Paul Gorman is…

‘A lifetime in design taught Tommy Roberts to avoid fashionability’: My chapter on the importance of the late design entrepreneur in new book

Oct 21st, 2015


“Anyone who has wondered how the Britain of utility furniture and wartime rationing managed to evolve into Cool Britannia will find this a remarkable book.”

Elizabeth Guffey, State University of New York at Purchase

My case study Tommy Roberts: From Kleptomania To Two Columbia Road forms a chapter in new book British Design: Tradition And Modernity After 1948, which is published by Bloomsbury Academic tomorrow (October 22).

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My piece on David Bowie’s early 70s stylistic ch-ch-changes on The Guardian men’s fashion page

Aug 4th, 2015


Read my piece on the stylistic changes rung by David Bowie during the early 70s on The Guardian’s men’s fashion pages here.

I discuss his fashion collaborations with Freddie Burretti, Daniella Parmar and Kansai Yamamoto and talk about the Pin-Ups suit from City Lights Studio designed by Derek Morton. Hope you enjoy.

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‘Designers + Customisers in 3D’: Electric Colour Company in new issue of GQ Style

Apr 9th, 2015


Electric Colour Company were intent on enlivening the visual landscape of grey London town by desecrating polite notions of decor and good taste

My feature on the pioneering but sorely undervalued design studio Electric Colour Company appears in the current issue of UK GQ Style.

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Funky but chic: Roxy in Kensington Church Street + the Ken Todd connection

Feb 19th, 2015
Roxy - exterior

//Roxy, 25 Kensington Church Street, 1972. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

Roxy - Shelley Martin

//Inside Roxy, 1972: Shelley Martin in a flamenco dress designed by Dinah Adams. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//


//Some of the Roxy crowd photographed around the corner from the shop (from left): The late Granny’s co-owner Marty Breslau, whose ensemble includes a Wonder Workshop top; unknown; Shelley Martin; John Knight. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

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).

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

Dec 10th, 2013

//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.


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


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


//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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Flocked + tiger-striped: The Paradise Garage Ford Mustang

Jul 6th, 2013

//Trevor Myles, Mustang and 430 King's Road, late summer 1971. Photo: Michael Roberts//

//From Michael Roberts' article Men & Their Machines, Club, October 1971//

Trevor Myles’ decision to incorporate a flocked and tiger-striped 1966 Ford Mustang as part of his retail space Paradise Garage naturally attracted a lot of attention during the brief existence of this unusual fashion outlet at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea’s World’s End in 1971.

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Memories of Zanzibar and the nights Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders left their mark on Fulham

May 10th, 2013

//Signed bar menu. Courtesy: Jonathan Ross//

//Signed back cover of So Alone, Johnny Thunders, Real Records,1978. Courtesy: Jonathan Ross//

As demonstrated by my recent post, the west London house of collector/gallerist Jonathan Ross became a hive for the art/boho/punk crowd flooding the capital in the  70s.

Among the visitors were Johnny Thunders and Iggy Pop, who both left their marks in different ways.

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When Kilburn + The High Roads played the King’s Road Theatre 1974: Ian Dury in Let It Rock ‘Alan Ladd’ suit + feather tie and Sue and Simon Haynes’ extraordinary Tower Bridge stage set

Apr 12th, 2013

Bowie Style tonight: In conversation with Boy George at the V&A

Apr 9th, 2013

Tonight I am hosting an event at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum: an ‘in conversation’ with Boy George about the importance and influence of popular culture’s greatest manipulator of visual identity, David Bowie.

//George O'Dowd overlooked by Big Brother in his room at a squatted house in Carburton Street, central London, 1978.//

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Graphics: Simon Haynes’ designs for City Lights Studio 1972

Mar 11th, 2013