Thursday, October 11, 2012

Buffalo STYLE

I have been thinking a lot recently about my own personal roots in fashion and my inevitable escape back to the 80s on my blog at the moment. I started reading fashion blogs about 5 years ago, and started writing this one 4 years ago.  During that time we have all been witness to a massive influx of fashion, personal style, and street style blogs on the Internet. Street style has cemented its place with in the fashion industry and has become a legitimate inspiration for big business fashion designers today.
I can't help but feel romantic about a time when creative movements were ground breaking, that you could still really shock people on the street with a zany outfit based on 5 different unrelated influences. 
So I did some research and re-discovered Ray Petri and his 'Buffalo stance'. I wonder what he would think about all this if he were still alive today? Then again he would probably be thinking about the next thing....

 Buffalo style by Ray Petri, The Face, Judy Blame

Ray Petri's genius vision can still be seen today, 25 years after its first conception. Arguably one of the first ever stylists or art directors, he created a whole new aesthetic by putting together looks inspired by the street, in a formula that is still relevant today. He bought street style onto the fashion stage long before it became the commercialised giant of mass consumption that it is today.
Petri who was born in Scotland and raised in Australia, moved to England in the swinging year of 1969.  He had a jewellery booth at the Camden Markets and immersed himself in the creative culture around him.
By the 80s the English style scene was a huge mix of subcultures, there were the New Romantics, mods, punks, rude boys and Ragamuffins to name a few.  However the fashion industry at the time was all about glossy high fashion images and designer looks straight from the catwalk. Think of the supermodels Linda, Cindy, Christy and Claudia with their fully made up faces and Versace power suits.
It was during this movement that Petri found his calling.  He turned up at magazines like The Face, i-D and Arena and began putting together images inspired by the 'bad boy' street looks that where inspiring him at the time, Jamaican Ragamuffin culture, East Indians, blacks, punk whites, rude boys, mods, New Romantics and boxers.

 'It can be no surprise that Ray showed up at our door,' says Nick Logan, founder editor of The Face and Arena , 'Other than i-D , where else would he have gone?'

Petri absorbed himself in every aspect of the image making process except actually taking the picture. Instead of using models he cast boys, teenagers and friends usually from ethnic minorities, something that often wasn't seen during that time. As a young teenager, Naomi Campbell started out helping Ray with his wardrobe sales! She then went on to feature in his photographs as one of the original Buffalo girls.

 Buffalo Girls: Naomi Campbell, Neneh Cherry, Talisa Soto, COMME des GARCONS in a buffalo style.

The Buffalo look would include designer clothing but for example, an Armani blazer would be pinned and re-shaped at the back to form a different shape. He would then add sportswear, vintage clothing and underwear as outerwear into the mix. The look was tough, street and with a strong dose of androgyny. Little did he know this would soon become the menswear uniform of the time and it would completely inspire the next decade to come - the look of the 1990s.
Buffalo was a word that was borrowed from a few different sources and described this new image and attitude. It was also the name of Petri's visual imaging company and the name he would work under.
 'People tend to associate the word Buffalo with Bob Marley's 'Buffalo Soldier',' Ray once explained, 'but in fact it's a Caribbean expression to describe people who are rude boys or rebels. Not necessarily tough, but hard style taken from the street... a functional and stylish look; non-fashion with a hard attitude.'
Originally the word was taken from a Parisian security business who wore Air Force MA-1 jackets with the word BUFFALO written on them. These jackets where a huge part of the look and later became the uniform of Ray himself worn with Levi 501's.
In 1988 Neneh Cherry, an original Buffalo girl, put out a single entitled Buffalo Stance purely inspired by Ray and the Buffalo collective. This defined the look, propelling it into the limelight.

 The main thought behind Buffalo was that it wasn't exactly just a singular look or trend, Buffalo meant: classic and not an idea that would be gone tomorrow. The garments that where used were classic pieces found worn on the street or historical and traditional types of dress. The look was then pulled together using designer pieces, but these pieces were used for their cut and fabrication not for their brand name.

Arena Homme +
 25 years of Buffalo 
The legacy of Ray Petri

This formula is essentially what makes good street style seen today, look authentic.
 The original and rebellious thinking that came from the times of the Buffalo crew is what truly inspires me. What Ray Petri saw was the need to connect what was actually happening around him with the dreamy unattainable world that fashion can sometimes appear to be. His observations ring true and it's because of this that you can still see his influence today. I hope that I can always connect to this kind of creativity.



  1. Great post!!!
    love youre blog!
    I'm following now.
    would love you to follow me..

  2. Great post and blog.
    Love it!!!


  3. These photos are so elegant! =)

  4. Such a great post;)

  5. Nice pics!

  6. love those pics :) great inspiration!

  7. Gotta love those b&w's...such strong images