//John Lennon, Amanda Lear + George Harrison (in a Granny Takes A Trip jacket) at the launch of Apple Tailoring at 161 Kings Road, May 22, 1968. (c) Bill Zygmant//
Sex, Drugstores and Rock & Roll, which opens at Proud Chelsea next week, is a photographic exhibition chronicling the music + fashion scenes in the Kings Road from the 1960s to the 80s.
The show was sparked by the realisation among Proud staff that their premises at 161 Kings Road were occupied in the 60s by Dandie Fashions (which, as explained in this post, became The Beatles’ bespoke business Apple Tailoring under the stewardship of John Crittle in 1968).
//David Bowie wears John Stephen on a modeling assignment with Jan De Souza in Kingly Street W1 for Fabulous 208, 1965. Photo: Fiona Adams//
//Up on the roof, central London 1967. Photo: Kenneth Pitt. //
//Ziggy Stardust’s first photo call, 1972. Photo: Brian Ward/David Bowie Archive.//
Any Day Now, the new book about David Bowie’s London life between 1947 and 1974, is hands-down the music book publishing sensation of the year.
And THE LOOK has been granted exclusive access to the new book, which has been written and compiled by Bowie expert Kevin Cann and is out next month.
Any Day Now’s 320-plus pages are crammed with delights both factual and visual, charting Bowie from his birth, background and childhood interests in music, design and art through to his beginnings in local beat groups and eventual world-beating success.
//In Paddington Street Gardens, central London, 1969. The bag was designed by Alan Mair of The Beatstalkers (and later The Only Ones). Photo: Kenneth Pitt.//
//Rocking the Keith Relf look with The Manish Boys, 1965. Photo: Bob Solly//
//With Angie (Angela Barnett) outside Bromley register office on their wedding day, March 20, 1970. The couple wore clothes bought the previous day at Kensington Market. Bowie’s Courrèges belt was a gift from friend Calvin Mark Lee. Photo: Kentish Times.//
As a document of the most important image-maker of our times, it is unparalleled, reflecting Cann’s decades-long absorption in his subject and access to original sources and important material.
//In Mr Fish mandress on the cover of Curious magazine with Freddie Buretti, May 1971.//
Any Day Now is a must for fans of music and fashion, detailing Bowie’s stylistic development as he moved through r&b and mod via folkie and hippie to glam androgyny, drawing on such touchstones of THE LOOK as John Stephen, Dandie Fashions, Kensington Market, Mr Fish, Freddie Buretti, City Lights Studio and Kansai Yamamoto.
//At producer Tony Visconti’s apartment in Lexham Gardens, west London, 1968. Photo: Ray Stevenson.//
There is a fascinating foreword written by Kenneth Pitt, who managed Bowie between 1967 and 1970, and contributions from a cast of hundreds, including close friends and fellow musicians.
//Any Day Now Limited Edition.//
A special limited edition of 475 copies is also being published in hardback, numbered and signed in black cloth-bound clam-shell cases with reproductions of tickets, posters and memorabilia. Each also contains a print of a rare colour photo taken of Bowie in 1967 by Gerald Fearnley (who has signed them).
//Any Day Now Limited Edition with signed Gerard Fearnley photograph.//
To find out more and order copies of the limited edition, click here.
Long before SEX served up, er, sex from 430 King’s Road, Mr Freedom – which started out from the same premises – supplied clothes which fused a celebration of sexuality with a bedazzling take on pop art and trash culture iconography.
This was outlined in a May 1971 eight-page colour feature in short-lived men’s magazine Club delivered to us piping hot from the archive of our pal Steven Millington.
The report by the ever spot-on Michael Roberts with photographs by Mike Berkofsky pointed to the fashion-forward velvet hot-pants, bumster trousers, ice-cream brooches and Disney licensing by Freedom founder Tommy Roberts and partner Trevor Myles (who exited to establish Paradise Garage).
By the time the Club piece was published, Mr Freedom had been based at 20 Kensington Church Street for six months. It’s interesting to note the range included “Teddy Boy suits” (as well as boiler suits and “huge bovver boots”), presaging in part the stock at Let It Rock when the late Malcolm McLaren took over 430 King’s Road from Myles in November 1971.
As it happened, Mr Freedom did not last much more than a year in Kensington. Lack of financial controls and overheads including the cost of operating a warehouse spelled the end of the shop, which was superceded by City Lights Studio in Covent Garden.
Still, the Club article provides a superb showcase for Mr Freedom, highlighting such clothes as the skull-and-crossbones tee as worn by Marc Bolan and Freedom designers Jim O’Connor and Pamla Motown‘s wonderful and now highly collectible baseball suit.
Around the same time Michael Roberts took the opportunity to include Roberts and Myles in a separate Club piece on six of London’s leading auto-fiends, Tommy with his pillar-box red V8 Pilot and Trevor with the Paradise Garage Mustang tiger-striped and flocked by Electric Colour Co.
We’re really grateful to Steven M for thinking of THE LOOK as the place to showcase these fantastic editorial pages; check out his alter-ego Lord Dunsby’s sterling retrographic illustrative work here.
The publication of veteran music critic Nick Kent’s new memoir Apathy For The Devil brings to mind the first serious attempt by the UK music press to acknowledge the vital relationship between fashion and popular music.
//Page 20, NME, April 6, 1974//
Headed “The Politics Of Flash”, Kent’s article in the New Musical Express in the spring of 1974 is a crucial snapshot of a scene at an important transitionary stage: the theatrical costumery of such fol-de-rols as Gary Glitter, Elton John and Queen is about to give way to the shock of the new being rolled out by the likes of Malcolm McLaren and Antony Price.
Just six days prior to publication date Television played their first CBGBs gig, setting up a scene which would lure McLaren to New York and on return help focus his working relationship with young customers Steve Jones and his mates in The Strand.
The fetish gear was already in stock, though the pink rubber Sex sign was yet to be erected and the store awaited installation of the”gymnasium” interior by carpenter Vick Mead.
In fact McLaren told Kent he has just decided against an extremely long new name. This was to have been a quote from a pornographic magazine which turned up on a number of garment labels: “The dirty stripper who left her UNDIES on the railings to go hitchhiking said you don’t THINK I have stripped all these years just for MONEY do you?””
//Antony Price: “My ideal rock band would be four Amanda Lears.”//
Kent simultaneously ended the relationship and Hynde’s employment at the shop by attacking her on the premises over a perceived infidelity.
//Chrissie Hynde & Nick Kent in Sex threads, 1974. Photo: Joe Stevens//
He then wove the incident into a forlorn NME review of a solo album by Van der Graaf Generator’s frontman Peter Hammill.
//The Rock Taylor team: “The Sweet spend £1,000 a month on clothes.”//
The Politics Of Flash is thoroughgoing, taking in Freddie Burretti’s design relationship with David Bowie (though Burretti declined to be interviewed), Ossie Clark‘s with Mick Jagger and Annie Reavey‘s creation of flamboyant stagewear for Elton John.
//Annie Reavey: “Elton approaches garments as artworks.”//
Mr Freedom, City Lights Studio and Alkasura are all name-checked and the Rock Taylor quartet – Geoff Clark, ex-Alkasura Jean Seel (later Boy George’s landlady), Graham Springett and Keith Hartley – discuss their customers The Sweet. Meanwhile former Ruskin’s designer Julian Kraker says that he believes his clients Slade are “to the 70s what the Stones were to the 60s”.
//Gene Krell: “The kids have always started the rock fashion ball rolling.”//
At Granny Takes A Trip (where Kent has since acknowledged he regularly scored heroin), co-owner Gene Krell was forthright about the shop’s role for such regular clients as Keith Richards and Ron Wood. “We’re not dealing in fashion…that’s a bunch of crap!” he told Kent. “We have our own style which is nothing to do with good taste. Our clothes are very proletarian, very, very reactionary against English provincialism.”
Our partner in Priceless, Antony Price, sums up the inertia which gripped mid-70s London. The man who, within four years, would be operating amazing King’s Road outlet Plaza, told Kent: “We’re all so shrouded by this spectre of the swinging 60s. There’s no such thing as futuristic fashion in England. It’s all dead and there aren’t even any decent clubs for them to show off the extent of their decay.”
THANKS are due to the world’s greatest music journalism resource, rocksbackpages.com, for providing us with this vital item from their incredible archive. Visit it now.
Ahead of djhistory.com‘s Original Mods event at the Horse & Groom, London EC2, we thought we’d hip you to some rare images of a couple of tonight’s participants to show how the 59-62 Modernists developed as the years progressed.
//Lloyd Johnson, Maria Nilsson, Patrick Cockell, 1966. Photo: Sebastian Keep//
Above left is Lloyd Johnson in 1966 with Maria Nilsson and Patrick Cockell, with whom he opened the Kensington Market shop Cockell & Johnson in 1968.
“I’m wearing my first Granny Takes A Trip shirt, which cost £4-14/6d (or as they preferred it, 4 1/2 gns),” says Lloyd.
Pat Cockell’s shirt is also Granny’s – the pair were supplying ties to the King’s Road store, and received them in part payment.
“I was encouraging Patrick to grow his hair and side-boards, so gave him a high parting and back-combed the back,” adds Lloyd, whose own hair has just grown out after being cropped to an all-over one-inch length the year before.
//The Who with Jeff Dexter watching from the side, The Oval cricket ground, south London, 1971//
And here’s a couple of Jeff Dexter with superstars of the 70s who sprang from the mod milieu. Above there’s JD watching The Who headline a bill at The Oval in south London in 1971; he was the main DJ that day and donned his cricket whites (complete with pads) to mark the occasion.
Below that’s Jeff on the left enjoying a jolly-up with pals including his close personal friend Marc Bolan in 1970.
//JD (left) with Marc Bolan and pals, 1970. Pic: Keith Morris/Redferns//
I’ll be moderating this evening’s event which also features contributions from Mickey Modern and Jeff’s dancing partner from back in the day, Dena “Dynamite” Sprigens.
We’re hoping they’ll show us how it’s done after the chat, which starts at 8.30. JD is also DJing along with Hugh from Shindig, Benoit & Namedrop and Jonny 5.
Entry is free so come on down – it’s gonna be a good night!
The publication of this year’s best autobiography – Jah Wobble’s intriguing and inspirational Memoirs Of A Geezer – has coincided with John Lydon‘s decision to take Public Image Ltd on the road for the first time in 17 years (bassman Wobble and fellow founder members guitarist Keith Levene and drummer Jim Walker are not taking part).
What with Undercover’s recent PiL-inspired clothing range, it seems timely to celebrate the fantastic visuals delivered by Wobble to match the towering music he has created over the last three decades.
In this exclusive interview with Wobble, we also explore the importance of PiL photographer/design director Dennis Morris and a figure who has remained in the sartorial shadows for far too long: Kenny MacDonald.
//Jah Wobble, east London, 1981//
We also have a copy of Wobble’s book to give away; details below.
It’s well documented that Wobble – real name John Wardle – knew Lydon long before he joined the Sex Pistols when they were part of the teenage gang the Four Johns (including John Beverley aka Sid Vicious and John Gray) knocking around east and north London, following football and voraciously consuming music from Can to Hawkwind to Big Youth and beyond.
//Public Image Limited, summer 1978. Photos: Dennis Morris//
In 1974, the Johns paid a visit to hairdresser to the rock elite Keith Wainwright at his Chelsea salon Smile and had matching haircuts. “Round about that period me and my mate Ronny were wearing pleated Army trousers from Laurence Corner, the ones American GIs would wear,” says Wobble.
“It was a soul boy look, very smart with cap sleeve t-shirts and those half sandals/half shoes, not the plastic beach sandals which some people wore. They were horrible.”
With The Great Gatsby influence merging with the Glenn Miller revival, the teenage Wobble scoured the second hand clothes shops of Brick Lane on Sunday, picking up drape jacketed 30s and 40s suits.
//Jah Wobble, 80s//
Although he was at the epicentre of the punk storm, Wobble avoided adopting the fashions of the era. “It just wasn’t my cup of tea,” he says. “I’m from the East End. It’s in our DNA to sport the Terry Venables look: smart grey jackets with black polos, loafers and well-pressed trousers.”
When he was recruited into PiL, the original line-up jibbed at the punk uniform with an absurdist appearance. Lydon, for example, wore hand-painted shirts supplied by Mark Gray.
//Front and back cover, both sides of inner, First Issue, Public Image, Virgin Records, 1978. Photography and design concept: Dennis Morris//
For the sleeve of debut album First Issue, photographer Dennis Morris – who also created the band’s enduring logo and was responsible for the packaging for second album Metal Box – conceived a plan to present the four members as cover stars of various magazines.
Wobble is depicted as a Ronald Coleman-moustached matinee idol in a Vogue pastiche, wearing a blue pinstripe suit he’d had made for himself the previous year. “You didn’t get many 18-year-olds doing that,” he says. “It was perfect for that shoot. Dennis was very important to PiL. He understood the humour and chemistry of the band and bought in Terry Jones from Vogue to help style it, which made it proper.”
//12″ Metal container sleeve, Metal Box, PiL, Virgin Records, 1979//
Kenny MacDonald was another integral figure, producing tailored traditional style menswear with a twist long before it became the High Street norm. He was introduced into the circle by sometime PiL member Jeanette Lee, who had managed King’s Road store Acme Attractions with her then-boyfriend Don Letts.
“Kenny was very quietly spoken and thoughtful, a real London bloke,” says Wobble. “You would not get someone like him anywhere else in the world at that time. He was absolutely London.”
MacDonald was such a fan of classic movies that he put on screenings himself at the Kings Cross cinema The Scala.
“It was interesting because he was a black bloke into the public school look, making fake Jockey Club ties and talking in a upper-class accent,” says Wobble.
//Jah Wobble, 90s and 80s.//
“That was strange and somehow great. And he’d always do the unexpected. When everyone else was producing pegged trousers, he did a straight-legged, conservative cut. When everyone was wearing low, long thin lapels down to one button, quite 50s, he made a higher cut jacket, slightly uptight, very English.”
MacDonald’s flamboyant masterstroke may well have been the giant and brightly coloured Teddy Bear fur coats he made for the band; John Lydon sported the red version for a performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test.
Wobble’s was in green and yellow “like something worn by Flanagan & Allen. Oh man. I wore it with a Homburg from a local Jewish outfitter, a Daniel Hechter suit and walked into The Globe public house; they all started singing Underneath The Arches!”
Through the 80s Wobble checked for Daniel Hechter, buying suits two at a time from his Bond street shop, and into the 90s had a wide variety of suits made in the Far East, one in Versace logo material.
“It had this Roman element with the beautiful dark blues and gold,” he says. “And it was mixed with the East, which is very sensual; I love silk.
//Jah Wobble 2001//
These days he still has bespoke suits made in the Far East and persists in hunting down quality second hand clothes.”I’m like those older guys who chase young women: I play the percentage game. They’ll keep knocking on the door until they get one, though of course the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
“I keep going into second-hand shops and about one in every hundred visits pays off: you come across a fantastic, hardly-worn Armani suit or something.”
He is also a great fan of Missoni. “I have quite a few jackets; there’s something wonderful about their interwoven material, it’s kind of like the stuff Kenny was doing. Not predictable grey and black.”
//Chinese Dub tour, 2008.//
For last year’s acclaimed Chinese Dub live extravaganza, Wobble and his wife, the ghuzeng player Zi Lan Liao,blended authentic eastern styles and artistry into a visual tour-de-force to match the spectacular nature of the music.
And what about the stubble? Some might argue that Wobble’s refusal to shave was his most radical visual contribution of the post-punk era, given the silent new wave “no facial hair” diktat of the times. By doing so he predicted the 80s “designer stubble” fad by a good few years.
“Initially it came about through laziness, but then I started to use a trimmer,” he says. “In those days it was akin to luxuriant prairie grass. Now it’s like bramble. If you try and carry it off you look like old man Steptoe!”
We hooked them up with Long Gone John, the current owner of the jacket worn by Iggy on the back cover of the magnificent Raw Power, and received chapter-and-verse on how he added it to his stunning collection of esoterica, strangeness & charm.
And we’re continuing to supply orders of the limited edition long-sleeved versions tailored to the original design with full and signed provenance, packaged in a hand-stamped and numbered box and the all-important “Fuck art let’s do the t-shirt” wrapping paper.
THE LOOK has been granted a web exclusive we can’t wait to share with you – a couple of the amazing images from this year’s must-have fashion book, 70s Style & Design by Kirsty Hislop and Dominic Lutyens.
//Jim O’Connor and Pamla Motown, 1972. Photo: Steve Hiett//
Dominic and Kirsty have served up a feast in terms of the visuals and verbals, exploring the art, architecture, fashion and design of the decade that really delivered.
//Edwige, Maripol and Bianca Jagger. Photo: Edo Bertoglio//
With (appropriately enough) 430 eye-popping images, 70s Style & Design succeeds by steering clear of the cliches (platforms, polyester flares) and crisply presents the reality of the era: creative, iconoclastic and, in contrast to the elitist 60s, healthily democratic.
Saluting but avoiding entrapment in the better known aspects (Biba, punk), the book charts areas and movements not commonly identified as having an impact on visual culture at the time, such as eco and high-tech architecture, minimalism, the cult of androgyny, the proto-punk craze of kitsch and the impact on style of the black civil rights and women’s and gay liberation movements.
// 70s Style & Design cover. “All Weather” shoes by Thea Cadabra. Photo: Ian Murphy//
Above all, this book is enormous fun: simultaneously an education, entertainment and celebration.
THE LOOK will return to 70s Design & Style (with a chance to WIN a copy!) soon; in the meantime we urge you to seek it out.
For the last week THE LOOK’s head has been buried in Personal Effects, the new book from Hiroshi Fujiwara which collects together 100 of his favourite personal possessions.
The deceptively simple format – a photograph of the item faced by a brief description by Fujiwara – delivers a substantial amount of information about this retiring major domo of international street fashion and style; his likes and dislikes, his abiding fascination for, and deep knowledge of, design and product innovation, his interests in both tradition and adaptation.
Wrapped in a charming tracing paper slip cover, the book delivers a personal design odyssey, taking in such apparently disparate objects as Dayna Decker candles, Louis Vuitton teddy bears, Highwayman leather jackets as worn by Sid Vicious, the Kangol caps with which Fujiwara is strongly associated, a 100-year-old Hermeshaute a croire bag, 80s Adidas Campus sneakers (as worn by the Beastie Boys) and Apple‘s AirMac Express base station.
“They’re selected because I’m using or wearing them currently,” says Fujiwara.
Many are customised not only with Fujiwara’s trademark double-lightning flash but also accoutrements: his Goyard Saint Louis tote bag is strung with a couple of pendants and the heels of the Visvim FBT moccasins are decorated with appropriate Native American-inspired badges created by jeweller and silversmith Goro Takahashi.
Such was my absorption that within minutes of being given the book I was snapped by Facehunter Yvan Rodic poring over it…
The story of the tits tee starts in the late spring of 1969 with Janusz and Laura Gottwald, students at Rhode Island School of Design with their own studio Amperzand Design in the college’s town of Providence.
//Advert in Los Angeles Free Press, June 18, 1971//
Janusz came up with the concept of the trompe de l’oeil shirt – as well as another featuring a hairy male chest – and together the pair produced a limited edition RISD “yearbook” consisting of a corrugated box containing various editions of items, one of which was the t-shirt.
“But word got out and the closet storing the boxes was raided and the tit t-shirts were stolen.”
//Alice Cooper, Max’s Kansas City//
On leaving college the Gottwalds produced the shirt commercially via San Francisco-based Jizz Inc, the label run by Dick Lepre, Janusz’s best friend from Notre Dame, and his wife Judith Muller.
“We produced the tits t-shirt in our basement in San Francisco, selling them along with other Amperzand designs,” says Judith, who was Jizz production manager. “The original ideas came from Amperzand, but we branched out to include other designers. All our clothing was produced in and around San Francisco and presented at the Men’s Sportswear and Boutique shows in New York.”
Among the boutiques which stocked the tits tee was San Francisco’s Water Brothers. The Rolling Stones played their fateful gig at the Altamont Speedway in nearby Livermore on December 6 and it is at Water Brothers that Charlie Watts is believed to have bought the one he sports in the David Bailey photograph on the cover of the Rolling Stones’ live album Get Your Ya-Yas Out!.
Watts also wore the t-shirt for performances recorded for the BBC back in England on December 12 1969, and the group’s chronicler Stanley Booth recounts how the Ya-Yas cover shoot took place near Birmingham towards the end of that month.
//Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!, The Rolling Stones, released September 10 1970//
On September 8 1970 the Alice Cooper band played New York’s hallowed Max’s Kansas City. According to alicecooper.co.uk, the singer was arrested that night for uttering the word “tits”; maybe it was actually for the perceived obscenity of his t-shirt.
Just the day before, Time magazine featured the tits tee in a report on the growing popularity of printed tops headlined: The Breakout Of The Undershirt: “Exhibitionists will love the startling model imprinted with a properly located life-size photo of a pair of breasts…”
//From Time, September 7, 1970. Courtesy Ben Cooney collection//
“We also produced NASA photograph moon and saturn shirts, several Jesus ones (Catholic and Protestant versions) and a gorgeous snake shirt,” says Laura.
Meanwhile, Judith points out how deals with other 70s fashion companies such as Smiling Crow, and designs by the likes of Norman Stubbs of East West Musical Instruments Company and Bruce Smith of Rainbow Cobblers enabled Jizz to expand into a full range of shirts and jackets which were sold through independent outlets across the US.
“I designed men’s smoking jackets and satin cowboy shirts with embroidered yokes which were featured in Playboy and Esquire,” says Laura. “Actually, I won a designer of the year award from Esquire for the robes.”
One of Jizz’s most avid customers was Goods Department Store on Harvard Square in Cambridge MA, described by Laura as “Biba-like”. The owner/founders were entrepreneurs Daryl and Don Levy, who now run the Deluxe Town Diner in nearby Watertown.
“It carried merchandise ranging from charming conceptual kitsch like our t-shirts to divine Brit fashion from Mulberry and Margaret Howell,” adds Laura, who believes that the enduring appeal of the tits tee is rooted in the care and attention originally lavished upon it.
“Quality was the key,” she says. “Ours were silk-screened, using a very fine dot screen, as you’d expect from an art object created by RISD students.”
The Jizz team is still smarting that the design was later picked up by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for their shop SEX. While Dick Lepre has said that he has been tempted to contact the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art over it’s attribution of the design to Westwood, Laura Gottwald has also expressed her annoyance.
“Vivienne Westwood ripped us off; we had the shirt out first,” is Judith Muller’s succinct summation.
Yet, as we shall see, it was actually McLaren who brought the design to England where it was positioned in a very different context. Judging by the difference in proportion and size of print, this may have been taken from a copy of the original.
But such dissection of the garment lay far in the future.
The 20 photographs of Vivienne Westwood taken at 430 King’s Road by art student William English in January 1975 have long been the holy grail of imagery to emanate from the boutique in its incarnation as Sex.
As a selling exhibition of framed prints from the photo-shoot is launched with a private view at London’s Maggs Bros Rare Books, we present a double exclusive: a preview of the show and an in-depth interview with English himself.
The photo-shoot took place at the request of English (who had been a customer at 430 since it housed Paradise Garage five years previously) for the photographic portfolio which formed part of his application for film studies courses at a couple of London colleges.
“Vivienne was friendly and happy to be photographed,” recalls English, who was intrigued by the environment, which included a sculpture of a severed leg left in the store by its creator and made a centrepiece of the interior display.
That day English shot a single roll of film on a Nikon borrowed from his friend, the late David Parkinson.
“After taking a few pictures I asked her to pose like a mannequin, to become stiff and awkward rather than the usual ‘relax and look natural’.”
Apparently it was Westwood’s idea to don the translucent rubber suit which had been hanging nearby; Malcolm McLaren was absent in America applying his energies to relaunching the drug-addled New York Dolls.
In the event the photographs proved a hindrance to English achieving his ambition. “I was turned down by both colleges,” he says. “During the interviews they just blanked the photographs, wouldn’t even discuss them. In retrospect they may have thought I was aiming to get involved in making porn films!”
This isn’t the first time the images have come to light; some have appeared in books and, in 2004, they formed the basis of an exhibition at the Aquarium gallery and a companion limited edition boxed set Venus With Severed Leg.
Curated by Carl Williams, who runs the counterculture section of Maggs’ modern books department, the show which opens today not only captures the non-commercial, almost innocent atmosphere of the exercise, but also provides a flavour of the eerily-lit Sex in all it’s kinky, Peeping Tom glory.
“The shop always had a very distinctive ambience and felt like an art installation rather than a place of business,” says English. “Of course everything was for sale but it felt unique, very much an extension of Malcolm and Vivienne’s personalities.”
Inquiries about Sex Against Fashion should be made to Carl Williams.
To discover more about the photo-session, as well as insights into bubble cars, the Leicester connection and avant-garde film-making, read the full interview with William English below.
//Slow Death: Let It Rock drape and studded leather 1972//
THE LOOK witnessed the San Franciscans supported by The Ramones at the legendary (and sweltering) Roundhouse gig on The Fourth Of July 1976, apparently in the company of the punk-rock cognoscenti. The only encounter which sticks in the memory is a bout of speed-fuelled aggression from an out-of-control Shane MacGowan.
But The Roundhouse show was not to herald the much-deserved commercial breakthrough; as their manager at the time, the late lamented Greg Shaw, told me years later for In Their Own Write, the oncoming punk storm overshadowed the headline act that night.
Which is a great shame, because the Groovies were armed with fantastic tunes, attitude to spare, and, as worn by Cyril Jordan that night, this amazing velvet jacket.
Cyril had it made the previous year by tailors Foster & Tara, who usually serviced Granny Takes A Trip, though the King’s Road store was at that time in disarray following the departures of Gene Krell and Marty Breslau.
//Back: Martin Cook, Tara Browne, Gary White. Front: David Vaughn, Dudley Edwards, Douglas Binder//
Foster & Tara was operated by the father-and-son team of Pops and Cliff Foster, and had been set up with Guinness heir Tara Browne, whose tragic death at the age of 21 in a car accident on December 18 1966 inspired The Beatles’ A Day In The Life.
//Tara Browne + Paul McCartney//
There is a completely wild conspiracy website claiming that Paul McCartney actually died in the crash; the current ex-Beatle and former husband of Heather Mills, is, apparently, none other than Tara Browne!
The Beatles’ connection to Cyril’s jacket is more verifiable. “I’d seen a photo of Ringo wearing one of the coats in purple or burgundy in an issue of Beatles Monthly,” says Cyril, who these days pours his musical energies into his band Magic Christian.
//David Wright (far left) in his F&T jacket 1976//
“I took the magazine photo to Foster & Tara and Pops told me he still had fabric which Paul McCartney had brought back from Paris years earlier for clothes for all The Beatles. There were rolls of water silk, sharkskin and velvet in various colours. We got such a kick having jackets made from the same material and designs.”
The coats weren’t cheap, coming in at £600 apiece. “The day we picked up ours, these guys from Showaddywaddy came in to fetch their drapes,” recalls Cyril, who points out that the back and front cover photos of the Shake Some Action sleeve were taken across the street from Foster & Tara.
//Roll Over Beethoven on French TV//
The band members wore their red coats on stage for years, all around the world. Now Cyril is clearing space in his archive and is willing to sell his, an extremely rare piece and one imbued with pure rock & roll provenance.
Interested parties should direct inquiries inquiries via: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass them on.
Christie’s much ballyhoo-ed sale of “the finest collection of 20th Century fashion in private hands” last week achieved a respectable total of £270,000, with sales secured for 165 of the 225 items.
//Paco Rabanne dress: £15,000/YSL suit: £10,000//
Highlights for vendors Mark Haddawy and Katy Rodriguez, co-owners of US retailer Resurrection, included Paco Rabanne’s aluminium panelled dress fetching three times the estimate at £15,000 and a YSL safari suit achieving nearly 10 times the predicted price at £10,000.
//Pierre Cardin cape: £5,000//
With such one-offs as the red vinyl Cardin bubble cape attracting £5,000, the vintage business is using the sale to steady the buffs during this stormy economic period. Hence this week’s claim by Cameron Silver of LA retailer Decades that “many people are turning to vintage as a guilt-free way to shop.”
//Nostalgia Of Mud and Witches dresses: £1,000 each//
Although many World’s End items attracted buyers, the Christie’s website does not record sales for more than a third of the 47 items from 430 King’s Road.
This, combined with the withdrawal of four before the sale began, underscores the increasing nervousness over authenticity of pieces purported to emanate from the shop between 1974 and 1980 in its guises as Sex and Seditionaries.
//Unsold: Estimate £2,000-£4,000//
Among the 18 not present in Christie’s sale results are a number previously flagged as fake by Malcolm McLaren (whose name is omitted from the design partnership he conducted with Vivienne Westwood in the online auction results).
//Unsold: Estimate £1,500-£2,500//
These include a “Destroy waistcoat” and “No Future jacket” as well as three muslin tops, a “No Future jumper” and pairs of red corduroy, serge/satin and fringed bondage trousers.
//Unsold: Estimate £2,000-£4,000//
Two challenged by McLaren were authenticated by New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and sold: a gilt leather hood went for £1,250 and a pink sleeveless Peter Pan shirt made £1,125.
//Sylvain’s hood: Sold for £1,250//
McLaren remains sceptical, describing Sylvain’s assertion that he supplied the guitarist with the hood as stage gear as “outrageous”.
Withdrawn items from the catalogue included a Chaos armband with an estimate of £100-£150 and muslin shirts which went on display in New York but did not make the journey across the Atlantic.
These were also rejected as fake by McLaren when he viewed them at the company’s starry presale which was one of the events kicking off New York Fashion Week and was attended by Agyness Dean, Chloe Sevigny and Henry Holland.
//Christie’s NY: Muslins withdrawn from the Avant Garde sale//
“We thought there were simply too many muslins for the balance of the sale and for the current market,” says Christie’s textiles specialist Pat Frost, who was quoted in the Financial Times 10 days ago claiming McLaren hadn’t “handled the pieces”.
//Malcolm McLaren at Christie’s presale show NY September 2008//
Centred on artefacts from the New York, SF and English punk scenes, the heading is something of a misnomer since the sale also features a catch-all from a 60s poster for Barbra Streisand to Frank Kozik skateboards and Kidrobot vinyl toys.
Punk/Rock has nine lots claimed to be designs from 430 King’s Road, including a number of ties ($2,000-$3,000), two Cowboys t-shirts ($1,000 – $1,500 each) and a pair of Seditionaries bondage trousers ($300-$400).
//Seditionaries bondage trousers?//
Since the latter appear to THE LOOK to be dubious, there is little doubt that the punk-rock fakes furore ain’t going away any time soon.
Visit here for the auction results from the Avant Garde Fashion sale.
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