On the collapse of their design partnership in October 1983 after showcasing of the collection Worlds End 1984 in Paris and London, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood went their separate ways.
This is the book which inspired the late Malcolm McLaren to unite the design ideas he developed with Vivienne Westwood for their Autumn/Winter 1983 fashion collection Witches.
At the time McLaren was completing his album Duck Rock, which was conceived as an ethnological travelogue and modelled on the LP series Dances Of the World’s Peoples released on the ethnographic Folkways label; in fact, Duck Rock was originally titled Folk Dances Of The World and the incorporation of an illustrated insert containing track-by-track explanations was taken from the one which appeared in the 1958 albums.
This portrait of Malcolm McLaren was captured among the columns outside the entrance to London’s august British Museum by Andy Rosen in 1983.
In the photograph taken during promotion of the Duck Rock album, which was released at the start of 1983, McLaren sported a rare trenchcoat design from the Witches collection he and Vivienne Westwood debuted on the catwalk that spring.
An under-acknowledged art world connection forged by Malcolm McLaren during his fashion design partnership with Vivienne Westwood was to the godfather of street art, conceptual artist Richard Hambleton.
During his forays in New York in the early 80s, McLaren was struck by Hambleton’s eerie representations of The Shadow Man figure; there was one on a wall in Bethune Street in the West Village, near the studio of McLaren’s photographer friend and ally Bob Gruen.
Too little, too late? NY Met finally ‘de-accessions’ two bogus Seditionaries designs from Costume Institute collection
Years after concerns were raised about the authenticity of around half of the punk fashion pieces in the Metropolitan Museum Of Art Costume Institute collection, cleaning house has finally begun at the New York institution with the expulsion of two bondage suits purporting to have been original 70s designs by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.
A museum spokesperson has confirmed that the suits have been “formally de-accessioned”. A relatively rare process in international-standard curatorial circles, de-accessioning occurs when information undermining the provenance and authenticity of a museum object comes to light.
The response to this week’s Malcolm McLaren exhibition Let It Rock has been very encouraging; here are some images which hopefully give an idea of the show’s impact.
Running for four days at Copenhagen’s Bella Center as part of the Danish city’s international fashion fair CIFF, the show – curated by me and Young Kim of the MM Estate – focused on the late cultural iconoclast’s engagement with fashion with Vivienne Westwood in the 70s and 80s.
We have received favourable press, with particular praise from the FT’s Charlie Porter, who wrote that the hang of the garments was “exceptional”. Meanwhile style blogger Susie Bubble described the exhibition – full title Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion – as “incredibly detailed and well put together”.
We designed the show centrepiece: an imposing black corrugated iron-clad 12-metre long tunnel installation celebrating McLaren’s first shop, Let It Rock. Among the exhibits inside were previously unpublished photographs of the shop interior taken by the late David Parkinson and an original shop price list owned by McLaren. A bespoke soundtrack blared music as featured on the jukebox at 430 King’s Road as well as personal favourites of McLaren’s, from Burundi Black by the Drummers Of Burundi to Cast Iron Arm by Peanuts Wilson and Hallelujah I’m A Bum by Harry “Mac” McLintock.
The show was subdivided into six areas each dedicated to a manifestation of the outlets McLaren operated with Westwood. These were signposted by 60 x 40″ photographic blow-ups of the exteriors we commissioned to be printed on canvas to add dimension and presence.
With text panels explaining exhibits in McLaren’s own words, each section also featured photographic mobiles suspended from the ceiling and Perspex-topped vitrines containing original garments, photography, notebooks, sketches and ephemera.
One area of the show was dedicated to 10 outfits reflecting the span of the designs from Let It Rock to Nostalgia Of Mud. Our solution to the ticklish problem of how clothes are presented in exhibitions was to fly these from the ceiling between sheets of Perspex, and we made a selection from the Estate archive as well as contributions by the likes of Louis Vuitton’s style director Kim Jones and guitarist/songwriter Marco Pirroni.
In the projection room visitors viewed moving images associated with McLaren, from rare film of the catwalk shows he conducted with Westwood in the early 80s to video clips for his hits such as Buffalo Gals and Soweto.
Many visitors told us they were bowled over by the show; now we are working on another McLaren exhibition as part of Art In Pop at Le Magasin in Grenoble, France, this autumn. This will encompass McLaren’s creative output from his art-school days through his careers in fashion, music and film to his final works as a visual artist. I’ll keep you informed; it runs from October to January next year.
Follow these links for media coverage of Let It Rock:
Style Bubble – Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion
Thanks go to CIFF fashion/design director Kristian Andersen and creative directors Pierre Tzenkoff + Arnaud Vanraet for their foresight in commissioning this show, and also to the exhibition architect, the talented Jean-Christophe Aumas and his excellent team of builders, particularly Annette, Henning + Stefan.