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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.

Read more here.

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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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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: Bob Carlos Clarke + David Parkinson images of the ciré Sex mackintosh dress

Jul 29th, 2014

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//Photography: Bob Carlos Clarke 1976 (left) and David Parkinson 1975//

Malcolm designed a very nice women’s mac. A real 50s style, it was made of very thin ciré and looked almost like a dress, with its circular skirt and stand-up collar. It was like something that the B52s might have worn – half a dozen years later.

Glen Matlock on his time as a shop assistant at Sex in his memoir I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol (first published 1990, Omnibus Press)

As well as unique examples of Malcolm McLaren’s fashion designs with Vivienne Westwood, along with exclusive photographic prints of work by such luminaries as Robyn Beeche, Bob Gruen, Sheila Rock and Joe Stevens, the exhibition Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion will present a panoply of ephemera, including many never previously catalogued publications which featured some of the extraordinary clothing emanating from 430 King’s Road in the 70s and 80s.

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//From Vamp, 1976. Paul Burgess Collection//

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//Female model in the Sex mac/dress, male in a raincoat from Kenny MacDonald’s Marx, The Common Market, King’s Road. David Parkinson for Club International, 1975//

Among them is the ultra rare 1976 issue of photographer Bob Carlo Clarke’s magazine Vamp, loaned by collector/expert Paul Burgess. Among the garments from Sex in the Flash ‘Em Fashion spread is the delightful rainwear dress designed by McLaren, which was also photographed by David Parkinson for Club International.

In his memoir I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol, Glen Matlcok recounted how this particular design was plundered by the mainstream fashion business: “This woman’s firm totally ripped it off for one of the mid-market youth fashion houses. And made a mint out of it. Without paying a penny to Malcolm and Vivienne – whose idea it was. Well, sort of. They probably ripped it off themselves from a Hollywood still. But that’s not the point really. Their’s was a fully-developed idea and garment.”

Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion runs from August 3-6 at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center as part of Coepnhagen Fashion Week.

Read more here.

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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: Nostalgia Of Mud + Witches + Folkways ethnological recordings from the 1950s

Jul 28th, 2014
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//Front cover, Dances Of The World’s Peoples, Vol 3, Folkways Records, 1958. Design: W. Johnson, printed on paper glued to cardboard sleeve.//

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//Front of four-page song and information sheet utilising W.Johnson’s design, paper, 1958//

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//Invitation card to Paris show of McLaren and Westwood’s Nostalgia Of Mud collection, March 1982. Design: Nick Egan. Courtesy Malcolm McLaren Estate//

The idea is to show in clothes and music that, in the post-industrial age, the roots of our culture lie in primitive societies.
Malcolm McLaren on Nostalgia Of Mud and Duck Rock, 1983

Thanks to Hiroshi Fujiwara for tipping the wink over one of the sources of visual inspiration fed by Malcolm McLaren into the concepts unified by his solo album Duck Rock, the central London clothing store Nostalgia Of Mud and the fashion collections he designed with Vivienne Westwood in 1982-3.

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//Witchdoctor figure from W. Johnson’s design//

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//Figure recast by McLaren and Westwood with Keith Haring adornments on cotton top from Witches collection, 1983. From private collection//

One of the cues for Duck Rock’s investigations into music from all over the world was the series of recordings by enthnological music archivists Ronnie and Stu Lipner released on Folkways Records in the late 50s under the banner Dances Of The World’s Peoples. And McLaren’s appropriation of the naive cover art by W. Johnson – in particular the striking witchdoctor figure – found new form in design collaborations with Westwood, graphics supremo Nick Egan and artist Keith Haring.

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//Nostalgia Of Mud pattern show card, 1982. Courtesy Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren’s brilliance at fusing disparate elements into culture-defining and dazzling artworks is being celebrated next week with the exhibition Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center.

The show – which runs from August 3-6 during Copenhagen Fashion Week – will incorporate hundreds of exhibits, many rare and never previously shown to the public, including clothing and objects featured here such as the Witches top, the show cards and original copies of the Dances Of The World’s Peoples LP and catalogue.

Read more here.

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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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