Thanks are due to Derek Harris of Lewis Leathers for scans from 80s Japanese magazine London Ni Ikitai (I Want To Go To London) featuring the Johnson’s stores in Kensington Market and at 406 King’s Road, World’s End.
Archive for the Exhibitions category
Among the artefacts featured in forthcoming exhibition Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter will be an original copy of Rod Stewart’s second solo album, the magnificent Gasoline Alley.
Released in 1970 on the Vertigo “swirl” label and now highly collectable, the album’s inner gatefold features this image of Stewart wearing an extraordinary trimmed jacket designed by Johnson and produced by his fellow Kensington Market occupant at that time Colin Bennett, who specialised in leather work.
Today THE LOOK was granted a sneak preview of some of the incredible exhibits to be featured in Rebel On The Row, the forthcoming exhibition celebrating the talents and legacy of the late Tommy Nutter.
The show is currently being installed at London’s Fashion & Textiles Museum, where it opens a week on Friday (May 20).
Curated by Timothy Everest – who was a Nutter trainee (others include John Galliano) – and the FTM’s Dennis Nothdruft, the show centres on exhibits contributed by such Nutter clients as Mick Jagger, Elton John, Cilla Black and Justin de Villeneuve.
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).
Tonight (December 14) saw the opening of a new selling exhibition at Maggs Bros: Please Do Not Bend.
Counterculture curator Carl Williams points out that this is dedicated in the main to Maggs’ speciality: rare books, but there is also ephemera.
One item in particular tickles THE LOOK’S fashion fancy – this packaged Harry Gordon cat print “poster dress”.
As we reported a year or so back, Gordon’s work has become ever so collectible; at the Christie’s “Avant Garde” fashion sale his dresses, including another of the cat print, sold for £750 a pop.
//Left: Harry Gordon dress, November 2008. Right: Harry Gordon creations, 60s//
If you have the opportunity, drop in to Maggs and scope it out; this hilarious gilt-edged invite to the Oz trials takes some beating.
Please Do Not Bend is at Magg Bros until early January. Work your way around their website starting here.
//Paul Smith, Nottingham, mid-60s. Courtesy: Paul Smith//
Smith said: “You need an inner love, a passion for fashion and a curiosity for “stuff”: art, music, graphic and product design, what is happening in these interlinked worlds.”
//Paul Smith and Paul Gorman, Tokyo, 2006. Photo: Meri Juntti//
That passion was made manifest when Smith not only hosted the launch of THE LOOK in Tokyo but also invited me to curate an exhibition of photographs from the book in his Space gallery .
//THE LOOK exhibition, Space, Tokyo, 2006. Photo: Meri Juntti//
Smith’s inquiring passion has enabled this charming enigma to maintain his position outside of the corporate whirl, all the while heading up a global retail empire to which has recently been added a new shop in Marylebone, central London.
//Smith’s new store in Marylebone High Street, London W1//
A quick glance at Smith’s current activities underlines this curiosity: at his Nottingham shop Willoughby House there is a David Hockney exhibition, while fellow artist Robert Clarke’s show British Birds & Dogs is at the Paul Smith shop Globe at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 until tomorrow.
//Left: Wood Duck, Robert Clarke. Right: The Blue Guitar, David Hockney//
Read all about Paul’s enthusiams and interests, as well as his adventures in rock and pop fashion, in Chapter 27 of THE LOOK.
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.
//Letts and Lee, Acme Attractions, Kings Road, London, 1976. Photo: Sheila Rock//
“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!”
To win a copy of Wobble’s most excellent book, mail your answer to the question below to : the email@example.com.
We’ll pick the lucky winner from a Homburg on November 24. Best of luck!
Q: Which item of clothing is also the title of a track on PiL’s album Metal Box?
Here are a selection of shots relating to the garment designers John and Moly Dove describe as “the Turin Shroud of punk rock fashion”.
//Back, Iggy Pop’s Wild Thing jacket,Wonder Workshop, 1972. Photo 2009: Long Gone John//
And here’s their story.
//Back cover, Raw Power, Iggy & The Stooges, CBS Records, 1973. Photography: Mick Rock//
We’ve featured elements here before about the design; John and Molly say they only five of these jackets.
//Front, Iggy Pop’s Wild Thing jacket, Wonder Workshop, 1973. Photo 2009: Long Gone John.
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.
//Long Gone John. Photo: Orange County Weekly//
All that and running the greatest record label in the world – not bad, eh?
//Iggy Pop, 1972. Photo: Mick Rock//
Of course we are proud to have played our part. The short sleeved Wild Things produced by our label The Look Presents Wonder Workshop sold out via Topman in double quick time last year.
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.
//Junior in Wild Thing Special Edition 2009//
These are priced £99 and available to order from: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meantime, get the lowdown on Iggy Pop’s jacket here.
Tonight (October 29) sees the opening of an exciting exhibition celebrating the work of pop art visionary Dudley Edwards.
A Journey Into Vision & Sound at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios investigates Edwards’ portfolio in the 60s, including his membership of groundbreaking design team Binder Edwards & Vaughan.
//Dandie Fashions, 161 King’s Road, Chelsea, 1967//
BEV’s psychedelic murals adorned boutiques such as Dandie Fashions in the King’s Road and Lord John in Carnaby Street.
//Carnaby Street postcard, Lord John left, 1967//
Outside of the BEV umbrella and under the guise of “OM Tentacle” (in conjunction with Mike McInnerney), Edwards was also responsible for the swooping serpent which formed the frontage of infamous Chelsea hangout, the Dragon Cafe.
Just a few weeks back Big Biba designer Steve Thomas told THE LOOK that, as a student at nearby Chelsea College of Art, he was drafted in to paint the straight lines (as Edwards points out, the BEV team were more than capable of completing their own straight lines but the scale of the job required assistance from a number of students).
Edwards has related that when the team worked through the night they were often visited by intrigued local Eduardo Paolozzi.
Browne was on his way to view progress on the exterior when he died in a car crash in December 1966. This of course became one of the inspirations for the narrative of the Sgt Pepper track A Day In The Life.
//Left: BEV Cobra and Buick. Right: Poster for The Million Volt Light And Sound Rave//
BEV also decorated interiors for Lord Snowdon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with a stunning array of furniture and cars. In fact it was Edwards who painted McCartney’s piano; he lived with the Beatle for six months. “I wrote Getting Better on my magic Binder Edwards & Vaughan piano,” said McCartney recently. “Of course the way in which it was painted added to the fun of it all.”
This association led to McCartney contributing The Beatles’ experimental and still unreleased electronic track Carnival Of Light to BEV’s multi-media extravaganza The Million Volt Light And Sound Rave at London’s The Roundhouse on January 28, 1967.
//Left: BEV with Tara Browne (back centre) 1966. Photo: musicpictures.com. Right: Dudley Edwards painting Paul McCartney’s piano 1967//
The Cobra is featured in this 1966 Pathe newsreel about BEV’s work shot at Robert Fraser‘s gallery at 69 Duke Street, Mayfair; that’s Browne sitting proudly in the car as it is hauled through the gallery window.
Dudley Edwards operates design company Amazed Ltd with his wife Madeleine, creating fabulous rugs and wall hangings for a variety of clients, from Tori Amos to Hugh Grant.
Edwards will be at tonight’s opening event at Parr Street Studios which includes a DJ set from Will Sergeant of Echo & The Bunnymen.
Invites are RSVP only; the exhibition is on until November 30.