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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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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Worlds End: Norah Waugh, the 31 bus, Daniel Defoe, Black-Beard The Pyrate, Thomas Tew and the origins of the Saracen sword logo

Aug 28th, 2014
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//Worlds End brooch, 1981//

The skull and crossbones was too much of a cliche. In a book from Foyle’s in Charing Cross Road I found the drawing of the pirate Blackbeard, Captain Teach, with his arm holding a Saracen sword. Malcolm McLaren, 2008.

Over the spring and summer of 1980, the late Malcolm McLaren worked with Vivienne Westwood on the themes and theories underpinning the concepts for a new retail environment and fresh fashion direction from their base at 430 King’s Road in west London’s World’s End.

Disillusioned with the pedestrian punks who had started to frequent Seditionaries in the wake of the Sex Pistols split in 1978, the outlet was routinely shuttered. “Apart from a few t-shirts, we didn’t come up with any new designs in four years,” Westwood later said.

The pair’s investigations in 1979 and 1980 crystallised around Westwood’s production of a billowing garment based on an 18th century shirt pattern from the historian Norah Waugh’s 1964 study The Cut Of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900.

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//1981 Pirate dress worn in performance by Anabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow//

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//Pirate dress collar and neckline detail//

McLaren had already introduced notions of music industry-provoking audio piracy into his work with the newly-formed Bow Wow Wow – who released their cassette-only debut single that summer – and pounced upon the shirt’s promisingly unstructured silhouette.

“I could see it being worn as a dress by the young paramour of a pirate captain, romping around his quarters with his belt, one of his waistcoats and a pair of his sagging buckled boots,” McLaren said in the mid-00s. “I rejected the rest of Vivienne’s ideas but kept the shirt, to which I added the vision of pirates to give a certain look, style and pop panache. We then built the Pirate collection around it.”

The choice of the garment is noteworthy. According to Waugh (who had lectured at London’s Central School Of Art and run the costume department at the dramaturg Michel Saint-Denis’ London Theatre Studio in the 30s), men’s tailoring did not start in Britain until the end of the 18th century; prior to that “men’s clothes had a distinctly dressmaker quality”.

By rejecting two centuries of fashion progress – just as they had rejected the pop culture developments of the 60s with the establishment of Let It Rock in 1971 – and fusing the results with the utterly contemporary, McLaren and Westwood once again moved into unexpected territory with clothing which struck a chord outside of fashion and music.

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//The Pirate shirt makes the cover of UK Vogue, May 1981, the first issue to celebrate the new spirit of romanticism exemplified by the public fascination for royal bride-to-be Lady Diana Spencer. Photo: Alex Chatelain//

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//Worlds End self-striped Pirate dress matched with petty-drawers and stockings on the female model in this shot from the spread Escape To The Sun, UK Vogue, May 1981. Photo: Alex Chatelain//

McLaren’s choice of name for the new iteration at 430 King’s Road came from the final destination on the front of the 31 bus; the last stop on the route was Limerston Street, just a few yards west of McLaren and Westwood’s shop.

“The thought of the world ending, the apocalyptic, suggested to me the potential for cultural change,” said McLaren in 2008. “I thought Worlds End (note absence of apostrophe) could do that by having a clock that went backwards around not twelve, but thirteen hours -  something impossible to conceive. Something unreal. Something magical.

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//Exterior, 430 King’s Road, January 1981. Photo (c) Sheila Rock//

“Worlds End was meant to represent a pirate galleon setting sail out of this muddy hole called England, a place I had learned to loathe by then due to the conditions I had to meet because of the English courts and the music industry generally.

“Vivienne wanted to destroy and not have anything further to do with Punk.  She hated it.  So, this store became a way of sailing away from the Kings Road. I wanted the store to ‘float’ as on waves.  The little windows in the front were to create that part of the galleon where the captain would often have his chambers.”   

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//The 1724 book is attributed to one of McLaren’s heroes, the original Seditionary Daniel Defoe//

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//From A General History Of Pyrates. Illustrations: Benjamin Cole//

When developing a logotype and label ident for the new collection, McLaren resorted as ever to research. At Foyle’s bookshop he came across a copy of A General History Of Pyrates, the highly entertaining 1724 volume by Captain Charles Johnson which is attributed to Daniel Defoe. The author of Robinson Crusoe, one of McLaren’s favourite books, Defoe had lived not far from where McLaren was born in Stoke Newington.

Famously Defoe was pilloried in 1703 for seditious libel over his satirical pamphlet The Shortest Way With Dissenters; it was this archaic charge which inspired the name McLaren gave to 430 King’s Road in 1976.

One of the chapters of the Johnson book is dedicated to the exploits of Edward Teach, the notorious Black-Beard The Pyrate whose appearance excited McLaren’s interest: “The beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant length…and was accustomed to twist it with ribbons, in small tails. In time of action he stuck lighted matches under his hat which burned slowly at the rate of about 12 inches an hour.

“Appearing on each side of his face, his eyes looking naturally fierce and wild, made him altogether such a figure that imagination cannot form an idea of a Fury from Hell to look more frightful. In the commonwealth of Pirates he who goes the greatest length of wickedness is looked upon with a kind of envy amongst them.”

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//Another illustration of Teach clutching his Saracen sword//

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//Detail of arm with Saracen sword//

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//Anne Bonny also sported the same weapon//

In the illustrations by Benjamin Cole, the fearsome figure is shown with one muscular arm holding a Saracen sword, a weapon also favoured for its deadly properties by the likes of the infamous Anne Bonny.

As McLaren/Westwood afficianado Stuart Swift has pointed out, the logo was taken directly from the flag of another subject of A General History Of Pyrates: the privateer-turned-pirate Thomas Tew, who traded in gold, silver, jewels and slaves and is alleged to have founded the Madagascan pirate colony Libertalia (where he appointed himself Admiral). While Blackbeard’s story fascinated McLaren, the pirate’s standard – the skeleton of the devil  raising a toast as he pierces a heart – lacked the impact of Tew’s.

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//Engraving of Blackbeard showing from A General History Of Pyrates//

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//Blackbeard’s standard, from tattoodonkey.com//

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//Thomas Tew flag from only-flags.com//

This symbol of romantic rebellion was then applied to labels, brooches and even the clock spinning backwards outside 430 King’s Road when Worlds End opened at the end of 1980.

Johnson’s book also produced a name for the first Worlds End collection; a vessel commanded by these desperate men and women is designated “the Pirate”, as in: “I followed their advice and went on board the Pirate…” This is why the clothing produced by McLaren and Westwood in the first part of 1981 is grouped under the singular.

Watch the BBC’s 1985 documentary To The World’s End – about the great lost 31 bus route – here.

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Promo curio: Diana Crawshaw and the Granny Takes A Trip Dodge in Tim Rose clip

Aug 19th, 2014
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//Still from Long Haired Boy: Diana Crawshaw outside 488 King’s Road, 1969//

Diana Crawshaw – who designed for such boutiques as Mr Freedom and Paradise Garage – has contacted me about an appearance she made in an early pop promo clip: Piers Bedford’s short for the 1968 single Long Haired Boy by American singer-songwriter Tim Rose.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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 Carlos 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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“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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Christie’s homes in on collectible Granny Takes A Trip suits first featured on The Look blog in 2008

Jun 17th, 2014
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//From the catalogue for Christie’s Pop Culture auction, June 20,2014//

Six years ago on The Look blog I posted images and memories supplied by Terry Slobodzian, who ran boutiques Explosion and Lacy Lady in the upstate New York town of North Tonawanda in the late 60s and early 70s.

Such shops as Slobodzian’s and The People’s Space (run by Tommy Hilfiger in the neighbouring Emira) were part of a regional US trend for wild and usually wildly-named clothing stores sparked by eccentric retail ventures such as Granny Takes A Trip in England.

As I discovered through contact with vintage dealer/expert Ben Cooney, these are the places who showed at the National Boutique Show in NYC and broadcast their wares from the back pages of Baron Wolman’s fashion/music mag Rags: A Long Time Comin’ in San Anselmo, The Bead Experience in Baltimore, The Great Linoleum Clothing Experiment in LA, Bouncing Bertha’s Banana Blanket and Jenny Waterbags in New York, Mom’s Apple Grave in San Francisco…you get the picture.

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//From The Look blog, December 2008//

Granny’s occupied a totemic status for the people who operated these outlets; Slobodzian visited London on a buying spree in 1970 and naturally dropped in at 488 King’s Road. “What a trip it was,” he told me in 2008.“Every piece fit like a glove right off the rack. The craftmanship and choice of fabric was amazing.”

Now Slobodzian’s Granny’s suits as featured on The Look blog are in this Friday’s Pop Culture sale at Christie’s along with two shirts from Bouncing Bertha’s Banana Blanket.

Here’s Rod Stewart in the same paneled velvet suit design as Lot 55 in the sale:

Read The Look post here.

Find out more about the Pop Culture sale here.

Cassandra Tondro has uploaded pages from Rags Magazine 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: Fashion photography’s forgotten figure to be a GQ Icon

Apr 4th, 2014
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//Front cover, Club International, 1974. Paul Raymond Publications. Photo: David Parkinson//

Ahead of the publication of my piece about the late photographer David Parkinson in GQ UK in a few weeks, here are a couple of masterful images which demonstrate his stylised,  simultaneously gritty and glamorous approach.

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//Front cover, Man Only, 1974//

Both stem from issues of men’s magazine Club International; the 1974 cover shot model is wearing Parkinson’s decorated Lewis Leathers jacket which he used to dress other fashion photo-sessions. The image was also used on the cover of Italian soft-porn title Man Only.

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//Acme Attractions photoshoot for Club International 1975 including (left) Martin Brading and Don Letts and far right Steph Raynor. Photo: David Parkinson//

The spread above focused on the suits and menswear available at Acme Attractions, the Kings Road vintage/retro outlet co-owned by Parkinson’s Lesicester friend Steph Raynor, who appears in the photograph with Acme’s manager, filmmaker/DJ/BAD member Don Letts, and Parkinson’s assistant, photographer Martin Brading.

Raynor is among those who contributed to my feature on Parkinson, who is granted the accolade of ‘GQ Icon’ in the June issue (available at the beginning of May).

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