Monday, 11th Mar 2013
Where Were You? by Garry O'Neill
Born and raised in Dublin, Garry O'Neill has always had an interest in his home city's local youth culture. Having collected Dublin street style photographs and memorabilia for several years, and noticing that there was little out there to document it; Garry set out to create a subcultural history of Dublin from the 1950s to the turn of the millennium. Teaming up with graphic designer and illustrator Niall McCormack, the pair spent over eighteen months collating hundreds of images to create Where Were You? Dublin Youth Culture & Street Style 1950 - 2000.
"The early seventies bootboy photos were probably the hardest to track down" remembers O'Neill. "I advertised around the city with posters and flyers for a couple of years. Most people were only too willing to help out as it was something that was going to, in some way, document their scene. It was difficult at first to track down good quality older material, like the fifties and sixties stuff, but it eventually turned up due to the length of time I spent looking for it."
Belvedere Boys Club - Mid 60s - photo contributed by Martin Coffey
Speaking of his own experiences with various street styles and groups, O'Neill says: "I liked and had lots of different clothes that are associated with one scene or another, but I’ve never wore them in any uniformed way. I loved punk, but I never felt like dressing up as a green hedgehog to convey that. You can be as anti-mainstream/establishment in a suit as you can in Doc Martens and studded leather jacket. Personally I liked the original suedehead scene from the early seventies, it was neat and stylish." The author's broad-minded approach is reflected in the book's content, which features images of groups ranging from mods, skins and teds to goths, new romantics, hippies and ravers.
Bray - Mid 60s - photo contributed by Brona Long
As O'Neill acknowledges in Where Were You? music and street tribes are indelibly linked. "Music was a huge influence, if you were into a certain kind of music; chances are you’d dress in a similar way to the groups or singers. The majority of the youth culture groups that we know, started on the back of some kind of music movement."
O'Connell Street - Mid 80s - photo contributed by Dublin Opinion.
Noting the significance of the Fred Perry Shirt, O'Neill says: "it appears in the book in various photos - what started life as a sport shirt, has become a readily identifiable item of youth culture clothing around the globe, from the original mods and skinheads of the sixties to the football casuals of the 80s, the Britpop kids of the 90s and everything in-between. It’s an iconic piece of clothing in the same way as the steel-toe boot or the parka jacket."
Of the hundreds of personal images captured in the book, is there one that stands out for O'Neill?
"If I had to pick one, it would probably be the photo of the two lads on page 114. It’s from 1974 and they’re wearing crombie coats, pinstriped parallel trousers, polished George Webb type shoes, bowler hats and umbrellas; they almost look like two city gents. The look is certainly influenced by the Clockwork Orange film, more than any music movement."
Images used with kind permission of Garry O'Neill. Published by HiTone Books, November 2011. Foreward by Steve Averill.