THE BLOG

Mark Powell and the Ibiza Connection: Time to Modernise

03/07/2014 13:29 BST | Updated 02/09/2014 10:59 BST

Soho congeals under feverish skies and the barbarians are at the gates. The gentrifiers and dullards (not to mention Crossrail) are currently doing Luftwaffe-style damage to this historic quarter's northern edge, while Soho's southern flank is quickly filling with anodyne theme bars and parlours all aimed at the infantilised adults in our midst.

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It's a foul, almost inevitable tide of change, but some institutions are doing their best to hold it back through a combination of artful adaptation and steadfast belief in what they stand for. These are the last bastions of a once great London, a London of ideas, risk and style. It was a city of rugged beauty and culture before the quick-fix hordes took it over and turned it into a sandpit.

Nevertheless, today they still come through the door of one man's studio on Marshall Street. It's a long, cool room. A haven from the heat and dust. Portraits of the proprietor in oil and celluloid adorn the walls alongside Hendrix and Ali. There's a chaise longue and a wide wooden desk with a single chair in which those in the know come and sit. Those who still care, that nameless coterie who desire a sartorial look somewhat sharper than a Bed-Stuy cut-throat.

It's modernism in its purist form and the distilled vision of Mark Powell, a stylist and tailor whose sartorial individualism of thirty years standing has made itself known in places as far flung as New York City, Tokyo and Firenze. Borrowing from the past to create an incomparable contemporary look, he's the go-to man for film costume styling (Gangster No1) or when a musician wants to be kitted out in one-off threads (Paul Weller). Few people know as much as Powell about the history of men's fashion, stretching back from Regency tailoring to Victorian dandyism to the jazz modernism of Blue Note.

If "an author should have no other biography than his books" [B. Traven], then a tailor can have no other legacy than the clothes he stands up in.

Yet things must be pushed along as change comes like the falling of leaves. A renewed effort must aid the process of adaptation for a saturated menswear market, so in conjunction with his bespoke services (suiting and footwear), Mr Powell has produced a full ready-to-wear range of suits, blazers, shirts and accessories with the help of investor and recruitment guru Russell Clements.

With a fresh injection of capital at his disposal, Powell has laid out his plans: the Marshall Street shop will have a studio-cum-salon installed in the basement (previously an art gallery) while the online side of the business will be revamped with the ready-to-wear line to be made available via the Mark Powell website.

"These are all the necessary things you have to do in the modern world," Powell tells me. "It's time to modernise the business."

Plans also extend to taking part in 'Tailored Anarchy' at Urban In Ibiza on 7 August, the sixth edition of the art, music and fashion showcase on the Balearic island which will see Powell staging a runway show of his new SS14 range of clothes that crosses street-sharp style with continental yacht wear.

These are pastures new and fertile and have whet the creative appetite of a unique talent. But it took investment and foresight to arrive at this moment: a lesson that should be marked well by all potential patrons out there in the city - be they of the arts or sciences - who are self-defeatingly in possession of deep pockets and very short arms, because without the taking of risks, without gambling or parlaying capital into ventures of a lifelong passion, the worlds of art, music and fashion will one day cease to exist.

With the barbarians at the gates, the culture war is on, but this particular early battle in the campaign has been won by Messrs Powell and Clements, with a few more to be won along the way lest we lose forever all that we hold dear.

Photo (l-r) of Mark Powell & Russell Clements by Keef Martin