Paul Gorman is…

I Will Be So Bad: Malcolm McLaren in one of France’s leading contemporary art spaces

Sep 29th, 2014
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//With a couple of vitrines awaiting exhibits, the wall space on the left of this photo has been dedicated to one of McLaren’s so-called “Punishment Paintings” from the 1980s, titled I Will Be So Bad//

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//A wall vitrine constructed between two pillars displays original clothing from each of the six manifestations of the retail outlets McLaren operated with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road and 5 St Christopher’s Place in London//

As demonstrated by these photographs taken today by Eric Pourcel, head of production at Magasin, France’s Centre National d’Art Contemporain in Grenoble, the Malcolm McLaren room at group show Art In Pop is really coming together ahead of next week’s opening.

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//Next to a recreation of the Let It Rock sign at 430 King’s Road  from 1972 we have positioned this tall box vitrine with five examples of the Let It Rock ties loaned by Adam & The Ants guitarist and songwriter Marco Pirroni//

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//The projection area is being set up to show a selection of films relating to McLaren’s work in fashion and music through the 70s, 80s and 90s//

Art In Pop is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I,  and runs from Oct 11 to January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, Site Bouchayer-Viallet, 8 esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

Details here.

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Art In Pop installation underway: Malcolm McLaren lines up with Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnston et al

Sep 25th, 2014
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//Recreation of facades McLaren commissioned and created for the early 70s iterations of the boutique at 430 King’s Road: Let It Rock (1971-72) and Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die (1972-74)//

The installation of the ambitious new group exhibition Art In Pop is underway at France’s Centre National d’Art Contemporain, the Magasin gallery in Grenoble.

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//Paintings by the late Don Van Vliet being readied for hanging//

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//Giant recreation of Daniel Johnston’s artwork for his 1983 cassette-only release Hi, How Are You//

Malcolm McLaren’s visual works, from student paintings through his experiments in fashion design, boutique environments, music and film to the installations of his final years, will be shown alongside art by such musicians as Don Van Vliet and Daniel Johnston and musical investigations by such artists as John Armleder, Alix Lambert and John Miller.

Art In Pop opens on October 11 and runs until January 4 next year.

Details here.

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Let It Rock: Malcolm McLaren at Art In Pop – work begins on building the show

Sep 19th, 2014
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//Positioning the 430 shop logos in the Malcolm McLaren room at Art In Pop. Photo: Magasin head of production Eric Pourcel//

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‘Black is the most exciting colour’ (Goya). Black when used in different ways appears the most infinite and mysterious, the most spatial and loose.
Malcolm McLaren, essay for course at Croydon Art School, 1967

It’s exciting. Work is underway on building the Art In Pop group exhibition which opens next month at Le Magasin, France’s National Centre for Contemporary Art in Grenoble.

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//McLaren’s first logo at 430 King’s Road was featured on the side of a 12m installation at Let It Rock at CIFF this summer. Foreground image of McLaren in Central Park, spring 1975, by Bob Gruen. Photo: Jean Francois Carly/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//The Too Fast To Live shop frontage in this 60 x 40″ blow-up at CIFF//

Featuring artworks by musicians such as Don Van Vliet and Daniel Johnstone as well as musical ventures by artists including John Armleder and John Miller, Art In Pop incorporates the sizeable space dedicated to Let It Rock, the show exploring the work of the late Malcolm McLaren.

This will focus on McLaren’s investigations into the visual arts from the 60s to his death in 2010 along with the engagements with commercial media such as fashion, film and music for which he is best known.

In line with Let It Rock’s manifestation at the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair this summer, the pink-on-black Let It Rock sign will be recreated, this time at the entrance to the Malcolm McLaren room.

For Art In Pop the sign is being matched by a giant reproduction of the shop logo which followed Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road: Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die.

The dominant use of black behind these logos riffs on McLaren’s repeated use of the colour in his work and should make for an impactful introduction to the show, which will feature hundreds of exhibits from throughout the cultural iconoclast’s artistic life.

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//Founded in 1986, Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain is housed in an industrial hall built for the 1900 Paris World’s Fair by the workshops of Gustave Eiffel//

Art In Pop – which is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I – runs from Oct 11 to January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, 8 esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

More info here.

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Hiroshi Fujiwara loaning Anarchy Shirt originally owned by Jon Savage for Malcolm McLaren room at Art In Pop

Sep 6th, 2014
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//”An inspired collage”. Section of Anarchy Shirt bought by Jon Savage at Seditionaries. Hiroshi Fujiwara Collection//

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//Savage wearing the shirt for an interview on 1983′s “Positive Punk” movement for British TV//

Preparations are well underway for the next phase of the Malcolm McLaren exhibition: a room dedicated to the late cultural iconoclast’s work as a visual artist at group show Art In Pop, which opens next month at France’s National Centre Of Contemporary Art space Magasin in Grenoble.

Art In Pop will also feature rooms dedicated to paintings by the late Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) and documentation of the artist John Miller’s exploits in music with the likes of Tony Conrad, Kim Gordon, Mike Kelley, Takuji Kogo and Thurston Moore.

And there will also be artworks by such musicians as the late Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, Daniel Johnston, Cris Kirkwood of The Meat Puppets, David Thomas of Pere Ubu and Mayo Thompson of The Red Crayola.

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//Life In Hell, Daniel Johnston, 1998. Felt pen and paper, 21.5 x 28cm, courtesy Arts Factory//

//Alix Lambert is featured on this 2008 Buckethead track//

These will be exhibited with pieces by artists who have investigated music, including John Armleder (who will be showing a work created with Genesis Breyer P. Orridge and Alan Vega), David Bowes, Alix Lambert (creator of 90s fictional all-girl punk band Platipussy, described as an “oestregen-powered Spinal Tap), Randy Ludacer, Tony Oursler and Greg Parma Smith.

The Malcolm McLaren element of Art In Pop will include many of the exhibits displayed at Let It Rock in Copenhagen this summer along with some exciting additions which I will be previewing here over the coming weeks.

Among them will be paintings produced by McLaren as an art student in the 60s as well as an original example of one of the most “painterly” works McLaren created with Vivienne Westwood: The Anarchy Shirt.

This is being loaned by fashion guru and musician Hiroshi Fujiwara, who has one of the most important collections of McLaren & Westwood designs in the world.

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//”An extraordinary package of compressed content”. Hiroshi Fujiwara Collection//

The shirt is a fine example of the extraordinary design first introduced in September 1976, and was originally owned by writer and cultural commentator Jon Savage.

“I bought it in late 1978 from Seditionaries,” says Savage. “It had a swastika applique which I immediately took off, not wishing to be the bearer of that particular insignia.”

Savage has described the Anarchy shirt as McLaren & Westwood’s “masterpiece… an inspired collage, using second hand clothes, craft and revolutionary slogans – an extraordinary package of compressed content”.

Art In Pop – which is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, me, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate and John Miller – is at Magasin from October 11 to January 4 2015.

Details here.

Here is the first part of the 1983 Positive Punk documentary, shown as part of ITV’s South Of Watford strand (Savage appears towards the end of this segment):

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Trouble at the Met: Status of half of the punk collection downgraded but dubious designs continue to toxify Costume Institute collection

Sep 2nd, 2014
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//Dubious. Photo removed from the Met’s website but this T-shirt – like dozens more questionable garments – remains listed in the Costume Institute collection. The listing has been changed to “Attributed to” McLaren & Westwood; previously it was described as an authentic and original example of one of their designs//

A cop-out?

Or another step towards cleaning house at one of the most prestigious fashion collections in the world?

Only time will tell but the reclassification of the status of more than 30 highly collectable and expensive punk garments in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute collection signals a decline in confidence in the authenticity of a great deal of clothing which until recently was proudly proclaimed as original examples of the 70s designs of the late Malcolm McLaren and Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Effectively the museum has downgraded its crucial assurance of provenance for the clothes, which represent around half of the McLaren & Westwood punk fashions in the Met archive; for years they were officially recorded as original, authenticated designs but now Met staff have inserted the phrase “attributed to” into dozens of listings in the collection and on its website.

This follows removal of photography of disputed items from the website along with recommendations to start debugging the collection by deleting offending clothing by “de-accessioning” (the process by which a work is removed from the Met’s collection for sale or disposal*).

By taking these actions, the Met is communicating that it can no longer provide absolute guarantees for clothes for which it paid top dollar and featured prominently in such Gala Ball-led extravaganzas as 2006′s Anglomania: Tradition & Transgression In British Fashion and last year’s Punk: Chaos To Couture.

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//Photography of the Parachute Shirt on the left (seen here paired with a John Galliano creation for the press preview of the Met’s 2013 exhibition Punk: Chaos To Couture) has been removed from the Met website with the archival status officially downgraded to “Attributed to” McLaren & Westwood//

The majority of the Met’s punk acquisitions occurred in 2006, when it bought nearly 50 garments purporting to be McLaren & Westwood originals, using funds from three official sources: The Richard Martin Bequest (named for the late historian and CI curator), The Friends Of The Costume Institute Gifts and NAMSB Foundation Inc.

At this time, before a series of alarms over counterfeiting rocked the market for these designs, each would have fetched upwards of £1,000 – £5,000. Many of the problematic items of clothing at the Met stem from this period.

In May 2013 I visited the museum and reviewed the collection of 1972-1980 designs by McLaren & Westwood. In the report I delivered to the Met last summer, I expressed the opinion – and outlined in detail the reasons why I believe – that an embarrassingly large number of the clothes are indeed fake. Several more are at the very least questionable, and at the time of my visit many were misdated and misattributed.

During the review I encountered easily fixed but nevertheless egregious mistakes: the archival listings credited each of the designs solely to Westwood, for example, and inexplicably it is her name alone which remains on the title page for each (the museum does not credit Dolce without Gabbana for example).

There were many howlers. A few examples: Sex and Seditionaries logo t-shirts featuring Westwood’s Red Label (launched 1993) were mistakenly allocated to the partnership in the 70s; a version of Westwood’s t-shirt rant about Derek Jarman’s film Jubilee was dated 1976 (two years before the film was made); and Too Fast To Live To Young To Die clothes were attributed to the late 70s (the store’s incarnation was 1972-74).

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//One of two Vivienne Westwood Red label 90s shirts until recently claimed by the Met to be original McLaren/Westwood 70s designs//

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//The bondage trousers on the mannequin in the foreground of this tableau from the Met’s 2006 Anglomania exhibition were designated in the show and catalogue to “Seditionaries, McLaren/Westwood, 1977-78″. They are – as the label inside clearly indicates – Westwood Red label (which was launched in 1993). Meanwhile the photography for the You’re Gonna Wake Up t-shirt on the mannequin lying bottom right has been removed from the Met website and the listing is among those which now has the caveat “attributed to” in the description//

Some were dead giveaways: for example an unusual leather jacket with a Worlds End Born In England label was dated 1979, a year before the label was even launched, a strange black version of the 1978 Gimp Mask/Union Jack t-shirt was (and continues to be) dated 1974, and a pair of Westwood Red-labelled black bondage trousers were mistakenly featured as originals, dated 1977-78 in the Met’s 2006 show Anglomania.

As of this week, these trousers are now dated to 1976 (17 years before the label which they bear was created) in the collection and on the Met website. Meanwhile photography of a Seditionaries-labelled Parachute Shirt which features poorly conceived elements migrated from the Anarchy Shirt design and a patch of Josef Stalin (this was never applied by McLaren & Westwood to their work**) has also been pulled from the website though once again the item remains in the collection.

In another example I pointed out that a Vive Le Rock!/Punk Rock Disco t-shirt purporting to have been sold at Seditionaries bore a tag for the US manufacturer Hanes. I have since established that this shirt was one of a batch produced in London in 1984, four years after Seditionaries closed and McLaren & Westwood ceased producing the design.

Last autumn and winter others with knowledge of the field were invited to give their views; I was informed these largely coincided with mine. In March this year the museum marked two tartan bondage suits with Seditionaries labels – one of which also featured prominently in the Anglomania show and catalogue – for de-accession.

Six months later, as of today (September 2), these bondage suits remain in the collection.

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//Jacket of bondage suit marked for de-accession by the Met in March 2014. Photography on website on September 1, 2014 with listing designation changed to “Attributed to”//

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//Jacket of bondage suit marked for de-accession by the Met in March 2014. Photography on website on September 1, 2014 with listing designation changed to “Attributed to”//

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//The bondage suit marked for de-accession featured in the frontispiece of the catalogue for the Met’s 2006 show Anglomania//

In March 38 garments were classified “pending further review” with the photographs removed from 31 of the listings on the Met website.

Among these are such dubious items as the t-shirt titled “And Sloppy” (see first image of this post) about which I wrote in my report:

“This is not in my opinion a design by McLaren & Westwood. The lack of skill in execution, weak placement, poor juxtaposition and banal content reveal a lesser hand. A smaller version of the pink playing card was used as a repeat print on another design. This appears to be a scan of that blown up and flouro-ed. The text comes from a 1977 article by Charles Shaar Murray in the New Musical Express; such clumsy appropriations are not aligned to the content choices made by McLaren and Westwood. It appears to be an attempt by migrating a familiar element from another work to create a one-off or rarity and thus counter the lack of documentary and anecdotal evidence as to its existence.”

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//”Attributed to…” The amended listing for “And Sloppy” with photography removed//

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//1990s VW Red label bondage trousers dated to 1976 on the Met website this week//

In April I wrote to Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton asking why such items were still featured on the Met website and remained in the collection. I also asked why the tartan bondage suits had not been de-accessioned but continued to be listed with full photography. He responded in May that the decision-making process continued and that the duration of the assessment could not be predicted.

Two weeks ago, I asked again why the Met had not taken steps to de-toxify the collection, since items such as “And Sloppy” and the Hanes shirt remain listed along with the two tartan bondage suits selected for de-accession. I have received confirmation of receipt of my inquiries but no responses to my questions.

It is evident that behind-the-scenes activity has been taking place of late, with the museum hastily altering the listings and inserting “Attributed to…” for the 31 items, which include “And Sloppy”, the Hanes Vive Le Rock! and the tartan bondage suits along with the problematic Parachute Shirt, the Jarman t-shirt, a mohair sweater and two pairs of Seditionaries boots.

But this solution raises more questions than it answers:

• By who are these clothes now attributed to McLaren & Westwood?

• It is reasonable to infer from the insertion of “Attributed to” that there is now a margin of doubt at the Met that these were made by McLaren & Westwood or under their direction; if they were made by others, without McLaren & Westwood’s involvement, how does the museum explain the presence of original-looking labels?

• The presence of this labelling on the clothing further magnifies the difficulties for the Met; either these are original garments designed by McLaren & Westwood or they are not. Which is it, since “Attributed to” is apparently meaningless in this context?

• What of the vendors who sold these as original, authentic items; since they are no longer accepted as such, will the vendors be required to return the payments which they received?

• Since this denotes the museum’s acceptance that 30-odd items of clothing are seriously open to question, why has it opted for this fudge rather than de-accessioning them all?

I have written to the museum again seeking answers and anticipate a response once New York wakes up after the Labor Day holiday.

It is to be hoped that the Met’s move presages a clean-sheet stance to this material with progress to de-accessioning of toxic garments. In this way the museum may regain credibility after what appears to be a series of potentially costly failures in collecting materials for arguably the world’s greatest fashion archive.

* According to the Met’s collection principles “the Museum may deaccession but generally does not dispose of works determined to be forgeries. Curatorial departments generally retain these works for study purposes or seek the Director’s permission to destroy the objects, unless it can be determined that disposal can be accomplished in a responsible manner without confusion to a possible buyer. Works incorrectly attributed or dated may be de-accessioned, provided that the new information or attribution is provided”.

** In a New Yorker piece decades later, McLaren wrote about the creation of punk fashions and mistakenly mentioned Stalin instead of Karl Marx, whose image appeared on patches on the partnership’s Anarchy Shirt. He regretted this error when shirts bearing Stalin’s image were  subsequently circulated. 

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Short film about the Malcolm McLaren exhibition in Copenhagen

Aug 28th, 2014

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This short film gives a flavour of Let It Rock, the exhibition about Malcolm McLaren’s engagement with fashion in the 70s and 80s curated by Young Kim and I in Copenhagen earlier this month.

We are interviewed along with Kristian Andersen, Copenhagen International Fashion Fair fashion and design director, and our co-exhibitor, US streetwear designer Virgil Abloh.

Crystal Hall – Malcolm McLaren & Virgil Abloh – August 2014 from CIFF on Vimeo.

Film credits:
Produced by: Goodwind Studio
Editor: Janne Villadsen
Edit by: Mathias Nyholm Schmidt and Simon Weyhe
Music: Stanley Krubix

See also here.

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September 13: Joe Stevens at his snarliest

Aug 14th, 2014
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//Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten (in Seditionaries Elliot tartan suit and Anarchy flag/leather mask t-shirt) and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols relax during a soundcheck before their performance at Randy’s Rodeo, San Atonio, Texas on January 8, 1978. Less than a week later the line-up played its final show together in San Francisco. Photo: Joe Stevens//

Lucky for some. Photographer, raconteur, wit and self-confessed exhibitionist Joe Stevens will be talking about and presenting a selection of his 70s Brit/Punk photos at Sonny’s Tavern in Dover, New Hampshire, on September 13.

“Attendees are encouraged to affect their snarliest behaviour,” says Stevens.

More details here.

This is from the January 8 show at Randy’s:

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The Malcolm McLaren fashion exhibition: “Exceptional…incredibly detailed and well put together”

Aug 8th, 2014
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//Foreground: Mobile featuring portrait of Malcolm McLaren in Central Park, NYC, 1975 by Bob Gruen. In the background the 12m-long Let It Rock installation. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//McLaren’s Buffalo sheepskin with Witches multi-tongued shoes contributed by designer Kim Jones. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate //

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//Outfits float in the air, from left: Pirate waistcoat and dress worn by Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow in performance; Let It Rock shawl collared blouse and circle skirt; Nostalgia Of Mud wool toga dress with Folkways print. Malcolm McLaren Estate, Kim Jones Collection, private collection//

The response to this week’s Malcolm McLaren exhibition Let It Rock has been very encouraging; here are some images which hopefully give an idea of the show’s impact.

Running for four days at Copenhagen’s Bella Center as part of the Danish city’s international fashion fair CIFF, the show – curated by me and Young Kim of the MM Estate – focused on the late cultural iconoclast’s engagement with fashion with Vivienne Westwood in the 70s and 80s.

We have received favourable press, with particular praise from the FT’s Charlie Porter, who wrote that the hang of the garments was “exceptional”. Meanwhile style blogger Susie Bubble described the exhibition – full title Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion – as “incredibly detailed and well put together”.

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//Young Kim in jacquard Keith Haring print Witches two piece and multi-tongued sneakers. All clothes from Kim Jones coillection. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren estate//

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//Fans belt buckles with Fans press statement. Sources: Malcolm McLaren Estate and private collection//

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//Press invite and showcard for the sixth catwalk collection designed by McLaren and Vivienne Westwood: Worlds End 1984, later Hypnos. The partnership was dissolved in March 1984. Malcolm McLaren Archive//

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//ROCK! Marco Pirroni’s Let It Rock ties//

We designed the show centrepiece: an imposing black corrugated iron-clad 12-metre long tunnel installation celebrating McLaren’s first shop, Let It Rock. Among the exhibits inside were previously unpublished photographs of the shop interior taken by the late David Parkinson and an original shop price list owned by McLaren. A bespoke soundtrack blared music as featured on the jukebox at 430 King’s Road as well as personal favourites of McLaren’s, from Burundi Black by the Drummers Of Burundi to Cast Iron Arm by Peanuts Wilson and Hallelujah I’m A Bum by Harry “Mac” McLintock.

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//Installation exterior//

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//Installation interior//

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//Let It Rock display cabinet, January 1972. Photo: David Parkinson//

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//McLaren’s framed copy of the LIR price list he designed in 1972. Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//January 1972. Photo: David Parkinson//

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///Tracklisting for songs played in the insatllation//

The show was subdivided into six areas each dedicated to a manifestation of the outlets McLaren operated with Westwood. These were signposted by 60 x 40″ photographic blow-ups of the exteriors we commissioned to be printed on canvas to add dimension and presence.

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//Let It Rock exterior with McLaren in foreground, 1972. Photo: Mirrorpix. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die with McLaren and Gerry Goldstein in foreground, 1973. Photo: Malcolm McLaren Estate. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Sex with shop assistant Jordan in foreground, 1976. Photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Seditionaries frontage, 1976. Photo: Ben Kelly. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Worlds End frontage, 1981, photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″. Left: Marco Pirroni’s Let It Rock drape suit//

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//Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982. Photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 40 x 60″//

With text panels explaining exhibits in McLaren’s own words, each section also featured photographic mobiles suspended from the ceiling and Perspex-topped vitrines containing original garments, photography, notebooks, sketches and ephemera.

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//Customer deposit receipt, Sex, 1976. Signed by shop assistant Michael Collins. Paul Burgess Collection//

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//Pages from McLaren’s 1976 notebook. Paul Burgess Collection//

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//McLaren’s handwritten Nostalgia Of Mud press release for Vivienne Westwood; her version in her own handwriting. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate//

One area of the show was dedicated to 10 outfits reflecting the span of the designs from Let It Rock to Nostalgia Of Mud. Our solution to the ticklish problem of how clothes are presented in exhibitions was to fly these from the ceiling between sheets of Perspex, and we made a selection from the Estate archive as well as contributions by the likes of Louis Vuitton’s style director Kim Jones and guitarist/songwriter Marco Pirroni.

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//Nylon top, Sex, 1976. Peg trousers, Let It Rock, 1974. Kim Jones Collection//

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//God Save The Queen Muslin top, Seditionaries, 1977. McLaren’s bondage trousers, Sex, 1976. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection//

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//Witches jacquard two piece and scarf with Haring print. Kim Jones Collection//

In the projection room visitors viewed moving images associated with McLaren, from rare film of the catwalk shows he conducted with Westwood in the early 80s to video clips for his hits such as Buffalo Gals and Soweto.

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//Marco Pirroni’s print pirate boots, Worlds End, 1981. Top worn by Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow in performance and subsequently dyed. Private collection//

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//Savages Navajo print dress with McLaren’s annotated copy of Indian Rawhide. Both private collection//

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//Invitation to Witches collection show, Folkways top, Dances Of The World’s People. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection//

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//Two rubber bracelets deisgned by Tom Binns for Worlds End S/S 1984 with Hobo-Punkature top and Worlds End 1984 invite. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection//

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//Document confirming the dissolution of the design partnership between McLaren and Westwood, March 1984. It is important to note that McLaren did not relinquish authorship over the works they produced together//

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//The final exhibit: Buffalo hat and McLaren’s Chico hat. Kim Jones Collection/Malcolm McLaren Estate.//

Many visitors told us they were bowled over by the show; now we are working on another McLaren exhibition as part of Art In Pop at Le Magasin in Grenoble, France, this autumn. This will encompass McLaren’s creative output from his art-school days through his careers in fashion, music and film to his final works as a visual artist. I’ll keep you informed; it runs from October to January next year.

Follow these links for media coverage of Let It Rock:

Charlie Porter – At the Malcolm McLaren show in Copenhagen, the hang of the garments is exceptional

W Magazine – Celebrating the fashionable life of the late punk pioneer

Style Bubble – Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion

GQ – Four ways Malcolm McLaren revolutionised the style scene

The Cut – The Man Who’s Partly Responsible For The Pharrell Hat

Thanks go to CIFF fashion/design director Kristian Andersen and creative directors Pierre Tzenkoff + Arnaud Vanraet for their foresight in commissioning this show, and also to the exhibition architect, the talented Jean-Christophe Aumas and his excellent team of builders, particularly Annette, Henning + Stefan.

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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: Let It Rock x Let’s Rock x Little Richard = Vive Le Rock!

Jul 30th, 2014
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//Malcolm McLaren in front of French 50s rock n roll movie posters inside Let It Rock, at 430 King’s Road,  January 1972. Note Vive le Rock! poster top left. Photo: David Parkinson//

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//Front cover, You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down, Little Richard, Union Pacific, 1972. Designer: Unknown//

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//As shown on this repro, McLaren’s design for the Little Richard shirt sold at the London Rock N Roll Festival held at Wembley Stadium in August 1972//

Yet another example of Malcolm McLaren’s astounding design talent is examined across a number of exhibits at the Let It Rock show, which opens at Copenhagen’s Bella Center on Sunday (August 3).

In 1972 McLaren expanded his investigations into 50s pop design culture by producing a series of t-shirt designs celebrating the great American rock & roll stars performing on the bill of the one-day festival at London’s Wembley Stadium that August.

McLaren continued to followed the path dictated by his formidable art education by creating new artworks out of the juxtaposition of found objects. The release of a Little Richard compilation that year provided the main image for the shirt dedicated to The Georgia Peach; 1972 also witnessed a revival of interest in the pompadoured Richard Penniman after Let It Rock customer Charles (now Lord) Saatchi featured a Little Richard song in a 50s-styled TV advert for Libro jeans.

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//The title lettering on the poster was isolated//

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//The main image from the LP cover was flipped vertically//

McLaren flipped the image, reversed it out and positioned the exuberant figure with the joyous title lettering from a  rock & roll movie poster he stocked in Let It Rock. Vive Le Rock! was, in fact, the French title of the 1958 US production Let’s Rock, so tied indirectly with the name McLaren had chosen for his own venture. In Britain the film was marketed under the tamer name Keep It Cool.

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//Poster for the American release of the movie, 1958//

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//McLaren later incorporated the Vive Le Rock! elements into a fresh composite for sale in 430 King’s Road when it was Seditionaries in 1979. This also featured Situationist slogans, a quote from the early 20th century Spanish anarcho-syndicalist Buenaventura Durruti and “recipes” from William Powell’s The Anarchist’s Cookbook, first published in 1971//

The Copenhagen show features a Let It Rock installation complete with a series of large prints of previously unseen photographs taken by David Parkinson inside 430 King’s Road in January 1972. Included is a full version of the image at the top of this post, as well as a Vive le Rock! shirt and the Little Richard LP cover.

Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion is at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center from August 3-6.

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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
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//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//

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

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//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.

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

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//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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