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Posts tagged as 'Fred Perry'

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60 seconds with Elaine Constantine, director of Northern Soul

Born in Bury, Lancashire, Elaine Constantine grew up surrounded by the Northern Soul scene, first making her name as a fashion photographer and music video director. Northern Soul is her first feature film. A true labour of love, it was in development for five years and finally hit UK cinemas in October 2014. We caught up with Elaine to see how it felt.

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Elaine (middle) pictured on-set of Northern Soul

Elaine, the journey you undertook getting the film to screen could be a film in itself. Could you tell me a bit about the background behind Northern Soul?

 It started out as an idea for a documentary about 16/17 years ago, but the further I got into it, the more it became clear that to get across what I really wanted to communicate - that youthful excitement of discovery and total immersion, and the way in which something quite alien became woven into the fabric of the daily life of a northern lad in the 70s - would require a period fiction, albeit firmly based on real characters, places and events.

 How did you get all the dancing scenes to look so authentic?

A few years before we got green lit I realised that to do the club scenes justice I’d need hundreds of 16-25 year-olds who could dance as they did back then. They didn’t exist of course, so I set up dance sessions in London and Bolton and we invited 16-25 year olds to attend. The longer it took for us to raise funding the longer they went on. Some people were coming to them for nearly 4 years! We ended up casting quite a lot of our young actors through these dance sessions, including Josh Whitehouse who had never acted before. Elliott was there from the beginning too.

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Elaine (left) on set

 The whole film feels like a huge labour of love. How does it feel to have Northern Soul finished and showing in cinemas?

It means everything to me. I’ve spent nearly a third of my life on this film and every penny I could spare.

What has the reaction been like since the film hit cinemas? I hope you’ll be pleased to hear we’ve had a really enthusiastic (unprovoked) response to the film from Fred Perry customers!

It’s been overwhelming really. Initially we were told we might get 15 screens but never anticipated where we are today. It opened in 88 screens and showed at 100 or so on the 1st weekend - all of which sold out – we are now up to 150 cinemas showing it. This is in large part down to the soul scene in the UK demanding that their local cinemas program it. To have their approval and support has been humbling.

Elaine, thank you very much!

Ela

Northern Soul is out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital HD 

 

Elaine Constantine on Twitter

 

Find out more about "Northern Soul" online/Facebook/Twitter

Fred Perry Soho Neon - on the streets of Soho

As night falls, London’s Soho district becomes alive and exciting, all dark narrow streets and neon lights.

Our recently launched Soho Neon by Fred Perry collection takes direct influence from the streets, history and neon signs of Soho. 

As the long-time nightlife hub of Central London, Soho has always been a spot for subcultures to gather and entwine. 

One night, we took to the streets ourselves to discover the area that inspired the collection…

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Bar Italia. Long-time favourite Mod hang-out and Soho destination, marked by the iconic Bar Italia neon clock sign. Find out more about the origins of the Bar Italia clock, and many other Soho neon signs HERE

The Soho Neon Collection is available in Fred Perry Authentic stores, and online now for Men and Women

Find your nearest Fred Perry Authentic Store.

Thanks to Bar Italia Soho

Gods Own Junkyard - East London's neon wonderland

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We recently launched our Soho Neon by Fred Perry collection. Designed in London, the collection took direct influence from the area surrounding it - specifically London's wild, neon-illuminated Soho.
Cafes adorn the streets by day, but come nightfall the streets of Soho are alive with revellers heading towards gigs, jazz bars and coffee hubs, guided by bright neon lights.
When designing the collection, a place that gave the Fred Perry design team key inspiration was East London neon wonderland "Gods Own Junkyard"
The brainchild of iconic neon artist Chris Bracey, "Gods Own Junkyard" is a visual feast of bright neon light.
By salvaging and restoring signage that is no longer being used, neon signs are resurrected and carefully curated to create an oasis of light in the middle of East London's Walthamstow.   
 
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We met with Junkyard curator Jon Blake, to discuss the history of the neon sign and how this had a direct influence on our Soho Neon collection. 
Hello Jon, nice to meet you!
Hello, thanks for coming down.
Tell me a bit about the junkyard, there must be a lot of history behind it? 
We actually moved about 2 months ago! We were previously at a different location not too far away for about 7 years, but we had to move. 
I think we are an interesting prospect - I like to refer to us as "a living tapestry". Old signs are found, restored and are woven into it. The order is not set. Pieces are added and moved as feels necessary. 
There is so much to look at! Its almost initially a bit overwhelming.
"Gods Own Junkyard" is the only section that is open to the public, a couple of days a week. We do a lot of fashion shoots and editorials here as visually the Junkyard is rather unique. People travel here especially to use it as a location.

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Where do all the signs come from? Everywhere I look I see something new. 
It's a real mixture. Many of the signs here are made by the artist Chris Bracey's company. We have a whole other workshop across the road. Some of the signs here are special commissions we have made for retail stores or restaurants that were only used for a small period. Some are from businesses that no longer exist. We also rescue, and restore many old neon signs - some are not in a great shape when they arrive here. We see it as a resurrection, restoring them back to their former glory and putting the signs on display.
What is the history behind the company?  
Whilst "Gods Own Junkyard" has been here for around 7 years, we've actually been a business since 1952 - which I believe is the same year Fred Perry first started producing clothing. It's very much a family business, and over the years we have been responsible for many of the iconic neon signs people will have seen, particularly around the Soho area. The iconic neon clock outside Bar Italia on Frith Street is one that Fred Perry readers will probably be most familiar with. 
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Do you currently have any exciting projects the business is working on?
 At the moment one of our biggest jobs is restoring the original Madame Jojo's sign (Madame Jojo's is an iconic Soho gig and nightclub venue). It's a huge undertaking! We are restoring the sign exactly how it was originally - a gigantic sign of a woman. The venue has just had permission granted by the council to display the sign again, which is really exciting - it's a great nod back to the Soho of the 1950s. 
Our Soho Neon collection was directly influenced by Soho in the 1950s..
Soho has always been such an individual area, with its own personality. It depresses me when I see areas overtaken by generic chains. Putting the Madame Jojo's sign back up I see as a way of Soho keeping hold of its roots. 
You recently created a sign for Fred Perry too! 
Yes a gigantic neon Laurel, as I mentioned we make the signs here on location. The Fred Perry giant neon Laurel Wreath was made here across the street from the Junkyard.  
Below - our giant Laurel Wreath neon sign in the workshop. 
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Tell me something I probably don't know about neon signs. 
Neon is actually the gas that runs through the signs. It's not just neon actually - neon is just for red signs. If the sign is another colour, the gas that runs through is called argon. Neon glows red, argon runs a dull blue. So a more correct way of referring to them would be neon signs and argon signs I suppose. 
If neon glows red and argon blue, how do you create so many bright colours? 
We powder coat the inside of the glass tubes we use argon gas in. Alone, it glows a dull blue, but with the colour coating it is much brighter and more colourful. Look at the bends next time you see a non-red neon sign, you will most likely see a dull blue colour seeping out. 
That's something I never knew. Anything else of interest you can think of? 
Far too much to go into detail now! However the longest length of a sign we usually deal with is 1 metre. This is then fused with lots of different 1-metre lengths to create the sign as a whole. This makes the glass much more manageable to work with, and as a fragile object it is much easier (and cheaper) to repair and replace a 1 metre section than an entire sign. 
Jon, thank you for your time. 
No problem at all. Thanks for coming down.
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Soho Neon by Fred Perry is available now in Fred Perry Authentic stores and online. 
View Soho Neon for men online HERE
View Soho Neon for women online HERE
Find your nearest Fred Perry Authentic store HERE
Find out more information about "Gods Own Junkyard" and the work of Chris Bracey HERE
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Thanks to Gods Own Junkyard, Chris Bracey and Jon Blake.