Petri’s not dead, the Buffalo boys return

Petri’s Not Dead, The Buffalo Boys Return

In this picture – Stylist Olivier Rizzo evokes Buffalo Style for Arena Homme +

Ray Petri, probably the most influential stylist of all times, may have died in 1989, but his aesthetic legacy still lives on. You can see it all around you, from menswear fashion to music videos, on all levels, everywhere.

Scottish born Petri, grew up in Australia before escaping back to London in 1969, a turning point for music and fashion, or more likely the point of no return with the emergence of the punk and countercultures. Only ten years later, England had become all about style clans, from Punk to New Wave, from Acid Sportswear to New Romantic, from Rude Boys to Mods, from Ragamuffins to East Indians, it all met in the streets, on their way to the many clubs, and Petri was there in the middle, picking elements from here and there, establishing a savant fashion mix. His vision was going further than just dressing up models, he over viewed the whole concept, and did everything but taking the picture. Everything we have now as a base of menswear stylistic approach is of his creation: mix the muscly bulky models and replaced them with teenagers from the real world, out the total looks and instead dive into wide and wild influences pairing Italian tailoring and Jamaican style with bicycle messengers sports gear. A now common recipe to almost any photo shoot found in fashion magazines, the boxer shorts and combat boots, the underwear and tailoring, and so on. But most of all, he built a sexual tension unlike anyone had managed before into his looks. It is an edgy balance of tough and sweet with attitude, part of his obsession for bad boys.
His work deeply impacted street culture, with his contribution to magazines as The Face and i-D, and his works with the likes of Bowie and Neneh Cherry, and it all came together under the name of Buffalo, a name apparently borrowed from the security staff at Paris 80′s club Les Bains Douches, where large men wore army bomber jackets with “Buffalo” written on them.

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Now, can you even think of one denim label whose menswear advertising owes nothing to Petri? You can’t, can’t you. Well, that’s because Petri’s Not Dead.

Over two decades later, everyone quotes Buffalo (making it almost meaningless), as an easy way to label anything slightly modern and mixed culture for advertising agencies. Most often, nevertheless, its citing feels empty, because the subcultures and countercultures Petri quoted devolved into ruins of themselves or even became purely mainstream styles, copied over and over ad infinitum. Overdose. There will not be a new Buffalo unless we see new countercultures emerging, a hope that seems increasingly unlikely these days. We can only keep hoping, and give our support to new movements coming up, fingers crossed…

By Alban Adam – image courtesy of Arena Homme + and The Face.