Paul Gorman is…

Unbelievable rarity: Undocumented Let It Rock clothing featured on 1972 budget LP + previously unpublished views of stock inside 430 King’s Road

Apr 12th, 2014
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//Front cover, Rock Archive, Various Artists, Windmill Records, 1972//

It is relatively common knowledge among those interested in the careers of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their series of extraordinary shops that they supplied clothes to the 1973 album Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll; Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road was clearly credited on the back of the record sleeve.

Let It Rock-Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll

//Front cover, The Golden Hour Of Rock N Roll, Various Artists, Pye/Golden Hour, 1973//

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//The photograph on the Rock Archive cover was flipped to better accommodate the text. Here it is as originally shot//

But I have fresh information which helps towards a greater understanding of McLaren’s project to investigate the detritus of popular culture’s recent past. During a bout of research recently I came across this earlier and hitherto undocumented use of Let It Rock clothing in a music context: the front cover of Rock Archive, a budget LP compilation released by the specialist British independent label Windmill in 1972.

And I am detailing the clothes on the cover with images taken inside Let It Rock which have never been previously published.

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//Starke shirts with 50s sports jacket on Let It Rock wall, January 1972. Photograph: David Parkinson//

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//Starke label detail//

Each garment worn by the model – whose attempts at rocking out resulted in his giving every appearance of suffering considerable pain – comes from the deadstock of British brands assiduously assembled by Malcolm McLaren and his art-school friend Patrick Casey for the opening of the world’s first avowedly post-modern retail outlet in November 1971.

From the ground up, the Rock Archive cover star wore black suede Denson’s Fine Poynts, ice-blue Lybro jeans with 12in cuffs, a Frederick Starke flyaway collar shirt and a studded and decorated Lewis Leathers early 60s Lightning jacket (which featured a highly collectable 6-5 Special patch).

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Only Anarchists Are Pretty: New Fragment x Peel + Lift Anarchy Shirt goes on sale as The Pool opens in Aoyoama

Apr 2nd, 2014

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Among the lines launching Tokyo’s new fashion and music retail outlet The Pool is a collaboration between Japanese streetwear labels Fragment and Peel + Lift on a fresh version of the 1976 Anarchy Shirt design by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

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The reissue, in four versions, is a stripped down reproduction of one of the original variants created by McLaren and Westwood to be worn by the Sex Pistols and for sale in their shop at 430 King’s Road in its incarnations as Sex and Seditionaries.

“I had been a student in the 60s, and the anarchic student movements in France really framed my critique,” McLaren told me in 2007.  “This particular shirt celebrated that.”

The original designs used as a base the deadstock Wemblex brand shirts stored in boxes at McLaren & Westwood’s flat in Clapham, south London in the mid-70s. “They were pin-striped and made in cheap cotton in the early 60s when the ‘pin-through’ collar style – an American look – was fashionable,” said McLaren.

“I wore and wore them and then, one day, Vivienne decided to paint stripes over one. She showed it to me and together we customised it, using my son’s stencil set, with slogans such as “Only Anarchists Are Pretty” and “Dangerously Close To Love”.

“As well as layering the stencils to increase the impact, I attached silk patches of Karl Marx I discovered in shops in Chinatown which sold Maoist literature.  I chose him because his book started the Socialist and workers’ movements in the 19th century. Also, Vivienne and I liked his beard.

“Marx was a writer/author, a creator of ideas, not a politician like Lenin. Marx represented a greater significance and was important to us because he lived in London at one point.”

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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
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//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.

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

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

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//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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Malcolm McLaren: After Pharrell, Westwood and Dries is he the disappearing man of fashion?

Mar 6th, 2014
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//McLaren/Westwood Buffalo Hat 1982, V&A Collection.//

Long-standing revisionism is not unusual on the breakdown of a partnership, and there has been much rewriting – not least by the parties themselves – of the history of who did what, where and to whom in the three decades since the dissolution of one of the most potent creative collaborations in the history of popular culture: that between Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

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//In the arena: McLaren engages with pop, 1983//

It will be a while before we understand whether their achievements together will leap the boundaries of the still-bouyant decorative arts and the now-dessicated form of popular music into true and lasting cultural significance, but for the time being the couple’s combined impact on fashion design and the development of musical genres from punk to hip-hop and world music continues to draw in contemporary performers and designers.

QV the ballyhoo around Pharrell Williams’ recent sporting of a Westwood reissue of the so-called Buffalo Hat, a design produced by the pair for the Worlds End 1982 Buffalo collection. This coincided with the opening of their last retail environment Nostalgia Of Mud and also provided a major element in the visual identity of McLaren’s debut solo album, the towering pre-digital cross-genre pop masterpiece Duck Rock.

The hat, like the rest of the Buffalo collection, was undeniably a product of their collective resources. It may have been his concept – taken from images of traditional Peruvian dress discovered during research for Duck Rock – but it was their combined realisation.

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Photography: David Parkinson shoots Acme Attractions

Jan 16th, 2014
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//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.

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

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

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SEX Cowboys return to Situationist roots in new T-shirt inspired by one of my posts

Jan 8th, 2014
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//Drift: New t-shirt from Japanese streetwear company Peel + Lift//

My 2011 post unraveling the threads running through the notorious Naked Cowboys punk t-shirt has itself inspired a new shirt.

The Cowboys t-shirt was designed by Malcolm McLaren in 1975 for sale in SEX, the shop he ran with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in London’s World’s End.

Popular with punks and worn by members of the Sex Pistols and their coterie, it was initially known as the Saturday Night Dance shirt because of the presence of the dancehall sign in the appropriated homoerotic cowboy illustration by Jim French.

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//Cowboys t-shirt sold at auction in London last year//

The new t-shirt has been produced by Japanese streetwear company Peel + Lift, which reproduces many McLaren and Westwood designs. It is entitled Drift, making overt the presence of 60s radical thinking in McLaren’s artwork: the drift, or the dérive, was a major theme of the Situationist International, which believed individuals should allow themselves to wander urban landscapes and become either repelled or enchanted by what they found (in the manner of the archetypal French urban explorer the flâneur).

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//Panel, p3, Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti, 1966//

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Photography: Inside Seditionaries and down the King’s Road 1977 with Homer Sykes

Dec 17th, 2013
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD 1970S KINGS ROAD CHELSEA

//Vivienne Westwood in felt Inside Out Jacket with assistants Debbie Wilson and Michael Collins in Seditionaries, 1977//

While updating his rich and varied archive, photographer Homer Sykes came across these superb photographs taken inside Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s boutique Seditionaries at 430 King’s Road in the spring of 1977.

The images capture the air of raw uncertainty surrounding the shop and the McLaren/Westwood coterie in this period. McLaren’s charges the Sex Pistols had recently been signed to their third record company in six months – Virgin Records – after being publicly excoriated for their behaviour and bounced out of EMI and A&M. The national media had seized upon punk as a source of sensationalism and the release of the Pistols’ explosive God Save The Queen was a matter of weeks away.

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//Debbie Wilson (aka Debbie Juvenile) sports Hangman Jumper, Seditionaries, 1977. Note the studded Venus Top and leather jacket on the wall behind the counter//

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//Westwood expounding against the photographic mural of Dresden after WW2 air-raids, Seditionaries, 1977. Note Collins’ Cambridge Rapist design produced by Westwood’s partner Malcolm McLaren a couple of years earlier//

1970S INTERIOR OF VIVIENNE WESTWOOD BOUTIQUE

//Behind the customer in black bondage jacket is the wall-size inverted photographic mural of Piccadilly Circus, Seditionaries, 1977//

On Saturday August 20 1977 Sykes again took to the King’s Road to document the atmosphere of unrest embodied by the outbreaks of violence caused by marauding Teddy Boys targeting punks and such boutiques as Seditionaries and Boy.

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//Young Ted bops while another’s jacket mourns Elvis Presley’s recent death, King’s Road, 1977//

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//Musician/actor Gary Holton and girlfriend Tracy Boyle lead a demonstration against violence between Teds and Punks along the King’s Road. Far left is punk Mick Bladder//

Some of his photographs feature the punk Mick Bladder, whose arrest on that day in August 1977 was featured in Wolfgang Büld’s Punk In London. This documentary  shows how the movement’s initial creative burst swiftly dissipated, while Sykes’ images capture the ways in which a cult movement had entered the mainstream, infiltrating the media, music, fashion and the wider culture.

Sykes’ archive covers the waterfront, from social unrest including the Notting Hill Carnival riot of 1976 and the riots in Toxteth and Brixton in the early 80s, to the on-the-road antics of Paul McCartney & Wings and Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the New Romantic haven the Blitz club, Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World and Quentin Crisp . Visit www.homersykes.com.

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Last few days of Punk @ SHOWStudio: Why this exhibition is true to the wit, elegance and design skills of the McLaren/Westwood partnership

Nov 18th, 2013

//One wall of the ShowStudio Punk exhibition//

In the period 1972-78 when the body of the partnership’s punk fashions were created, Malcolm McLaren’s art education and development as a largely conceptual visual artist was applied with Vivienne Westwood’s intuitive and sophisticated technical skills.

The resultant potency of the work was achieved by such factors as: balance in the proportions; deft use of juxtaposition; confidence in realisation; jarring harmony in the use of colour; wit in the application of motifs; and astute sense of framing, particularly of text and visual imagery.

Excerpt from introduction to my review of the McLaren/Westwood designs in the Costume Institute collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, summer 2013.

Precision, deftness, balance, harmony, these are terms unjustly omitted from the standard  critical lexicon applied to punk’s central design aesthetics as conceived and realised by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their coterie.

Which is why Punk @ ShowStudio, the elegant exhibition which is now moving into its final week at photographer Nick Knight’s Belgravia gallery, is to be applauded, since it avoids the run-of-the-mill in favour of recognition of the importance of these qualities.

“I was very impressed. It was inspiring to see what I like to call ‘the origins of Punk’ as opposed to the usual well documented ‘greatest hits of Punk’,” the collector/archivist/author Paul Burgess wrote to me recently.

//Part of Judy Blame's contribution to the exhibition//

Read more about Punk @ ShowStudio here.
The exhibition is open every day 11am-6pm until Friday at 19 Motcomb Street, London SW1X 8LB.

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Joe Stevens: Rare shot of Joe Strummer entering his punk rock future on the night of the Sex Pistols’ audience fracas

Sep 30th, 2013

//Joe Strummer, then frontman of the 101'ers, with bassist Dan Kelleher onstage at The Nashville Rooms, west London, April 23, 1976. Photo: Joe Stevens//

These photographs are among images to be featured in Clash Tales, Joe Stevens’ narrated audio-visual event about his experiences with The Clash at Sonny’s Tavern in Dover, New Hampshire, next week.

//The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Electric Ladyland, August 1978. Photo: Joe Stevens//

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Coming this week: Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered Carnaby Echoes + Nick Knight’s PUNK at Showstudio

Sep 1st, 2013

//Clockwise from top left: Cover, Helen And Desire, 1970; George O'Dowd, photo: Richard Bevan, 2013; Carnaby Street book and Palisades swing tag, 1970 and 1966; front cover, Anarchy In The UK newsprint fanzine, 1976//

I’m involved in a couple of events which open in London this week: artist Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered project Carnaby Echoes in the West End and photographer Nick Knight’s exhibition Punk at his Showstudio space in SW1.

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