On August 6 I am taking part in a discussion about Punk visual style and culture with fashion historian Amber Butchart and Jordan Mooney, the sales assistant superstar at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shops at 430 King’s Road in the 70s who became a fashion inspiration and role model in her own right.
I was commissioned to write these sleeve-notes by Joe Foster for his label Rev-Ola’s 1998 reissue of I Am The Greatest, the Cassius Clay album pulled from the shelves by Columbia Records amid his championing of civil rights and name change to Muhammad Ali.
To those of us who grew up with Ali, whatever our persuasion or interest in boxing, he was – as I wrote nearly 20 years ago – King Of The World.
In the mid-60s, the writer Gilbert Rogin, one of those hard-asses equally at home publishing fiction in The New Yorker as filing sports coverage in the dailies, expressed the perplexing prospect presented to the world by Cassius Marcellus Clay’s complex personality.
Insisting on using Ali’s despised “slave-name”, Rogin was attempting to assess this giant’s world-beating activities inside the ring, but his remarks refer equally to this collection of bragadoccio raps, bar-room poems and verbal whuppings delivered to the likes of vanquished rivals such as Sonny Liston.
Also present and correct is the rare version of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me, a finely delivered performance which rivals those of the greatest vocalists who have also covered the song.
At the time of recording Clay’s cachet was pretty damn high. His charisma, stunning physical abilities and spitfire mouth had combined to turn around the fortunes of the US boxing industry; annual receipts rose from $7.8m in 1963 to £26.5m two years later.
The emergence of good condition Mr Freedom designs with strong provenance is rare these days, so I’m delighted to showcase these unusual and original garments from the seminal early 70s London boutique operated by Trevor Myles, John Paul and Tommy Roberts.
They were acquired in the early 70s from the second Mr Freedom outlet in Kensington by the ultra-stylish British collector Audrey Watson, now 87 and a lifelong devotee of quirky and interesting clothing who has reluctantly begun the process of divesting herself of her fashion archive.
The BBC TV documentary The Alternative Society is an intelligent snapshot of London’s Notting Hill-based early 70s counterculture.
Signed copies of Reasons To Be Cheerful, my acclaimed monograph of the radical British graphic artist Barney Bubbles, are now available from my eBay page for just £20 inc shipping in the UK.
Overseas shipping via eBay’s Global Shipping programme is subject to extra charges.
Otherwise you can buy by or paying via PayPal to this address at the following prices:
UK – £20
Continental Europe: £25
Buy your copies here.
As well as a celebration of a pop culture great, Reasons To Be Cheerful is recognised as a significant design history, praised by leading magazines and newspapers around the world and voted MOJO’s book of the year . It is also a recommended reference source for graphics communications courses at leading educational institutions.
Reasons To Be Cheerful includes contributions from some of the most important graphic practitioners operating today, such as Art Chantry, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville.
May 20: Celebrating Malcolm McLaren’s fashion legacy at London’s ICA with Young Kim, designer Kim Jones + Man About Town editor Ben Reardon
Next week I will be taking part in a panel discussion on the fashion legacy of the late cultural iconoclast Malcolm McLaren at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts.
The other participants in the chat – chaired by Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate – are Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director and McLaren/Westwood collector and expert Kim Jones and Ben Reardon, editor of Man About Town; the new issue of his magazine contains a huge section dedicated to McLaren’s stylistic forays with and without Vivienne Westwood, including a fashion story photographed by Alasdair McLellan and styled by Olivier Rizzo and my essay Been There Done That Going Back.
The panel will be followed by the launch of Man About Town S/S 16 in the ICA Bar in partnership with specialist dealer Idea Books.
Tickets for the event are £7/£8 available here.
I’m particularly taken with these blue camo numbers, which are the result of a fresh collaboration between cruelty free fashion shoe brand Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather and Paris’s vegetarian food bike Le Tricycle.
‘Progressive, provocative, beautiful and belligerent’: 52-page Malcolm McLaren extravaganza in new issue of Man About Town
//Above left: Frankie in Buffalo hat, white Nike socks and my George Cox Diano creepers. Right: Natalie in Malcolm McLaren’s Chico hat (Witches, 1983), Buffalo jacket (Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982) and Bondage Trousers (Seditionaries, 1976). Photography: Alasdair McLellan. Styling: Olivier Rizzo. Hair: Duffy: Make Up: Lynsey Alexander. Man About Town SS16//
On a warm London afternoon last July I enjoyed a meeting with Ben Reardon, editor-in-chief of the biannual Man About Town, the magazine’s senior fashion editor Danny Reed and Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate.
Here are just a few examples of the riches presented by photojournalist/filmmaker Paul Yule’s highly recommended Instagram feed @paul_yule.
Long Live The Soho Dead: Ghosts of Le Macabre haunt Robert Rubbish’s exhibition Spiritus Soho Volume Zero
“When I started working as the Saturday boy at Let It Rock (in 1973), Malcolm McLaren used to take me around these strange places which played a part in early rock & roll. One time we went to Le Macabre. I don’t know how he knew about it, but it was the real thing. The tables were coffin lids and the jukebox only had songs to do with death.”
Glen Matlock, interview transcript for The Look, 2000.
A chance encounter on eBay spurred artist Robert Rubbish into creating one of the key elements of his current exhibition Spiritus Soho Volume Zero.
Rubbish – who is one of many mourning the recent death of his friend and documentary subject, the poet Jock Scot – is known for deep associations with central London’s Soho, and has celebrated its sleazy past and uneasy present in his own work and with the other members of the art collective Le Gun.