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.
Read the rest of this entry »
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
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”.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Jenni Murray: You’ve said ‘clothes were politics long before fashion’. What did you mean by that?
Vivienne Westwood: I have no idea.
Jenni Murray: Was it something you said to Ian (Kelly) and now you’ve forgotten?
Vivienne Westwood: No…is that what it says in the book?
Jenni Murray: Yes
Vivienne Westwood: Well then, he might have got a misquote from somewhere.
Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, October 14, 2014
I respect Dame Vivienne Westwood’s achievements; she has been a significant figure in shaping our collective visual identity.
As someone who is driven to investigate and interpret visual culture, that is important to me. I dedicated a chapter and sections to Westwood’s contribution to fashion with and without Malcolm McLaren in the 2001 and 2006 editions of The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion.
But she is ill-served by the sloppy new book Vivienne Westwood, recently published by Picador and written by actor/author Ian Kelly. Read the rest of this entry »
A photograph of Vivienne Westwood – credited to the fashion designer’s archive in the new Westwood book with Ian Kelly – put me in mind of an image I have in one of my many books in storage.
At first I couldn’t put my finger on the particular tome. Then bingo! Bought eight years ago on publication, the France-only publication Punk Rockers! is a compendium of the photography of the late Alain Dister from the early 70s to the mid-00s.
Among the photographs Dister discusses in the brief foreword is one of Westwood with Malcolm McLaren when they journeyed to Paris to witness a gig by the New York Dolls at the Olympia Theatre in November 1973. This is clearly one of a sequence taken by Dister and featured in Westwood’s book.
As Dister writes, McLaren was “habillé en Teddy Boy années 50″. In photographs taken at the French capital’s Belle Epoque brasserie La Coupole – where we were happily ensconced with the Dolls’ confrère Marc Zermati only last year – the American proto-punk group is shown in all their glory, with guitarist Sylvain Sylvain resplendent in a zippered wool/mohair Let It Rock creation.
Punk Rockers! is a valuable document; Dister cast his unstinting eye as punk mutated from London and New York in the 70s to blossom in such cities as Berlin in the 80s, Seattle in the 90s and Tokyo in the 00s.
Former Melody Maker journalist Chris Charlesworth provides a fascinating snapshot of the Dolls at their debauched peak in Paris here.
Buy copies of Punk Rockers! here.
Dister died in 2008; here is his website.
Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly is reviewed here.
Hiroshi Fujiwara loaning Anarchy Shirt originally owned by Jon Savage for Malcolm McLaren room at Art In Pop
Preparations are well underway for the next phase of the Malcolm McLaren exhibition: a room dedicated to the late cultural iconoclast’s work as a visual artist at group show Art In Pop, which opens next month at France’s National Centre Of Contemporary Art space Magasin in Grenoble.
Art In Pop will also feature rooms dedicated to paintings by the late Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) and documentation of the artist John Miller’s exploits in music with the likes of Tony Conrad, Kim Gordon, Mike Kelley, Takuji Kogo and Thurston Moore.
And there will also be artworks by such musicians as the late Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, Daniel Johnston, Cris Kirkwood of The Meat Puppets, David Thomas of Pere Ubu and Mayo Thompson of The Red Crayola.
//Alix Lambert is featured on this 2008 Buckethead track//
These will be exhibited with pieces by artists who have investigated music, including John Armleder (who will be showing a work created with Genesis Breyer P. Orridge and Alan Vega), David Bowes, Alix Lambert (creator of 90s fictional all-girl punk band Platipussy, described as an “oestregen-powered Spinal Tap), Randy Ludacer, Tony Oursler and Greg Parma Smith.
The Malcolm McLaren element of Art In Pop will include many of the exhibits displayed at Let It Rock in Copenhagen this summer along with some exciting additions which I will be previewing here over the coming weeks.
Among them will be paintings produced by McLaren as an art student in the 60s as well as an original example of one of the most “painterly” works McLaren created with Vivienne Westwood: The Anarchy Shirt.
This is being loaned by fashion guru and musician Hiroshi Fujiwara, who has one of the most important collections of McLaren & Westwood designs in the world.
The shirt is a fine example of the extraordinary design first introduced in September 1976, and was originally owned by writer and cultural commentator Jon Savage.
“I bought it in late 1978 from Seditionaries,” says Savage. “It had a swastika applique which I immediately took off, not wishing to be the bearer of that particular insignia.”
Savage has described the Anarchy shirt as McLaren & Westwood’s “masterpiece… an inspired collage, using second hand clothes, craft and revolutionary slogans – an extraordinary package of compressed content”.
Art In Pop – which is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, me, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate and John Miller – is at Magasin from October 11 to January 4 2015.
Here is the first part of the 1983 Positive Punk documentary, shown as part of ITV’s South Of Watford strand (Savage appears towards the end of this segment):