Paul Gorman is…

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

Jan 20th, 2015
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//Malcolm McLaren in a previously unpublished shot wearing original 50s George Cox Bingley D-ring brothel creepers to match his detail-perfect Teddy Boy garb.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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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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Curating: Art In Pop – including the Malcolm McLaren show – open for another month

Jan 13th, 2015

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“More than anyone, Malcolm McLaren bursts the definitions as to what exactly constitutes an artist.”
Yves Aupetitallot, curator at Magasin, the Centre National d’Art Contemporain, in the introduction to Art In Pop

Due to popular demand, the run of Art In Pop – the French exhibition about the intermingling of artistic practice with popular music where the main space is dedicated to the work of Malcolm McLaren – has been extended by a month.

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Queen Viva! Original punk rocker + lollipop lady

Dec 9th, 2014
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//Viva Hamnell at Glastonbury Festival, from Amanda Bluglass’s short Viva Punk Rebel//

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//Viva Hamnell at Port Eliot Lit Fest 2006 with her daughter Jane and son-in-law Rik Gadsby modelling McLaren, Westwood and Reid punk designs for The Look//

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//The crowd went wild and jogged the photographer’s elbow: onstage in this blurry shot with Viva in Jamie Reid’s Sex Pistols Fuck Forever t-shirt, Port Eliot Lit Fest, 2006//

Punk had great freedom with no rules. I couldn’t sing, but I got up there and sung. It didn’t matter. You had to have the spirit and the energy.

Viva Hamnell, 2014

My first meeting with Viva Hamnell eight years ago was not untypical, I subsequently learnt.

74 at the time, she was viewing the various Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and Jamie Reid designs I was co-opting friends and attendees at Port Eliot Lit Fest to model that year to illustrate an event for the newly published second edition of my book The Look.

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//Hamnell goes about her Lollipop Lady duties in a 70s TV news item//

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//Left in the 70s//

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//Lining up with fellow members of The Bricks//

Having surveyed the Naked Cowboys, Mickie & Minnie and Snow White & Her Sir Punks, Viva plumped for Reid’s 1986 BOY t-shirt issue of his poster design for The Great Rock & Roll Swindle: Sex Pistols Fuck Forever set in flouro-pink.

And when she closed the show by strolling on stage wearing the shirt, the crowd naturally went wild.

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Amanda Bluglass’s documentary portrait Viva Punk Rebel captures this indomitable rule-breaker, whose embracing of punk rock as a 43-year-old freshly divorced lollipop lady in 1976 set her on a life of adventure – taking in membership of Cornish punk band The Bricks and involvement in the Elephant Fayre and Lit Fest at St Germans and the Glastonbury Festival – which lasts unto this day.

Viva Viva!

Thanks to womenyoushouldknow.net for the link to Bluglass’s film.

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Jah Wobble talks Bohemian Chelsea, Aswad, Hawkwind, Sid VIcious and selling his Metal Box bass to the JAMC

Dec 4th, 2014

wobbleThis is nice; pal and fellow Chelsea Arts Club member John Wardle talks about the importance of the immediate neighbourhood, its artistic tradition going back to the likes of Whistler, the licentiousness of the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens in Victorian times, the Bohemian atmosphere engendered by the 70s slums around the Lots Road Power Station and how all of this combined to create the breeding ground for punk.

John also talks about his love for Hawkwind, Sid Vicious, how he sold the bass he played on Metal Box to the Jesus & Mary Chain for a drink and why he should really have done the interview topless…

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The Return Of The Saint: Cameo by The Saints + directed by Peter Medak at The Marquee…but is that Shinny in Seditionaries?

Dec 3rd, 2014
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//Is this Shinobu Kanai aka “Shinny” in a Seditionaries top in Episode 9 of the first series of The Return Of The Saint, broadcast November 1978?//

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//Kanai  in The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, 1980//

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// As “Japanese Woman” in the opening sequence of Insignificance, 1985//

Currently doing the rounds of the punk groups on various social networking sites is this clip from the cheesy 70s revival of classic 60s British television series The Saint.

Entitled The Arrangement, episode nine of The Return Of The Saint was broadcast on November 5, 1978 and starred such UK TV drama stalwarts as Carolyn Seymour, seen here looking glam in a car in Soho’s Wardour Street outside The Marquee where the great Aussie band The Saints are crashing through Swing For The Crime from their Eternally Yours album.
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Toyah Willcox and Midge Ure worked in Sex… Nostalgia Of Mud sold bondage trousers… Philip Hoare’s compromised review littered with as many howlers as contained in the Vivienne Westwood book

Oct 25th, 2014

It will be frustrating for publisher Picador and their authors Ian Kelly and Vivienne Westwood that novelist Philip Hoare’s national paper five-star review of memoir Vivienne Westwood is rendered unreliable by, pro rata, as many inaccuracies as contained in the book itself.

Holed by these gaffes, the review – in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine published October 26 – is capsized by Hoare’s failure to declare a significant interest.

In Kelly’s acknowledgements, Hoare’s name appears first on the list of those who extended to the author “accommodation, guidance, encouragement and friendship on this project”.

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//Errors pile up in Philip Hoare’s review of Vivienne Westwood in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven Magazine, October 26, 2014//

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//Philip Hoare’s name appears first in this section of Ian Kelly’s acknowledgements on p427 of the memoir Vivienne Westwood//

On the basis that phrases such as “fetishistically brilliant” justify a thumbs-up, Hoare’s review arrived in the wake of the media coverage of my claim against the publisher and the authors over substantial plagiarisation of my book The Look in Vivienne Westwood.

Since I have publicly charged the book with major-league sloppiness, this positive review by a relatively well-known literary figure may be framed in the context of a push to restore credibility to the troubled project (as well as the plagiarisation and the huge amount of factual errors, the book is held to contain at least one serious libel and fails to provide proper credit for a number of photographers).

Hoare – who has post-punk associations, having worked in west London record shop Rough Trade and managed the indie group the Pale Fountains – bravely inserts himself into the piece with personal memories of Westwood’s design business with Malcolm McLaren in the 70s and 80s.

According to Hoare – and these are his additions to the blunders already piled high by the 458-page tome – the shop assistants at 430 Kings Road in its incarnation as Sex included not only musician Midge Ure but also actress/performer Toyah Willcox.

Of course neither was employed there. Hoare has simply confused each person’s tangential relationships to the McLaren/Westwood coterie: it is well known that Ure was once approached as a possible singer for the Sex Pistols during their formative stage, while Willcox appeared in Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk movie Jubilee (the subject of a salty attack printed onto a t-shirt by Westwood).

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//Midge Ure, kneeling, with his Slik bandmates on the cover of their 1976 LP//

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//Toyah Willcox in 70s TV production The Corn Is Green (from www.toyah.net)//

During the period Hoare is discussing, Ure had already hit the number one spot with Scottish teen-pop band Slik while Willcox was making her acting bones in Birmingham Old Rep before transferring to the National Theatre. A simple check in one of the reliable published sources – of course I recommend The Look – would have put him right.

Against these howlers, we can generously attribute to memory failings Hoare’s depiction of shop manager Jordan’s “Kandinsky make-up” (it was avowedly based on the work of Mondrian and introduced in 1977 during the later Seditionaries phase) and the “scaffolding rails” in Sex (they were made of curved chrome and expertly-turned wooden gym bar racks courtesy of the trained wheelwright Vic Mead) and instead study Hoare’s ownership of a pair of bondage trousers bought at Nostalgia Of Mud, McLaren and Westwood’s store in St Christopher’s Place in London’s West End.

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//Nostalgia Of Mud – opened to promote the clothing in the companion catwalk collection (also known as Buffalo) – did not sell bondage trousers nor any other punk designs//

Bondage trousers were not sold at NoM, which opened in spring 1982. By this time McLaren and Westwood had publicly rejected these and other designs produced at the height of punk six years earlier.

In fact so vehement was their abandonment of the punk-era garments that Westwood licensed all the designs, include the patterns for the bondage trousers, to King’s Road store Boy, which was knocking them out in inferior copies by the hundred by spring 1982.

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//Hoare cites the plagiarised passage in his review//

Hoare – who has prior in giving glowing reviews to Kelly’s previous books – compounds the mistakes in his review by quoting one of the plagiarised passages from my book: “Sex,” Westwood tells Kelly,”translated into fashion becomes fetish…the very embodiment of youth’s assumption to mortality.”

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//From McLaren’s intro to The Look, which he supplied to me exclusively in the spring of 2000//

As pointed out here last week, and as my lawyers have communicated to Westwood, Kelly and Picador, this is one of 40 passages in Vivienne Westwood which bear close resemblance to text in my book, in this case from the introduction written by McLaren nearly a decade-and-a-half ago: “Sex translated into fashion becomes fetish, and fetishism is the very embodiment of youth. Youth has to behave irreverently – it has to take drugs because of its fundamental belief in its own immortality.”

Read Hoare’s review here.

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The Look and Vivienne Westwood: A question of attribution

Oct 15th, 2014
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//Vivienne Westwood quoted on p85 of her new book written with Ian Kelly and published by Picador this month. This is also spoken in Westwood’s accent by the actress Paula Wilcox in the audiobook which has been published here and in the US//

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//Westwood’s former partner Malcolm McLaren said this to me during a 1999 interview. Subsequently I quoted him on page 22 of my book The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion, first published in 2001, second edition 2006//

Jenni Murray: You’ve said ‘clothes were politics long before fashion’. What did you mean by that?

Vivienne Westwood: I have no idea.

Jenni Murray: Was it something you said to Ian (Kelly) and now you’ve forgotten?

Vivienne Westwood: No…is that what it says in the book?

Jenni Murray: Yes

Vivienne Westwood: Well then, he might have got a misquote from somewhere.

Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, October 14, 2014

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I respect Dame Vivienne Westwood’s achievements; she has been a significant figure in shaping our collective visual identity.

As someone who is driven to investigate and interpret visual culture, that is important to me. I dedicated a chapter and sections to Westwood’s contribution to fashion with and without Malcolm McLaren in the 2001 and 2006 editions of The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion.

But she is ill-served by the sloppy new book Vivienne Westwood, recently published by Picador and written by actor/author Ian Kelly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Photography books: Punk Rockers! by Alain Dister

Oct 9th, 2014
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//Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Paris, November 1973. (c) Alain Dister//

A photograph of Vivienne Westwood – credited to the fashion designer’s archive in the new Westwood book with Ian Kelly – put me in mind of an image I have in one of my many books in storage.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on the particular tome. Then bingo! Bought eight years ago on publication, the France-only publication Punk Rockers! is a compendium of the photography of the late Alain Dister from the early 70s to the mid-00s.

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//Johnny Thunders, David JoHansen, Sylvain Sylvain, Paris, November 1973. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Left: Westwood and McLaren. Right: Seditionaries frontage 1978. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Book jacket photo of unidentified female punk rocker taken in Seattle, 1996. (c) Alain Dister//

Among the photographs Dister discusses in the brief foreword is one of Westwood with Malcolm McLaren when they journeyed to Paris to witness a gig by the New York Dolls at the Olympia Theatre in November 1973. This is clearly one of a sequence taken by Dister and featured in Westwood’s book.

As Dister writes, McLaren was “habillé en Teddy Boy années 50″. In photographs taken at the French capital’s Belle Epoque brasserie La Coupole – where we were happily ensconced with the Dolls’ confrère Marc Zermati only last year – the American proto-punk group is shown in all their glory, with guitarist Sylvain Sylvain resplendent in a zippered wool/mohair Let It Rock creation.

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//London 1978. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Fans at Sex Pistols reunion concert, Finsbury Park, north London, 1996. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Left: Berlin 1998. Right: Seattle, 1996//

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//Left: Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, 2002. Right: Sheena, Tokyo 2002//

Punk Rockers! is a valuable document; Dister cast his unstinting eye as punk mutated from London and New York in the 70s to blossom in such cities as Berlin in the 80s, Seattle in the 90s and Tokyo in the 00s.

Former Melody Maker journalist Chris Charlesworth provides a fascinating snapshot of the Dolls at their debauched peak in Paris here.

Buy copies of Punk Rockers! here.

Dister died in 2008; here is his website.

Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly is reviewed here.

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