NO IFS OR BUTS is a feature length documentary that explores 20 years of personal, political and social change in the UK through the eyes of the staff and clients of the funkiest hairdresser’s in London, UK.
Cuts was founded by the maverick hair-stylist James Lebon during the post-punk, New Romantic scene of the early 80’s and is still going to this day. It began its life in a tiny room in the basement of Kensington Market where different social strata’s meshed together to form a movement that included contemporary musicians, photographers, artists, DJ’s, filmmakers and fashion types. People such as Leigh Bowery, Christopher Nemeth, Boy George, Tom Dixon and John Maybury all made Kensington Market their home by day.
In the 80’s the fashion magazines took their lead from the young people making statements through their DIY clothes and hairstyles. The Face and ID were in their infancy pushing multiculturalism and inclusiveness and at odds with Thatchers declaration ‘There is no society’. Thatchers politics clashed with the flamboyant creativty of the new ‘it’ kids & CUTS was central to this – the first independent hairdessers in London, the antithesis of Vidal Sasson and the place where the club kids went to get their hair done. Punks, new romantics, rock bands, young stars and the general public all trusted James with creating a ‘look’ to suit their personality.
This documentary shows the beginning of Cuts through interviews and archival footage. James & Steve Brooks (the co-founder of Cuts) are interviewed by Paula Yates on her TV show, The Tube on New Years Eve. Cuts is featured in the glossy mags and business couldn’t be better. But by the middle of the 80’s times were changing; AIDS had become a reality and the DIY attitude of the punk era was being replaced by capitalism & consumer culture.
Change was also inevitable at Cuts and in the mid-80’s James left London for a fresh start in New York and Steve took over the running of the new ‘men and women’s’ barbershop in Soho. Steve took on 3 new partners- Daniel, Pete and Roy and he referred to the new team at Cuts as- ‘we were a tribe, we were family.’
Soho, London features as the backdrop to the CUTS day-to-day life, footage from the 1950’s through to present day shows its ongoing transformation. When Steve prophetically says ‘we live in 1997, things change very fast…’, it’s unlikely that he knew exactly how fast or just how monumental the changes would be. The time span of this film allows us to witness change and cultural shifts including the death of the ‘people’s princess’ in ’97 and a shift in political regimes in the UK. Tony Blair and New Labour usher in a new era of politics in the UK and with it a nation’s optimism. Events of global importance are juxtaposed with events that transpire within the Cuts community.
All ideologies are challenged when real life intervenes and the Cuts fairy-tale is no exception.
In the beginning we see a carefree utopian workplace within an untarnished vision of trendy London life. However this is challenged with the inevitable twists and turns that 20 years of life presents.
In the present day, ‘Cuts’ is now run by Daniel and Pete. As Daniel says ‘‘Cuts is not dependent on one person, it is made up of all the people who have been here over the decades, and hopefully it will continue well after we have gone, taken over by the next generation.’
Referencing the street style of London from the late 70’s through to the present day, the film explores the human relationships that make up the Cuts community that run parallel to the ‘cutting-edge’ hairstyles and fashion.