Keith Richards’ Son Brings Anti-Fashion to the MTV-Weary

Although its launch won’t speak with the volume, say, of Talk magazine, Cheap Date –a very different enterprise–is attracting the attention of youthquakers around town.

Described as “the magazine for thinking thrifters,” Cheap Date New York ‘s launch is scheduled in New York on July 1. It was started two years ago in London. “Taking charge,” as founder Kira Jolliffe said, “as the only antidotal anti-fashion magazine around, uncovering a population who didn’t yet know they were sick of being told what to wear and do and waking up bored in the process.”

“Our motto,” said Cheap Date New York ‘s art director Marlon Richards, “is ‘We Have No Spare Change.’” Mr. Richards, who is the son of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and actress Anita Pallenburg, recited the motto, in Latin, then translated. On June 9, he was perched over his computer in Cheap Date ‘s temporary office space in a loft on the Bowery. No air-conditioning. Amid a scatter of papers, cigarette smoke and a life-size white tiger doll preening on the wood floor, Mr. Richards tamed the office phone and chatted. He has a slight British accent; although he was born in England, he attended a Quaker school in Locust Valley, L.I., home for his maternal relations, when he was a teenager and he studied at the Parsons School of Design here. “I think there’s a desire in my generation for a more personal approach,” he said, explaining the genesis of Cheap Date New York . “Maybe the Internet brought that about to a degree because there was more access for the layman to do this sort of philistine writing and take over an area of communication which used to belong to journalists and writers.

“Points of view are really important,” Mr. Richards continued. He blamed MTV for “the homogenization” of everything hip. “I’m sick and fed up, and so are my friends, with the conveyor-belt look that represents style. MTV sets the standards for what young people think is music and fashion style, but it is made so impersonal. Everything has been passed through demographic studies.”

Cheap Date New York , which is edited by Bay Garnett, will publish about every three months its first year. They plan to sell the first printing of 5,000 copies at Tower and Virgin record shops, at $2 each. The premiere issue includes stories about the best bakeries in Chinatown, dance steps by the British model Iris Palmer, how to make flowers out of old zippers, a secondhand bathing suit spread with actress Chloe Sevigny, and a story about a collection of lost and found posters from London owned by Jefferson Hack, the editor of Dazed & Confused , an alternative British magazine. There’s a report about coats made from sheared poodle hair–very popular in Russia–and a guide to cheap New York hotels, the St. Marks and the Washington Jefferson among others, by Alex Mortimer, “a charming young man who took it upon himself to live in them for a while,” said Mr. Richards.

“We don’t intentionally underwhelm,” laughed Mr. Richards. “Humble yearnings is our basic byline. Meaning, we come from humble yearnings. The magazine does, anyway.” His design for Cheap Date has a lively neo-psychedelic ‘zine look with graphics inspired, in part, by 1960′s rock posters.

Beyond the appeal of its economy and its youthful nostalgia, dressing in thrifty vintage clothing and living with secondhand objects affords a combination of what author Alison Lurie called the “thrill of the exotic with the thrill of the proletarian” in The Language of Clothes . Mr. Richards didn’t know about that. “I don’t like anything too new,” he said. If the green fatigues he wore had a 30-year-old urban hippie look, the source of his outfit and its styling seemed fresh. He wore a vintage French paratrooper’s suit, which he said he bought at a flea market in Fontainebleau. The top was unzipped, rolled down and tied at his waist. Over the tumble of fatigue sleeves fell a loose white surfer’s T-shirt Mr. Richards found in Malibu. He wore green Adidas sneakers. “They were new when I bought them,” he said. “I draw the line at wearing secondhand sneakers.”

Mr. Richards recalled when he and his then fiancée, the model Lucie de la Falaise, whose great-grandfather Sir Oswald Birley was the British royal family’s official painter, would go to Don Hill’s on Spring Street for the “Beaver” and “Squeezebox” parties on Thursday and Friday nights in the early years of this decade. “People had such personal style at these retro dance clubs. Like seeing a ruffled, pink shirt worn with tuxedo pants while someone else was wearing black leather and someone else a full-length nylon shell.”

Ms. de la Falaise and Mr. Richards were married in Italy in 1994. They have a daughter, Ella, 3, and live in the East Village. “Our wedding presents are still packed in England. With our itinerant life style–maybe we will be back in England in a few years–there is no point in decorating.” They live much the way they dress, with “found objects and pieces from the family.” On Sunday evenings, “we dress for dinner,” Mr. Richards said. “At home, just the three of us, we try to make it a special occasion.” Mr. Richards wears suits; he finds them subversive. Ties are O.K., too. He said, “I wish I could wear some of my father’s clothes, but they don’t fit. I tried to fit into one of his handmade suits, but he has a 25-inch waist. Rock people are tiny. My father plays two and a half hours a night onstage and it’s a better workout than you could pay for in a gym.” Both Mr. Richards and Ms. de la Falaise, who met in 1992 on a blind date set up by his mother and the artist David Croland, are close to their families. Just that morning, he visited his stepmother, Patti Hansen, and his two teenage half-sisters, in Greenwich, Conn., where they were modeling in a mother-daughter photo shoot.

Mr. Richards, who also works as a freelance art designer, mostly creating logos and album covers, said that Cheap Date New York is being done on an initial budget of about $5,000. The clothing company Extreme is advertising in the first issue, but that’s about it. “We’d like Cheap Date to be profitable, but it really can’t be,” he admitted. “Unless Rolling Stone magazine buys it. It will be profitable emotionally and personally when we all look back and we are proud of what we did and how we had no one to answer to except ourselves and our own bad taste.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Richards is looking forward to the launch party that will take place later this month, most likely at Don Hill’s. “Instead of a deejay, guests will be asked to bring a favorite tape to put in a hat which we’ll pick to play at random,” he said. “I like jazz myself at the moment. I’ve been overwhelmed with too many types of music for too long. I like relaxing, soothing, nonaggressive music now.”

Billy’s List: Quiz time!

1. Who is Padma Lakshmi?

a.A former stockbroker turned psychic whose clients include Barry Diller, among others.

b. The voice for Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode 1–The Phantom Menace .

c. The author of Easy Exotic: One-Dish Wonders From Around the World .

2. Shirtology is:

a. a super-trendy, Paris-based swimwear company.

b. a Brown University graduate sociology department program that studies fashion theory and analysis.

c. a new back-of-the-book shopper’s index in Details .

3. For whom did Queen Elizabeth II recently commission a series of handmade rubber-soled boots?

a. Reinaldo Herrera.

b. Lucien Freud, who is visiting Balmoral this summer to paint Her Majesty’s portrait in a favorite glen.

c. Her older corgis, because, according to foreign dispatch, their paws are being rubbed raw by the gravel at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences.

Answers: (1) c; (2) a; (3) c.