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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: The roots of Savages + his copy of Mable Morrow’s folk art book Indian Rawhide

Jul 30th, 2014

//Malcolm McLaren’s copy of Mable Morrow’s Indian Rawhide: An American Folk Art, published by Oklahoma University Press as part of the Civilization Of American Indian series in 1975//


//Annotated page showing design for a parfleche (painted hide) of the Dakota//


//Savages dress in thick jersey and cotton with overprinted lettering. Design: Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for Worlds End, 1982. Private collection//

Among the most revealing exhibits at the Malcolm McLaren show Let It Rock is the cultural iconoclast’s copy of a folk art book which proved a rich source of reference when he came to design the Savages collection with Vivienne Westwood in 1982.

McLaren’s consistent approach to creative activity always began with deep research (from the first publicly recognised manifestation, the Teddy Boy outlet Let It Rock, to his final film artworks Shallow 1-21 and Paris: City Of The XXIst Century).

And in the early 80s, McLaren’s copy of Mable Morrow’s Indian Rawhide, published by Oklahoma University Press in 1975, proved inspirational for this lifelong fan of Native American Indian culture.


//Assiniboin parfleche design collected on the Fort Belknap Reservation, Montana//


//Savages soft jersey top with contrasting armpit inserts and neck yolk. Designed by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for Worlds End, 1982. Private collection.//

McLaren’s recasting of this folk art in the sphere of fashion aligns his work in the 70s and 80s with the post-modern practice of appropriation which infused all spheres of artistic endeavour at the time, from literature to film and fine art. It is arguable that he and Westwood were the first and the greatest to incorporate the approach in clothing design.

When Savages debuted in October 1982 at Olympia’s Pillar Hall in west London, the repurposing of Native American tribal prints across a range of fabrics and garments – some overprinted with block capital slogans such as “Breaker” and “Girly” – and meshing with contemporary urban black culture and streetwear proved groundbreaking in fashion terms, as can be seen in this film commissioned for the event by McLaren:


Indian Rawhide and the clothing featured in this post are among the many rare and unique exhibits in Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion, which is at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center from August 3-6.

Read more here.

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The Face book announced in The Bookseller

Jul 23rd, 2013

The return of Kix: Fu Manchu by The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra ft Bitty McLean

May 6th, 2013

Dave Robinson, one of the British music business’s towering figures, has sent me this lovely pop-reggae tune from Madness man Lee Thompson’s project.

It’s great for this sunny Bank Holiday; Bitty McLean is on top vocal form.

Fair takes me back to seeing Madness in their North London Invaders incarnation support a jazz-rock trio (!) at Camden Town’s Dublin Castle, and before that the graffito ‘Kix’ emblazoned around 70s teenage nexus Golders Green tube station (courtesy of Thompson).

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It’s a date: In conversation with Boy George at the V&A on April 9

Feb 26th, 2013

Interview on

Oct 18th, 2012

I’m interviewed by Andrew Bunney about the Tommy Roberts book on Japanese lifestyle/culture blog Honeyee – read here.

This is Andrew’s own honeyee blog.

Buy Mr Freedom – Tommy Roberts: British Design Hero here.

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The Past The Present & The Possible in Libération

Jun 6th, 2012


French newspaper Libération’s coverage of the White Noise show in Chaumont included a section on my Barney Bubbles exhibit The Past The Present & The Possible.

Marie Lechner’s report – see here – points to Bubbles’ “spirit of protest and fun” shared by other White Noise exhibitors such as French design/music magician Shoboshobo (aka Mehdi Hercberg).

Visit Shoboshobo’s site here.

White Noise – curated by Sophie Demay and Etienne Hervy – is on until Sunday (June 10). Thereafter it will be open for a week exclusively for schools, colleges and general educational purposes.

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“One of those unpindownable figures who fast-tracks vanguard ideas into the mainstream”

Apr 26th, 2012

Above is Diane Solway’s feature on Tommy Roberts in the current issue of W Magazine.

Read the text of the W article and view some of the images online here.

MR FREEDOM – Tommy Roberts: British Design Hero is published in June; order your copy of the book here.

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Portrait for new Burro book

Jan 14th, 2012

Portrait for Burro book. Photo: Ivan Jones.

Photographer Ivan Jones dropped by this week to take my portrait for a forthcoming book about the design business Burro. Contributors have been asked to wear garments they bought from the company for Ivan’s portraits.

I was a regular customer of the Burro outlet in Covent Garden’s Floral Street (and wrote about the label here).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Kate Moross’s Barney Bubbles mixology

Sep 24th, 2011

Pippa Brooks has captured a section of Kate Moross’s video installation at the current Mindful Of Art exhibition.

I commissioned Kate to come up with a visual accompaniment to my DJ set at Glastonbury this summer, and am blown away by her achievement in manipulating and activating artwork by Barney Bubbles.

Read Pippa’s report from the show here.

Mindful Of Art is at the Old Vic Tunnels until Tuesday (September 27). Details here. Catch it if you can

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Stagger Lee selects: A Smashing Indictment Of Character – Slim Cessna’s Auto Club

May 13th, 2011

Here’s another from from Stagger Lee‘s trick bag (click on the title):

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – A Smashing Indictment Of Character (Alternative Tentacles)

Not well know in the UK, which is a shame, this Denver band operate somewhere between the Violent Femmes, The Bad Seeds, The Handsome Family and Th’Legendary Shack Shakers, so we’re talking a whole lot of southern gothic fire’n’brimstone’n’fornicatin’n’whiskey. Probably the best recent band I’ve discovered lately, even though they’ve been around a decade or more.

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