Paul Gorman is…

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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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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Ian Harris’s hamburger shirt and the story of Strictly For The Birds

Jan 2nd, 2014

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My recent post about the Mr Freedom designs in the V&A collection sparked some memories from graphic artist Ian Harris, who sends this 1972 photograph of himself in a Mr Freedom hamburger print shirt:

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//Ian Harris with his then-wife Maggie, Brighton, UK, 1972. Ian Harris Collection//

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//Mr Freedom hamburger print shirt in the V&A’s collection. Note appliqué//

In the 1972 photo, the shirt’s hamburger appliqué is obscured; Harris had worked for Mr Freedom partner Tommy Roberts at his 60s boutique Kleptomania, and gave the late Roberts a number of items relating to his career a few years back. Included was the appliqué which Harris had kept for many years.

As Harris points out, his wife Maggie, a model, is sporting an Angie Bowie-influenced look in the photo above. Here she is in another early 70s shot, taken outside John and Lyris Mann’s Kensington boutique Strictly For The Birds:

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//Maggie outside 4 Holland Walk, Kensington, London, 1971. Ian Harris Collection//

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Mr Freedom designs at the V&A: ‘When what has been considered bad taste is suddenly found to be invigorating’

Dec 20th, 2013

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“There is a moment when ‘good taste’ becomes dead; what has been considered ‘bad’ is suddenly found to be invigorating. Fashion today has little to do with la mode and the tacky is often accepted as an essential part of the necessary ‘total’ look. It can be fun.”

Cecil Beaton, introduction to the catalogue for the 1971 V&A exhibition Fashion: An Anthology

Recent visits to the V&A’s Archive of Art & Design have proved fruitful, particularly a viewing earlier this week of the collection of  Pop Art clothing sold through London boutique Mr Freedom in the late 60s and early 70s.

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//Design: Diana Crawshaw, 1971//

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//Kiss Off t-shirt, Jim O’Connor, 1971//

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//Design Christopher Snow/Trevor Myles, body design: Diana Crawshaw, 1971//

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//Design: Pamla Motown, 1971//

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Photography: Inside Seditionaries and down the King’s Road 1977 with Homer Sykes

Dec 17th, 2013
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD 1970S KINGS ROAD CHELSEA

//Vivienne Westwood in felt Inside Out Jacket with assistants Debbie Wilson and Michael Collins in Seditionaries, 1977//

While updating his rich and varied archive, photographer Homer Sykes came across these superb photographs taken inside Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s boutique Seditionaries at 430 King’s Road in the spring of 1977.

The images capture the air of raw uncertainty surrounding the shop and the McLaren/Westwood coterie in this period. McLaren’s charges the Sex Pistols had recently been signed to their third record company in six months – Virgin Records – after being publicly excoriated for their behaviour and bounced out of EMI and A&M. The national media had seized upon punk as a source of sensationalism and the release of the Pistols’ explosive God Save The Queen was a matter of weeks away.

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//Debbie Wilson (aka Debbie Juvenile) sports Hangman Jumper, Seditionaries, 1977. Note the studded Venus Top and leather jacket on the wall behind the counter//

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//Westwood expounding against the photographic mural of Dresden after WW2 air-raids, Seditionaries, 1977. Note Collins’ Cambridge Rapist design produced by Westwood’s partner Malcolm McLaren a couple of years earlier//

1970S INTERIOR OF VIVIENNE WESTWOOD BOUTIQUE

//Behind the customer in black bondage jacket is the wall-size inverted photographic mural of Piccadilly Circus, Seditionaries, 1977//

On Saturday August 20 1977 Sykes again took to the King’s Road to document the atmosphere of unrest embodied by the outbreaks of violence caused by marauding Teddy Boys targeting punks and such boutiques as Seditionaries and Boy.

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//Young Ted bops while another’s jacket mourns Elvis Presley’s recent death, King’s Road, 1977//

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//Musician/actor Gary Holton and girlfriend Tracy Boyle lead a demonstration against violence between Teds and Punks along the King’s Road. Far left is punk Mick Bladder//

Some of his photographs feature the punk Mick Bladder, whose arrest on that day in August 1977 was featured in Wolfgang Büld’s Punk In London. This documentary  shows how the movement’s initial creative burst swiftly dissipated, while Sykes’ images capture the ways in which a cult movement had entered the mainstream, infiltrating the media, music, fashion and the wider culture.

Sykes’ archive covers the waterfront, from social unrest including the Notting Hill Carnival riot of 1976 and the riots in Toxteth and Brixton in the early 80s, to the on-the-road antics of Paul McCartney & Wings and Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the New Romantic haven the Blitz club, Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World and Quentin Crisp . Visit www.homersykes.com.

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Bravura + brilliance: Tommy Roberts, February 6 1941 – December 10 2012

Dec 10th, 2013
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//Tommy Roberts, 1987. Photo: Christopher Clunn//

Sad to note the anniversary today of the death of Tommy Roberts, flamboyant design entrepreneur and subject of my book Mr Freedom.

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//Dedication (right) with (left on cover-flap) list of abiding interests (courtesy Eve Ferret + Mark Summerfield) and Brian Aris portrait//

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//Roberts opened Kleptomania with Charlie Simpson in Kingly Street, central London, in 1966//

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//Neon arch sales counter display designed by Jeffrey Pine for Mr Freedom, opened with partner Trevor Myles at 430 King’s Road in September 1969//

Here – with a selection of images from Mr Freedom – is an extract from an essay I have written about Roberts’ role in the development of design in Britain for Chris Breward and Ghislaine Wood’s book British Design: Tradition & Modernity, which will be published by Bloomsbury next year.

It is arguable that wider recognition for Tommy Roberts’ audacious innovations in the promotion of street style, furniture, gastronomy, home-wares, interiors and collectables was undercut by his refusal to observe the sensitivities of England’s post-war design world.

Roberts adopted an ebullient public persona to match his stout physique and broad Cockney accent. “I’m the most vulgar man in fashion, darlin’!” Roberts proclaimed to the no-less outrageous Sunday Times fashion editor Molly Parkin in the heyday of his Pop Art fashion and objects emporium Mr Freedom.

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Susie Bubble on Shop, Posh, Shopgirl + The Look’s first edition

Dec 6th, 2013
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//Susie Bubble pays tribute to Shop, The World According To…, Shop At Maison Bertaux, Posh, Shopgirl//

Rifling through her memories of Pippa Brooks and Max Karie’s Soho boutique Shop (which later mutated into The World According To… and then shifted base to Shop At Maison Bertaux), fashion blogger Susie Bubble has nice things to say about me and my work and includes in her selection of images the cover of the first edition of The Look.

This featured Libby Peder’s photograph of Pippa and James Dearlove, her musical collaborator in Posh, All About Eve Babitz and Shopgirl.

It was as Shopgirl that Pippa and James played the launch party, which was held across the road from Shop  at the club Astral and featured DJ sets by others in the book, including Jeff Dexter, Count Indigo, Dan Donovan + Don Letts and Jay Strongman.

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//2001 invite to the party launching the first edition of The Look//

Read about that eventful night on THE LOOK blog.

Read Susie Bubble’s post Shopped-Out here.

I got to know Pippa through Shop and Posh, who I saw live a few times in the 90s. Sadly I missed this performance at Wembley Stadium on the same bill as Bon Jovi (is it me or is Pippa absolutely bricking it when she leans down to take a slug of water?):

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Glam! The Performance Of Style at Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz

Oct 4th, 2013

//Front cover of booklet for the Linz show features this 1973 Karl Stoecker portrait of Brian Eno in Roxy Music stage costume designed by Carol McNicholl//

Glam! The Performance Of Style – the exhibition which locates early 70s glam rock in the context of fine art and the interplay between “high” and mass culture – is opening at the Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz, Austria later this month.

I was a consultant to Glam!’s curator Darren Pih of Tate Liverpool, where the show opened at the beginning of this year before moving on to Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle for the summer.

//The Let It Rock guitar mirror as exhibited at Glam! in Frankfurt. Photo: Andrei Luca//

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Coming this week: Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered Carnaby Echoes + Nick Knight’s PUNK at Showstudio

Sep 1st, 2013

//Clockwise from top left: Cover, Helen And Desire, 1970; George O'Dowd, photo: Richard Bevan, 2013; Carnaby Street book and Palisades swing tag, 1970 and 1966; front cover, Anarchy In The UK newsprint fanzine, 1976//

I’m involved in a couple of events which open in London this week: artist Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered project Carnaby Echoes in the West End and photographer Nick Knight’s exhibition Punk at his Showstudio space in SW1.

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The shop which inaugurated London’s vintage fashion scene: The Emporium to close after 27 years

Jul 20th, 2013


The Emporium, the London clothing outlet which inaugurated London’s vintage fashion business, is to close after 27 years.

As London’s independent retail fashion scene took the swan-dive from which it never recovered in the mid-80s, so Jon Hale and Jacki Cook’s shop in Greenwich, south-east London, provided a haven of 20th Century style, handpicked with consummate taste from their carefully accumulated archive of thousands of garments from the 30s to the 70s.

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