Buffalo and Ray Petri's Era Defining Style
Posted: Sep 21 2016
In the early 80s, there were fashion editors, clothing designers, costumers, yes, but no definitive job titles describing the artistic director of an editorial “look.” Ray Petri (1948-1989) was a stylist when no such word existed.
Scottish Petri traveled through India and Africa before settling in London, where he would lead a chic clique that included influential photographers Jamie Morgan and Mark Lebon, then 14 year-old hanger-on Naomi Campbell, and musicians Neneh Cherry, Culture Club, and Soul II Soul in a raucous and radical fashion movement called Buffalo. Ray appropriated the term from a Caribbean expression meant to represent rude boys and rebels, his models and muses.
The stylist flipped the bird to designer clothes during the quintessential power dressing, brand fetish era, while pioneering his dapper DIY thrift tripping, grandparent-ganking style. Buffalo is all bits and bites from Britain’s post-punk street societies: East Indians, mods, ragamuffin Jamaicans, New Romantics, boxers and athletes, all reconstructed into an exotic export.
His aesthetic assemblage brought a daring design breed into being, from incognito clubber kids to catwalk cools Jean-Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto, as the Buffalo phenom infiltrated ad campaigns and pictorial stories ini-D and The Face. Imagine the sartorial smash: flight bombers with leather kilts, Armani suit jackets with tribal headwear, spandex sportswear with Che berets, Docs with boxers. Flags as sarongs.
Mag headlines jaggedly ripped and pinned to lapels. Buffalo was about loving the cut not the label, about image and attitude, about residing outside the established fashion system. Petri collaged creations for black and racially diverse faces/bodies, for hedonistic androgynes, edgy individualists, hardcore urban survivalists.
Postured photos portrayed a tough stance, strong arms, tight midriff, just a touch of vulnerability, sexuality, even aggression. Buffalo was Revolution by Ray, experimental with no template, in support of the singular stylist and his vanguard vision.