On the collapse of their design partnership in October 1983 after showcasing of the collection Worlds End 1984 in Paris and London, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood went their separate ways.
“It was a spectacular coup de théâtre – Kansai’s models came on moving. They leapt, ran, whirled like dervishes, danced, flung out their arms so that the brilliant colours meshed and merged into a kaleidoscopic cartoon of colour. Kansai himself, black-clothed and masked, moved across the stage like a Samurai warrior, tearing off layers and layers of clothes, stripping down the beautiful, pyramidal outer garments, right down to the vests and body paint. Kansai’s clothes épatent les couturiers.”
Harpers & Queen, July 1971
As fuzzy as they are, the two precious video clips at the end of this post convey the game-changing nature of Kansai Yamamoto’s theatrical introduction of avant-garde Japanese fashion design to these shores at the dawn of the 70s.
They also reveal the extent to which the late David Bowie subsequently drew on Yamamoto’s flamboyance and daring when presenting Ziggy Stardust on stage.
Several of the designs were worn by Bowie in performance during live promotion, in particular of the Aladdin Sane album, and he also adopted the sleight-of-hand layered costume reveals, the emphatic postures of the models and even the flame-red hair colouring as seen on the huge wig worn in the first excerpt below.
On a recent trip to Austin, Texas, I enjoyed many encounters with members of the region’s creative community, not least expat British sci-fi Titan Michael Moorcock and his delightful wife Linda, transplanted Westernwear expert Jerry Ryan and his Heritage Boot emporium and, as previously noted here, the charming duo Jesse Sublett and Lois Richwine.
I also had fun with the visiting New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi, in town for a residency at the Hotel Vegas, on the the city’s hip eastside.
Thanks to artist Paul Kindersley for alerting me to the fact that images from an audacious photo-shoot by the late photographer David Parkinson were featured in an early 70s issue of Paul Raymond’s adult magazine Men Only.
Eddie, Elvis + Gene: Let It Rock’s glitter-printed tailored and customised t-shirts based on James Dean’s in Rebel Without A Cause
Thanks to Mr Mondo for turning me onto Glam Idols, a goldmine of early 70s music and fashion images.
Lovingly presented and well credited, many of the photographs on the feed derive from continental European publications, like the 1972 shot above of a German model in a glitter t-shirt from Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s 50s outlet Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road.
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.
Preparation for my paper at Ben Kelly’s interior design symposium Dead Or Alive has coincided with the refurbishment of the Worlds End shop at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea.
The address is the subject of my talk; I’ll be detailing the history of 430 and how and why it was an important social and cultural locus over a number of decades.
Little space with a big impact: Talking about 430 King’s Road at ICA interior design symposium in March
Interior Design: Dead Or Alive is the title of the symposium being organised by the prominent British designer Ben Kelly at London’s Institute Of Contemporary Arts on March 14.
I am a contributing speaker alongside writer/curator Michael Bracewell, designers Fred Deakin, Ed Barber & Jay Osgerby and Peter Saville, artists Lucy McKenzie and Bridget Smith and David Toop of the London College Of Communications and Tate Britain’s Andrew Wilson.
“We’re going to be taking stock of the ways in which iconic interiors affect and influence the direction of popular culture and the wider world,” says Kelly, who is putting the event together in his capacity as professor of interior design and spatial studies at the University of the Arts London.
Among Kelly’s designs was the November 1976 transformation of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop Sex at 430 King’s Road into Seditionaries. Knowing that I have researched and produced a substantial document on the history of 430 King’s Road, Kelly has asked me to address this little space with a big impact in terms of its importance as a cultural hub and incubator of often radical ideas.
“There were many kings of the King’s Road at different periods of time but there was only one Emperor”
Very sad to note the passing of Billy Murphy, a thoroughly lovely bloke whose contribution to street fashion – particularly in Britain and specifically in and around the King’s Road – is sorely underrated.
I knew all about Billy’s significance in his field decades before I met him; as I wrote here, his shop The Emperor Of Wyoming was “an extremely important staging post not just in the story of British rock and roll fashion but also the development of the vintage scene in this country”.