In the autumn of 1972 the small King’s Road boutique Let It Rock, which had been open for less than a year, received a fillip when the owners Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood were asked to contribute costumes to the production of 50s Britrock movie That’ll Be The Day.
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.
Pastiche, parody + plain forgery: How original McLaren/Westwood punk graphics have spawned a weird, twilit sub-strata of bad outsider design
//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//
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.
Jaunty: Barry Plummer’s striking photos of Malcolm McLaren + Vivienne Westwood in the Wild West End spring 1979
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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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.
//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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to womenyoushouldknow.net for the link to Bluglass’s film.
The Return Of The Saint: Cameo by The Saints + directed by Peter Medak at The Marquee…but is that Shinny in Seditionaries?
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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