Tag Archives: Madonna

➤ Steve Strange: deciphering the pen portraits of the man of masks

Toyah Willcox, Steve Strange

Click on image to view BBC vintage video from 1981: Toyah Willcox interviews Strange in Robin Hood guise

◼ ONE OF STEVE STRANGE’S TALENTS was persuading the press to believe in his latest wheeze, however fantastic. He had a way of convincing himself that a story was already written and a mission achieved before he had pressed the accelerator and set off. This irritated as many journalists as it amused and many were consequently very sceptical of his next big announcement – like saying he’d booked a big American star to do her first live promotional performance in Britain at his crowning glory, the Camden Palace, capacity 1,410. But in fact he had and she did, and in June 1983 the unknown Madonna was launched singing to backing tapes for half an hour.

The myths surrounding Steve were always the stuff of self-promotion. Today, he would say, I am Robin Hood, tomorrow Ruritanian Space Cadet, the next day Marionette with the mind of a toy. A compulsive man of masks presents a tricky subject for the scribblers obliged to capture that life once it is spent, so we must tiptoe through the obituaries like a minefield, and beware of tripping over Steve’s much-spun versions of history that were pure fantasy. Even national newspapers seemed to fall for many of the dreams he spouted, as well as the exceedingly vague memories committed to his 2002 book, Blitzed.

➢ Read extracts from the obituaries inside Shapersofthe80s: As the mainstream writers lead you through those New Romantic years, see if you can spot the porkies


➢ At Shapersofthe80s: Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend


➤ Material Girl Madonna pops up in LA

Material Girl ,Madonna, Macy’s

Material Girl retrospective at Macy’s LA

➢ Sneak glimpse on the Material World blog of the Material Girl Collection on display at Macy’s Los Angeles – “We just got back from our Material Girl Madonna Pop-Up Fashion Exhibit. Where should we start? From Madonna’s iconic never-before-seen fashion pieces like Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic corset, to the blasting music, to the amazing crowd of Material Girls and Boys – it was a night we’ll never forget”


➤ Super Bowl’s gilded Madonna deconstructed as Babylonian goddess and emblem of illuminati

Madonna,Indianapolis, Super Bowl ,Halftime Show ,Babylon, goddess, Ishtar ,Illuminati

Super Bowl entrance: Madonna enthroned and hauled by hunky soldiers clad as if from ancient history. (Videograb from TheHumanSlinky)

❚ MADONNA ASTRIDE A GOLDEN THRONE made a spectacular entrance into the Indianapolis Super Bowl stadium on Sunday, hauled by 50 plumed soldiers in ancient Mesopotamian uniform. The Halftime Show at the most important football game of the year is the most viewed event on American TV. Most normal viewers would have recalled one great cinematic image — Cleopatra’s processional entrance into Rome in the 1963 epic starring Liz Taylor as the Queen of ancient Egypt.

Liz Taylor ,Cleopatra,Joseph Mankiewicz

Entrance into Rome: Liz Taylor as Cleopatra in Joseph Mankiewicz’s cinema epic, 1963

But no. The diehard conspiracist who blogs as The Vigilant Citizen has penned this fabulous dissection of Madonna’s 13 minutes of pop screened on TV around the globe…

Her first performance was highly influenced by ancient Egypt-Sumeria-Babylon and Madonna’s costume recalls an ancient Babylonian goddess. Ishtar was a powerful and assertive goddess whose areas of control and influence included warfare, love, sexuality, prosperity, fertility and prostitution… Laced with profound imagery, Madonna’s halftime performance was a massive Illuminati ritual, one that was witnessed by billions of viewers. On this Super Bowl ‘Day of Atonement’, Madonna, the High Priestess of the Illuminati industry, entered the Holy of Holies of America and delivered a 13 minutes sermon that was heard by all… but understood by few… / continued at VC

➢ Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show: a celebration of the grand priestess of the music industry, by The Vigilant Citizen — One conspiracy theorist’s take on 13 minutes of pop

➢ The Bavarian Illuminati — an Enlightenment-era secret society founded in 1776. A modern version is alleged to mastermind events in order to establish a New World Order.




➤ 19 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

❚ CENSORSHIP! OH DEARIE ME! Digital Spy reports this weekend that the lavish video for Firework — the single currently No 4 in this week’s UK chart by American singer-songwriter Katy Perry — has been censored for British television channels. The ludicrous widescreen promo, which they say “plays out the song’s message of self-belief” (yuk), shows fireworks shooting from Perry’s chest, and from the bodies of prancing extras. More shocking, apparently, are the pyrotechnic depictions of a mugging, a cancer patient, a woman giving birth and two men kissing. The two-second “gay kiss” has been pixelated, presumably to save embarrassing the children, in a version of the video directed by Dave Meyers for delivery to TV channels under a cross-promotional deal with Deutsche Telekom. The European telecommunications group recruited fans from all over Europe to appear in the video when it was shot in Budapest.

It’s all too much. Why, this weekend too, fansites have been twittering that Katy Perry and BFF Rihanna got into an argument over Katy’s new hubby, the amoral buffoon Russell Brand (double yuk). The only good news is that Katy has at least vowed never to strip for Playboy.

Katy Perry, Firework, pop video, censorship,gay kiss,

Fireworks in Firework: British TV viewers see only a pixelated version

According to the star herself, Firework is influenced by Jack Kerouac’s novel about male bonding, On the Road. Digital Spy’s reviewer Nick Levine even accords the song the accolade of being a “straight up self-empowerment anthem”. Pass the sickbag, James.

OK, OK, boys and girls. In Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s immortal words, relax. For any TV viewers feeling deprived of the knee-trembling kiss in the Perry video, which is of course viewable in full 1080p HD on YouTube, there’s plenty more where that came from. The web is replete with more pop videos flaunting gay kisses than mum and dad might wish for. The following links round up the most notorious from both genders — four are viewable only behind age-restricted gateways. And because it’s so darn funky, Shapersofthe80s has thrown in the Pet Shop Boys’ most notorious Bruce Weber video for Being Boring, which contains naughtiness on any number of levels, but you’re going to need gimlet eyes to spot the gay kiss. You’re very welcome to propose your own favourite pop kisses. Thanks to Jobe, we’re up to 20 vidz now.

Lady Gaga, Telephone, pop video, gay kiss

Lady Gaga: a jailbird’s perk in the video for Telephone

Lady Gaga, Stephen Gately, Boyzone, Blink-182

Pop smackers: Lady Gaga in Lovegame, Stephen Gately in Boyzone’s Better, two vamps in Blink-182’s I Miss You

♫ Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful

♫ Lady Gaga’s Lovegame

♫ Lady Gaga’s Telephone

♫ Blink-182’s I Miss You

♫ Peter Doherty’s Last Of The English Roses

♫ Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling

♫ Yehonathan’s On a Hot Summer Night

♫ Adam Lambert tongue-diving in concert

♫ Tatu’s All the Things She Said

♫ George Michael’s Outside (uncut)

♫ Matt Alber’s End of the World

♫ Kylie’s All the Lovers

♫ The Strokes’ Juicebox

♫ Paul Oscar’s International

♫ Madonna’s American Pie

♫ Scissor Sisters’ Filthy/Gorgeous

♫ Boyzone’s Better

♫ Pet Shop Boys’ Being Boring — a film by Bruce Weber (below)


Pink, Raise Your Glass, gay kiss, pop video
♫ In at No 19 (thanks, Rob): Pink’s Raise Your Glass — “Don’t be fancy, just get dancey”!

♫ And one more makes 20 (thanks, Jobediah Ingram): Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s Same Love


➢ Read on in the New York Times:
For Gays, New Songs of Survival

“These artists represent a new wave of young (and mostly straight) women who are providing the soundtrack for a generation of gay fans coming to terms with their identity in a time of turbulent and confusing cultural messages.”

➢ Update Nov 2011: Firework falls out of UK chart after 58 weeks


➤ Britain’s top hatter, Stephen Jones OBE, celebrates 30 years of Jonesmanship

On Facebook today Stephen Jones writes:

“7pm, 1st Oct 1980, 30 years ago today, I opened my first
hat salon in Covent Garden, with the fabulous Kim Bowen and the super talented Lee Sheldrick (R.I.P). Thank you all, it’s been an amazing adventure! Xs”

Lee Sheldrick, Kim Bowen, Stephen Jones, PX shop

The first Jones salon: star rebels from St Martin’s Lee Sheldrick assisting and Kim Bowen modelling at Stephen Jones’s boutique in PX, October 1980

❚ FROM 1978 HELEN ROBINSON HAD MADE HER SHOP PX the flagship for New Romantic ready-to-wear in James Street, Covent Garden, all velvet suits, Robin Hood jackets and hippy frills. In February, 1980, it moved a few yards round the corner to bigger premises in Endell Street. Since his graduation from St Martin’s in 1979, Stephen Jones’s uncompromising hats had made the perfect accessories for the excesses of PX so Robinson and partner Stephane Raynor made space in the basement for Jones’s own hat salon. He says: “To get the finance I sold my car, an ex-GPO mini-van, for £150, and that’s how I started the business.” Blitz club-host Steve Strange was a regular customer. Inevitably, the whole place became a social centre for fellow Blitz Kids, the clubbing fashionistas who were by then regular faces in fashion pages and gossip columns. Stephen’s wittily titled “First Collection” was previewed on October 1 and commissions came in from the New Romantic pop groups Visage and Spandau Ballet who were releasing debut records that autumn, from Grace Jones and, later, Boy George.

Stephen Jones ,millinery, Kim Bowen, Peter Ashworth

Stephen Jones and Kim Bowen, dressed by PX, topped out by Jones, 1979: business card for the milliner and his mannequin de vie. Photographed © by Peter Ashworth

Stephen Jones, Culture Club, music video, J-P Gaultier

“Very Tangiers in Paul Bowles’s 1950s”: In Culture Club’s first video, 1982, Jones wears the fez that caught J-P Gaultier’s eye. Also a pale blue zoot-suit from Flip, and correspondent shoes in black and pale blue

With the dawn of the 1980s, Britain’s outlandish street styles drew the attention of the world’s leading fashion tastemakers who had to start taking London Fashion Week seriously, to the benefit of a new generation of designers and established names alike. The sheer wit and chutzpah of Stephen Jones millinery played brilliantly to both marketplaces and with Diana Spencer’s marriage to the Prince of Wales the Princess became an international icon for classic British elegance, and a huge fan of the quixotic Jones look. Though he says now that he never drew up a career plan, he did enjoy one lucky break after another: “I had a phone call one day from Vogue who were coordinating a wardrobe for the Princess of Wales and I made quite a few hats for her early on.”

Culture Club’s phenomenal global appeal also established Boy George as Britain’s alternative fashion icon. In another stroke of fate, Jones says that it was his red fez worn while sitting in the audience during Culture Club’s first video, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (filmed in Soho’s Gargoyle club in 1982), that caught the attention of the French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Two years later Jones went to design hats in Paris for Gaultier who was building his own reputation as an enfant terrible. He says now: “Working in Paris then was slightly akin to sleeping with the enemy, and I got gyp from the British Fashion Council who didn’t approve.”

Julia Fodor, Princess Diana, Stephen Jones, hats

Early Jones creations: modelled by Julia Fodor, by appointment to Princess Di

Jones’s familiar bald dome came about after he shaved his head as a crazy gesture, only to discover that it was the same size as the average milliner’s model, which is normally a wooden block, and ever since he has played the role of his own hat mould. Jones’s favourite show was his first for another designer, Zandra Rhodes in 1981. “It was huge — extravagant production, hundreds of models, over the top make-up, vertiginous shoes, tantrums, tears. I loved it.”

His reputation soared in the early days on the coat-tails of such provocateurs as Vivienne Westwood, Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler. When in 1996, the younger St Martin’s superstar, John Galliano, crossed the Channel to design for Christian Dior, the fashion world was amazed. Within minutes, he had invited Jones to join his team and be the milliner at Dior. As Galliano’s dreams became the stuff of legend, his runway shows became ever more spectacular, while the Jones confections reached new heights of extravagance.

Stephen Jones, hats, Peter Ashworth

Jones creations from 2002, photographed © by Peter Ashworth

Jones declares: “Just as accents in language lead to the correct reading and rhythm of a text, my hats add the appropriate punctuation to a designer’s fashion statement.”

Today style-icons crave to wear Jones — think of Gwen Stefani, Beyonce Knowles, Kylie Minogue, Alison Goldfrapp — while yet more of the world’s cutting-edge designers commission his creations to enhance their collections. Today they include Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garcons, Azzedine Alaïa, Loewe, Giles Deacon, Kinder, Issa, Donna Karan, Jason Wu, L’Wren Scott and Marc Jacobs. Back at his Georgian London boutique a few doors along from the former Blitz club, Jones also designs the Miss Jones and JonesBoy diffusion ranges in addition to his Model Millinery collection. “My British milliners are the best in the world,” he maintains. “The hat is a certain British thing that people do love wearing.”

Stephen Jones, hatmaker,Madonna, Madonna, millinery, MoMu, V&A

Then and now: Stephen Jones enlists as a student at St Martin’s 1976, and curates a show of landmark designs at the V&A museum 2009. Union Jack top-hat photographed © by Justine

Last year London’s Victoria & Albert Museum staged a huge exhibition entitled Hats, An Anthology by Stephen Jones, which attracted 100,000 visitors and has since set off on a world tour. This summer he has been working on Sex and the City 2, and told Vogue.com that he had been recruited by Madonna for her latest film, W.E., based on the life of King Edward VIII (played by James D’Arcy) who in 1936 gave up his throne for the American Wallis Simpson (played by Andrea Riseborough). “Madonna is directing it and she asked me to do the hats. Somehow I’ve ended up starring in it, too.”

This autumn Antwerp’s Mode Museum (MoMu) is hosting a solo exhibition of 120 hats, Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion (Sept 8-Feb 13, 2011), plus his work in film, music and photography. He explains the magic of the titfer: “A hat makes clothing identifiable, dramatic – and most important, Fashion … It’s the dot on the i, the exclamation mark, the fashion focus. Everyone from showgirls to dictators knows that by wearing a hat they will be the centre of attention.”

The crowning glory for 30 years of dotting the i’s came this spring when Her Maj the Queen recognised the mad hatter’s achievements by appointing him to the Order of the British Empire. Hats off to the Age of Jonesmanship!

MoMu, Fashion Museum, Antwerp, Stephen Jones, The Accent of Fashion

MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp: Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion photographed © by Frederik Vercruysse

VIEW an i-D video at the Antwerp show in which Jones declares:

“At school science was my best subject. Millinery combines physics and art together in a weird mix — you can’t have one without the other.”

Detailed interview with Stephen Jones in Antwerp for the Independent

 Stephen Jones

His sobriquet fulfilled by photographer Annie Leibovitz: Stephen Jones as the Mad Hatter in The Mad Tea Party (detail), one of a series of Alice in Wonderland tableaux shot for American Vogue, December 2004

Showstudio has intelligent backgrounders from Jones’s V&A anthology

Stephen Jones, interview, Showstudio, Alex Fury
❚ UPDATE — STEPHEN JONES DISCREETLY MENTIONS A CHARMING, frank, gossipy and self-effacing interview with him which has just popped up on Showstudio (despite being dated May) and, as if by telepathy, addresses many questions begged by the brief Shapers outline above! “Steve Strange was, apart from my Mum, my first paying customer” … “I appear to have reinvented the world of millinery but I didn’t have a grand purpose like that at the beginning. I just wanted to go to a great party.” Who is this perceptive young interviewer Alex Fury? With a name like that he will go far.
➢ Video: Stephen Jones interviewed for Showstudio

Stephen Jones, David Holah, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,

New Romantics cutting loose, 1981: Stephen Jones in PX’s definitive Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit jives with designer David Holah who went on to co-found the BodyMap empire. Photograph © by Alan Davidson