Web premiere: It’s the McLaren & Westwood show

Today THE LOOK proudly presents a world exclusive: an excerpt from Roger K. Burton’s new documentary Vive Le Punk, featuring the one and only time Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood ever talked publicly about their 12-year creative collaboration.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=7aw5oBVols4">http://youtube.com/watch?v=7aw5oBVols4</a>
//Vive Le Punk: (c) Roger K.Burton 2008. No reproduction without permission//

This fascinating film is being shown as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Burton’s street-style archive Contemporary Wardrobe. THE LOOK is taking part in a special event on Thursday May 22; Burton will be in conversation with author Paul Gorman and there will be a fashion show and exhibition of rare items from the archive.  Entry is free. Book tickets here.

For anyone interested in design, style and the creative process, Vive Le Punk is a must-see.

Shot on a hand-held camera with variable lighting and sound which add to the voyeuristic atmosphere, the meeting took place the night before an exhibition of the same name opened back in 1993; Burton had invited McLaren and Westwood along to preview exhibits from their shops Let It Rock, Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die, SEX and Seditionaries.

By turn uncomfortable, charming and comic, the documentary presents two immensely erudite individuals who are often generous about each other’s respective roles in developing a series of designs which resonate to this day. Yet the tension is palpable.

After all, they separated acrimoniously and publicly 10 years previously, and the exchanges sometimes verge on the Pinter-esque, with plenty of verbal sparring, pauses and interruptions.

And there is poignancy. Burton recounts how, when he called Westwood the following day to ask her to attend the opening night of the exhibition, she declined, telling him that the experience had made her finally realise she no longer loved McLaren.At one stage Westwood –  sipping red wine and smoking Gitanes in a long printed sheath dress and tweed jacket from her 1990 Portrait and 1992/3 Always On Camera collections – embarks on a monologue which takes in social responsibility regarding the ecology and the transformative powers of art and literature; here, in just a few minutes, the viewer is granted a snapshot of her current manifesto Active Resistance.

In the clip at the top of this story, they discuss the detourne-d tops created when 430 King’s Road was in its Too Fast To Live manifestation (around 18 months between 1972-74). McLaren explains how t-shirts printed for a rock & roll extravaganza in the summer of 1972 were deliberately distressed and deconstructed before zips and coloured cels of nudie shots were added.


//Lou Reed in distressed Vive Le Rock 1974. Pic: Mick Rock//

“It was a very painterly idea,” says McLaren, who also reveals that the final flourish was to take their son Joe Corre‘s toy tractor, dip its wheels into the ink from a John Bull printing set and add skid-marks to give the impression that a motorcycle had run over it, “a bit like an action painting”.

The pair also reveal that they would spend days working on each shirt; a limited number were made and survive. In 1974 Lou Reed was photographed by Mick Rock in a distressed Vive Le Rock acquired from pioneering US McLaren & Westwood stockist Ian’s on St Mark’s Place on the Lower East Side.

For more on McLaren & Westwood’s extraordinarily fruitful design relationship, read chapters 19 to 22 of THE LOOK.

We look forward to seeing you on May 22.

Tim B. said,

May 13, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

I wish I could be there May 22. Enjoy…Looks like it’ll be fabulous!

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