David Beckham almost certainly doesn't know this, but without the influence of the late Ray Petri he would never have worn that famous sarong. There was no Premier League when Petri was alive and football had yet to be fetishized (and Hornby-ised) by the middle classes, but the idea of a gifted, internationally famous, pretty-but-straight, fashion-obsessed, married gay icon of a young footballer wearing a skirt in the street? Ray would have loved it.
Had he lived, Petri would have celebrated his 52nd birthday yesterday. Instead he died in 1989, just shy of his 42nd birthday and at the tail end of the decade he helped to define by producing powerfully idiosyncratic images, under the pseudo-corporate 'label' Buffalo, for the pages of the then fledgling 'style' magazines, The Face , i-D and Arena.
In the early 80s, Petri corralled a pool of young model-muses (Nick and Barry Kamen, Tony Felix, Simon de Montfort, Howard Napper) and photographers (Jamie Morgan, Roger Charity, Marc Lebon), plus assorted, like-minded west London creatives: hair and make-up artists, musicians, designers, acolytes, allies, cohorts, and hangers-on for whom Petri, the cool, charming, funny, shy-but-gregarious nexus of the group was also a charismatic uncle confessor-cum-mentor-cum-role model. '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.'