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AJ article on 430 caps a busy week packed with DIY Cultures, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Apartamento et al

May 15th, 2015
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//Spread from AJ featuring images of Mr Freedom + Paradise Garage. Photo: Caz Facey//

It’s been a busy and satisfying week, rounded off by publication today in the Architects Journal of an essay of mine on the cultural significance of 430 King’s Road .

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//Opening spread: Photo: Caz Facey//

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//McLaren + Westwood at Let It Rock, Ben Kelly outside Sex and Seditionaries exterior. Photo: Caz Facey//

Commissioned by AJ editor Rory Olcayto, the piece was a pleasure to write and is enhanced by a spot-on layout with great usage of photos by David Parkinson and Ben Kelly.

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//Speaking at DIY Cultures, Glasgow Film Theatre, earlier this week. Photo: Catherine Flood//

The same subject inevitably popped up on Tuesday in my keynote talk about Malcolm McLaren’s celebration of the amateur at the Glasgow School Of Art DIY Cultures symposium, which was organised by GSA cross school course leader and ceramicist Katy West.

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//At the Architectural Association last night: In the gloaming you can make out Du Pasquier + Sosa Bartolome on the left. The slide is Du Pasquier in front a wall of one of her prints for Memphis, 1983//

And last night’s in-conversation with the artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier – conducted by Apartamento editor Omar Sosa Bartolome at the Architectural Association – was a delight, by turn entertaining and illuminating, confirming Du Pasquier’s associations with Memphis as just one aspect of a fascinating practice.

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Can’t wait to get my hands on Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously, the book of Du Pasquier’s drawings they have produced together.

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//Opening spread of Jim Walrod’s interview with Gene Krell. Photography: Jeffrey Liebman//

It was great to meet Omar, with whom I have been in contact recently. I helped out in a small way with the realisation of Jim Walrod’s interview with fashion legend Gene Krell in the new issue of Apartamento, which I recommend highly.

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//New issue of Apartamento//

Keep up to speed with Architects Journal here.

Apartamento is stocked by all good book and magazine sellers and also available here.

Find out more about Nathalie Du Pasquier here and buy Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously here.

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‘This country is run by a group of Fascists': When Malcolm McLaren met Sweet Gene Vincent backstage at The Marquee

Apr 27th, 2015

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//Clockwise from top left: Gene Vincent with one of The Houseshakers, Magnet Club, Chelmsford, UK, February 1971. Photo: http://gene.vincent.fanclub.voila.net; Let It Rock assistant in Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps top, Wembley Stadium, August 5, 1972. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita; Vincent’s quote as featured on the Sex t-shirt You’re Gonna Wake Up, 1974//

‘Gene Vincent for me was the embodiment of rock’n’roll’

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On September 22 1971, Gene Vincent was a mid-week booking to play a “rock revival” night at central London club The Marquee.

Times were tough; at just 36, the soft-spoken American rocker was apparently way past his heyday and beset by severe health problems brought on by the combination of alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs taken to dull the constant pain in his left leg. This was the result of a crippling motorbike accident in his youth and the lingering effects of having been in the 1960 car-crash which killed Eddie Cochran.

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‘Designers + Customisers in 3D': Electric Colour Company in new issue of GQ Style

Apr 9th, 2015

That’ll Be The Day: How Ringo ended up in a Teddy Girl’s drape jacket from Let It Rock

Mar 18th, 2015
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//Starr on location in Let It Rock drape. Note bust darts.  From the front page of Disc & Music Echo, December 16, 1972. Photo: Uncredited//

In the autumn of 1972 the small King’s Road boutique Let It Rock, which had been open for less than a year, received a fillip when the owners Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood were asked to contribute costumes to the production of 50s Britrock movie That’ll Be The Day.

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Ben Kelly aka The Photo Kid outside Sex, 430 King’s Road, World’s End, 1975

Mar 14th, 2015
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//Ben Kelly underneath the Sex sign, 1975. Photo courtesy Ben Kelly//

I’m featuring this image of designer Ben Kelly in his persona of The Photo Kid in my presentation about the design history of 430 at the symposium Dead Or Alive: Popular Culture & The Interior, which takes place today at London’s ICA.

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430 Kings Road: In the back of Mr Freedom, Paradise Garage + Let It Rock 1969 – 1972

Feb 28th, 2015
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/Left: Andrew Greaves of Electric Colour Company in the back of Paradise Garage, May 1971. Right: Vivienne Westwood in the back of Let It Rock, January 1972. Photos: David Parkinson//

Preparation for my paper at Ben Kelly’s interior design symposium Dead Or Alive has coincided with the refurbishment of the Worlds End shop at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea.

The address is the subject of my talk; I’ll be detailing the history of 430 and how and why it was an important social and cultural locus over a number of decades.

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//Back wall of 430 King’s Road on the opening of Mr Freedom, September 1969. Interior: Electric Colour Company. Photo: David Parkinson//

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Pastiche, parody + plain forgery: How original McLaren/Westwood punk graphics have spawned a weird, twilit sub-strata of bad outsider design

Feb 24th, 2015
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//A US vintage company is unwittingly featuring this forgery as an original t-shirt from Seditionaries on its Instagram feed. The unpleasant item is an example of the accelerating trade in McLaren/Westwood fakes, where previously non-existent designs – often with repellent overtones – are touted as ultra-rare one-offs//

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//Banal content: More examples of previously non-existent designs marketed as McLaren/Westwood originals – complete with Seditionaries-style labels – from a Chinese retailer’s site last year. Note the design at bottom left has a fake label whereas the one at the top of this post does not//

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//Above: A selection of more of the crude new designs touted as original garments on Japanese auction site Seditionaries Shop, which claimed more than 300 sales at prices averaging £150//

Since Malcolm McLaren’s death nearly five years ago there has been a palpable rise in the plundering of the designs – in particular the graphics produced for t-shirts – he created with Vivienne Westwood in the 1970s.

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Funky but chic: Roxy in Kensington Church Street + the Ken Todd connection

Feb 19th, 2015
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//Roxy, 25 Kensington Church Street, 1972. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

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//Inside Roxy, 1972: Shelley Martin in a flamenco dress designed by Dinah Adams. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

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//Some of the Roxy crowd photographed around the corner from the shop (from left): The late Granny’s co-owner Marty Breslau, whose ensemble includes a Wonder Workshop top; unknown; Shelley Martin; John Knight. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

I’ve been aware of the existence of the Kensington boutique Roxy for some time, particularly since the store name was used as the title of the feature on London street fashion in a 1972 edition of Japanese magazine An An.

But my curiosity was pricked recently while browsing that same issue of An An which appears in Freddie Hornik’s scrapbook (see last post).

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Talking Interiors with The Photo Kid tonight: International Orange – When Attitudes Become Form

Feb 4th, 2015

Jaunty: Barry Plummer’s striking photos of Malcolm McLaren + Vivienne Westwood in the Wild West End spring 1979

Feb 3rd, 2015
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//McLaren specifically requested Plummer photograph him outside 7 Denmark Street, London WC1; Tin Pan Alley Club was one of the centres of Britain’s music business dating back to the 30s: “Some lads came along and Malcolm was pulling up his kilt in good-natured fun.” Photo: © Barry Plummer//

These jaunty photographs were taken by Barry Plummer in the spring of 1979 for a Melody Maker interview with Malcolm McLaren about the just-released soundtrack for the Sex Pistols’ biopic The Great Rock N Roll Swindle (beset by financial and creative difficulties, the film wasn’t released for another year).

McLaren was accompanied by Vivienne Westwood; they made a striking pair in mixed and matched one-off and traditional pieces with a selection of clothing from their King’s Road shop Seditionaries. By now the transition away from punk – left behind when the Sex Pistols split a year earlier – was becoming evident.

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//Westwood and McLaren looking the bomb at the entrance to 98 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1, home to McLaren’s management company Glitterbest. Photo © Barry Plummer//


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