Paul Gorman is…

430 Kings Road: In the back of Mr Freedom, Paradise Garage + Let It Rock 1969 – 1972

Feb 28th, 2015
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/Left: Andrew Greaves of Electric Colour Company in the back of Paradise Garage, May 1971. Right: Vivienne Westwood in the back of Let It Rock, January 1972. Photos: David Parkinson//

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.

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//Back wall of 430 King’s Road on the opening of Mr Freedom, September 1969. Interior: Electric Colour Company. Photo: David Parkinson//

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//Back wall of 430 Kings Road when Paradise Garage was opened there in May 1971. Interior: Electric Colour Company. Photo: David Parkinson//

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//Back wall of 430 King’s Road after refurbishment as Let It Rock, January 1972. Vivienne Westwood in foreground. Interior: Malcolm McLaren. Photo: David Parkinson//

There were eight manifestations of the retail fashion business at the address after Bill Fuller and Carol Derry opened The 430 Boutique there in the early 60s, and the photography of the late David Parkinson over a period of 30 months shows the mutability of this relatively small retail space (which has a floor area of 450sq ft).

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//Floor plan of the site when it went through nine interior changes between 1964 and 1981. The box marks the supporting pillar//

For example the floorage of the back part of the shop measures around 180 sq ft and the back wall, which included a rear access and vent, was just 13ft wide.

As these photographs demonstrate, it was repeatedly resolved with invention: for instance, design collective Electric Colour Company used the door for trompe de l’oeil for Mr Freedom in 1969 and Paradise Garage in 1971 – first an aerial view of the Chrysler Building and then the gate of a shack opening onto a rural backyard.

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//The rear entry door 1969 and 1971 shows Electric Colour Company’s shift from the primary Pop palette and hard-edged imagery of Mr Freedom into the bucolic shades and references of the American West for Paradise Garage//

When Malcolm McLaren took over in late 1971 he instituted a refurbishment drawing on the spatial awareness developed over years at various art schools, just as the members of Electric Colour Co had used their own fine art educations as the basis for design practice.

At the back of 430 McLaren realised his ambition to create a suburban 50s sitting room suitable for a lounging Teddy Boy; on a linoleum covered platform along the base of the back wall he placed a kitsch glass cabinet, teen and showbiz magazines, a Dansette, plastic flowers and pink nylon decorative ruffles accompanied on the wall by framed photographs of James Dean and other 50s icons.

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//Cabinet and decorative elements along back wall. Photo: David Parkinson//

The cabinet obscured the lower-half of the doorway; the top surround provided a frame for the pair of theatrical flute-top boots he bought for Westwood from West End shoe-makers Frederick Freed, a photo of Screaming Lord Sutch set against a decorated plate, green nylon curtain material and a British seaside view.

These and the other design solutions realised at 430 King’s Road will be investigated in my talk at Interior Design: Dead Or Alive, which is at the ICA on Saturday March 14. Read more about the event here and book tickets here.

My feature on Electric Colour Company is in the next issue of GQ Style, out on March 11.

Thanks to Andrew Greaves for the Paradise Garage and Mr Freedom photography.

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Pastiche, parody + plain forgery: How original McLaren/Westwood punk graphics have spawned a weird, twilit sub-strata of bad outsider design

Feb 24th, 2015
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//A US vintage company is unwittingly featuring this forgery as an original t-shirt from Seditionaries on its Instagram feed. The unpleasant item is an example of the accelerating trade in McLaren/Westwood fakes, where previously non-existent designs – often with repellent overtones – are touted as ultra-rare one-offs//

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//Banal content: More examples of previously non-existent designs marketed as McLaren/Westwood originals – complete with Seditionaries-style labels – from a Chinese retailer’s site last year. Note the design at bottom left has a fake label whereas the one at the top of this post does not//

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//Above: A selection of more of the crude new designs touted as original garments on Japanese auction site Seditionaries Shop, which claimed more than 300 sales at prices averaging £150//

Since Malcolm McLaren’s death nearly five years ago there has been a palpable rise in the plundering of the designs – in particular the graphics produced for t-shirts – he created with Vivienne Westwood in the 1970s.

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Jaunty: Barry Plummer’s striking photos of Malcolm McLaren + Vivienne Westwood in the Wild West End spring 1979

Feb 3rd, 2015
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//McLaren specifically requested Plummer photograph him outside 7 Denmark Street, London WC1; Tin Pan Alley Club was one of the centres of Britain’s music business dating back to the 30s: “Some lads came along and Malcolm was pulling up his kilt in good-natured fun.” Photo: © Barry Plummer//

These jaunty photographs were taken by Barry Plummer in the spring of 1979 for a Melody Maker interview with Malcolm McLaren about the just-released soundtrack for the Sex Pistols’ biopic The Great Rock N Roll Swindle (beset by financial and creative difficulties, the film wasn’t released for another year).

McLaren was accompanied by Vivienne Westwood; they made a striking pair in mixed and matched one-off and traditional pieces with a selection of clothing from their King’s Road shop Seditionaries. By now the transition away from punk – left behind when the Sex Pistols split a year earlier – was becoming evident.

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//Westwood and McLaren looking the bomb at the entrance to 98 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1, home to McLaren’s management company Glitterbest. Photo © Barry Plummer//


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Homage to Ben Kelly’s Seditionaries facade in Vuitton’s High Tech A/W 15 show

Jan 22nd, 2015
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//The simulation of the Seditionaries facade in industrial materials provided the entry and exit point for models on the runway today//

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//With rings representing the positions where designer Ben Kelly exposed air conditioning vents to view, Kim Jones replaced the diagonal bar which occupied the central square over the door with the trademark Vuitton ‘V’//

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//Ben Kelly’s portfolio shot of the facade he designed and installed at 430 King’s Road in December 1976//

Amid the references to the late Christopher Nemeth in today’s Paris show of the Louis Vuitton A/W 15 menswear collection (see my last post), artistic director Kim Jones used the staging to pay subtle homage to the two great maverick figures of London street culture – namely Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and specifically their 70s punk store Seditionaries.

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George Cox: The origins of the Diano brothel creeper + samples ordered by Malcolm McLaren in 1973

Jan 20th, 2015
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//Malcolm McLaren in a previously unpublished shot wearing original 50s George Cox Bingley D-ring brothel creepers to match his detail-perfect Teddy Boy garb. Photo taken inside Let It Rock, 430 King’s Road, January 1972. (c) David Parkinson//

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//Left, Saint Laurent point-toed patent brothel creepers, A/W 2014. Right: George Cox Buckle Diano made to the 1950s last//

Last season’s foregrounding by Saint Laurent of the pointed brothel creeper is just one of a run of examples of fashion brands plugging into the purity of this quintessentially British rock & roll style minted in 1949 by the UK independent footwear company George Cox.

Among the first stylistic innovators to take the design out of Teddy Boy revivalism and apply it to contemporary fashion was Malcolm McLaren, who had been selling creepers for a couple of years at Let It Rock, the boutique he operated with Vivienne Westwood, by the time he visited the Cox factory in Northampton in November 1973. Here he ordered samples for six styles, some of which went into production for sale at 430 King’s Road.

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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
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//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.

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//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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Curating: Art In Pop – including the Malcolm McLaren show – open for another month

Jan 13th, 2015

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“More than anyone, Malcolm McLaren bursts the definitions as to what exactly constitutes an artist.”
Yves Aupetitallot, curator at Magasin, the Centre National d’Art Contemporain, in the introduction to Art In Pop

Due to popular demand, the run of Art In Pop – the French exhibition about the intermingling of artistic practice with popular music where the main space is dedicated to the work of Malcolm McLaren – has been extended by a month.

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Queen Viva! Original punk rocker + lollipop lady

Dec 9th, 2014
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//Viva Hamnell at Glastonbury Festival, from Amanda Bluglass’s short Viva Punk Rebel//

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//Viva Hamnell at Port Eliot Lit Fest 2006 with her daughter Jane and son-in-law Rik Gadsby modelling McLaren, Westwood and Reid punk designs for The Look//

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//The crowd went wild and jogged the photographer’s elbow: onstage in this blurry shot with Viva in Jamie Reid’s Sex Pistols Fuck Forever t-shirt, Port Eliot Lit Fest, 2006//

Punk had great freedom with no rules. I couldn’t sing, but I got up there and sung. It didn’t matter. You had to have the spirit and the energy.

Viva Hamnell, 2014

My first meeting with Viva Hamnell eight years ago was not untypical, I subsequently learnt.

74 at the time, she was viewing the various Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and Jamie Reid designs I was co-opting friends and attendees at Port Eliot Lit Fest to model that year to illustrate an event for the newly published second edition of my book The Look.

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//Hamnell goes about her Lollipop Lady duties in a 70s TV news item//

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//Left in the 70s//

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//Lining up with fellow members of The Bricks//

Having surveyed the Naked Cowboys, Mickie & Minnie and Snow White & Her Sir Punks, Viva plumped for Reid’s 1986 BOY t-shirt issue of his poster design for The Great Rock & Roll Swindle: Sex Pistols Fuck Forever set in flouro-pink.

And when she closed the show by strolling on stage wearing the shirt, the crowd naturally went wild.

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Amanda Bluglass’s documentary portrait Viva Punk Rebel captures this indomitable rule-breaker, whose embracing of punk rock as a 43-year-old freshly divorced lollipop lady in 1976 set her on a life of adventure – taking in membership of Cornish punk band The Bricks and involvement in the Elephant Fayre and Lit Fest at St Germans and the Glastonbury Festival – which lasts unto this day.

Viva Viva!

Thanks to womenyoushouldknow.net for the link to Bluglass’s film.

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The Return Of The Saint: Cameo by The Saints + directed by Peter Medak at The Marquee…but is that Shinny in Seditionaries?

Dec 3rd, 2014
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//Is this Shinobu Kanai aka “Shinny” in a Seditionaries top in Episode 9 of the first series of The Return Of The Saint, broadcast November 1978?//

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//Kanai  in The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, 1980//

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// As “Japanese Woman” in the opening sequence of Insignificance, 1985//

Currently doing the rounds of the punk groups on various social networking sites is this clip from the cheesy 70s revival of classic 60s British television series The Saint.

Entitled The Arrangement, episode nine of The Return Of The Saint was broadcast on November 5, 1978 and starred such UK TV drama stalwarts as Carolyn Seymour, seen here looking glam in a car in Soho’s Wardour Street outside The Marquee where the great Aussie band The Saints are crashing through Swing For The Crime from their Eternally Yours album.
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Toyah Willcox and Midge Ure worked in Sex… Nostalgia Of Mud sold bondage trousers… Philip Hoare’s compromised review littered with as many howlers as contained in the Vivienne Westwood book

Oct 25th, 2014

It will be frustrating for publisher Picador and their authors Ian Kelly and Vivienne Westwood that novelist Philip Hoare’s national paper five-star review of memoir Vivienne Westwood is rendered unreliable by, pro rata, as many inaccuracies as contained in the book itself.

Holed by these gaffes, the review – in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine published October 26 – is capsized by Hoare’s failure to declare a significant interest.

In Kelly’s acknowledgements, Hoare’s name appears first on the list of those who extended to the author “accommodation, guidance, encouragement and friendship on this project”.

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//Errors pile up in Philip Hoare’s review of Vivienne Westwood in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven Magazine, October 26, 2014//

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//Philip Hoare’s name appears first in this section of Ian Kelly’s acknowledgements on p427 of the memoir Vivienne Westwood//

On the basis that phrases such as “fetishistically brilliant” justify a thumbs-up, Hoare’s review arrived in the wake of the media coverage of my claim against the publisher and the authors over substantial plagiarisation of my book The Look in Vivienne Westwood.

Since I have publicly charged the book with major-league sloppiness, this positive review by a relatively well-known literary figure may be framed in the context of a push to restore credibility to the troubled project (as well as the plagiarisation and the huge amount of factual errors, the book is held to contain at least one serious libel and fails to provide proper credit for a number of photographers).

Hoare – who has post-punk associations, having worked in west London record shop Rough Trade and managed the indie group the Pale Fountains – bravely inserts himself into the piece with personal memories of Westwood’s design business with Malcolm McLaren in the 70s and 80s.

According to Hoare – and these are his additions to the blunders already piled high by the 458-page tome – the shop assistants at 430 Kings Road in its incarnation as Sex included not only musician Midge Ure but also actress/performer Toyah Willcox.

Of course neither was employed there. Hoare has simply confused each person’s tangential relationships to the McLaren/Westwood coterie: it is well known that Ure was once approached as a possible singer for the Sex Pistols during their formative stage, while Willcox appeared in Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk movie Jubilee (the subject of a salty attack printed onto a t-shirt by Westwood).

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//Midge Ure, kneeling, with his Slik bandmates on the cover of their 1976 LP//

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//Toyah Willcox in 70s TV production The Corn Is Green (from www.toyah.net)//

During the period Hoare is discussing, Ure had already hit the number one spot with Scottish teen-pop band Slik while Willcox was making her acting bones in Birmingham Old Rep before transferring to the National Theatre. A simple check in one of the reliable published sources – of course I recommend The Look – would have put him right.

Against these howlers, we can generously attribute to memory failings Hoare’s depiction of shop manager Jordan’s “Kandinsky make-up” (it was avowedly based on the work of Mondrian and introduced in 1977 during the later Seditionaries phase) and the “scaffolding rails” in Sex (they were made of curved chrome and expertly-turned wooden gym bar racks courtesy of the trained wheelwright Vic Mead) and instead study Hoare’s ownership of a pair of bondage trousers bought at Nostalgia Of Mud, McLaren and Westwood’s store in St Christopher’s Place in London’s West End.

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//Nostalgia Of Mud – opened to promote the clothing in the companion catwalk collection (also known as Buffalo) – did not sell bondage trousers nor any other punk designs//

Bondage trousers were not sold at NoM, which opened in spring 1982. By this time McLaren and Westwood had publicly rejected these and other designs produced at the height of punk six years earlier.

In fact so vehement was their abandonment of the punk-era garments that Westwood licensed all the designs, include the patterns for the bondage trousers, to King’s Road store Boy, which was knocking them out in inferior copies by the hundred by spring 1982.

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//Hoare cites the plagiarised passage in his review//

Hoare – who has prior in giving glowing reviews to Kelly’s previous books – compounds the mistakes in his review by quoting one of the plagiarised passages from my book: “Sex,” Westwood tells Kelly,”translated into fashion becomes fetish…the very embodiment of youth’s assumption to mortality.”

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//From McLaren’s intro to The Look, which he supplied to me exclusively in the spring of 2000//

As pointed out here last week, and as my lawyers have communicated to Westwood, Kelly and Picador, this is one of 40 passages in Vivienne Westwood which bear close resemblance to text in my book, in this case from the introduction written by McLaren nearly a decade-and-a-half ago: “Sex translated into fashion becomes fetish, and fetishism is the very embodiment of youth. Youth has to behave irreverently – it has to take drugs because of its fundamental belief in its own immortality.”

Read Hoare’s review here.

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