Paul Gorman is…

When The Runaways guitarist Lita Ford raffled her McLaren/Westwood I Groaned With Pain t-shirt

Oct 5th, 2015

//From Poster, 1977. Note Ford signed the front of the shirt//

I am indebted to IG pal and fan of this blog Kjell Magnusson for this 1977 magazine photo of The Runaways’ guitarist Lita Ford presenting her I Groaned With Pain t-shirt for a raffle in Swedish teen title Poster.


//The Runaways on the cover of Poster No 8, 1977//


//The panel offering the raffle prizes for Poster readers//

In the light of the revelations about the abusive nature of the group’s relationship with the late, unwholesome manager Kim Fowley, Ford’s choice of item for the Poster magazine raffle was less seamy than those made for vocalist Cherie Currie and bass-player Jackie Fox, whose knickers were donated (guitarist Joan Jett sensibly chose a bracelet and drummer Sandy West a miniature drumstick).

Mclaren 'I groaned...'

//T-shirt with central tear on mint jersey with exterior seaming, unlabelled, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, 1974. 380mm x 365mm. © Malcolm McLaren Estate. Photo: Adrian Hunt//


//I Groaned With Pain t-shirt on pink with twin ball-and-chain chest zip inserts. © Malcolm McLaren Estate//

The I Groaned shirt is one of the series with zips designed by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and sold through their outlet Sex at 430 King’s Road between 1974 and 1976. The shirt was favoured by female performers of the period, including Viv Albertine, Little Nell Campbell and Chrissie Hynde.

There are two variants of the design in the current exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges at Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery. One is a very early deliberately ripped example produced in mid-1974 when 430 King’s Road was between names (the decision had been taken to abandon the previous title Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die).

This is why it doesn’t have a label. McLaren had yet to design the distinctive “SEX Original’ woven blue-on-pink tag, which was manufactured under his instructions by a supplier in Portugal.

The other shirt is the same type as Ford’s and does have a label.

I wrote about the genesis and realisation of I Groaned With Pain here.

Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Joining The Dots From The Situationist International To Malcolm McLaren is at John Hansard Gallery until November 14. Find out more here.

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Eddie, Elvis + Gene: Let It Rock’s glitter-printed tailored and customised t-shirts based on James Dean’s in Rebel Without A Cause

Sep 18th, 2015

//Model wears studded and accessorised Let It Rock ‘Gene’ glitter print shirt, Musik Express, November 1972. Photo: Unknown//

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.

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I Groaned With Pain: Malcolm McLaren’s own t-shirts to feature in exhibition of status quo-disrupters

Jul 17th, 2015

//The t-shirts show the deliberate production of variants within the limited edition designed and written by McLaren and printed on the simple square pattern produced by Vivienne Westwood in 1974. © Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Two of Malcolm McLaren’s t-shirts from the very first production run of I Groaned With Pain – the notorious text design produced with Vivienne Westwood in 1974 – will be featured in Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges, the exhibition I am co-curating with David Thorp at Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery this autumn.


//T-shirt with central tear on light blue jersey with exterior seaming, labelled, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, 1974. 360mm x 375mm. © Malcolm McLaren Estate//

I Groaned With Pain is named after the first four words of the paragraph of text McLaren lifted from beat writer Alexander Trocchi’s erotic novel Helen And Desire (published in 1954 by Olympia Press under the pseudonym Francis Lengel).

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David Bowie’s unwitting role in the transformation of 430 King’s Road from Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die to SEX

Jul 10th, 2015

//David Bowie recording the Diamond Dogs LP at Olympic Studios, Barnes, south-west London, January 1974 during his residency in Chelsea’s Oakley Street. Photo © Kate Simon//


//Malcolm McLaren and Gerry Goldstein in front of the Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die facade, 430 King’s Road, London, summer 1973. © Malcolm McLaren Estate//


//Malcolm McLaren in Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die designs, Chelsea, London, from New Musical Express, April 6, 1974 . Photo: © Pennie Smith//

It is a little known fact that David Bowie was an occasional visitor to 430 King’s Road when it was operating as Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die.

This manifestation of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s revolutionary boutique  – which paid design tribute to the fetishistic studded leather attire of Britain’s early 60s Ton Up Boys and rockers and sold the cult clothing associated with 40s mobsters and Latino zoot suit rioters – succeeded the 50s outlet Let It Rock in the early spring of 1973, as noted at the time by the fashion writer Catherine Tennant in British Vogue.

tftl vogue

//From British Vogue, April 1, 1973//

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Little space with a big impact: Talking about 430 King’s Road at ICA interior design symposium in March

Jan 19th, 2015

//Portfolio shot of the newly completed Seditionaries, 430 King’s Road, London SW10,  December 1976.
(c) Ben Kelly//

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.

Seditionaries plaque

//Portfolio shot of the freshly installed Seditionaries name plaque, December 1976. (c) Ben Kelly//

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.

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Malcolm McLaren’s 1969 Goldsmith’s paintings go on show for the first time

Oct 7th, 2014

//Berries – 8 Yellowy Green Female Forms, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media,
5 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

“I started out in art school as a painter. I studied there for eight years and most of my education was based around the visual arts. I learnt all my politics and understanding of the world through the history of art.”

Malcolm McLaren speaking on British arts documentary series the South Bank Show, 1983


//I Will Be So Bad, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Oil on canvas, 15 x 12”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Among the exhibits at Let It Rock, the Malcolm McLaren room at this autumn’s group exhibition Art In Pop at Magasin in Grenoble, are never-previously exhibited photographs of the late cultural iconoclast’s paintings taken by his teacher Barry Martin during McLaren’s student days in the 60s.

These are discussed in this extract from the exhibition introduction:

In the summer of 1969, at the end of his first year of the fine art course at London’s Goldsmith’s School Of Art, the 23-year-old student Malcolm Edwards showed 10 or so gestural paintings, mainly oils on canvas with some integrating text statements and others used as the basis for mixed media experimentation incorporating chicken wire, hammered wood planks and, in one case, an inverted paper envelope against depictions of leaf forms.


//Map Of British Isles With Yellow Star And Hole, Malcolm McLaren, 1969.
Oil on canvas, 7 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

During a 90-minute critical review by his teacher Barry Martin, Edwards (soon to revert to his birth-name of McLaren) declared his rejection of the limitations imposed by traditional art forms, in particular painting.

McLaren subsequently destroyed all but one of the works. In a symbolic statement the exception, the largest canvas – the 7ft tall Map Of British Isles With Yellow Star And Hole, into which he had already kicked a sizeable hole – was left to rot in the summer rain in the yard at the back of the college. Eventually it was torn apart and taken away by the dustbin-men.


//The Intangible Manipulation Of Minds, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media, 4’6″ x 4’6”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren dedicated his remaining two years at Goldsmith’s to organization of events and film-making, one about his hero, the early British rock’n’roller Billy Fury merged into an unfinished commentary on consumerism centred on the history of London’s main commercial thoroughfare, Oxford Street.

In doing so McLaren was inserting himself into the lineage back to Duchamp which included such figures as the Dutch Situationist Asgar Jorn, who had proclaimed “Painting is dead” in 1958, and in particular Andy Warhol, who explained his sponsorship of The Velvet Underground in 1967 by saying: “Since I don’t really believe in painting anymore we have a chance to combine music and art.”


//Leaves, Nature And Cuts, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media, 4 x 3’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren later described his decision to open the boutique Let It Rock in London’s King’s Road on exiting the art school system in 1971 as “jumping into the musical end of painting”; here McLaren blazed the trail dictated by his formidable art education by creating new artworks as fashion pieces out of the juxtaposition of found objects.


//Words Trapped In Brick Compartments With Prostrate Figures, Malcolm McLaren 1969. Oil on canvas, 5 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//


//14 Pink Figures On Moving Sea Of Green, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Oil on canvas, 12 x 15”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Thanks to Barry Martin for his insights and assistance in putting together the Malcolm McLaren segment of Art In Pop. Martin continues to practice as an artist and sculptor; this is his website.

Art In Pop, which opens on Saturday, is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I. The exhibition runs until January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, Site Bouchayer-Viallet, 8 Esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

Details here.



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Let It Rock: Malcolm McLaren at Art In Pop – work begins on building the show

Sep 19th, 2014
magasin- WallPaintings

//Positioning the 430 shop logos in the Malcolm McLaren room at Art In Pop. Photo: Magasin head of production Eric Pourcel//


‘Black is the most exciting colour’ (Goya). Black when used in different ways appears the most infinite and mysterious, the most spatial and loose.
Malcolm McLaren, essay for course at Croydon Art School, 1967

It’s exciting. Work is underway on building the Art In Pop group exhibition which opens next month at Le Magasin, France’s National Centre for Contemporary Art in Grenoble.


//McLaren’s first logo at 430 King’s Road was featured on the side of a 12m installation at Let It Rock at CIFF this summer. Foreground image of McLaren in Central Park, spring 1975, by Bob Gruen. Photo: Jean Francois Carly/Malcolm McLaren Estate//


//The Too Fast To Live shop frontage in this 60 x 40″ blow-up at CIFF//

Featuring artworks by musicians such as Don Van Vliet and Daniel Johnstone as well as musical ventures by artists including John Armleder and John Miller, Art In Pop incorporates the sizeable space dedicated to Let It Rock, the show exploring the work of the late Malcolm McLaren.

This will focus on McLaren’s investigations into the visual arts from the 60s to his death in 2010 along with the engagements with commercial media such as fashion, film and music for which he is best known.

In line with Let It Rock’s manifestation at the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair this summer, the pink-on-black Let It Rock sign will be recreated, this time at the entrance to the Malcolm McLaren room.

For Art In Pop the sign is being matched by a giant reproduction of the shop logo which followed Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road: Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die.

The dominant use of black behind these logos riffs on McLaren’s repeated use of the colour in his work and should make for an impactful introduction to the show, which will feature hundreds of exhibits from throughout the cultural iconoclast’s artistic life.

Digital StillCamera

//Founded in 1986, Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain is housed in an industrial hall built for the 1900 Paris World’s Fair by the workshops of Gustave Eiffel//

Art In Pop – which is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I – runs from Oct 11 to January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, 8 esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

More info here.

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The London Rock n Roll Show at Wembley Stadium 1972: Memories of Oz, Frendz and the Let It Rock stall

Mar 8th, 2014

//Flyer for The Rock n Roll Show printed on the back of a subscription form for Oz magazine, July 1972. The Move were replaced by lead member Roy Wood’s new band Wizzard; this was their first gig. Original Brit-rocker Heinz was added to the bill; his backing band would soon become Dr Feelgood//

I acquired my first underground press publications in the summer of 1972, at about the point when the sector was taking the nosedive from which it never recovered.

Still, better late than Sharon Tate, as they say. Aged 12, my taste had been whetted by sneak peeks at an older brother’s collection of magazines when a guy called Kevin O’Keefe who lived down the road gave me a few copies of Oz, including number 43, the July issue.

A few weeks later, to my astonishment, the newsagents in Hendon’s Church Road started stocking Frendz. I folded issue 33 between a couple of music papers and pored over it in my bedroom.


//Front cover of OZ 43, the issue which included the Wembley flyer//


//Front cover, Frendz 33, September 1972//


//Crowds around the Let It Rock stand. From the 1973 film London Rock N Roll Show directed by Peter Clifton//

Neither of the magazines are shining examples of the genre, but they had something in common: the centre spread of OZ 43 contained a subscription form back-printed with a flyer for the London Rock N Roll Show, a one-day festival of original 50s acts and those who could claim kinship held at Wembley Stadium on August 5 that year.

And for me the most beguiling article in Frendz 33 was a two-page stream-of-consciousness report of the event filed by one Douglas Gordon and illustrated with photographs by Pennie Smith, soon to leave for the NME and carve out her reputation as one of rock photography’s all-time greats.

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Photography: David Parkinson shoots Acme Attractions

Jan 16th, 2014

//Original print of photo for Club International, 1975. Models include, from far right, Stephan Raynor, Don Letts and Martin Brading. Photo: David Parkinson//

I’ve been enjoying researching materials relating to the late photographer David Parkinson for a feature for GQ magazine, so thought I’d share some of the images I dug out of the Parkinson archive concerning the 70s King’s Road retro clothing store Acme Attractions.

Parkinson’s position as fashion editor of Paul Raymond’s sophisticated soft-porn magazine Club International enabled him to style and present Acme clothing for a wide readership, on occasion using the shop team as models.

Acme was opened by Parkinson’s friend Stephan Raynor (they’d known each other since they were part of a gang of style-obsessed teenagers in Leicester in the early 60s) with John Krivine, previously a Brixton-based jukebox dealer, in 1974.


//As the Parkinson photograph appeared in the magazine, flipped and tinted. Note ref to “Acme Tailors”//


//Parkinson used ties from his collection – including some sourced from Acme – for this March 1975 Club International feature//

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Exclusive: Inside Paradise Garage at 430 King’s Road with Electric Colour Company, 1971

Jan 27th, 2013

//Interior, 430 King's Road, Chelsea, May 1971. Note coconut matting, shack-style dressing room doors, trompe de l'oeil gate painted on stockroom door... and fake tiger. Photography: David Parkinson.//

I first wrote about Electric Colour Company – the design studio formed in the East End by four fine art students in the late 60s – in The Look and then in more detail here.

//Amid the singlets, printed sweatshirts and appliqued denim, a bamboo cage housed birds of paradise, suspended from the matting covered ceiling.//

In my view, ECC deserves much greater recognition for executing some very clever work in the field of retail design and interiors in the period 1969-1973.

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