Paul Gorman is…

Joe Stevens’ best photograph: Tousled Bowie at a moment of transformation

Jan 29th, 2015
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//Just over CSM’s shoulder: David Bowie and a railway guard, Paris, May 3, 1973. Photo (c) Joe Stevens//

“In those minutes, you could see he really was about to become a major pop star.”

In The Guardian today, photographer pal and hero Joe Stevens has picked a favourite image from his six-decade career: a slightly tousled David Bowie and a French railway guard at a Paris station.

According to my copy of Kevin Cann’s definitive Bowie diary Any Day Now this would have been May 3, 1973; Bowie had travelled by train from Japan, on the Trans-Siberian Express through Russia, Poland and Germany in the company of the late NYC legend Leee Black Childers and Bowie’s friend and backing vocalist Geoff MacCormack.

Stevens’ captured Bowie at a moment of transformation; alighting blearily in dress-down mode from the train, the rock star was met by wife Angie and a gaggle of glamorous friends. In a matter of minutes he had changed into the Freddie Buretti-designed outfit seen here and was swept away to a reception and press conference in the Rouge Room of the George V Hotel.

Just in shot – and identifiable by his frizz and shoulder bag strap – is Joe’s NME compadre (and another pal and hero) Charlie Murray.

Read Joe’s reminiscence here.

I am proud to say I edited Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years 1947-74. It is a thoroughgoing delight and highly recommended – if you don’t already own it, purchase a copy here.

Charles Shaar Murray wrote a wonderful preface to my music press history In Their Own Write (which he ended with the following note to me: “You bastard. You’ll be hunted down and strangled like a dog for this.”)

Copies of In Their Own Write are available here.

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Derek Boshier: Clash art guru + original punk rocker!

Jan 27th, 2015
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//Daily Mail – Poem Of Hate, 1977. Ink drawing and newsprint, 55 x 75cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

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//Drawing for CLASH 2nd Songbook, 1978. Ink on paper, 30.5 x 22cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

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//Hi Consumers! Don’t Forget Nothing Lasts Forever, 1978. Ink and collage on paper, 46 x 54.9cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

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//Drawing for CLASH 2nd Songbook, 1978. 33 x 22.5cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

“Without hesitation, CLASH 2nd Song book is a masterpiece of graphic art”

Guy Brett, writer/curator

Interrogating materials for the Derek Boshier monograph has brought home the meshing of the artist’s sensibilities with punk in the 70s.

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Seven works by Barney Bubbles feature in Making Music Modern: Design For The Eye & Ear at MoMA

Jan 26th, 2015

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//Left: Poster, 30 x 20″, one of a series of four, for Generation X residency at The Marque, Soho, London, September 1977. Right: Poster, 60 x 40″, one of a series of five for Stiff Records package tour of UK, October/November, 1977. Design (c) Barney Bubbles Estate//

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//Installation view of Making Music Modern dominated by Bubbles’ Costello poster. Also note his Do It Yourself sleeve and Generation X poster. Photo: John Wronn//

New York’s Museum Of Modern Art is featuring seven works by the late graphics maestro Barney Bubbles in the current exhibition Making Music Modern: Design For The Eye & Ear.

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‘The greatest thing a person can achieve is astonishment': Life drawing masterclass with Derek Boshier

Jan 23rd, 2015

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‘I’ve always liked what Goethe said: “The greatest thing a person can achieve is astonishment”.’
Derek Boshier

This is a delight. The magus Derek Boshier giving a Tate masterclass in life drawing from 2013:

Rethink/Re-Entry, the monograph of Boshier’s life’s work I am editing, is published this autumn by Thames & Hudson.

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Homage to Ben Kelly’s Seditionaries facade in Vuitton’s High Tech A/W 15 show

Jan 22nd, 2015
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//The simulation of the Seditionaries facade in industrial materials provided the entry and exit point for models on the runway today//

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//With rings representing the positions where designer Ben Kelly exposed air conditioning vents to view, Kim Jones replaced the diagonal bar which occupied the central square over the door with the trademark Vuitton ‘V’//

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//Ben Kelly’s portfolio shot of the facade he designed and installed at 430 King’s Road in December 1976//

Amid the references to the late Christopher Nemeth in today’s Paris show of the Louis Vuitton A/W 15 menswear collection (see my last post), artistic director Kim Jones used the staging to pay subtle homage to the two great maverick figures of London street culture – namely Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and specifically their 70s punk store Seditionaries.

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Magical: House Of Beauty & Culture 34-36 Stamford Road N1 (254 7794)

Jan 22nd, 2015
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//Heroes by Mark Lebon for i-D Bible 1988. Styling by Judy Blame and Christopher Nemeth//

I’m looking forward to participating in ShowStudio’s live broadcast discussion of today’s Louis Vuitton A/W 15 menswear show in Paris.

Vuitton artistic director Kim Jones has been trailing the show on his Instagram feed with tantalising hints as to the direction and content. Jones’ A/W 15 collaborators include Judy Blame, Nellee Hooper and Mark Lebon – all names associated with the late shoemaker John Moore’s magical 80s north-east London art/fashion space The House Of Beauty & Culture.

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George Cox: The origins of the Diano brothel creeper + samples ordered by Malcolm McLaren in 1973

Jan 20th, 2015
Malcolm McLaren 1972 (c) David Parkinson

//Malcolm McLaren in a previously unpublished shot wearing original 50s George Cox Bingley D-ring brothel creepers to match his detail-perfect Teddy Boy garb. Photo taken inside Let It Rock, 430 King’s Road, January 1972. (c) David Parkinson//

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//Left, Saint Laurent point-toed patent brothel creepers, A/W 2014. Right: George Cox Buckle Diano made to the 1950s last//

Last season’s foregrounding by Saint Laurent of the pointed brothel creeper is just one of a run of examples of fashion brands plugging into the purity of this quintessentially British rock & roll style minted in 1949 by the UK independent footwear company George Cox.

Among the first stylistic innovators to take the design out of Teddy Boy revivalism and apply it to contemporary fashion was Malcolm McLaren, who had been selling creepers for a couple of years at Let It Rock, the boutique he operated with Vivienne Westwood, by the time he visited the Cox factory in Northampton in November 1973. Here he ordered samples for six styles, some of which went into production for sale at 430 King’s Road.

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Little space with a big impact: Talking about 430 King’s Road at ICA interior design symposium in March

Jan 19th, 2015
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//Portfolio shot of the newly completed Seditionaries, 430 King’s Road, London SW10,  December 1976.
(c) Ben Kelly//

Interior Design: Dead Or Alive is the title of the symposium being organised by the prominent British designer Ben Kelly at London’s Institute Of Contemporary Arts on March 14.

I am a contributing speaker alongside writer/curator Michael Bracewell, designers Fred Deakin, Ed Barber & Jay Osgerby and Peter Saville, artists Lucy McKenzie and Bridget Smith and David Toop of the London College Of Communications and Tate Britain’s Andrew Wilson.

“We’re going to be taking stock of the ways in which iconic interiors affect and influence the direction of popular culture and the wider world,” says Kelly, who is putting the event together in his capacity as professor of interior design and spatial studies at the University of the Arts London.

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//Portfolio shot of the freshly installed Seditionaries name plaque, December 1976. (c) Ben Kelly//

Among Kelly’s designs was the November 1976 transformation of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop Sex at 430 King’s Road into Seditionaries. Knowing that I have researched and produced a substantial document on the history of 430 King’s Road, Kelly has asked me to address this little space with a big impact in terms of its importance as a cultural hub and incubator of often radical ideas.

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Metamodernism: Post-irony, new forms of sincerity and informed naivety

Jan 17th, 2015

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What is Metamodernism?

In the 90s and the early 2000s it’s fair to say we grew up with a particular outlook on life, one of irony, of deconstruction and cynicism. This was noticeable in the music of Nirvana and Radiohead, in the books of Michel Houellebecq and Bret Easton Ellis, and we saw it in the arts with the YBAs and Jeff Koons. This is very much a sensibility that spoke to us, that we embraced.

That time was summed up by a sense of boredom in culture. This is it? And what now?

Throughout the 2000s we began noticing – as many people did and many have written about this – slight changes. First you get the complete reappraisal of writers such as David Foster Wallace, who started in the 90s but suddenly became big in the early 2000s. And you had sincere movies by Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry. This was all very different from the kind of stuff we grew up with. Something was changing. The irony of Nirvana, the desperation of Radiohead, the cynicism of Michel Houellebecq were replaced by something that was at once still cynical, still ironic and had an acknowledgement of how the world worked, but at the same time seemed to want more.

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Of ties and men: The neckwear connection between Bryan Ferry, Malcolm McLaren and David Parkinson

Jan 17th, 2015

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//Malcolm McLaren, 1973. Photo: David Parkinson. Bryan Ferry, 1976. Photo Richard Wallis//

A couple of years back I showed examples of photography by the late David Parkinson to car-nut graphic design maestro Jules Balme; I knew he would be interested in the incorporation of a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado in a 1973 Let It Rock fashion shoot.

What drew Balmes’ eagle eye was not the car fin detail, but the fact that Malcolm McLaren in the shot below sported a tie of the same distinctive Atomic-style 50s pattern as worn by Bryan Ferry in the video clip for his 1976 solo hit Let’s Stick Together (and subsequently on the sleeve of the compilation of the same name rushed out to capitalise on the single’s success that year).

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//McLaren and models in Let It Rock attire – right are examples of the so-called “Alan Ladd” and “Jazz” suits – photographed in Acre Lane, Brixton for Club International by David Parkinson, summer 1973//

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