end, the author capitalizes on the moments in his subject’s life that caused significant ripples in society. “His life vividly personalized forty years of critical gay history,” writes Richardson. “From the underground queer clubs of Soho to the unbridled freedom of New York bathhouses to the terrifying nightmare of AIDS—Tommy was there, both witness and participant.” It’s as if Nutter had his pulse on nearly every significant moment of the era. After enrolling at a technical college, Nutter quickly started identifying aesthetic deficiencies in culture; three years later he began working his first tailoring job. What followed was a series of interactions with some of the biggest names of the time: John Lennon and the rest of the Beatles, Yoko Ono, Elton John, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, and many others. His cuts were intricately detailed, progressively modern, and inclusive. Refreshingly, Richardson has created a work that is surprisingly unpretentious; the author looks at Nutter’s life with impressive objectivity, zeroing in on significant episodes and leaving the rest on the cutting-room floor. The author also gives close attention to Tommy’s relationship with his brother, David, providing plenty of room for the telling of both brothers’ lives and experiences. “David adored all this flagrant insolence,” writes Richardson. “While hardly a hippie himself, he appreciated anything that agitated for a more open-minded conversation by treating alternative lifestyles as legitimate sources of joy.” Such were the Nutter brothers: insatiably open to the world and its opportunities and able to systematically make a splash along their way.
An exciting addition to fashion history.