Brian Jones; an eccentric, decadent, creative, fashionable, extravagant and intelligent person was the soul of The Rolling Stones. As much as he was famous for his musical accomplishments and visionary ideas regarding The Stones, Brian Jones had a peculiar fashion style, and became a style icon of the 1960s as important as Marianne Faithfull, Twiggy, Pattie Boyd or Jane Birkin were.
Brian Jones seems to have stood out even in his teens. His fair locks, wide smile, mysterious gaze, perfect manners, romantic charm and attentive conversation all made him loveable with the girls. It’s not a secret that he loved them too, having had his first child aged only seventeen. Brian was a complex individual never the less, Bill Wyman remembers “There were two Brian’s… one was introverted, shy, sensitive, deep-thinking… the other was a preening peacock, gregarious, artistic, desperately needing assurance from his peers… he pushed every friendship to the limit and way beyond”. If it wasn’t for the introverted, deep-thinking side we might wouldn’t of had all the original sounds and ideas that shaped the band and made it popular, and still, if it wasn’t for his artistic, arrogant and swaggering side, I wouldn’t be here writing about the amazing fashion style he had!
A rebel even as a child, Brian successfully defied his parents in every aspect; his numerous romances and offspring, musical ambitions, the way he behaved, dressed, even cut his hair all made his parents angry, but hey, that was the intention. He certainly didn’t let others dictate his life. Highly intelligent, Brian passed two A-levels and seven O-levels and with the slightest effort he would excel academically, but even with the alleged 133 IQ, Brian blew it all away, and replaced the boring schoolwork with rock ‘n’ roll. I’m most obligated for that, and I’m sure the history of rock ‘n’ roll is too.
Though eccentric and eye-catching, Brian’s fashion style wasn’t as peculiar from the beginning. In the period 1963-65. he mostly wore striped Mod tailored suits and fairly neat bowl haircut. Even then, in those stiff and ordinary ‘Beatles’ style suits, usually worn by all the group members, Brian stood out with his engaging smile, arrogant gaze and dandy-esque hairstyle. As the years went on, and the mod scene slowly waned in favor of more original, more daring and eclectic style inspired by Psychedelia, Brian’s style changed and evolved too. The change is the most visible in the haircut; blonde locks became more untamed and longer. The trousers became tighter, the boots bigger and the black-white geometric prints dictated by Mod style were discarded in favour of colours, paisleys, floral print, oriental scarfs combined with crimson coloured velvet Victorian inspired blouses plus plenty of jewellery on top.
Antique dealer and Brian’s friend, Christopher Gibbs, remembers ”Brian did absolutely love dressing up (…) He had a tremendous lot of clothes and spent an awful amount of time preparing himself for late-night forays into the clubs.”
Despite Brian’s numerous affairs, the love of his life seems to have been nobody else but Anita Pallenberg; half Italian half German rock chick, as eccentric, as daring, as decadent and every bit as impulsive and tempestuous as Brian himself. Their relationship was turbulent and ardent for the most of its course, and yet the two lovers were more similar to each other than they could possibly imagine. Their fashion style was very similar too, with Anita having almost the same hairstyle as Brian. Now remembered as one of the iconic 1960s couples, Anita and Brian met in Munchen on 14th September 1965. when Anita approached Brian after a gig offering him a joint which he gladly accepted. They started talking and a few months later they could be seen together swanning around London in Brian’s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, purchased from George Harrison. They moved into a sumptuously decorated flat at 1 Courtfield Road, South Kensington, which was, after their holiday in Morrocco the following year, embellished even more by rich fabrics and embroideries brought from there.
Embodiment of unconventional and eccentricity, Brian Jones indulged himself ever since his position in the band degraded. He entered fully into a life of debauchery, surrendering to the rock ‘n’ roll decadency. He became a ‘playboy prince’, an eccentric, somewhat arrogant and impulsive dandy, befriended art dealers and film directors, and started hanging out with rock elite, never hesitating to indulge his whims, no matter how eccentric they might be. Jones’ biographer wrote ‘Together they forged a revolutionary androgynous look, keeping their clothes together, mixing and matching not only fabrics and patterns, but cultures and even centuries. Jones would parade the streets of London wearing a Victorian lace shirt, floppy turn-of-the-century hat, Edwardian velvet frock coat, multi-coloured suede boots, accessorised scarves hanging from his neck, waist and legs along with lots of antique Berber jewellery.’
Marianne Faithfull also remembers some of the extravaganzas of the couple when it came to style:
”One of the best things about visiting Anita and Brian was watching them get ready to go out. What a scene! They were both dauntless shoppers and excessively vain. Hours and hours were spent putting on clothes and taking them off again. Heaps of scarves, hats, shirts and boots flew out of drawers and trunks. Unending trying on of outfits, primping and sashaying. They were beautiful, they were the spitting image of each other and not an ounce of modesty existed between two of them. I would sit mesmerised for hours, watching them preening in the mirror, trying on each other’s clothes. All roles and gender would evaporate in these narcissistic performances, where Anita would turn Brian into the Sun King, Francoise Hardy or the mirror image of herself.”
Brian Jones’ wardrobe was transformed almost over night. There was no place for the clean cut tailored suits and striped black-white trousers with modest details that evoked the Mod spirit of the mid ’60s anymore. No more was it ‘Paint it black’; paint it in colours would be the new motto. Hippie psychedelic decadency has by 1965. took its place; crimson velvet, tightly fitted jackets, fur coats, trousers with floral print, fur waistcoats, ethnic jewellery, abundance of rings, necklaces, floppy hats, big boots…
However, the progress of his fashion style went hand in hand with his destructive behavior. He sank deeply into the rock and roll decadence, indulging in alcohol and drugs, particularly LSD. Resentful and exhausted, he drove around London in his black Rolls Royce with the number plait DD666, the DD apparently standing for Devil’s Disciple. Strung out, betrayed, weakened and assailed by his asthma attacks, bored and withered, his song-writing and music composing talents slowly waned. His role in the band was pretty much reduced to adding exotic elements to the already existing songs.
Brian Jones, although arrogant, impulsive, gregarious and charismatic young man with Byron like quality when it came to romances, was still a very important figure not only in forming The Rolling Stones, but in the Rock and Roll scene and the development of the 1960s Swinging London culture in general. Remembered today for the mystery surrounding his death as much as for his crucial role in the music scene, Brian J0nes, the man who played every instrument and had any girl he desired, was as eccentric as he was intelligent. His life was as wild and glamorous as it was short, filled with unimaginable decadence, drugs, beautiful music, arts, party, clothes, sex and women. Brian Jones is a symbol of the 1960s, a decade he ruled and sadly died with.