Paul Gorman is…

Sex signage: Was McLaren inspired by Lubalin’s cladding for the Georg Jensen flagship NY store?

Sep 30th, 2016

//Detail, clad signage for Georg Jensen, 601 Madison Avenue, late 60s. From Herb Lubalin: Typographer, Unit Editions, 2016//


//Detail, shop signage designed by Malcolm McLaren, made by Vick Mead, 430 King’s Road, London, 1975. From a photograph by Peter Schlesinger//

Was the late Malcolm McLaren inspired by one of the greats of 20th century graphics in his creation of the astonishing signage for Sex, the fetishistic fashion boutique and incubator of punk rock he operated with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in west London between October 1974 and November 1976?

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The Lava Lady: Suzan Strauss 1930 – 2016

Sep 30th, 2016
Woman walking along La Brea Boulevard, Los Angeles

//The Lava Lady on La Brea Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1990s. Photo:

Sad to note the passing of Suzan Strauss, whose intriguing, otherworldly presence illuminated the streets around Melrose and La Brea in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s.

Choosing to walk the otherwise empty pavements in her ever-changing extraordinary outfits, she was known as The Lava Lady since her residence on Detroit was clad in black lava rock (and apparently the interior was not lit by electricity, but candles).  In my circle Strauss was known as That Lady, as in “I was parking in Ralph’s and saw That Lady” or “I nearly spoke to That Lady at Fairfax High flea market but didn’t want to disturb her”.

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Childhood, books, family, poets, music, influences + inspiration: Interview with Scarlett Sabet at Leighton House

Sep 28th, 2016


One of the most pleasurable experiences of this summer was the August morning I spent amid the cool beauty of London’s “private palace of art” Leighton House Museum in the company of the extremely talented British poet Scarlett Sabet.

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Death And The Lady: Nick Abrahams’ film for Shirley Collins’ first record in 38 years

Sep 24th, 2016

//Shirley Collins with hooden horses. Photo: Toby Amies//

“Shirley has a voice that seems to be in touch with the traditions of the past, but also the dark mystery that makes England so weird, wild and mesmerising, and it is these two aspects that I wanted to convey in the video.”
Nick Abrahams, 2016

I’m captivated by the magical film made by Nick Abrahams to accompany the Shirley Collins song Death And The Lady.

shirl1 shirl4 shirl5

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Voodoo And Magic Practices: The book which inspired McLaren and Westwood’s Witches collection

Sep 23rd, 2016

//Voodoo and Magic Practices, Jean Kerboull, Barrie and Jenkins, 1978. Translated from the French by John Shaw//

This is the book which inspired the late Malcolm McLaren to unite the design ideas he developed with Vivienne Westwood for their Autumn/Winter 1983 fashion collection Witches.

At the time McLaren was completing his album Duck Rock, which was conceived as an ethnological travelogue and modelled on the  LP series Dances Of the World’s Peoples released on the ethnographic Folkways label; in fact, Duck Rock was originally titled Folk Dances Of The World and the incorporation of an illustrated insert containing track-by-track explanations was taken from the one which appeared in the 1958 albums.


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Reckless Daughter: A barnstorming Joni Mitchell anthology

Sep 22nd, 2016


Hats off to barnstorming Barney Hoskyns for compiling new Joni Mitchell anthology Reckless Daughter, which is published in November.

I fell under Mitchell’s spell in my early teens at the behest of an older brother and was lucky enough to see her live in the gig-crowded year of 1974 at London’s New Victoria Theatre.

Even while punk raged I kept the faith; 1975’s The Hissing Of Summer Lawns and the following year’s Hejira are stone classics to which I constantly return, and not just for the peerless music. The designs by her own hand (Mitchell is an accomplished visual artist) and the fashion-sheen photography of Norman Seeff add to the allure.

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English Heritage plaque dedicated to the great Laurie Cunningham

Sep 22nd, 2016

//The plaque at 73 Lancaster Road. Photo: Peter Tarry//

Great news about the English heritage blue plaque dedicated yesterday at 73 Lancaster Road in north London’s Finsbury Park, one-time home of the late great footballer Laurie Cunningham.


//Dermot Kavanagh speaks at the unveiling. Among those in attendance were Cunningham’s friend Cyrille Regis, his former girlfriend Nikki Brown and members of his family. Photo: Peter Tarry//

As I’ve written here before, Cunningham’s significance extends outside of his considerable achievements as a sportsman; the first black player to represent England and be signed to an overseas club (Spain’s Real Madrid), he lived his tragically short life off the field at the cutting edge of street style and club culture.

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Sheila Rock: Early fashion styling captured the development of British menswear in the 70s

Sep 21st, 2016

//Phil Lynott, styling Sheila Rock, photography Mick Rock, Club International, October 1973//


//The Gentlemen At Number Ten, styling Sheila Rock, photography David Parkinson, Club International, December 1973//

To celebrate the opening next week of a new exhibition of work by photographer Sheila Rock, here is a selection of her early fashion styling.

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‘They open their minds to better ways of doing things’: A People’s History Of Woodcraft Folk by Phin Harper

Sep 18th, 2016


“The pastime of deriding the young never seems to grow old. Kids on the street: more must be done to tackle gang warfare. Kids inside; internet addiction is out of control. Kid sitting alone: depression epidemic. Kid running round: ADHD epidemic. Kid aces exam: standards are slipping. Kid flunks exam: no aspiration. The conditions the young endure are invariably a playground for adult moral grandstanding…

“For those who believe the voice of children is worth listening to, Woodcraft Folk has blazed a trail.”

Phineas Harper, Introduction, A People’s History Of Woodcraft Folk, 2016

My father, a career soldier of 26 years standing, was not strict, but on certain issues of upbringing he stood firm: a trophy-winning marksman himself, he would not allow us toy guns or quasi-army paraphernalia. In addition, joining the scouts was out of bounds. Like many who came of age in the 1910s and 20s he deplored the militarism the movement promoted among children. Doubtless the deaths of two of my uncles in the Great War lay at the roots of this.

He disparaged a Pacifist position, feeling it was his duty to serve, and so joined up as soon as he could, later playing his part at the pivotal battle of El Alamein in 1942. But after World War 2, militarism, even in the form of childish game-playing, was anathema.



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Talking about Legacy: The story of The Face at ModMag 2016

Sep 16th, 2016

mm16_redblack-660x213  p1150223

Apologies for not posting for a while; I am currently focusing energies on my book Legacy: The story of The Face, which is published by Thames & Hudson in autumn 2017.

Launched in 1980 by print publishing pioneer Nick Logan – the editor of the NME during its ’70s glory years, the man who also founded Smash Hits, Arena, Arena Homme Plus, Frank and DeluxeThe Face magazine brought the news on the dizzying developments of popular culture for two decades.

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