Tuesday 16 July 2013

Dandies in Kaftans

Carnaby Street, 1967

When it comes to male fashion, kaftans will always be associated with that brief period between late 1966 and early 1968. For  those several months kaftans were all the rage - an obligatory component of psychedelic dandy/peacock/hippie look. 
The term 'kaftan' is not really correct. Kaftan is a garment of Persian origin - a type of overdress usually reaching the ankles, with long sleeves. 'Kaftans' worn by fashionable men in late 1960's were in reality Nehru Jackets. It is a garment of Indian origin, named after Pandit Jewarharlal Nehru - a Prime Minister of India between 1947 and 1964. He often wore front-buttoned, knee-length jackets with mandarin collar known as ackhan or sherwani.

    Pandit Jewarharlal Nehru

 In the late 1940's, the garment based on ackhan was created in India, and it was known as Band Gale Ka coat ('Closed Neck' coat). It was considerably shorter that ackhan, usually only reaching hips rather than knees. In fact, apart from the mandarin collar, the garment closely resembled normal suit jacket. Band Gale Ka coat were popular in India as a top half of the suit for formal occasions. In early 1960's, it was popularised in western Europe in America, where it was known as 'Nehru jacket' (Even though Pandit Jewrharlal Nehru never actually wore it himself!). One of earliest examples of Nehru jacket in Western popular culture was the outfit of Dr. No -  the villain from 1962 James Bond movie.

 By the mid-1960's, the Nehru jacket became a part of late Mod/early Hippie Carnaby Street look. 

The Who's Roger Daltrey (second left) wearing a nehru jacket appropriated for late-period Mod style, 1966

From 1967 Carnaby Street Modern Man catalogue - note the incorrect use of the term 'Kaftan'.

These clothes were a little bit of hybrid - they were too short to be proper Kaftans, and often too long to be proper Nehru jackets. Nevertheless, both terms were often used (just like Peacock style was often referred to as 'Regency', even though it hardly ever resembled actual Regency-era styles - but that's a subject for a different post).  These Nehru Jackets/Kaftans ere often designed with a generous use of Paisley, Liberty prints, various kinds of embroidery or 'Eastern' patterns (Indian, Chinese, Persian, there were even elements of Russian and Central European peasant dress) - a true mish-mash of styles and influences.
Here are my favourite examples:

Probably most famous one - The Beatles in Kaftans/Nehru Jackets designed by The Fool for Magical Mystery Tour.

Paul McCartney in 1967

 Paul outside his St. John's Wood home, 1967

John Lennon, 1967 

George Harrison, 1967

Hippies at the Woburn Abbey festival in England, 1967

John's Children modelling 'kaftans' designed by John Stephen, 1967

The Flowerpot Men, 1967

 British psych band The Flies, 1967

British psych band The Onyx, 1967

Rave magazine's resident model Johnny Rave, 1967

Kaftan which Peter Daltrey wore on the cover photo of Kaleidoscope's first album, Tangerine Dream, 1967

Davy Jones wearing the same kaftan.., 1967

Jimi Hendrix also had one...1967

Strawberry Alarm Clock, 1967

 Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz  of The Monkees, 1967

Legendary DJ John Peel, 1967

The Hollies, 1967

English hippies, 1968

 Jean Shrimpton and Paul Jones on the set of Privilege, 1967

Justin Hayward from The Moody Blues and Ian Gillian from Episode Six (who of course would soon move on to bigger things as a frontman of Deep Purple) modelling Carnaby Street 'kaftans' designed by John Stephen, 1967
Eric Burdon sporting 'kaftan' and Afghan coat - ultimate hippie combo - on the day of his wedding, 1968.

Dantalian's Chariot, 1968

British psych band The Mode outside Walthamstow Town Hall, 1968

Spanish psych band Los Kifers, 1968

Italian band I Nomadi, 1967

Italian psych band Le Orme, 1967

French pop star Johnny Hallyday, 1967

Keith Relf  of The Yardbirds, 1967

Jimmy Page, 1967

 Cliff Wade and The Roll Movement, 1968

 Actor David Hemmings with his wife Gayle Hunnicut, 1969

Ringo with Eva Aulin, 1968

Mick Jagger, 1967

Psychedelic kaftans/Nehru jackets went out of mainstream fashion around 1968. Very strongly associated with late 1960's, they are popular among revivalists. Clothing labels strongly influenced by 1960's fashions such as Art Gallery or Pretty Green, make kaftans and Nehru jackets today. 

Yours truly..

The 60's by Bill Harry
Hippie by Barry Miles
Anorak Thing , Smashingbird, Away From The Numbers, Afterglow
Sea Of Joy (I Don't Like Mods)



Ana said...

Brilliant post! I love "kaftans" and didn't know that the name was incorrect. I knew what a Nehru collar was but not that a kaftan is actually a Nehru Jacket. Thank you for you for the article, I really enjoyed reading it and the pictures are just amazing! xxx

Catherine said...

Thanks for a great and interesting post! I have always liked the collar on these jackets and the colourful fabric that they chose for them. A lot of mens fashion from the sixties seems to disappear into the background unless your wardrobe was like Brian Jones'. But this is one of those rather distinct items that I think will always be very iconic especially for men. Pitty they were only around for a few months

Featherstone Vintage said...

So many beautiful pieces in this post. I'm surprised that we don't see more men wearing the Nehru cut(maybe minus the psychedelic prints). It seems so effortlessly stylish!

LeeAnn at Mrs Black's said...

I loved these jackets on men, and women used to wear wide legged trousers made of the paisley material too. I lived in California in those days. We used to be able to buy Indian bedspreads cheaply and we would cut them up to make backless sundresses to wear to Festivals.
Minerva ~