Mod: A Very British Style
Welcome to the world of the sharp-suited Mods. The Italianistas. The moped-riding, all-night-dancing instigators of what became, from its myriad sources, a Very British Culture.
But Mod was so much more than this. It wasn’t just the suits. It wasn’t just the consumerism or the hedonism. Mod was the DNA that formed the music, fashion, art and architecture of the latter half of the twentieth century.
Mod became a symbol of post-imperial British culture. It began life as the quintessential working-class movement of affluent Britain — the conspicuous consumption of clothes, records and drugs were an assertion of individuality and an expression of discontent with the snobbery and prudery of British life. It was a popular cult that transformed into a mainstream phenomenon; a style that became a revolution.
Richard Weight tells the story of Britain’s biggest and most influential youth cult, from its origins in the Soho jazz scene of the 1950s through to its explosion amid Beatlemania in the 1960s. Along the way he takes in the many influences that shaped it: from Be-Bop Jazz to RnB and Soul and Jamaican Ska, together with French and Italian fashion, Anglo-American Pop Art and continental Dadaism. And finally, Weight examines Mod’s relationship hippie escapism, punk iconoclasm and eventually the politics of the far-right, as the cultural nationalism that Mod had spawned took on a more sinister form. As a result, Mods were condemned by moralists of the left and right alike.
Several decades on from the original Mod generation, today’s fashion and music industries still pay tribute to those early days. Mod’s journey from moral panic to commercial manipulation, from violent reaction to nostalgic remodeling, testifies to its enduring legacy.
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