VINTAGE KING: KOOP KOOPER
BY Lena Weber ON APRIL 22, 2013
Next in our series Vintage Kings, featuring the best vintage-dressers and sartorially inspirational gentlemen from around the globe, we have Koop Kooper, the host of a syndicated radio show and podcast called the Cocktail Nation which is dedicated to lounge and exotica music. Koop broadcasts the radio show from his Sydney penthouse to an audience across the globe.
QueensOfVintage: How would you describe your style?
Koop Kooper: I would describe my style as late Fifties to early/mid Sixties. I love skinny ties, single breasted thin lapel suits and stingy brim hats. For casual wear I love wearing jack shirts and gab pants.
QueensOfVintage: Which are your favourite vintage eras and why?
Koop Kooper: I really love the casual nature of clothing of the late Fifties and Sixties. Compared to the Thirties and Forties the clothing became more functional and people started to mix it up a little and not wear a suit everywhere! My affection to that period is also related to the films that came out at that time. I’m particularly keen on the Doris Day / Rock Hudson sex comedies. As you can imagine, the release of Mad Men a few years ago was like a dream come true for me.
QueensOfVintage: What started your interest in vintage?
Koop Kooper: Interestingly I started in the Rockabilly scene at the age of fifteen. I remember sitting in this Fifties milk bar with a friend at fourteen seeing all these rockabilly people hanging out in their vintage Fifties clothes and thinking to myself that they were so brave and that I could never do that.
A year later I had my hair piled high in a pompadour and was dressed head to toe in vintage Fifties clothes. Twenty two years later nothing has changed and I’m still wearing clothes from the era. Granted, a more adult style, but still mid century. In fact, I still have several shirts and jackets that I picked up in those early days, and I am pleased to say that they still fit me!
QueensOfVintage: Is vintage a lifestyle for you that encompasses your whole life?
Koop Kooper: Absolutely ! This is 100 percent for me. Not just physical things, but thoughts, attitude and manners. Whilst my penthouse apartment is relatively new and certainly not mid century, the furnishings are all late Fifties early Sixties along with key reproduction pieces.
I’m a firm believer that in vintage there is no need for it to be 100% original. I like to mix and match. It’s amazing what you can buy these days.
When it comes to clothes, I wear vintage every day of the year. Same with my hair, royal crown pomaded pompadour!
My other vintage love is my 1965 Valiant Regal. It’s the most reliable car I have owned and I have owned three classic cars. I started off in the early Nineties with a 1960 FB Holden and then in 2000 I bought a 57 Chrysler Royal. Six years ago I picked up the Valiant which had been restored and have driven it all over Sydney. And despite what you might think, I have zero knowledge of mechanics. People often assume I am some ace car repairer – well no, I just take it to the garage if I need a repair and pay some other guy to do the repairs.
QueensOfVintage: Where do you normally shop for vintage?
Koop Kooper: These days I am not really shopping much at all. Most of my furniture I picked up fifteen years ago in country towns when I was working as a disk jockey at various radio stations in the regional areas, which are fantastic places to pick up rare and reasonably priced items.
I basically approached it as a shopping expedition to fill my apartment when I moved back to Australia in the late Nineties after a career travelling the world on the pro tennis circuit.
I never wanted to be a collector, as a lifestyle person I actually use all the pieces I own. It’s not a museum it’s a real home. Basically I have every piece of furniture I need and I like to keep a minimalist approach. As far as clothing goes, I occasionally visit thrift stores, for reproduction I generally buy online. That said, there are some great stores in Newtown in Sydney that I do enjoy visiting. Once again I buy to wear and use, not to be a collecting hoarder!
QueensOfVintage: What is your all-time favourite vintage find and why?
Koop Kooper: I have a late Fifties two tone Ricky Ricardo jacket that I picked up in Brisbane for sixty dollars.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s a beautiful gabardine jacket. Once at a venue I was hosting a lounge night and a complete stranger offered me a thousand dollars for the jacket. I have a feeling I might be sitting on a gold mine there!
The most recent piece of clothing I bought was a mid Sixties smoking jacket which was dead stock. Such a rare piece of clothing!