Paul Gorman is…

‘Extraordinary… transgressive’: Malcolm McLaren’s great lost fashion collection

Feb 12th, 2017

//Detail: Etching in steel toe-cap for the 80s collection. This image © Paul Gorman Archive. No reproduction without permission//

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.

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Voodoo And Magic Practices: The book which inspired McLaren and Westwood’s Witches collection

Sep 23rd, 2016
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//Voodoo and Magic Practices, Jean Kerboull, Barrie and Jenkins, 1978. Translated from the French by John Shaw//

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.

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Malcolm McLaren in Witches trenchcoat on the steps of the British Museum 1983

Jun 9th, 2015

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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.

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Richard Hambleton + Malcolm McLaren = Witches x The Shadow Man

May 27th, 2015
Malcolm McLaren posing on the streets of NYC. April 1983. © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com Please contact Bob Gruen's studio to purchase a print or license this photo. email: websitemail01@aol.com phone: 212-691-0391

//Malcolm McLaren and Andrea Linz with a Hambleton Shadow Man in the West Village, NYC, April 1983. © Bob Gruen/www.bobgruen.com. Please contact Bob Gruen’s studio to purchase a print or license this photo. Email: websitemail01@aol.com Phone: + 212-691-0391//

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//Witches Shadow Man skirt, 1983. Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and Richard Hambleton. This image (c) www.paulgormanis.com//

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.

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Too little, too late? NY Met finally ‘de-accessions’ two bogus Seditionaries designs from Costume Institute collection

Apr 8th, 2015

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//One of the two bondage suits which have been removed from the Met collection. They were previously granted prominence in the museum’s 2006 exhibition Anglomania. This image is from the frontispiece of the show’s lavish catalogue//

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.

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The Malcolm McLaren fashion exhibition: “Exceptional…incredibly detailed and well put together”

Aug 8th, 2014
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//Foreground: Mobile featuring portrait of Malcolm McLaren in Central Park, NYC, 1975 by Bob Gruen. In the background the 12m-long Let It Rock installation. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//McLaren’s Buffalo sheepskin with Witches multi-tongued shoes contributed by designer Kim Jones. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate //

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//Outfits float in the air, from left: Pirate waistcoat and dress worn by Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow in performance; Let It Rock shawl collared blouse and circle skirt; Nostalgia Of Mud wool toga dress with Folkways print. Malcolm McLaren Estate, Kim Jones Collection, private collection//

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”.

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//Young Kim in jacquard Keith Haring print Witches two piece and multi-tongued sneakers. All clothes from Kim Jones coillection. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren estate//

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//Fans belt buckles with Fans press statement. Sources: Malcolm McLaren Estate and private collection//

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//Press invite and showcard for the sixth catwalk collection designed by McLaren and Vivienne Westwood: Worlds End 1984, later Hypnos. The partnership was dissolved in March 1984. Malcolm McLaren Archive//

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//ROCK! Marco Pirroni’s Let It Rock ties//

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.

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//Installation exterior//

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//Installation interior//

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//Let It Rock display cabinet, January 1972. Photo: David Parkinson//

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//McLaren’s framed copy of the LIR price list he designed in 1972. Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//January 1972. Photo: David Parkinson//

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///Tracklisting for songs played in the insatllation//

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.

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//Let It Rock exterior with McLaren in foreground, 1972. Photo: Mirrorpix. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die with McLaren and Gerry Goldstein in foreground, 1973. Photo: Malcolm McLaren Estate. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Sex with shop assistant Jordan in foreground, 1976. Photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Seditionaries frontage, 1976. Photo: Ben Kelly. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″//

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//Worlds End frontage, 1981, photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″. Left: Marco Pirroni’s Let It Rock drape suit//

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//Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982. Photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 40 x 60″//

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.

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//Customer deposit receipt, Sex, 1976. Signed by shop assistant Michael Collins. Paul Burgess Collection//

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//Pages from McLaren’s 1976 notebook. Paul Burgess Collection//

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//McLaren’s handwritten Nostalgia Of Mud press release for Vivienne Westwood; her version in her own handwriting. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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.

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//Nylon top, Sex, 1976. Peg trousers, Let It Rock, 1974. Kim Jones Collection//

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//God Save The Queen Muslin top, Seditionaries, 1977. McLaren’s bondage trousers, Sex, 1976. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection//

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//Witches jacquard two piece and scarf with Haring print. Kim Jones Collection//

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.

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//Marco Pirroni’s print pirate boots, Worlds End, 1981. Top worn by Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow in performance and subsequently dyed. Private collection//

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//Savages Navajo print dress with McLaren’s annotated copy of Indian Rawhide. Both private collection//

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//Invitation to Witches collection show, Folkways top, Dances Of The World’s People. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection//

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//Two rubber bracelets deisgned by Tom Binns for Worlds End S/S 1984 with Hobo-Punkature top and Worlds End 1984 invite. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection//

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//Document confirming the dissolution of the design partnership between McLaren and Westwood, March 1984. It is important to note that McLaren did not relinquish authorship over the works they produced together//

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//The final exhibit: Buffalo hat and McLaren’s Chico hat. Kim Jones Collection/Malcolm McLaren Estate.//

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:

Charlie Porter – At the Malcolm McLaren show in Copenhagen, the hang of the garments is exceptional

W Magazine – Celebrating the fashionable life of the late punk pioneer

Style Bubble – Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion

GQ – Four ways Malcolm McLaren revolutionised the style scene

The Cut – The Man Who’s Partly Responsible For The Pharrell Hat

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.

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