Paul Gorman is…

“Because it’s so damn good!” Extracts from my exclusive interview with pioneering illustrator/photographer Jim French, who has died aged 84

Jun 18th, 2017

//Jim French. Photo: SHOWStudio//

The American illustrator and photographer Jim French – best known for his pioneering endeavours in the field of homoerotic art – has died at home in Palm Springs at the age of 84.

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Judy Nylon in McLaren’s Smoking Boy shirt with Nick Kent in Granny’s and Brian James in leathers, inside The Roxy 1977

Jun 2nd, 2017

//From left: Kent, James and Nylon. Please advise if you are the photographer or know their identity. No reproduction without permission//

Artist/thinker Judy Nylon has sent me this great shot taken at London punk haven The Roxy in the spring of 1977.

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Phallic Metallics: Erotic jewellery shoot by Hipgnosis for Club magazine 1976

May 4th, 2017

//Jewellery by Gayle Saunders and Stanley Rosenberg. Photography/art direction: Hipgnosis. From Phallic Metallics, Club, May 1976//

I’m grateful to Stian Brekke for sending me a link to his site hipgnosiscovers.com for these arresting pages from a 1976 issue of US men’s magazine Club, launched as the sister publication the British Club International the previous year.

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Don’t Knock The Rock: John E. Reed’s eternal image of exuberant Little Richard

Apr 20th, 2017

//London Records promotional image, 1958//

In 1956 the Hollywood photographer John E. Reed took a series of promotional shots of the stars of DJ Alan Freed’s rocksploitation flick Don’t Knock The Rock.

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Apollonia Van Ravenstein + Ara Gallant in originals of Seditionaries Mickey & Minnie and Exposé t-shirts

Feb 21st, 2017

//Van Ravenstein with Gallant (wearing his trademark Japanese schoolboy’s cap adorned with gold charms). From photo by Francis Ing//

Images of the novelty t-shirt designs détourned by the late Malcolm McLaren for sale in Seditionaries in 1978 are rare, which is why this shot of Apollonia Van Ravenstein and Ara Gallant from a spread in a late 70s issue of L’Uomo Vogue is extra special.

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‘Extraordinary… transgressive’: Malcolm McLaren’s great lost fashion collection

Feb 12th, 2017

//Detail: Etching in steel toe-cap for the 80s collection. This image © Paul Gorman Archive. No reproduction without permission//

On the collapse of their design partnership in October 1983 after showcasing of the collection Worlds End 1984 in Paris and London, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood went their separate ways.

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On Malcolm McLaren’s reading list: Nik Cohn, Frederick’s Of Hollywood and Giorgio Morandi catalogues, Wilhelm Reich, Tom Wolfe and the folk art and magic studies which inspired fashion adventures with Vivienne Westwood

Jan 3rd, 2017

A few years back I came across Malcolm McLaren’s annotated copy of Indian Rawhide, the anthropologist Mable Morrow’s study of the folk art produced by Native American tribes which inspired the late cultural iconoclast in the conceptualising with his partner Vivienne Westwood of their Spring/Summer 1982 fashion collection Savage.

//Frontispiece to Morrow’s book, published by University of Oklahoma Press in the Civilization Of The American Indian Series, 1975//

//From Indian Rawhide: design produced by the Apache Mescaleros in Taos, New Mexico, matched by McLaren and Westwood with book-end marbling on this Savage slip dress. No reproduction without permission//

//The Apache design as it appeared printed on the end of the train on a Worlds End jersey toga dress. No reproduction without permission//

McLaren obtained a copy of Morrow’s book during travels recording his debut solo album Duck Rock. Since the Pirate collection of March 1981 had established a post-Punk direction for himself and Westwood and their Worlds End shop and label, McLaren set about investigating the powerful ideas residing in pre-Christian ethnic cultures, selecting Indian Rawhide as the text with which to frame the next group of designs.

My McLaren biography, to be published in spring 2018, will reveal that research – particularly literary – was one of the life-long consistencies in his approach to creative acts.

The musician Robin Scott told me that McLaren was an avid attendee of art history lessons during their spell as students at Croydon Art School in the 60s, and a couple of years before his death in 2010 McLaren confirmed that he was inspired in part to open Teddy Boy revival emporium Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road in 1971 after reading Nik Cohn’s peerless post-WW2 youth cult history Today There Are No Gentlemen.

//This edition Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971//

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Eight Young Photographers: David Parkinson’s mould-breaking contribution to the 1971 exhibition

Nov 22nd, 2016
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//David Parkinson in the Eight Young Photographers catalogue, 1971. Image courtesy Mark Trompeteler//

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//Front, catalogue/fold-out poster, for the show which ran at the Photographers Gallery in Great Newport Street from April 6 to May 2, 1971. Courtesy Mark Trompeteler. No reproduction without permission//

Eight Young Photographers was the third exhibition to be held at the newly-opened Photographers Gallery at its original premises in Great Newport Street in London’s West End.

The gallery opened in January 1971 with a group show entitled The Concerned Photographer featuring, among others, Robert Capa, and followed that by simultaneously staging three exhibits, including a display of Polaroids taken by Andy Warhol.

Visitors to Eight Young Photographers, which ran during April and into early May that year, recall it as being an important staging post in the acceptance of photography as a subject worthy of artistic appreciation. Among the contributors was the late David Parkinson, about whom I have written often. He showed work alongside Mark Edwards, Meira Hand, Roger Birt, Sylvester Jacobs, Tim Stevens, Bob Mazzer and Mark Trompeteler (who has kindly retrieved the catalogue/poster for me from his archive).

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//From the Photographers Gallery listings. The show was preceded by an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s Polaroids//

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Reissued: The Look Of London – charting fashion x music in the greatest city in the world

Oct 21st, 2016

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I’m delighted to announce that my map The Look Of London – which teases out the intertwining of popular music and street style in our capital over five decades – has been reissued by groovy guide makers Herb Lester Associates.

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Sex signage: Was McLaren inspired by Lubalin’s cladding for the Georg Jensen flagship NY store?

Sep 30th, 2016
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//Detail, clad signage for Georg Jensen, 601 Madison Avenue, late 60s. From Herb Lubalin: Typographer, Unit Editions, 2016//

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//Detail, shop signage designed by Malcolm McLaren, made by Vick Mead, 430 King’s Road, London, 1975. From a photograph by Peter Schlesinger//

Was the late Malcolm McLaren inspired by one of the greats of 20th century graphics in his creation of the astonishing signage for Sex, the fetishistic fashion boutique and incubator of punk rock he operated with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in west London between October 1974 and November 1976?

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