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.
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.
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.
Pastiche, parody + plain forgery: How original McLaren/Westwood punk graphics have spawned a weird, twilit sub-strata of bad outsider design
//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//
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.
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).
Looking forward to this evening’s lecture by designer Ben Kelly at his alma mater, the Royal College Of Art.
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Jaunty: Barry Plummer’s striking photos of Malcolm McLaren + Vivienne Westwood in the Wild West End spring 1979
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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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.
//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.
//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).
//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//