Exuding Them-ness from every pore, the enduring exquisite Duggie Fields pointed out that Sex was “not fashionable…bits of furs, porno embroidered T-shirts and humorous clothes. My idea of clothes is to make myself smile. I like that in others too. I don’t think clothes should be serious.”
This is an aspect of the boutique which is all-too forgotten; that, behind the commitment, subversive art and anarchic politics, lurked the wit and laughter which underpinned the late McLaren’s life and work. This attracted a clientele which was in no way “punk”, despite the revisionism of recent years.
A surprise Christmas “care package” of nine vintage ties from San Francisco rock&roll fashion collector and dealer Ben Cooney has reinvigorated THE LOOK’s interest in these flamboyant articles of clothing.
Having collected vintage ties for three-and-a-half decades, Ben’s selection has rammed home the joy derived from such simple accessories.
Unlike today’s models – and in particular the ultra-passé skinny noo-wave types still being pedalled by High Street chains – these ties are forever, for grown-ups of both sexes.
The bunch sent by Ben are not the highly-collectible painted variety, but printed in silk and rayon and available in Main Street outfitters and from department stores all over the US from the 30s to the 70s.
Invested with design detail, wit and invention, these come in a variety of styles, featuring everything from atomic art, kinetic decoration and tragi-comic fizzogs with saws such as “Don’t cry over spilt milk” to French beatnik illustrations, canine and equestrian imagery and geometric abstractions.
Would that modern articles of clothing were created with such care and attention.
They also provide glimpses into a nearly forgotten past; who knew, for example, that Hemphill-Wells was “a Camelot of men’s style” in Lubbock TX from the 20s to the 50s? It make you wonder whether Buddy Holly ever visited and considered Countess Mara’s cream-on-green dog-leash adorned necktie.
Interest in these discreetly extravagant creations is regularly revived; the late Johnny Moke recalled in THE LOOK how the Bonnie & Clyde look of 1967 coincided with hipsters such as himself scoring kipper ties to go with their demob suits, while Let It Rock and Acme Attractions retailed them in the early to mid 70s.
As the story in the Evening Standard clipping above attests, Johnson’s in Kensington Market and the King’s Road was doing a roaring trade in vintage ties in 1980, by which time forward-thinking clubbers such as Chris Sullivan and performers led by August Darnell were making sure they became an essential part of that decade’s wardrobe.
//Chris Sullivan, 1980. Photo: Graham Smith//
The 90s Swing revival and the 00s rockabilly/burlesque scene witnessed re-entries of the colourful and often wide vintage tie. Wherever we’re headed in the ’10s, the hundred or so in THE LOOK’s possession will remain an essential part of the wardrobe (though not worn all at once, obviously).
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 image from the front cover of a paperback edition of England’s Dreaming//
According to Jon, this came from a poster produced by Bravo to cash in on the Pistols’ popularity. On a wall in the offices of Malcolm McLaren‘s management company Glitterbest in Dryden Chambers, central London, it was subjected to scrawled adaptations by the band members. “I was given it by Jamie Reid in the late 70s,” says Jon. “We used it for England’s Dreaming and then I put it somewhere for safe-keeping. Of course it has disappeared. Probably for ever.”
//The first appearance of the photo, Bravo, September 30, 1976//
Jon is spot-on in his summation of the group’s look in the early autumn of 1976. “That was during the cross-over from Sex to Seditionaries, with their own inimitable input,” he says. “I think they look at their best in that period.”
//Jon Savage, 1977//
Jon looks pretty snazzy in this photo taken in 1977 – just like Glen Matlock in the Bravo feature (and also Sid Vicious in 77), Jon sports a leopard print waistcoat. This did not come from 430 King’s Road, but cost £1 from a stall in Brighton. For the exclusive story behind the Bravo shoot, go here.
Today THE LOOK unearths a set of stunning photographs of the Sex Pistols not made public since they were taken by Abba’s favourite photographer nearly 33 years ago.
And even he – Wolfgang “Bubi” Heileman – appears to have forgotten them; not one appears on his site even though Heileman was clearly credited at the time.I went on the trail of the photos following the recent publication of Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming Tapes.
The cover features a crop of Johnny Rotten’s face which appeared as part of a group shot on the covers and dustsheets of editions of the original book.
This defaced image has long intrigued me; the band wear a particular selection of clothes I had seen in one other place, a poster I owned issued by German teen magazine Bravo.
Now, having tracked down a copy of Bravo from September 30, 1976, I see that the poster shot was just one of many in what is arguably the very first article to pick up on the fashion and style aspects of the Pistols.
//Front cover, Bravo, September 30, 1976//
In the magazine’s first five pages, ahead of gooey features on cover star Shaun Cassidy, Slik (whose frontman Midge Ure had already been approached to sing for the Pistols and would go on to form Rich Kids with bassist Glen Matlock) and the Bay City Rollers (whose career model was taken as a cue by manager Malcolm McLaren), the quartet showcase the very latest designs then being created by McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at Sex, alongside Rotten and Matlock’s adaptations.
//Double page spread, Bravo, September 30, 1976//
Journalist Gerald Buchelmater’s feature is based on the band’s performance at the 100 Club Punk Festival on September 20.Pitched somewhere between amazement and amusement – in line with the general reaction to the Pistols at this stage in their career – junkyard typography and “street” graphics (gutters, ring-pulls, dustbin lids, mangy strays) proliferate.
//”Wild backstreet boys…”//
Clothes and personal style are detailed, with special attention paid to Rotten’s ripped and adorned school blazer (which was to inspire Westwood and McLaren to create an inside-out felt version a couple of years later).
There are close-ups of safety pinned rips, scrawled slogans (from God Save The Queen) and examples of the Nazi insignia procured by McLaren from the military memorabilia store in Upper Street, Islington run by 60s singer Chris Farlowe.
Also picked out are Rotten’s Sex studded wristband and guitarist Steve Jones’ signature Nudie pin up decals on his Gibson. Rotten also wears his familiar Let It Rock era silver Lurex threaded Zoot suit trousers, laced brothel creepers and a grey Peter Pan shirt, while his self-made I HATE Pink Floyd tee is sported by drummer Paul Cook.
Glen Matlock has a candy-striped Let It Rock shirt, his Jackson Pollock-ed jeans (which were to be appropriated by The Clash) and the sling-back suede shoes McLaren had picked out of an old George Cox catalogue.
Jones, meanwhile wears two new and significant designs which point to the future direction at 430 King’s Road (within three months of the shoot it was overhauled and renamed Seditionaries).
//Bravo’s Pistols poster 1976//
His hand-painted Anarchy shirt is the Dangerously Close To Love version which he and Sex shop assistant Jordan had exhibited during the band’s performance on So It Goes.
There is a close-up of the Chaos armband as well as the inverted Third Reich eagle and silk portrait of Karl Marx bought in London’s Chinatown.”Only Karl Marx was ever used on the original Anarchy shirts,” emphasises McLaren.
“It was his book (Das Kapital) which started the Socialist and workers’ movements in the 19th century and apart from anything else, Vivienne and I liked his beard.
“Marx was significant because he was a writer/author and creator of ideas, not a politician like Lenin. And he was important to us in particular because he lived in London at one point.”
Jones is also wearing strapped bondage boots in green canvas and and light tan leather; these became a Seditionaries staple in a variety of colourways as a complimentary range to the bondage suit, which was first made public on September 3 when Rotten wore it for gigs at the Chalet du Lac nightclub in Paris.
Immediately prior to that his on- and off-stage attire was what you see here; in fact Rotten wore the pink jacket and zoot trousers for the taping of the So It Goes performance on September 1, so it’s likely that the Heileman session took place around then, a month before the magazine’s publication date.
The final group photograph appears to be from another shoot; Cook is in a You’re Gonne Wake Up tee, Jones wears a sleeveless Cambridge Rapist top, red Sex jeans and black slingbacks, Rotten has the tiny ripped red jumper he wore at early Pistols gigs and Matlock is in a Let It Rock leopard-print waistcoat, as also worn by his replacement on bass, Sid Vicious.
Here’s yet another exciting exclusive from THE LOOK: images of what is claimed to be not only a snakeskin jacket designed by Ossie Clark – the world’s most collectible post-war fashion designer – but worn by him in a famous photograph taken in July 1970.
//Front view (c) THE LOOK 2009//
Interest in original designs by Clark – who died in near-penury at the hands of his psychotic lover in 1996 – has boomed over the last decade, stoked by exhibitions including a V&A retrospective and referencing by Kate Moss in her collections for Topshop (for whom his former partner Celia Birtwell also designs).
Last year witnessed Marc Worth’s relaunch of the Ossie Clark label, with which Birtwell is not associated. Although this has been greeted with a decidedly mixed reception, the appetite for original clothing remains unabated.
And now THE LOOK has been contacted by the owner of a zippered python skin “rocker” jacket who presents a convincing case that it is the very same garment as in the photograph below. This is Birtwell’s favourite photograph of her late partner.
//Ossie Clark 1970. Pic: Hulton Getty//
“I was living in London in the early to mid-70s and given the jacket by a friend who told me it once belonged to Mick Jagger,” says the owner. “Knowing my friend that was feasible. When I looked at the photograph I saw that it is the EXACT same jacket that Ossie is wearing.”
//Label (c) THE LOOK 2009//
The owner – who is contemplating selling it – says the jacket is in excellent condition: “The leather is soft and not cracked, and all the zips work. Only the lining is slightly worn.” It measures 28in from shoulder to hem at the front and 27.5in at the back. The length from shoulder to cuff is 22.5in.
//Back view; front detail (c) THE LOOK 2009//
Artist Peter Schlesinger wears a python jacket made by Clark to the same design on the cover of his photographic memoir of the late 60s and early 70s Checkered Past.
//Schlesinger on the Checkered Past cover in his Ossie python jacket, Los Angeles 1969//
The owner of the jacket in the photographs we are publishing today is adamant: “The one on Peter is the same design, but I’m convinced mine is the one worn by Ossie. I’ve studied it carefully.”
As recounted in Chapter 15 of THE LOOK, Clark introduced his fitted leather rocker jackets in 1966 in stark contrast to the effortlessly feminine attire for which he became best known. That year, Clark recalled in his diaries, he chanced upon rolls of python and watersnake in a “Dickensian”warehouse; the skins had lain untouched for 20 years.
Among the first articles he made from the material was a suit for Linda Keith , who modeled it for Clark in London on April 14, 1967 as part of his presentation of his A/W 67 collection alongside Chrissie Shrimpton, Suki Poitier, (whose ensemble included a snakeskin bodice) and Annie Abroux (wearing a black leather biker jacket with matching cap).
Clark created his snakeskin clothes from diagonal strips, and the watersnake was dyed while those made out of python appeared in natural hues of grey/blue and brown. “The biker jackets were in a lot of different colours and materials,” says Celia Birtwell in THE LOOK . “They were absolutely beautiful.”
//Keith Richards in Ossie Clark snakeskin jacket with Charlie Watts, Sticky Fingers, 1971//
Clark’s music connections went every which way, particularly with the Rolling Stones and their circle including Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull.
Brian Jones intermittently lived above Quorum – the Chelsea boutique which launched Clark’s career – and introduced bandmate Keith Richards to the designer’s printed satins and skin-tight jewel-coloured trousers. Richards wears a Clark-designed black snakeskin rocker jacket in the photographic insert with the original vinyl release of Sticky Fingers.
Clark was such a firm friend of the ousted Stone that they spoke on the day that Jones drowned in his swimming pool, July 3, 1969.
Clark was also backstage at the free concert the Stones gave in Hyde Park a few days later, and he collaborated with Mick Jagger on performance clothes, including the diabolic black cape worn by the Stones’ frontman at Altamont in 1969 and the skin-tight studded jumpsuits for the notoriously drug-addled 1972 tour of the US.
Inquiries about the Ossie Clark python jacket featured here should be made in the first instance to THE LOOK.
The celebration of great fashion boutiques is more often than not a backward-looking exercise, so it’s a joy to report on an exciting venture currently breaking new ground.
//Pippa Brooks outside 67 Hackney Road, east London//
M. Goldstein in Shoreditch has been founded by Nathaniel Lee Jones, whose experience in the reclamation business and in particular dealing in antiques, art and artefacts is combined with his partner Pippa Brooks’ utterly contemporary take on fashion retailing to create a unique outlet, part junk-shop, part cutting-edge clothing emporium.
Brooks’ contribution to the new venture is new label Goldstein Attire label, which invests vintage items with contemporary design values and incorporates the Bodymap archive courtesy of collaborator Stevie Stewart. And it’s delivered with the panache one would expect from this former frontwoman of Posh and latterly All About Eve Babitz.
“We feel there’s too much ‘stuff’ in the world, particularly mass-produced, badly-made clothes,” says Brooks, who is also an in-demand DJ with her popular Thursday night Madame just down Hackney Road at the George And Dragon and as a member of Team Ponystep (currently making waves in Paris once a month).
“We prefer to make something new from old, to put it simply,” she adds. “For example, we acquired some vintage shirting and that inspired the clothing we have made since. Rather than the other way round, it’s about being resourceful with what’s available, quite make-do-and-mend, which has always been a philosophy Nathaniel and I have subscribed to. Our customers are guaranteed to take something utterly unique away with them.”
//As featured in i-D, outside M.Goldstein with sons Duke and Joe. Pic: Marius W. Hansen//
The range includes dresses, cardigans and antique christening gown smocks as well as Bodymap over-knees, frilly knickers, frill-back stockings and so-called “tit jumpers”. Also in the pipeline are patchwork men’s and women’s shirts tailored from vintage shirting and recycled shirt dresses.
//Goldstein Attire recycled shirt dress//
This new direction is a manifestation of the new spirit abroad in fashion, one where individuals are taking responsibility in these times of economic crisis and dwindling resources by liberating themselves from the grinding seasonal cycle.
“Goldstein’s is somewhat of a reaction against the fashion treadmill; buying collections six months in advance, being beholden to that prior decision then when the clothes arrive having to shift them until the onset of the next season,” says Brooks.
“I hate trends and being told what to do when! I love clothes, but fashion can be restricting and also relentless. I started buying second-hand clothes when I was 12, jumbling and car-booting and I still wear loved pieces bought when I was a teenager.”
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.
Freddie Hornik, who died this week aged 65, was a significant figure in 60s and 70s fashion whose role in exporting the dandy elements of British tailoring around the world has been sorely undervalued.
Hornik carved a place for himself in rock and pop fashion history by taking on the ailing Granny Takes A Trip in 1969 and transforming the shop and its label into a trans Atlantic by-word for 70s rock star glamour with a red hot team of retail partners, A-list clientele and branches in New York and Los Angeles.
//Freddie Hornik, photographed at Granny Takes A Trip, Chelsea, 1970//
Having suffered considerable hardship as a child – born in Czechoslovakia in 1944, Hornik and his widowed mother were forced onto the post-war refugee “death marches” to Austria – he was brought up by relatives in south London and apprenticed as a tailor with Robert Taylor in Tooting before moving to Jackson’s The Tailor of Oxford Street, in London’s West End.
Hornik told me last December – during a most enjoyable encounter in the company of Roger Klein, his former employee as manager of the LA Granny’s – that within six months he had been promoted from junior cutter to credit manager having “learnt to make a suit in 10 days for eight guineas”.
A chance mid-60s meet at London’s rock business club The Speakeasy with another young fashion player, Alan Holston, led to the pair combining forces with John Crittle and Tara Browne at Dandie Fashions. Another important association was forged during this period with the tailoring business Foster & Tara, which Browne had set up before his death in a car crash in west London in December 1966.
First in Kensington Mews and then at 161 King’s Road, Dandie lived up to its name, providing for the sartorial needs of Swinging London’s young male peacocks. In 1969 Hornik visited Granny Takes A Trip, which was fast losing momentum; one of the original founders, John Pearse, had left, while the remaining Nigel Waymouth and Sheila Cohen were at loggerheads.
“I went in to buy the only dress in the place for my friend Pat Stebbings,” he recalled in December. “There was barely anything there. It was almost covered in cobwebs. Pat said: ‘You should take this over.’ So I did.”
Waymouth and Cohen signed the business over at their lawyer Louis Diamond’s offices, with Hornik taking a 51% controlling share and the remainder going to New Yorkers Gene Krell and Marty Breslau.
The new team reinvented Granny’s, taking their cue from Pearse’s fine tailoring and inspired by the work of Nudie “The Rodeo Tailor”, with customised embellishments on the Foster & Tara satin, silk and velvet suits.
“Freddie taught us how to take measurements like the old East End tailors, with more than a dozen for the jacket and five for the trews,” says Roger Klein.
//Joe Cocker in Granny’s boots at Woodstock//
Hornik also brought in the shoemaker Costas Of Tooting (who famously made the star boots worn by Joe Cocker during his breakthrough Woodstock performance), and in no time Granny’s clothes such as the Western-style jackets with contrasting yokes were being snapped up by old customers – such as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – and the new glam aristocracy: Marc Bolan, Queen, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Roxy Music.
//Mick Jagger in Granny’s tartan velvet jacket, Exile On Main Street, 1972//
On a trip to New York, Hornik met the Woodstock co-ordinator John Morris who put him in touch with two locals keen on opening a branch of Granny’s in Manhattan. The pair – John LiDonni and Richie Onigbene – turned out to be old friends of Krell’s and Breslau’s from Brooklyn.
Stocked with supplies from London, Granny’s at 304 East 62nd Street spread the message across the Atlantic, with custom from Lou Reed, Todd Rundgren and Alice Cooper as well as the small boutique operators springing up in their wake, such as Terry Slobodzian and Tommy Hilfiger.
//Lou Reed in Granny’s black velvet and rhinestone suit, Transformer 1972//
The Stateside significance of Granny’s was sealed when Hornik and his partner Jenny Dugan-Chapman opened the LA branch, first at 468 N. Doheny in West Hollywood and later in the 8000 block of Sunset Strip.
//Roger Klein (in Let It Rock glitter creepers) outside 468 N.Doheny, Beverly Hills//
With business cards in the form of “Granny’s pound notes” (Hornik received a visit from a British consulate official accusing him of circulating counterfeit currency), Granny’s LA became a hive for resident and visiting film and rock stars, while Hornik astutely peppered the Granny’s stock with select items from the UK’s most cutting edge designers.
//Elton John in Granny’s tiger-stripe jacket and sunglasses, Caribou 1974//
Driving around LA in his jet-black 1955 Ford Ranchero, he also sourced vintage materials and garments locally, customising Vans shoes in lurex and leopard-print and utilising the talents of such LA-based designers as Chance Wayne.
A July 1972 LA Times article notes the store’s black and gold leopard-patterned facade and pink ceiling, as well as such clients as Led Zeppelin, Graham Nash, Ricky Nelson and Paul Getty Jr.
//Todd Rundgren in sequined bolero jacket, Something/Anything? 1972//
Within a few years, however, disagreements and rivalries brewed between the three Granny’s outlets, with Hornik not alone in succumbing to drug problems.
Hornik returned to the UK in the late 70s and foreswore fashion. After a spell in the taxi business, ill-health forced him into retirement in south London.
Lean, tall at 6ft 5in and apparently permanently shod in his favourite sneakers (Chuck Taylor All Stars), Hornik struck me as the charming possessor of a lightning memory and a dark sense of humour.
Roger Klein recounts how Hornik once tried to pay his weekly wages in cans of Heinz Baked Beans, arguing valiantly that, at the mid- 70s rate of inflation, they were intrinsically worth more than hard cash.
//Top: Roger’s version. Bottom: the real deal.//
Klein was also required to learn how to write Hornik’s signature should creditors come calling. On that grey pre-Christmas morning in The Groucho a matter of weeks ago, the pair signed my notebook to test Roger’s graphological skills after more than 30 years.
“See,” Hornik pronounced grimly to Roger, before cackling loudly, “don’t say I never taught you anything!”
Prepare for fireworks ahead of Guy Fawkes Night when Christie’s holds it’s sale of extraordinary items from US vintage house Resurrection in London on October 30.
//Stephen Sprouse: Culotte dress (£500-£1,000); day dress (£400-£600); jacket(£500-£800)//
Grouped under the heading Avant-Garde Fashion, this is billed as “the finest collection of 20th Century fashion in private hands” and has been amassed by US vintage specialists Mark Haddawy and Katy Rodriguez, co-owners of the Resurrection stores in NYC and LA.
//World’s End: Bra top (£200-£400), shoes (£300-£400), Mini-Crini (£400-£600)//
The sale is noteworthy on some other counts. First Malcolm McLaren – one of the designers whose work is heavily represented – claims that the list contains counterfeit lots which must be withdrawn. This request, and his urging for the Metropolitan Police to be called in, has been rejected by Christie’s.
//BOY inspector jacket and bondage trousers (£500-£700)+ in original ad £23 and £17.50//
Meanwhile, amid the global financial meltdown and the subsequent belt-tightening among collectors, is this the last hoorah of the vintage boom which companies such as Resurrection have transformed from thrift-store chic into an area of serious investment?
Christie’s textiles director Pat Frost believes not. “The market is definitely evolving from buying vintage to wear to buying vintage fashion as ‘art’, bringing design, architecture and music into relationship with fashion,” she says.”This sale is a step beyond ‘vintage’ towards a more serious assessment of fashion as part of our common contemporary design history.”
//Mr Freedom baseball suit and tees (£800-£1,200) + Olivia Newtown John with Cliff Richard 1971//
Market mainstays are present and correct, with the high reserves tipped towards Cardin, Rabanne and Courrèges and pieces by Zandra Rhodes, Steven Burrows, Ossie Clark, Rudi Gernreich, Westwood & McLaren, Norma Kamali, Azzedine Alaia, Gianni Versace and Issey Miyake.
The list confirms not only the rise in collecting circles over recent years of such labels as Stephen Sprouse and East West Musical Instruments Co but also the growing interest in the output of such quirky outlets as Alkasura, Mr Freedom and BOY, all of which were covered for the first time in-depth anywhere in THE LOOK.
//Alkasura jackets (£500-£600)//
//Todd Rundgren in his Alkasura cherry jacket 1974//
“Katy and Mark have been putting aside pieces which were different in spirit from the kind they would usually sell in the Resurrection stores,” says Pat Frost. “As vintage store owners they were offered and also able to track down a significant body of avant garde fashion. The quality and number of Paco Rabanne dresses is a good example of their putting together a significant group from the work of a relatively scarce designer that would be the envy of major museums.”
//East West parrot jacket (£600-£800) + Sly Stone stagewear (£1,500-£2,500)//
With 250 pieces in the sale and reserves from £300 to £10,000, around a fifth of the lots are clothing produced at 430 King’s Road by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood between 1972 and 1983. Having viewed items when the sale went on show in New York last month, McLaren’s demand for withdrawal is part of his campaign against counterfeit Sex and Seditionaries goods fetching high prices from private collectors, auction houses and museums (sparked by the dispute over the provenance of £85,000-worth of goods supplied to artist Damien Hirst by dealer Simon Easton).
//No Future jacket (£2,000-£4,000)//
The Sex and Seditionaries lots include muslin tops (at £1,000-£1,500), a pair of fringed bondage trousers (£800-£1,200), women’s shoes (£300-£500) and long sleeved t-shirts (£800-£1,200).
//Destroy waistcoat £1,500-£2,500)//
Certainly a number of the pieces are highly unusual and not previously documented, including a pink sleeveless Peter Pan collar shirt, a pair of blue serge/black silk/satin trousers, a gold leather hood, a checkered waistcoat with the Destroy imagery on the back and a jacket adorned with zips and chains. All of these are akin to designs from the shop but with marked variations.
//Leather hood £1,000-£2,000)//
For example, the hood was commonly in black, waistcoats were in synthetic fabrics during the SEX era and did not contain adornment on the backs and there was a short run of Seditionaries’ “Railwayman’s jackets” in grey towelling which are similar in design to the zip/chain jacket.
“There are many items which are wrong,” says McLaren. “The muslins we saw in New York are big enough for giants, which is impossible. One size fits all was always mine and Vivienne’s policy. We, and everyone we admired, were skinny little runts, and few, if any, were made even in medium sizes. The tartan waistcoat and the other with long sleeves I just don’t understand and the gold hood is pure disco, not us at all. Where have these things come from? Not from our shop, I can tell you for sure.”
//SEX stilettos (£300-£500)//
Christie’s is standing it’s ground. “Christie’s are very much aware that there are problems with correctly attributing pieces from this era,” Frost told THE LOOK. “We’ve been rigorous in checking provenance and are convinced that the pieces offered are genuine.”
//SEX shoes (£300-£500)//
Over recent years an “abiding principle” for art fraud – in particular regarding work which is carried out with and by assistants – appears to have been established, as highlighted by Alan Yentob’s recent documentary Andy Warhol Denied.While controversy swirls around some of the decisions made by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, a clear message on authenticity has been set out by specialist art lawyer Ronald Spencer.
//No Future jumper (£2,000-£4,000)//
He said: “If Andy Warhol conceives the idea, says to one of his assistants ‘Here’s how we should do it’, supervises that assistant’s execution, and then approves it, then that’s a Warhol.”
McLaren applies the same principle to dismiss the notion that the items he is disputing could have been made in his absence by Westwood or others working at the shop.
“If Vivienne and I together conceived the idea, supervised its execution and approved it between 1971 when Let It Rock opened and 1980 when Seditionaries closed, then that item is authentic,” he says. “As the person involved in ‘supervising and executing’, these clothes never passed my hands. They never appeared in the shop for sale and, for that reason, I can only say they are fake.”
//Cire SEX t-shirts (£600-£800)//
McLaren asserts that even when he lived in Paris during this period, not one design was produced without his knowledge. “I was there merely a few months in 1979 and constantly returned to London to see Vivienne and discuss the shop,” he adds.
“We agreed it should be turned into a new store selling a completely new collection of clothes which had nothing to do with punk. Vivienne was studying a book of 18th century patterns by Nora Waugh and developing them into what would become, with my help, the Pirate collection.”
//Two Nostalgia Of Mud toga dresses and a Witches ensemble (all £800-£1,200)//
That “new store” was, of course, World’s End, where McLaren and Westwood collaborated on a series of groundbreaking clothing ranges, key pieces of which are present in the Resurrection sale.
McLaren has not, so far, disputed their authenticity.
However, with Christie’s planning a Punk/Rock auction in NYC on November 24, the row doesn’t look like abating anytime soon; McLaren is already questioning the provenance of clothes included there.
Our new t-shirt collection The Look Presents Nigel Waymouth draws on Nigel’s background not only in historic store Granny Takes A Trip but also his mind-bending artwork as part of Hapshash And The Coloured Coat.
//Posters for Pink Floyd at UFO and The Who single I Can See For Miles//
Hapshash was formed early in 1967 when Nigel hooked up with Michael English, who had worked on the first issues of Barry Miles’ underground newspaper International Times. The pair set about producing posters in day-glo colours for the UFO club, opened in Tottenham Court Road by the scene’s leading players, John “Hoppy” Hopkins and Joe Boyd.
“They wanted a distinctive style,” says Waymouth. “The idea was to pair us off and see what happened.”
Wherever there was a major pop culture event in 1967 there was Hapshash, providing posters for Jimi Hendrix’s series of dates at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in June and illustrations for OZ magazine; the editor Richard Neville says that the pair told him that their sole inspiration was LSD and that their regular “tripping partner” was Pete Townshend.
When they were interviewed for The Observer by George Melly, he described their artwork as “a rubbery synthesis of Disney and Mabel Lucy Atwell taken to the edge of illegibility”.
//14-Hour Technicolour Dream and Soft Machine posters//
For the 14-hour Technicolour Dream held at Alexandra Palace on 29 April 1967, they changed the ink colours for the posters, producing were a huge number of variants within the one print run.
//From left: English and Waymouth surrounded by their work with Guy Stevens//
“We were discovered to make music years before the Sex Pistols,” says Pearse proudly. “Guy said we could do whatever we wanted over the top while others came along to the sessions, like Amanda Lear and Brian Jones, who played piano, harmonica and guitar.”
//Featuring The Human Host…and Western Flier//
Housed in a Waymouth-designed sleeve and pressed on red vinyl, Hapshash & The Coloured Coat Featuring the Human Host & The Heavy Metal Kids is a strange brew indeed, with one side comprising a single track of chanting overlaid with various sounds, including Pearse scratching away in an untutored fashion at an amplified violin. A second album, Western Flier was released in 1969 and included contributions from Tony McPhee and Mike Batt, The Wombles musical mastermind.
//Nigel (left) at the Hyde Park legalise marijuana festival(c) Gabi Nasemann//
“The music sort of interfered,” admits Waymouth now. “There were other characters trying to get in and turn it into a proper pop group, so egos started to clash. My time was divided between the shop, the posters, designing fronts and clothes. I was all over the place and the hippy thing was becoming overblown. Plus the fact that we were probably over-enjoying ourselves. Basically we lost the plot.”
Originals from the Hapshash series are now among the most sought-after from the period – for the full run-down of every design see here.
A significant crossover area for rock and pop fashion has long been the expansion into other areas of design, from art, artefacts and antiques to furniture, home-ware and interiors.
The operation of eye-popping boutiques and creation of eye-catching gear has enabled many to make the leap from clothing and apply the same set of aesthetics to objects and collectibles, thus making them fashion items.
Tommy Roberts was probably the pioneer. As we’ve seen, his four-floor Kensington shop Mr Freedom was launched in 1970 with specially-commissioned furniture, lighting and other homeware items, two years ahead of Barbara Hulanicki’s ambitious and ultimately disastrous decision to recreate Biba down the road as a huge department store on the former site of Derry & Tom’s, selling everything from bed linen to baked beans.
//Site of Big Biba, Kensington High Street//
By the time Big Biba opened Roberts had moved on to source antiques for the likes of Rod Stewart and Jimmy Page, and later set up the stores Practical Styling in the 80s, retro outlet Tom-Tom in the 90s and today’s Two Columbia Road.
From Acme Attractions/BOY founder Steph Raynor‘s Lifestyle Co in Spitalfields to Lloyd Johnson’s sorely-missed Tiki-themed store in Portobello Road (which also sold lounge records, South Seas artefacts and Spaceman watches), many other individuals in THE LOOK caste their nets wider than fashion – and long before every Tom, Dick or Harriet branched into perfumery, handbags and eye-wear.
//Paul Smith in his first Nottingham store, early 70s. Pic: Paul Smith//
Paul Smith’s first store in Nottingham included an art gallery in the basement named after pioneering graphic design group Pushpin, for example, while his first London store (opened 1979) set the template for his world-beating “lifestyle” formula, retailing all manner of era-defining goods including the Filofax and James Dyson’s G-Force vacuum-cleaners.
Smith has placed his trademark stripe on HP Sauce bottles, Bonneville bikes and bicycles and collaborated with leading architects and interior designers to keep his retail offer fresh; among the stores designed by Sophie Hicks is his “shop within a house” in Notting Hill.
More recently Eley Kishimoto have earned themselves the nickname “the patron saints of print” by effortlessly moving between print design, high fashion, interiors and architecture. Their famous “red flash” print graces clothing, Converse trainers, a Bearbrick and a G-wizz which can be seen buzzing to and from their South London studio.
//Eley Kishimoto’s red flash Bearbrick//
Among the exemplars in this field is Paul Reeves. His labels Sam Pig In Love and Alkasura Wholesale and Fulham Road store The Universal Witness proved a magnet for stars such as The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and David Bowie in the late 60s and early 70s.
//From Ideal Home magazine 1976//
Reeves – whose The Best Of British Design auction and exhibition opens at Sotheby’s next week – made his break from fashion retailing in 1973 with a very unusual money-no-object commission; the awesome Led Zep manager Peter Grant invited him to refurbish his new Kensington mews house from top-to-bottom.
//From The Observer magazine 1975//
The job took nearly two years, at a time when the 6ft 5in Grant (who died in 1995) was travelling the world with the biggest-selling rock group of all time.”I told him I’d only do it if he didn’t come near,” Reeves says in THE LOOK. “I involved friends from the Royal College and we did everything from cutlery to textiles.”
Prominent among Reeves’ collaborators was architect and artist Jon Wealleans; when the job was finished the pair were featured in The Observer and Ideal Home magazines, excerpts from which THE LOOK exclusively features today after more than three decades.
The scale of the undertaking is impressive; every detail of every room has been addressed, often to dizzying effect. Wealleans created a plaster-covered spiral staircase and furniture which drew on Ettore Sotsass’ Memphis design collective. One of the tables was supported by cylindrical legs made of Lalique glass.
Both Wealleans and Reeves recall the trepidation they felt when Grant – whose fearsome reputation was backed up by his hulking frame (he was 23 stone by the time he was 23 and had been a wrestler and bouncer in his time) – finally viewed the job.
//Peter Grant on the road with Led Zep 1974. Pic: Bob Gruen//
“I opened the door and it may be a cliché, but he literally blotted out the sun,” laughs Wealleans. Reeves, meanwhile, had prudently put some champagne on ice. “He spent around five minutes looking around, not saying a word,” says Reeves.”Then he pronounced. ‘I gotta say Paul…it’s fucking amazing!’ We got the champagne out and a couple of grams of coke and everything was alright!”
//Interior, Mr Freedom, 20 Kensington Church Street, London W8, 1971. Photo: Rex.//
A fascinating insight into the creation of Mr Freedom in Kensington – the most innovative boutique in rock fashion history – is afforded by a folio featured in Paul Reeves’ forthcoming The Best of British Design at Sotheby’s, which also includes contributions from Jimmy Page and Gary Kemp.
Created by interiors architect Jon Wealleans, the working drawings – which date from late 1970 – are populated with designs for giant chrome coat hangers (on which were positioned regular size wire coat hangers), a large set of upholstered false teeth which opened into an armchair, interlocking seats shaped as jigsaw puzzle pieces which interlocked as seats, winged shoes designed by Jim O’Connor and Pamla Motown which were worn by Elton John and are now part of the V&A permanent collection, and a huge fibre glass Statue Of Liberty light fitting made by John Dove.
//Interior, Mr Freedom, 20 Kensington Church Street, London W8, 1971. Photo: Rex.//
//Working drawings + commission letter, 1970, Jon Wealleans.//
With seats and cushions in the shapes of over-sized Licorice Allsorts, there was much, much more besides – including the bordering-on-insane companion restaurant Mr Feed’em in the basement which featured food dyed in unusual colours: green mashed potatoes with mauve sausages and orange ketchup, anybody?
The folio, which has a reserve of £5,000-£8,000, also underlines the headline-grabbing ambition and sheer chutzpah of Mr Freedom’s brilliant boss Tommy Roberts, his partner Trevor Myles and backer John Paul of I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet.
Roberts and Myles had spent the previous18 months turning British fashion away from hippie in favour of a pop-art aesthetic at 430 King’s Road, emphasising playfulness and Americana with repeated Disney prints, stars and glitter on colourful dungarees, knitwear, tees and separates. They had also assembled around them the cream of young British design talent, including Motown and O’Connor, Diane Crawshaw and Dinah Adams, the Doves and others, with custom from Mick Jagger, Elton John, Twiggy and Peter Sellers.
//Left: At Mr Freedom Kensington, 1971. Rex. Right: Rebecca Ward in trompe de l'oeil outfit by the jukebox. Topham Picturepoint.//
//Media coverage of the shop opening, December 1970.//
Then the opportunity came to take over the entirety of 20 Kensington Church Street, a dilapidated building containing four floors and a basement next door to Dino’s coffee bar in the west London neighbourhood.
As Roberts notes in THE LOOK, their imaginations went into overdrive at this point (the fit out cost a then-staggering £35,000).
“It was totally different, like comic land,” he says. “The bones of the idea had been in Chelsea so we just worked them up because I had a bigger canvas. I had wonderful Catholic bikers’ jackets with the saints embroidered into the leather on the front and St Francis Of Assissi on the back, a rock & roll suit with semi-quavers stitched all over it. Real mad ideas.”And Wealleans was the perfect choice to realise the dream, having studied architecture and worked in the offices of Building Design Partnership with Norman Foster and Max Glendinning before spending three years in America.
“I’d written a thesis called Dolce Vita Design & The Super Sensualists; the big three were Ettorre Sottsass (who died last month), Joe Colombo and the architectural group Archizoom,” he says. “This Italian influence colliding with Captain Marvel was to provide the prevailing aesthetic for Mr Freedom.”
Wealleans’ wife Jane had already designed for Roberts, whose influence on British retailing isn’t to be underestimated. “It was always the intention that Mr Freedom would offer a whole range of merchandise including furniture, so it effectively became the first ‘lifestyle’ fashion shop, thanks entirely to the foresight and vision of Tommy Roberts,” confirms Wealleans.
“The idea was quickly emulated by Biba and, among others, Fiorucci.My role was to design the environment and provide a high-speed production range of objects and furniture, often working alongside the fashion designers who occupied a chaotic rabbit warren of rooms above the main shop area.
“Cost control was a neglected issue. Practical and management issues were entirely overlooked. The shop was an immediate and enormous success and we quickly followed it up with Mr Feed’em.”
//Design magazine feature on Mr Feed'Em, May 1971. Photos: Tim Street-Porter.//
Mr Feed’em waiters wore US gas-station boiler suits and the waitresses sported hamburger-printed mini skirts and 40s head scarves. Fake flies featured in the soup, while cakes were baked in the shape of pairs of Levi’s. The napkins depicted Mae West as the Statue Of Liberty.
The walls of the shop were decorated by Mediocre Murals (Les Coleman and Jeff Edwards), George Hardie of Nicholas Thirkell Associates was the principal graphic designer, and a steady stream of ideas came from Roberts himself.
“Tommy’s boardroom table was a pinball machine. As a fashion statement, Mr Freedom provided an interesting punctuation mark between the demise of the Hippie/Dandy look exemplified by Hung On You and Granny Takes A Trip and the emergence of Glam Rock/Androgynous.”
Yet the shop lasted just over a year; Myles exited quickly and moved back to 430 King’s Road to open Paradise Garage (which was later taken over by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood) and Roberts was forced to call in the receivers in March 1972; the cost of running a factory in south London proved too much.
Undaunted, he continued pioneering, becoming the first fashion retailer to open in Covent Garden with his shop City Lights Studio where he served customers such as David Bowie with the suit he wears on the back cover of Pin-Ups.
“The increased use of glitter, sequins and fake fur effectively morphed Mr Freedom into glam rock,” says Wealleans, who believes City Lights “entirely and prematurely predicted punk fashion”.
Given the drab nature of contemporary fashion retailing in most Western cities – in THE LOOK’s opinion only a handful of stores, such as Pokit , Shop At Maison Bertaux and Colette, are carrying the torch – the very idea of Mr Freedom seems extraordinary.Still, as Wealleans says: “There were giants in those days.”
Tommy Roberts has remained at the cultural cutting-edge since City Lights Studio; his shops Practical Styling and Tom-Tom were era-defining in the 70s, 80s and 90s and though largely retired he can still sometimes be found at Two Columbia Road, which is run by son Keith.
A consultant architect and designer, Jon Wealleans is an active artist represented by Francis Kyle Gallery and is occasionally mentioned by his friend Will Self.
Among Trevor Myles’ current activities is the reinvention of the Johnsons’ label LaRocka! as a t-shirt brand.
Until recently 20 Kensington Church Street was bar/nightclub Dunes; this month it took the name of its street address as part of a relaunch.
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