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Let It Rock – Malcolm McLaren exhibition in Copenhagen next month

Jul 9th, 2014
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//Malcolm McLaren outside 430 King’s Road, March 1972. Photo: Mirrorpix//

In the shop’s various incarnations I made clothes that looked like ruins. I created something new by destroying the old. This wasn’t fashion as a commodity; this was fashion as an idea.

From his foreword to The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion, Malcolm McLaren, 2001

The first exhibition to examine the late cultural iconoclast Malcolm McLaren’s engagement with fashion in the 70s and early 80s is to be held next month in Copenhagen.

Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion – curated by Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate and me – is being staged from August 3-6 as part of the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair; creative directors Pierre Tzenkoff and Arnaud Vanraet have commissioned the show in conjunction with an exhibition entitled Industrial by Nature by streetwear guru Virgil Abloh.

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Let It Rock will investigate McLaren’s deep roots in fashion (his mother + stepfather operated the womenswear brand Eve Edwards in the 50s and 60s and his grandfather was a master tailor’s cutter) and will also demonstrate how he drew on his art-school investigations into environments to become the progenitor of the pop up shop concept.

Let It Rock revolves around an installation dedicated to the shop from which it takes its title, complete with a recreation of the frontage in black corrugated iron and pink rock&roll signage McLaren designed when he opened the premises with Vivienne Westwood in 1971.

The exhibition is divided into six sections each dedicated to the manifestations at 430 King’s Road as well as Nostalgia Of Mud, the outlet operated by McLaren and Westwood at 5 St Christopher’s Place in London’s West End from 1982 to 1984.

These  sections will all feature rarely-seen and never previously publicly-exhibited clothing designs, photography, sketches, notes, magazine spreads and even pages from McLaren’s notebooks.

Among the exhibits is McLaren’s own ‘I Groaned…” t-shirt from Sex, the Chico hat and grey Crombie coat he wore in the famous portrait for the Witches collection taken by Steven Meisel for Vogue in 1983, the short sheepskin jacket worn through the Buffalo Girls and Duck Rock period and a Let It Rock drape suit fitted personally by McLaren for guitarist songwriter Marco Pirroni.

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//McLaren modelling Witches in the Chico hat and Crombie coat with Talisa Soto and Vivienne Westwood by Steven Miesel, US Vogue, June 1983//

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//Button, pocket and cuff detail of Marco Pirroni’s drape jacket fitted by McLaren and made by Sid Green, 1974//

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//Leather t-shirt with Let It Rock label from 430 King’s Road in summer 1974 during the transition from Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die to Sex//

Ben Kelly – who realised the design for the exterior of Seditionaries in 1976 and is now professor of interiors & spatial design at University Of The Arts London – is contributing photographs taken of his work at the time for his portfolio and there is a very special leather t-shirt bearing a Let It Rock label during the transition in 1974 to the incarnation as Sex.

Contributors also include photographers Robyn Beeche, Bob Gruen, the David Parkinson Estate and Sheila Rock as well as others close to McLaren during his game-changing adventures in  the fashion world.

Find out more about the show on the CIFF site here.

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“There’s so much pollution in the world you should use the gear you already have, not buy something because it’s fashionable” – Trevor Myles + Paradise Garage in Jackie magazine December 1971

Jul 3rd, 2014
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//Trevor Myles in front of his store at 430 King’s Road, autumn 1971. Photographer: Not credited//

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//pp6-7, Jackie, December 4, 1971//

Well done to vintage collector/dealer Sharon of Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique blog for spotting this wowser on a Facebook group: a 1971 article in teen fashion and music magazine Jackie about the game-changing fashion outlet Paradise Garage run by Trevor Myles at 430 King’s Road.

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//Myles with Bradley Mendelson (in ‘Bradley’ studded top) outside Paradise Garage. Photographer uncredited//

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//Myles on his tiger-strip flocked 1966 Ford Mustang Pony car. Photographer uncredited/

Paradise Garage is important because it was the first shop in Britain to import and sell used denim in a meaningful way. Using the astounding environment created by Electric Colour Company, faded and worn denim, sometimes appliqued or patched, was stocked alongside an acutely compiled selection of soon-to-be-familiar dead-stock: Hawaiian shirts, baseball and souvenir jackets, Osh Kosh B’Gosh dungarees, bumper boots, cheongsams and so on.

Myles opened Paradise Garage in May 1971 as a reaction to the Pop Art flash he had engineered at Mr Freedom with his ex-partner Tommy Roberts. In the Jackie article he makes a point about fashion and environmental sustainability of pertinence today:

“There’s so much pollution in the world that we thought you should use the gear you already have – not buy something just because it’s fashionable. By throwing the old lot away you only add to the pollution problem. So that’s why we’re using it all up.”

Also interviewed and photographed is shop manager Bradley Mendelson, the New Yorker whose November 1971 encounter with Malcolm McLaren while Myles was absent overseas resulted in the establishment of Let It Rock at the same address.

The publication date of the issue of Jackie – December 4, 1971 – is poignant; by the time the feature appeared Paradise Garage was gone and McLaren and others, including his art-school student friend Patrick Casey and Vivienne Westwood, had taken over the outlet and were refurbishing it to match Mclaren’s radical British take on 50s retromania.

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//Mr Freedom designs produced under Myles’ former partner Tommy Roberts appeared elsewhere in the same issue. Here customer Elton John sports an appliqued top//

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//The female cover model wore a pair of green and white winged boots from Mr Freedom (detail cropped out)//

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Read the Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique blog here.

 

 

 

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Marisol’s Love + David Parkinson’s image of Mona Solomons with SEX ankle boot

May 13th, 2014

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//Left: Love, 1962, Marisol. Plaster and glass (Coca-Cola bottle), 6 1/4 x 4 1/8 x 8 1/8″, MoMA. Right: From I Get A Kick Out Of You, David Parkinson, Club International, 1975//

A disturbing David Parkinson image from a mid-70s fashion shoot for British porn magazine Club International puts me in mind of the  early 60s sculpture Love by the artist Marisol.

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David Parkinson feature in new issue of GQ

May 1st, 2014

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My feature on the work of the late fashion photographer David Parkinson is in the June issue of GQ UK, which is out now.

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Visit GQ online here.

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Unbelievable rarity: Undocumented Let It Rock clothing featured on 1972 budget LP + previously unpublished views of stock inside 430 King’s Road

Apr 12th, 2014
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//Front cover, Rock Archive, Various Artists, Windmill Records, 1972//

It is relatively common knowledge among those interested in the careers of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their series of extraordinary shops that they supplied clothes to the 1973 album Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll; Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road was clearly credited on the back of the record sleeve.

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//Front cover, The Golden Hour Of Rock N Roll, Various Artists, Pye/Golden Hour, 1973//

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//The photograph on the Rock Archive cover was flipped to better accommodate the text. Here it is as originally shot//

But I have fresh information which helps towards a greater understanding of McLaren’s project to investigate the detritus of popular culture’s recent past. During a bout of research recently I came across this earlier and hitherto undocumented use of Let It Rock clothing in a music context: the front cover of Rock Archive, a budget LP compilation released by the specialist British independent label Windmill in 1972.

And I am detailing the clothes on the cover with images taken inside Let It Rock which have never been previously published.

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//Starke shirts with 50s sports jacket on Let It Rock wall, January 1972. Photograph: David Parkinson//

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//Starke label detail//

Each garment worn by the model – whose attempts at rocking out resulted in his giving every appearance of suffering considerable pain – comes from the deadstock of British brands assiduously assembled by Malcolm McLaren and his art-school friend Patrick Casey for the opening of the world’s first avowedly post-modern retail outlet in November 1971.

From the ground up, the Rock Archive cover star wore black suede Denson’s Fine Poynts, ice-blue Lybro jeans with 12in cuffs, a Frederick Starke flyaway collar shirt and a studded and decorated Lewis Leathers early 60s Lightning jacket (which featured a highly collectable 6-5 Special patch).

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Only Anarchists Are Pretty: New Fragment x Peel + Lift Anarchy Shirt goes on sale as The Pool opens in Aoyoama

Apr 2nd, 2014

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Among the lines launching Tokyo’s new fashion and music retail outlet The Pool is a collaboration between Japanese streetwear labels Fragment and Peel + Lift on a fresh version of the 1976 Anarchy Shirt design by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

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The reissue, in four versions, is a stripped down reproduction of one of the original variants created by McLaren and Westwood to be worn by the Sex Pistols and for sale in their shop at 430 King’s Road in its incarnations as Sex and Seditionaries.

“I had been a student in the 60s, and the anarchic student movements in France really framed my critique,” McLaren told me in 2007.  “This particular shirt celebrated that.”

The original designs used as a base the deadstock Wemblex brand shirts stored in boxes at McLaren & Westwood’s flat in Clapham, south London in the mid-70s. “They were pin-striped and made in cheap cotton in the early 60s when the ‘pin-through’ collar style – an American look – was fashionable,” said McLaren.

“I wore and wore them and then, one day, Vivienne decided to paint stripes over one. She showed it to me and together we customised it, using my son’s stencil set, with slogans such as “Only Anarchists Are Pretty” and “Dangerously Close To Love”.

“As well as layering the stencils to increase the impact, I attached silk patches of Karl Marx I discovered in shops in Chinatown which sold Maoist literature.  I chose him because his book started the Socialist and workers’ movements in the 19th century. Also, Vivienne and I liked his beard.

“Marx was a writer/author, a creator of ideas, not a politician like Lenin. Marx represented a greater significance and was important to us because he lived in London at one point.”

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The Teds are back: McLaren + Westwood’s Let It Rock in the NME and the Evening Standard August 1972

Mar 17th, 2014
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//TOP: From the NME’s coverage of the Wembley Rock N Roll Show – staff model Let It Rock clothing outside 430 King’s Road. Photo: Robert Ellis./ABOVE: From the Evening Standard special issue – Teds and (left) LIR assistant Addie Isman outside Let It Rock.//

As a follow-up to my recent post about the Rock N Roll revival show held at London’s Wembley Stadium in August 1972, here is another selection from the media surrounding the event.

The New Musical Express dedicated a section to reviewing the show, decking staffers Danny Holloway, James Johnston and the late Tony Tyler in appropriate clothing from Let It Rock. The journalists were photographed outside Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s outlet at 430 King’s Road by Robert Ellis.

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//Bo Diddley on the cover of the ES special//

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//Angus McGill and Geoffrey Aqulina Ross were among the journalists who contributed to the ES special. I love the juxtaposition with the knife and fork/skull and crossbones logo promoting a Sunday Times feature by the architectural writer Ian Nairn, whose work has recently undergone critical appraisal//

The capital’s daily paper the Evening Standard’s special issue – billed as the official programme – also included images taken outside Let It Rock, including assistant Addie Isman in one of the store’s then-new studded t-shirts (this one emblazoned with the phrase Rock N Roll Ruby) and customer and prominent London Ted Bill Hegarty in full regalia.

The images of the Evening Standard special issue are from the copy owned by collector Takeshi Hosoya, whose Japanese clothing label Peel + Lift can be viewed here.

Many thanks to Robert Ellis for permission to use his shot in the scan from the NME. Visit Robert Ellis’s Repfoto site here.

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The London Rock n Roll Show at Wembley Stadium 1972: Memories of Oz, Frendz and the Let It Rock stall

Mar 8th, 2014
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//Flyer for The Rock n Roll Show printed on the back of a subscription form for Oz magazine, July 1972. The Move were replaced by lead member Roy Wood’s new band Wizzard; this was their first gig. Original Brit-rocker Heinz was added to the bill; his backing band would soon become Dr Feelgood//

I acquired my first underground press publications in the summer of 1972, at about the point when the sector was taking the nosedive from which it never recovered.

Still, better late than Sharon Tate, as they say. Aged 12, my taste had been whetted by sneak peeks at an older brother’s collection of magazines when a guy called Kevin O’Keefe who lived down the road gave me a few copies of Oz, including number 43, the July issue.

A few weeks later, to my astonishment, the newsagents in Hendon’s Church Road started stocking Frendz. I folded issue 33 between a couple of music papers and pored over it in my bedroom.

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//Front cover of OZ 43, the issue which included the Wembley flyer//

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//Front cover, Frendz 33, September 1972//

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//Crowds around the Let It Rock stand. From the 1973 film London Rock N Roll Show directed by Peter Clifton//

Neither of the magazines are shining examples of the genre, but they had something in common: the centre spread of OZ 43 contained a subscription form back-printed with a flyer for the London Rock N Roll Show, a one-day festival of original 50s acts and those who could claim kinship held at Wembley Stadium on August 5 that year.

And for me the most beguiling article in Frendz 33 was a two-page stream-of-consciousness report of the event filed by one Douglas Gordon and illustrated with photographs by Pennie Smith, soon to leave for the NME and carve out her reputation as one of rock photography’s all-time greats.

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Malcolm McLaren: After Pharrell, Westwood and Dries is he the disappearing man of fashion?

Mar 6th, 2014
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//McLaren/Westwood Buffalo Hat 1982, V&A Collection.//

Long-standing revisionism is not unusual on the breakdown of a partnership, and there has been much rewriting – not least by the parties themselves – of the history of who did what, where and to whom in the three decades since the dissolution of one of the most potent creative collaborations in the history of popular culture: that between Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

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//In the arena: McLaren engages with pop, 1983//

It will be a while before we understand whether their achievements together will leap the boundaries of the still-bouyant decorative arts and the now-dessicated form of popular music into true and lasting cultural significance, but for the time being the couple’s combined impact on fashion design and the development of musical genres from punk to hip-hop and world music continues to draw in contemporary performers and designers.

QV the ballyhoo around Pharrell Williams’ recent sporting of a Westwood reissue of the so-called Buffalo Hat, a design produced by the pair for the Worlds End 1982 Buffalo collection. This coincided with the opening of their last retail environment Nostalgia Of Mud and also provided a major element in the visual identity of McLaren’s debut solo album, the towering pre-digital cross-genre pop masterpiece Duck Rock.

The hat, like the rest of the Buffalo collection, was undeniably a product of their collective resources. It may have been his concept – taken from images of traditional Peruvian dress discovered during research for Duck Rock – but it was their combined realisation.

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Photography: David Parkinson shoots Acme Attractions

Jan 16th, 2014
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//Original print of photo for Club International, 1975. Models include, from far right, Stephan Raynor, Don Letts and Martin Brading. Photo: David Parkinson//

I’ve been enjoying researching materials relating to the late photographer David Parkinson for a feature for GQ magazine, so thought I’d share some of the images I dug out of the Parkinson archive concerning the 70s King’s Road retro clothing store Acme Attractions.

Parkinson’s position as fashion editor of Paul Raymond’s sophisticated soft-porn magazine Club International enabled him to style and present Acme clothing for a wide readership, on occasion using the shop team as models.

Acme was opened by Parkinson’s friend Stephan Raynor (they’d known each other since they were part of a gang of style-obsessed teenagers in Leicester in the early 60s) with John Krivine, previously a Brixton-based jukebox dealer, in 1974.

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//As the Parkinson photograph appeared in the magazine, flipped and tinted. Note ref to “Acme Tailors”//

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//Parkinson used ties from his collection – including some sourced from Acme – for this March 1975 Club International feature//

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