Exclusive: McLaren and Punkpistol speak to THE LOOK

The current dispute between Malcolm McLaren and clothes collector and dealer Simon Easton (aka Punkpistol) lifts the lid on the fascinating area of  intellectual copyright and provenance regarding the world-changing designs created by McLaren and partner Vivienne Westwood in the tiny shop at 430 King’s Road in the 70s.

Impressively, the pair have long displayed a laissez-faire attitude to asserting their ownership of no less than 50 enduringly popular designs, from the Cowboys, Prick Up Your Ears and Tits t-shirts and bondage boots to Anarchy, parachute and Peter Pan shirts, muslin tops and mohair sweaters.

//McLaren at the Basel Art Fair last month with writer Peter Culshaw// 

Although both have occasionally revisited certain lines, Westwood via her Anglomania and MAN labels and McLaren with Dead In England in the late 90s, they appear more active and interested in the present and the future.

//Westwood at last week’s opening of son Joe Corre’s new shop A Child Of The Jago. Pic: Slam X Hype// 

Thus, the duo’s casual attitude to the hundreds of copyists who operate a multi-million dollar business around the world on the back of their creativity has been all the more admirable. In turn it has enabled a lot of fraudulent activity; it is THE LOOK’s view that even the Westwood retrospective unveiled at the V&A in 2004 contained at least one fake.

So what has roused McLaren now? 

He and Punkpistol have provided THE LOOK with exclusive statements here and here, but in a nutshell their dispute springs from McLaren’s attempt to stop US publication of  Punkpistol’s self-published coffee table tome SEX & Seditionaries, to which he contributed. 

THE LOOK understands that McLaren has succeeded; Rizzoli has apparently put the project on ice.

McLaren claims he was duped into contributing to the book because it contains items of dubious provenance which were part of the $160,000-worth of clothes bought from Punkpistol by artist Damien Hirst. That acquisition triggered a legal row culminating in  an out-of-court settlement last year.

Punkpistol says that the finish and detail of some of the garments are unfamiliar to McLaren because they were made after Seditionaries closed in 1979 and subsequently sold through King’s Road shop Boy two years later as part of a deal engineered by Westwood to which McLaren may not have been party.

McLaren maintains this is obfuscation; the clothes featured in the book and sold to Hirst are purported to be the products of 430 during its incarnations as SEX (1974-76) and Seditionaries (1976-79).

“The important point to understand is that clothes made by McLaren/Westwood for those shops ended in 1979,” he says. “He is trying to pretend that these clothes may be part of thousands sold through Boy.” 

The integrity of original fashion design relies for the most part on the date and circumstances of creation.  THE LOOK’s view is that items manufactured after 1979, even with Westwood’s involvement, are not authentic Sex or Seditionaries designs because the shops had closed, thus collapsing the central plank of their provenance.  

//Boy Blackmail catalogue 1981. Pic: Sheila Rock (c) John Dove//   

In another exclusive, we can reveal details of the short-term deal which Westwood struck with Boy co-owner John Krevine.

//Boy Blackmail catalogue 1981 (c) John Dove//  

John and Molly Dove – our partners in The Look Presents Wonder Workshop – designed and created the Blackmail catalogue for Boy at the time.

//Boy Blackmail catalogue 1981. Pic: Sheila Rock (c) John Dove//  

“In 1981 Vivienne asked John Krevine if he would sell the Seditionaries muslin shirts, t-shirts, some tartan suits and Seditionaries boots,” says John Dove. “The Seditionaries articles were to be supplied by Vivienne. For the next edition of Boy Blackmail, I received a memo from John to introduce the Seditionaries items into the catalogue and to get some photographs taken by Sheila Rock. Only the muslin shirts and the boots could have had Seditionaries labels. Everything was supplied by Vivienne, according to John Krevine.”

The arrangement was relatively short-lived, a term not applicable to the Punkpistol/McLaren dispute, which has huge ramifications.

McLaren, who says he is now involving the police in London, also claims the full support of Westwood and his son Joe Corre, a powerful fashion industry figure following the £60m sale of Agent Provocateur to 3i last year.

Hirst is evidently fuming and the many individuals who make a living dealing in and copying SEX and Seditionaries designs are now evaluating their positions; THE LOOK has already been contacted by one requesting authentication of items. 

Read Malcolm McLaren’s statement here.

Punkpistol answers THE LOOK’s questions here.

Tim B. said,

August 3, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

Fascinating reading Paul…thanks for presenting all three stories at once. I hope there ‘s more to come – I’d be interested to know what eventually happens.

fetchampunk said,

August 4, 2008 @ 9:00 am

Yes, facinating story/stories, to add my five pennies worth both the BOY versions I have (Cowboys and Vive le Rock) have no lables and for that matter look much more profesionally printed that the SEDS ones I remember. Maybe they are later on in the Eightes. Even the one SEDS Item I do have has no label (a green 24″ square scarf with DESTROY print in Black and Gold) although I do have an odd SEDS label given to me by Jordan it’s white with SEDS 430 Kings Road, Chelsea tel 351 0674 100% cotton Hand Wash, Made in England although I’ve never known what they came from. As mentioned though the T Shirts were often different the DESTROY I had back in early late seventies/early eightes (believed to be genunine) had no 1p stamp on it.

Planet Mondo said,

August 4, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

A great piece – and fascinating to hear both sides of the story, as much as I admire McLaren for never copyrighting these iconic designs and regard him as an undervalued genius for his contibution to fashion, design and music, – part of his appeal is that he’s a great story teller and self publicist.

I bought 3 seditionaries shirts from Boy in the summer of 1980 Vive Le Rock and 2 cheescloths – they must have been made to an exact spec’ as the Vive Le Rock faded heavily after several washes (Seditionaries tees were notorius for this) which later Boy repro’s never did, also the neck line was different. The lster period Boy ones tended to be the fruit of the loom elasticated type neck, the Seditionaries style has slimmer ridge style finish.

There’s some pics from my 1980 BOY catalogue here if you fancy a peep


barnzley said,

August 11, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

look- that snidey gear sold by wotsisname was snide-end of.you must be a mackrel if you thought that amount of seditionaries was floating about. i know for a fact that i sold most of it to either nellee or hiroshi. cant buy authentic if your fake

fetchampunk said,

August 13, 2008 @ 11:43 am

Interesting what Barnzley says and thinking about the amount listed over the years.

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