Paul Gorman is…

Unbelievable rarity: Undocumented Let It Rock clothing featured on 1972 budget LP + previously unpublished views of stock inside 430 King’s Road

Apr 12th, 2014
lir-rockarchive580

//Front cover, Rock Archive, Various Artists, Windmill Records, 1972//

It is relatively common knowledge among those interested in the careers of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their series of extraordinary shops that they supplied clothes to the 1973 album Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll; Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road was clearly credited on the back of the record sleeve.

Let It Rock-Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll

//Front cover, The Golden Hour Of Rock N Roll, Various Artists, Pye/Golden Hour, 1973//

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//The photograph on the Rock Archive cover was flipped to better accommodate the text. Here it is as originally shot//

But I have fresh information which helps towards a greater understanding of McLaren’s project to investigate the detritus of popular culture’s recent past. During a bout of research recently I came across this earlier and hitherto undocumented use of Let It Rock clothing in a music context: the front cover of Rock Archive, a budget LP compilation released by the specialist British independent label Windmill in 1972.

And I am detailing the clothes on the cover with images taken inside Let It Rock which have never been previously published.

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//Starke shirts with 50s sports jacket on Let It Rock wall, January 1972. Photograph: David Parkinson//

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//Starke label detail//

Each garment worn by the model – whose attempts at rocking out resulted in his giving every appearance of suffering considerable pain – comes from the deadstock of British brands assiduously assembled by Malcolm McLaren and his art-school friend Patrick Casey for the opening of the world’s first avowedly post-modern retail outlet in November 1971.

From the ground up, the Rock Archive cover star wore black suede Denson’s Fine Poynts, ice-blue Lybro jeans with 12in cuffs, a Frederick Starke flyaway collar shirt and a studded and decorated Lewis Leathers early 60s Lightning jacket (which featured a highly collectable 6-5 Special patch).

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Television: Don Letts’ Subculture

May 31st, 2012

I’m among the interviewees featured in Subculture, Don Letts’ Channel 4 documentary about post-War British street style, the first part of which aired for the first time last night.

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Interview for ARTE documentary on British music’s scenemakers

Dec 6th, 2011
ARTE crew setting up in basement for interview for look of British music doc.

//TV crew sets up in the basement.//

Yesterday I was visited by a camera crew for an interview about the behind-the-scenes individuals who have made the difference to British popular music over the years.

The team, from Kobalt Productions in Berlin, are producing the documentary for Franco-German arts channel ARTE. The director is Simon Witter, who has a fine pedigree in journalism and broadcasting.

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“Serious tailoring”: Derek Morton

Dec 3rd, 2011
Derek Morton, Paul Smith Japan A/W2011

//Paul Smith Collection, A/W 2011.//

Thanks to Julian Morey for alerting me to these splendid photographs of Paul Smith designer Derek Morton in clothes from the company’s autumn/winter 2011 collection.

Morton has worked with Smith since the mid-70s and is currently head of the label’s menswear division for Japan.

Derek Morton Paul Smith Japan A/W 2011.

//Paul Smith Collection, A/W 2011.//

A thoroughly nice chap, Morton is also self-deprecating and reserved, as I discovered when I interviewed him recently for the Tommy Roberts book (he designed menswear for Roberts’ extraordinary Covent Garden outlet City Lights Studio).

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Fred Astaire in his Johnson & Johnson Fred Astaire jacket

Nov 29th, 2011

Curatorial work today on the Lloyd Johnson exhibition (coming to London gallery Chelsea Space in the New Year) was a joy.

By honing the exhibits and focusing on a narrative, Jill and Lloyd Johnson and I introduced an exciting new element: a wall selection of dazzling print artwork for garments from the 70s to the 00s.

Maneouevres such as this should make the whole show pop.

Just a few items are still to arrive (fingers crossed for the gold leather suit from Stephen Linard in Australia).

The collected clothes, print material, artwork, personal items and ephemera are taking shape and conveying Lloyd’s journey in design and music from the 60s to the present day.

From time to time I’ll be reporting on progress and dipping into the exhibits.

Today, my favourite is one of the smallest: a snapshot sent to Lloyd in 1973 by Fred Astaire, wearing one of Lloyd’s designs: a Johnson & Johnson jacket with a Top Hat repeat print.

Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter opens late January 2012. Keep checking the Chelsea Space blog for details.

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Photoshoot for the Tommy Roberts book: Mr Freedom winged boots, City Lights Studio suit, Practical Styling carrier bag, Jane Wealleans’ fabric print and much much more

Nov 19th, 2011
Tommy Roberts book photoshoot: Jane Wealleans print fabric

//Swathe with repeat print of American footballers, Jane Wealleans for Mr Freedom, 1970.//

Tommy Roberts book photoshoot: Jane Wealleans American footballer print on swathe of brown crepe.

//Jane Wealleans print on brown crepe.//

Here’s a sneak iPhone peak from yesterday’s photoshoot for my forthcoming book about Tommy Roberts.

Tommy’s son and accomplished photographer/cameraman Keith set up a studio in a room at his furniture emporium Two Columbia Road and shot around 50-plus garments and artefacts to go with the 300-odd images already planned for the book.

I snapped these on my phone in downtime; forgive the quality – hopefully they convey the flavour of the exercise.

Keith photographed a cornucopia of goodies, including two pairs of Mr Freedom’s famous winged boots, a carrier bag for Tommy’s 80s shop Practical Styling, a suit from his 70s boutique City Lights Studio (lent to us by another design hero Lloyd Johnson) and much more besides.

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Pictures from an exhibition: Snap Crackle & Pop at The Lightbox

Aug 7th, 2011
Snap Crackle & Pop exhibition, The Lightbox gallery, Woking

Johnson & Johnson jacket and shirt, 1973.

These images are from the private view for The Lightbox gallery’s exhibition Snap Crackle & Pop (about British pop art and it’s influence on culture); I contributed exhibits and advice after being approached by BBC TV’s Katherine Higgins (who sure knows her stuff).

This excellent show was opened on Friday by Peter Blake. Among the attendees were John and Molly Dove, Lloyd Johnson, Mike Ross of Ritva and Paul Weller (the subject of the gallery’s current companion exhibition of photographs by Lawrence Watson).

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Favourite shoes: My corduroy + crepe-soled Bongos

Jul 28th, 2011

Bongos - top

These are the only pair of Bongos, a crepe-soled, corduroy sample shoe manufactured by George Cox for Lloyd Johnson in the late 90s.

These unusual elastic-vented slip-ons were intended for Johnson’s Beatnik range, sold through his three London shops, at 406 King’s Road, in Kensington Market and at 293 Portobello Road.

In the event the design didn’t make it into production.

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Lloyd Johnson exhibition: The wheels start turning

Jul 2nd, 2011

Donald Smith, Lloyd Johnson + Chelsea Space assistant Emily Rubner.

Yesterday I met Lloyd Johnson to discuss next spring’s exhibition celebrating his career as Pop’s Pontiff Of Cool (a title I shamefully bestowed upon him in a Mojo feature a decade or so ago).

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Conversation: Lloyd Johnson + Ben Olins on Brighton Rock

Feb 27th, 2011

Place: Golden Square, London W1.

Time: 1pm

Coffee: Nordic Bakery Soho

Lloyd Johnson, Ben Olins and I met on a sunny Saturday for a chat about Rowan Joffe’s recently-released film Brighton Rock. The transposition of the storyline to 1964 has resulted in marketing which leans heavily on the backdrop of the Mods vs Rockers “riots” in British coastal resorts that year.

Pretty Green and Merc are among promotional partners; there lingers the distinct impression of an attempt to reach out to cinemagoers by creating a British version of the Mad Men buzz.

In fact the mod content is a gloss overlaying this stodgy interpretation of the 1947 film classic rather than Grahame Greene’s 1939 novel (despite claims to the contrary; Joffe even chose the first film’s climactic cop-out, against the author’s wish for an unremittingly bleak ending).

An original modernist raised in neighbouring Hastings, Lloyd has considerable first-hand knowledge of the subject and worked on the film which is a primary visual influence: Quadrophenia.

Ben’s fascination for the period is manifested in such activities as the club-night The Fabulous Cellar and certain aspects of his media company Herb Lester Associates.

As a cradle Catholic my heart sank when I heard the word on this; one of the great literary investigations into good and evil recast as a mod rite of passage. Mod really is the mainstream option these days isn’t? So codified as to be meaningless and square beyond belief: all those “rules”, all that conformity. For that, and many other reasons, the film lived down to my low expectations.

What do you reckon?

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