A case of misconstrued Rock Military Style: Mick Jagger and his Evzone "little girl's party frock" fustanella, Hyde Park, July 5, 1969

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedings

The motives behind the bona fide uniform derivation represented by The Rolling Stones lead, Mick Jagger, in his white 'frock-dress' worn in 1969 are complex. Jagger wore the white voile, Michael Fish-designed frock at the July 5 memorial concert in Hyde Park, just 48 hours after the death of fellow band member Brian Jones. The "little girl's white party frock" became the talking point in the press the next day. What some reporters styled "the frilly frock" was inspired by the fustanella, a skirt-like garment worn by the Evzone elite ceremonial unit of the Greek Royal (since 1974: Presidential) Guard, having originated in a type of kilt, usually white and with many folds, worn by Greek men during the 19th century. The Evzone fustanella looks feminine to anyone unfamiliar with the Balkan traditional male dress and it occasioned much scandal and speculation in the contemporary British press about Jagger's motivations in thus 'cross-dressing'. A notable British precedent for wearing the fustanella, viz. that of Lord Byron back in the 1820s in the Greek War of Independence, which, although a myth (since Byron never actualy wore the fustanella apart from an 1814 London portrait-sitting of him "in the dress of an Albanian"), must be considered part of a coordinated mise en scène contrived by Jagger. Jagger had placed himself in a quasi-Shelleyan pose in treating Brian Jones's death in a manner analogous to that of Keats having been the Adonais of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem read by Jagger prior to the Stones' performance, as well as by wearing a "Byronic costume" and thus retaining his branding as a heroic hedonist. When followed by the release of white butterflies (alluding to the Times editorial 'Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel?' criticising the overly harsh drug sentences of Keith Richard, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones back in 1967), Jagger's wearing the costume on the occasion of a memorial concert for Jones was also meant to be symbolic, drawing on English romanticism in a special pleading on behalf of the rock star as a persecuted artist.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEndymatologika : Endyesthai (To Dress): Historical, sociological and methodological approaches. Conference Proceedings, Athens, 9-11 April 2010
Number of pages9
Volume4
Place of PublicationNafplion
PublisherPeloponnesiako Laographiko Hidryma/Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation
Publication date2012
Pages111-119
ISBN (Print)ISSN 1108-8400
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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