Mobility, Style & Visibility

I’ve been thinking about issues of mobility and style for a while now, and ideas and connections have been percolating in my head. A few weeks ago in late April 2022 I attended, as an observer, my first Colour Walk, a monthly gathering of colourful, stylish individuals in London’s Old Spitalfields Market.

There were probably as many photographers as Colour Walk attendants in the market and it was quite challenging to get any unique pictures. I ended up taking a few details of things that piqued my interest. What emerged for me was also the idea of flamboyance and style that is unconstrained by issues of mobility.

Don with his green walking stick, Colour Walk, April 2022

In both the above photos, the men combined metallics, textures and colour, and both used a stick as a walking aid. This brought to mind some photos I’d taken of Soho icon Garbo Roche back in 2011, pictured below seated outside Caffe Nero on Frith Street:

Garbo Roche, 2011

In my experience, the combination of fashion juxtaposed with mobility aids (as opposed to the dandy’s cane) is quite rare. Below, this mermaid-like mannequin complete with sequin and shell-encrusted crutches struck me as unusual back in 2014 at the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the V&A:

Sometimes there is ambiguity; at the April Colour Walk the customised cane seen below may or may not be there to aid walking – it could be there just to enhance the outfit:

Colour Walk, April 2022
Spitalfields Market, May 2022

I don’t know whether the person in the brocade outfit, with matching top hat and traditional cane was part of the May Colour Walk or coincidentally visiting the market.

The cane as accessory is often accompanied by a top hat; below a photograph of my paternal grandparents shortly after their arrival in England from Iran:

My Iranian grandparents adopting dapper British sophistication, circa 1930

Suave sophistication personified by Fred Astaire ; seen in a shop window in Bond Street:

During my research on the topic of canes I discovered something called the Grand Flaneur Walk organised by the The Chap Magazine which was to take place on May 14th, 2022 in London’s Jermyn Street, so I went down and took some photos. Here are a selection featuring the cane as an embellishment to the dapper outfits:

Tony with his hazel cane, 2022

Tony, seen in the image above, stood out for me as his appearance combined flamboyance and swagger but did not comply with formal elegance. He came across as free-spirited force of nature.

During lockdown I used to come across a woman walking across Hampstead Heath with her personalised embellished stick, which also came in handy when extended for implementing the two metre social distance recommendation which many people used to ignore on the busy paths. In the photograph below she can be seen having a conversation with a boy who also possesses a stick made from a tree branch:

Below, a couple of images of Individual style, shopping & mobility in London. The man below was shopping in Portobello Road:

Garbo Roche in Soho, 2018:

A high end mobility scooter in John Bell & Croydon, (pharmacists to Her Majesty the Queen):

A few diverse images of people with canes around London, starting with two from Soho:

Mohammed of Soho outside Ronnie Scotts

Kids in Soho dressed up for the Mary Poppins Show

In Liverpool St, Hen Night and Jubilee combo:

Some photographs of people hanging out in the Kentish Town and Highgate area:

Highgate Wood, 2021
Cocktail Umbrella and cane, Kentish Town
Hanging out by the Camel, Highgate Road

And some photos from further afield – starting with two images taken during the Venice Carnival 2022:

Hanging out in on a fire hydrant in Chinatown, San Francisco:

A hiking sign in Santorini, 2022:

And finally, a photo of my late father from before I wasn’t born, posing a beach:

Ben Aminoff, circa 1950


Also published on Medium.

2 thoughts on “Mobility, Style & Visibility”

  1. What an interesting and inspiring set of photographs. I sustained an injury in the gym a year ago, and with the onset of arthritis and, er, carrying too much timber (!) I often need a crutch to get around. This has been depressing and embarrassing for me, but I nevertheless get on with my life, still working, still creating and, dare I say going to the gym. These pictures inspire us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you find the photographs inspiring; and thank you Debbie for sharing your experience of with regards using a crutch – it is also inspiring that you keep creating, working and working out despite all these challenges x

      Reply

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