Review By Belinda Morris
Your Own Soho
By Tony Briggs
Presented by Roux and Kastner & Partners in London
Anyone (like me) who knew Soho, London, back in the 1980s, or ‘90s or even 10 years ago, will tell you that it’s changing. Of course… things, places, people do change and sometimes, obviously, it can be for the better. There were aspects of Soho that were probably ready for a little judicious broom work – a few nooks and crannies were getting a tad over-grubby.
But there are many Soho people –those who work there, live there, play there – who fear that things are changing rather too rapidly and comprehensively. There is a very real feeling that Soho is in grave danger of losing its identity, its particular character. Developers are pulling down, and ripping up, the heart of this “square mile of anything goes” (as one resident has described it) and replacing it with seemingly soulless generic edifices.
For this reason the ‘Save Soho’ campaign exists, and giving his support to the effort is Greg White, the founder of Soho-based cult clothing label Roux. Using the branding and creative expertise of Kastner & Partners London, together with the eye of iconic photographer Tony Briggs, he has published ‘Your Own Soho’, the first in what will be a seasonal series of coffee table books celebrating Soho life.
The old guard (Jeffrey Bernard, Francis Bacon, Dylan Thomas, Lucian Freud…) may no longer haunt The French House and The Coach & Horses, but Soho is still, “a sanctuary for misfits” and “old school creativity and debauchery”, as its 21st characters explain in their summing up of the area’s enduring appeal. It’s still about “very random people, no rules, dirty bars and late nights”. The eclectic melting pot of Soho folk now – as seen in this first book – offers some hope that all is definitely not lost.
All profits from the sale of the book go to the ‘Save Soho’ campaign. (visit http://savesoho.com and check out Tony Briggs’ film)