March 16, 2007

Nicholas Stoodley - Living in the Twilight Zone Basketball Fever & Nicholas Stoodley Photos

Tune in every Saturday as Nicholas recalls the Disco Decade in Manila when Martial Law, Cuban heels, Donna Summer, Coco Banana and a lot of hair combined in a frenzy of uncertain excitement.

Chapter 6 - Basketball Fever & Nicholas Stoodley Photos

"Sure Enough it was STOODLEY". Well, it may have seemed sure enough to everyone else but it sure wasn't sure to me..... we didn't even know each other's names the first time we practiced as a team and THAT was just a few days before the first game in a school gymnasium - Thomas Aquinas School I think it was called. There they were these big, lanky black guys (and one shorter white guy) dripping with sweat in the tropical heat and with brains made soggy with jet lag figuring out who was who and....."hey man, who's the English dude looking worried in the corner?" That would be me! There was nothing sure at all!


Sonny Jaworski leaps into the air with amazing ease in a bid to outwit a Stoodley player. Despite such elegant playing though Toyata was finally beaten by the Nicholas Stoodley team - the first foreign team ever to win the a PBA championship. Of course it wasn't exactly popular; in fact a wave of nationalism almost spelt my end since, for good luck, I had to watch all but two of the games in the series confined amongst rabid Toyota fans up in the "cheap seats" so far from the action you needed a telescope to see what was going on. Well, it WAS the INVITATIONAL Conference. My team was invited, we came, we won. End of story but start of me becoming one of the best known foreigners in the country. So famous I ended up dancing with Elizabeth Ramsey on TV and that is something I pray doesn't exist somewhere in the archives!


Hail Nicholas. How the hell did we do that? At the time it seemed miraculous. Besieged at the end of the final match I had been surrounded by a phalanx of security guards and hauled down to the court protected from the baying Toyota fans who would have probably ripped me limb from limb. Dazed, I had faced an array of reporters wanting to know how I had done it! Me? What had I done? Did I even know what a technical assist was? Sure it was my name emblazoned on their shirts but I was a designer... I'd never even played Basketball once in my entire life. I stood there bathed in light, the focus of awe, respect, scorn and outright rage and words failed me. That night we got extremely drunk indeed.


Somewhere among the throng on the court is me. It was the beginning but also the end. I had arrived from Rome and Australia and opened a shop selling Ready to Wear that was, well, a bit different. I had fun, it was a crazy time back in the late 70's and I guess what I did and how I did it fitted in well with the almost manic desire to make hay even though the sun wasn't exactly shining on the country at the time. That one shop soon became three, four then five and then THIS. PBA Champion and soon I was on the six o clock news every day talking about clothes and was allover the media. But even though I won, was a champion, I also lost something big and that was what made the whole Nicholas Stoodley brand. I was becoming too big, too well known and therefore just another brand name!

This is part of a promotional flyer sent to stores carrying the Nicholas Stoodley brand in the Philippines. If you look closely you can see me on the cover of Mr and Miss magazine with a mustache for God's sake - can't stand facial hair - and then, of course there's that iconic group VST & Co wearing Nicholas Stoodley. VST really encapsulated the Disco Sound in those days.... and buy were they underrated as was, in general, Pinoy music!

Can you believe the HAIR! We all seemed to have it then (luckily I still HAVE hair). Here Nicholas Stoodley looking Oh so cool models one of his army inspired shirts. Leaning casually on the front terrace of what was the first house I rented in Manila in Scout Magbanua, Quezon City. It had seemed like a zillion miles from Rome and Valentino and it WAS. Believe me!

Casual Ready to Wear Clothes. Nicholas Stoodley really took off though because we were the first company to make jeans specifically for girls......before women would buy men's jeans and then have them taken in at the waist at a tailor shop with the result that...well, they looked exactly like that was what you had had done! It was hell in pattern making but at least the pants fit and fit they DID. WELL.

Lounging in my back garden.

Previously: Chapter 6 - Basketball Fever Part Two

Start from the beginning! Read: Chapter 1 - An English Virgin

Nicholas Stoodley was born near London and has lived at one time or another in the South of France, Rome, Sydney, Tagaytay, England, Paris and Manila with plans to move to Ibiza shortly. A former assistant to Valentino in Rome, he arrived in Manila in 1976 and pioneered Ready to Wear in the Philippines with the NICHOLAS STOODLEY brand of casual clothing. During his stay in the Philippines Nicholas also won the PBA Invitational Basketball Conference in 1980 with his team from Los Angeles, designed and manufactured a Stainless Steel Sports Utility Jeep that was featured in the Frankfurt Motor Show and opened "Skatetown", a Roller Disco with Jorge Araneta in Cubao. And that was just the first course!

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rpvintage said...

hi there,im just curious if you're still here in Manila?do you still have some NEW OLDSTOCK NICHOLAS STOODLEY JEANS?Best regards.

Anonymous said...

As a teener growing up in baguio, thought the nicholas stoodley outpost there was ahead of its time in its looks. the only thing i could afford to buy was a tee shirt with the iconic lipograph (a logo was was also trendsetting).

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