Paul Gorman is…

Rarely spotted Mr Freedom designs emerge from Audrey’s wardrobe after 45 years

May 31st, 2016
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//Audrey Watson’s great grand-neice Carlie models the spot-print two-piece bought in 1971 from Mr Freedom’s branch at 20 Kensington Church Street in west London. All photos: Helen Smith//

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//Sooty & Sweep print Mr Freedom shirt also acquired by Watson on one of her shopping trips to London in the early 70s//

The emergence of good condition Mr Freedom designs with strong provenance is rare these days, so I’m delighted to showcase these unusual and original garments from the seminal early 70s London boutique operated by Trevor Myles, John Paul and Tommy Roberts.

They were acquired in the early 70s from the second Mr Freedom outlet in Kensington by the ultra-stylish British collector Audrey Watson, now 87 and a lifelong devotee of quirky and interesting clothing who has reluctantly begun the process of divesting herself of her fashion archive.

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Heritage Boot: On Austin’s SoCo, ‘the best handmade cowboy boots you can buy right now’ with a delightful flavour of the King’s Road heyday

Apr 6th, 2016

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Part artwork, part footwear, entirely authentic

Heritage Boot, Austin TX

A recent visit to Texas provided many joys and pleasures, among them a taste of the heyday of the King’s Road boutique boom courtesy of Jerry and Patti Ryan’s Heritage Boot on Austin’s hip South Congress.

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Fabulousness: Rarely-seen footage of Kansai Yamamoto’s game-changing 1971 King’s Road catwalk show

Mar 19th, 2016

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“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.

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Published for the first time in 46 years: Inside legendary King’s Road boutique Alkasura

Feb 18th, 2016
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//Alkasura staff inside 304 King’s Road. Photographer: Unknown. Paul Gorman Archive. No reproduction without permission//

This is the first time these photographs – taken inside London’s legendary glam boutique Alkasura – have been published since they appeared in a Japanese fashion magazine in 1970.

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Cult: David Parkinson’s street style photos in Men Only August 1971

Dec 15th, 2015
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//Dinah Adams and friend, Eastbourne, Sussex, summer 1971. Photo: David Parkinson. No reproduction without permission//

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//From Men Only, Vol 36, No 8, 1971//

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.

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

Feb 19th, 2015
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//Roxy, 25 Kensington Church Street, 1972. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

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

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//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; Louise Doktor; 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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RIP Billy Murphy: ‘There were many kings of the King’s Road but only one Emperor’

Dec 20th, 2014
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//Billy Murphy by Sean Moorman//

“There were many kings of the King’s Road at different periods of time but there was only one Emperor”

Lloyd Johnson

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”.

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//Stetson, embroidered shirt and hand-tooled leather belt from The Emperor Of Wyoming. Photo: David Parkinson for Club International, February 1974//

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“There’s so much pollution in the world you should use the gear you already have, not buy something because it’s fashionable” – Trevor Myles + Paradise Garage in Jackie magazine December 1971

Jul 3rd, 2014
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//Trevor Myles in front of his store at 430 King’s Road, autumn 1971. Photographer: Not credited//

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//pp6-7, Jackie, December 4, 1971//

Well done to vintage collector/dealer Sharon of Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique blog for spotting this wowser on a Facebook group: a 1971 article in teen fashion and music magazine Jackie about the game-changing fashion outlet Paradise Garage run by Trevor Myles at 430 King’s Road.

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//Myles with Bradley Mendelson (in ‘Bradley’ studded top) outside Paradise Garage. Photographer uncredited//

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//Myles on his tiger-strip flocked 1966 Ford Mustang Pony car. Photographer uncredited/

Paradise Garage is important because it was the first shop in Britain to import and sell used denim in a meaningful way. Using the astounding environment created by Electric Colour Company, faded and worn denim, sometimes appliqued or patched, was stocked alongside an acutely compiled selection of soon-to-be-familiar dead-stock: Hawaiian shirts, baseball and souvenir jackets, Osh Kosh B’Gosh dungarees, bumper boots, cheongsams and so on.

Myles opened Paradise Garage in May 1971 as a reaction to the Pop Art flash he had engineered at Mr Freedom with his ex-partner Tommy Roberts. In the Jackie article he makes a point about fashion and environmental sustainability of pertinence today:

“There’s so much pollution in the world that we thought you should use the gear you already have – not buy something just because it’s fashionable. By throwing the old lot away you only add to the pollution problem. So that’s why we’re using it all up.”

Also interviewed and photographed is shop manager Bradley Mendelson, the New Yorker whose November 1971 encounter with Malcolm McLaren while Myles was absent overseas resulted in the establishment of Let It Rock at the same address.

The publication date of the issue of Jackie – December 4, 1971 – is poignant; by the time the feature appeared Paradise Garage was gone and McLaren and others, including his art-school student friend Patrick Casey and Vivienne Westwood, had taken over the outlet and were refurbishing it to match Mclaren’s radical British take on 50s retromania.

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//Mr Freedom designs produced under Myles’ former partner Tommy Roberts appeared elsewhere in the same issue. Here customer Elton John sports an appliqued top//

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//The female cover model wore a pair of green and white winged boots from Mr Freedom (detail cropped out)//

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Read the Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique blog here.

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Mr Freedom designs at the V&A: ‘When what has been considered bad taste is suddenly found to be invigorating’

Dec 20th, 2013

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“There is a moment when ‘good taste’ becomes dead; what has been considered ‘bad’ is suddenly found to be invigorating. Fashion today has little to do with la mode and the tacky is often accepted as an essential part of the necessary ‘total’ look. It can be fun.”

Cecil Beaton, introduction to the catalogue for the 1971 V&A exhibition Fashion: An Anthology

Recent visits to the V&A’s Archive of Art & Design have proved fruitful, particularly a viewing earlier this week of the collection of  Pop Art clothing sold through London boutique Mr Freedom in the late 60s and early 70s.

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//Design: Diana Crawshaw, 1971//

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//Kiss Off t-shirt, Jim O’Connor, 1971//

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//Design Christopher Snow/Trevor Myles, body design: Diana Crawshaw, 1971//

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//Design: Pamla Motown, 1971//

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