Tag Archives: Malcolm McLaren

➤ Is the sun setting on Westwood’s Worlds End?

Worlds End , shop, fashion, London

430 King’s Road: the crazy Worlds End clock slips from sight

◼ IF I WERE THE V&A, I’d be eyeing up that fairytale frontage at 430 King’s Road and hoping to buy it up for our national collection, along with its crazy 13-hour clock that turns time backwards. Today the nursery-rhyme cottage façade with slate roofing and wonky door frame vanished behind a builder’s hoardings. For 34 years the Worlds End shop has played home to savages, witches, pirates and other Vivienne Westwood fantasies, but can demolition be imminent?

The shop has stood empty for weeks, “closed for refurbishment until further notice”, according to its blog, which adds that more space has been acquired in the basement of the listed 19th-century building. Viv’s son Ben has given one deadline after another, promising that Worlds End would reopen in October, then “further into November”, and last week “the beginning of December”. A council notice on the hoarding validates it until 30 Jan 2015, so this could mean all promises are off until February.

Click any pic below to launch slideshow


Viv’s Mayfair flagship store heads her chain of 12 UK retail outlets with Ben supervising Worlds End and devising between them clever ways to reinvent mum’s vast repertoire of silhouettes from squiggle shirts to mountain hats. Following her former partner Malcolm McLaren’s death in 2010, Viv asserted her rights to the various shop names and retail trademarks from their 13 years together and has adroitly capitalised on their sales potential since.

Ben has wittily related the freaky tale his father Malcolm told him about how he acquired 430 King’s Road, when the owner gave him the keys one day in 1971 and never came back.

A dynasty of subversive shops have mythologised this Chelsea address which is today one of Britain’s youth-cultural tourist magnets. The hippie boutique Hung on You of 1967 was followed by Mr Freedom, Paradise Garage, and in 1971 Let It Rock, the first of five retail ventures pursued by McLaren and Westwood, after meeting at Harrow School of Art. Next came Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die, then the most notorious, Sex, the home in 1975 of punk and the Sex Pistols, Malcolm’s creation wearing his Svengali hat. Here too Jordan (née Pamela Rooke) became the female face of punk as both sales assistant and living mood board who single-handedly turned the safety pin into a fashion statement.

Simon Barker, Six, Punks Dead, Jordan, photography, exhibition, London, Berlin

Reunited at the 2012 Punk’s Dead exhibition: a plonker from Six for Jordan at London’s Divus Gallery. Photograph © Shapersofthe80s

This week from Berlin Jordan expressed concern about the rumours surrounding the shop: “Really shocked, has it closed or is it being redesigned? Surely Vivienne hasn’t closed it, it is iconic!” Jordan was in Berlin, coincidentally, for the latest leg of the Punk’s Dead touring exhibition of Simon Barker’s photos of the movement’s earliest flowering. Simon, of course, aka Six, was one of punk’s feted Bromley Contingent who himself went on to front the Worlds End shop for many years. He piped up: “The problem is it is lined with asbestos. Plus Malcolm wouldn’t have cared about Worlds End being redeveloped – a ‘dance in the ruins’.”

Time for a check-call to the Westwood HQ. A spokeperson there purred soothingly: “What’s happening is a major renovation. To remove what’s in the walls and floors will take one or two months. Worlds End is definitely not in danger of being closed.” Sorry, Malcy: your dance has been postponed.

Punk’s Dead,exhibition, books,photography, Simon Barker , Siouxsie Sioux

In the Punk’s Dead show: Siouxsie Sioux at the St James hotel in 1977. Photographed by Six

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2012, Punk’s Dead – Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 1983, The day Vivienne and Malcolm realised the end was nigh

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30 years ago ➤ The day Vivienne and Malcolm realised the end was nigh

End of the world: The last public appearance together by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, Oct 17, 1983. As they take the applause for their Paris show, a bitter battle for control of the Worlds End label is raging behind the scenes. Picture © by Shapersofthe80s

End of the world 30 years ago: The last public appearance together by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, Oct 17, 1983. As they take the applause for their Paris show, a bitter battle for control of the Worlds End label is raging behind the scenes. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ My Evening Standard exclusive breaks the news
of a parting of the ways – read it inside Shapersofthe80s

First published in the Evening Standard, Nov 4, 1983

First published in the Evening Standard, Nov 4, 1983

Vivienne Westwood, fashion, retail

Guess who’s still in business today: Vivienne Westwood as triumphant tribal queen in a new portrait posted only this week at Facebook

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➤ Searching for that last kiss
 on the third anniversary of McLaren’s death

My lips are open wide
Stretched so far apart
Searching for that last kiss
With my hands pressed tight to my heart

A thousand hungry flowers
Loving you for hours and hours
Soon smothers me so tenderly

A thousand kisses say goodbye
And then they say you’ll never die
A lonely fanfare blew
And then they sing to you

A thousand kisses say goodbye
And then they say you’ll never die
A lonely fanfare blew
And then they sing to you

– Revenge of the Flowers
© Chrysalis Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Revenge of the Flowers,Malcolm McLaren, Françoise Hardy, video,album, Paris,❚ MALCOLM McLAREN died three years ago today and is remembered on his website by his partner Young Kim with these lyrics from Revenge of the Flowers, a track from the concept album Paris… In 1994, he recorded his own music and words through performances by such prominent French stars as Françoise Hardy, seen above in the Duncan Ward video of 1995 singing Revenge of the Flowers. The album was essentially a love letter to the city he was to make a home in his final years. At AllMusic Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s verdict is: “The heavily orchestrated cabaret jazz backdrops tend to accentuate the sleaziness of McLaren’s words. And that’s what makes the record perversely fascinating: every element is so poorly conceived and executed that the entire thing appears to be an intentional joke.”

Punk, From Chaos To Couture ,New York, Metropolitan Museum , exhibition

A Chanel punk-inspired look from 2011. Photo © David Sims courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

➢ Punk: From Chaos To Couture is the next Costume Institute exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 9–Aug 14 – British photographer Nick Knight is the creative consultant on a show that examines punk’s impact on high fashion from its birth in the early 1970s, including a Couturier Situationists section dedicated to Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. All presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience, the clothes will be animated with period music videos and soundscaping audio techniques. Wow.

➢ 2010, What a tear-jerker! McLaren mashes up his own musical ‘Requiem to Myself’ – exclusive to Shapers of the 80s

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➤ Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk and the last word on what it all meant

Punk’s Dead , Derek Dunbar ,, Jordan,

Jordan the queen of punk: pantone matched first samples fresh from the printers on Derek Dunbar’s Facebook page today

◼ HOW MUCH MORE IS THERE TO KNOW ABOUT PUNK? Not much, you might think. Yet today Derek Dunbar — the King’s Road fixer, model, singer, Jarmanite and McLaren acolyte, now styling himself as project manager — announced on Facebook that he is producing some T-shirts emblazoned with Jordan’s image (Jordan the queen of punk, immortalised in Derek Jarman’s movie Jubilee). “These are the first samples we will produce once Six has finished at his exhibition in London so I hope to start in 3 weeks or 4 weeks.”

Exhibition? Six? Who? Those in the know know that Six is aka Simon and Simon was the quiet one in among Susan Dallion (later Siouxsie Sioux), Steve Severin, Debbie Juvenile and Soo Catwoman in those seminal 1976 snaps of the Bromley Contingent — first followers of the Sex Pistols and the Chelsea retail outlets of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Some of the Contingent became headliners in the punk explosion, Simon playing his part by appearing with the Pistols on the infamous teatime TV show that lost television journalist Bill Grundy his job. More discreetly, as a resident of the St James’s Hotel in Westminster, Simon provided a refuge for punk’s suburban protagonists.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker , Jordan

1976: Jordan and Simon Barker aka Six (from Derek Dunbar’s Facebook album)

Under his pseudonym Six, he now reveals: “In 1976, I bought myself one of the cheapest pocket cameras available. Fully automatic, with no controls or settings… Subconsciously I concentrated on the women and artists at the heart of what would later be known as punk in London. The photos you see were spur-of-the-moment shots taken by myself for myself and, up until now, I used to think they weren’t good enough to show people.”

Far from it. A quick google reveals these early snapshots to be “a rare and intimate account of punk’s ability to mint newness” and they evince “the cool stillness of seeming to live beyond the end of history.” Ohhhhh!!! Orgasmic! And you’re asking, Who said THAT?

Michael Bracewel,books9,England is Mine, Pop LifeGoogle, please tell. The verdict comes from Michael Bracewell (author of England is Mine: Pop Life in Albion from Wilde to Goldie, 2009), one of those writers whose cultural observations you know are worth the effort to read, wrapped though they are in ripely purple prose. And in a recent article about Six, he announces what these days is the official line, that “Punk lasted in the UK for little more than 14 months, between 1976 and the Jubilee summer of 1977.” Anything later was accounted an offshoot of punk, or dubbed simply New Wave!!!

You raise an eyebrow, salivating for more. And more is delivered in his Independent piece from last March when he defined punk once and for all…

➢ In essence, beneath the headline Anarchy in the UK,
Bracewell declares:

  • To some, punk was primarily political in its energy, carrying class war or a reclamation of the Situationist desire to ‘wreck culture’ to the brutalist Britain of the pre-Thatcher 1970s.
  • To others, it was an avant-garde fashion parade: a damply British reclamation of the Zurich Dada or the Ballets Russes.
  • And to yet others it was the gleeful desecration of rock music’s Church of Authenticity, in which had been worshipped the sanctity of the Blues.
  • Speaking with Malcolm McLaren – arguably punk’s architect – shortly before his death in 2010, the case was put more simply: if punk could lay any claim on historic status, he said, it would best be remembered as ‘like doing the Twist in a ruin’.

Sensational, whichever way you take your pick! But he’s warming to his own conclusion:

  • Punk … appeared to confront the stagnation of cultural consumerism – by describing, in a language of self-parody, the notion of modernity itself reaching critical mass and unsurprisingly imploding. Hence, perhaps, the slogan above the door of the SEX boutique at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea: ‘Modernity Killed Every Night’.

Divine! We can go to our graves sure about the meaning of punk, once and for all. Or rather, five times and for all.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker,Little Nell, Adam Ant

1977: Little Nell with Adam Ant at a Butler’s Wharf party. Photographed by Six

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker , Siouxsie Sioux

1977: Siouxsie Sioux at the St James hotel. Photographed by Six

➢ Punk’s Dead by Simon Barker is an exhibition of his intimate punk photographs, open for a month from June 7, at Divus Temporary Gallery, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.

➢ Punk’s Dead the book by Simon Barker is published by Divus

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker

Six in Prague: Barker demonstrating with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek who has become the zeitgeist interpreter of social phenomena in the 20-tweens

The Year Of Punk 19/12/77

Six, Simon Barker, Punk 1977, LWT, Janet Street-Porter, video

“You don’t have to be a fantastic musician”: Six explains the magic at 7:15 in Janet Street-Porter’s LWT documentary, The Year of Punk, 1977 … Click pic to view video at YouTube

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1981 ➤ How Adam stomped his way across the charts to thwart the nascent New Romantics

Adam Ant, 1980,Kings of the Wild Frontier

Not really Romantic: Adam Ant in his 1980 guise as a warrior-hussar

◼ THE ELEPHANT IN THE NEW ROMANTIC ROOM in January 1981 was Adam Ant. The previous autumn Spandau Ballet and Visage had ignited the ambitions of other clubland bands (Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell) who were to splash romance across the charts by the spring. Yet on this January day 30 years ago Adam and the Ants had, incredibly, two singles and two albums in the UK pop charts: on Jan 17, Antmusic hit the No 2 spot while Young Parisians was at No 23. In the album charts Kings of the Wild Frontier was at No 3 (rising to top the chart next week), while Dirk Wears White Sox entered at No 67 (a re-release from the first Ants lineup of 1979). This isn’t all. In the charts for week beginning Jan 24, TWO MORE SINGLES arrived to exploit demand, Zerox and Cartrouble at Nos 68 and 69 (reissues from the Dirk album).

The Ants had six records charting in the same month!!! January very much belonged to Adam.

Now, Shapersofthe80s has always drawn a clear distinction between Adam Ant and the New Romantics. As does Marco Pirroni, the Ants guitarist and co-writer of many of their hits. “Adam is glam-punk,” he told me emphatically at the bar of the Wag when Ant’s first solo single Puss ’n Boots was storming the chart in Oct 1983. “Americans don’t understand he was never a New Romantic.” In fact right now on his perambulation through our capital city billed as “The Good, The Mad And The Lovely World Tour Of London 2010/11”, Adam declares himself from the stage to be “the last punk rocker”.

What we have here is a re-run of the old dispute over differences between Bowie versus Slade, glam versus glitter. While true glam tends to fuel as much a fashion revolution as a musical one, Adam does tend to sit atop rock’s glittery party-music tree.

Adam and the Ants, AntmusicIn spite of Adam’s flash and camp and dressing up in daffy costumes and wearing tribal facepaint that every kiddie from six upwards wanted to copy, his roots were firmly in rock, whatever Wikipedia seems to think (wrong again). If anybody was advertising rock as pantomime in the aftermath of punk, it was Adam, who raided the wardrobes of the past for his colourful swashbuckling outfits.

In his first life in Adam and the Ants 1977-79, he was styled as hardcore punk, hooded in a rapist mask, by Jordan (née Pamela Rooke) who virtually singlehandedly invented the uniform for punk with her many shockers such as rubber stockings. She was an inspiration as well as a natural sales assistant and model for Vivienne and Malcolm’s boutique, Sex, and for a year or so actually managed Adam’s band until she grew disllusioned with punk.

Malcolm McLaren himself was adrift after the Sex Pistols imploded, and Adam tells the tale: “He said, Everybody’s wearing black, boy. Colour, heroicism, that was what it was about. Look at Geronimo, boy. Look at pirates, boy. Go. He said, Give me a grand [£1,000], don’t tell no-one, and I’ll manage ya. And he gave me an education.”

Things backfired when McLaren stole the Ants to create Bow Wow Wow. So Adam regrouped with the trusty Marco Pirroni and a new lineup, and on the back of an “Antz Invasion” tour of the UK, May-June 1980, they signed to CBS and released the single Kings of the Wild Frontier which charted humbly in August.

Yet despite its heavy Burundi-style tribal drumming, Kings [above] was not a dancefloor record, that’s the point. War-dance, maybe. Watch the hopelessly uncoordinated video where the band lurches shambolically around a studio, and just gawp at the way Adam goes hoppity-skippiting in circles for heavensake!!! Like the proverbial embarrassing dad getting on down at your party.

The video to Antmusic was just as eye-watering. There was his group, playing live in a “disco”. (London’s first uplit starburst glass dancefloor betrays the location as Yours or Mine in Kensington, where back in the early 70s it was the coolest glam haunt on Sundays, frequented by Ossie Clarke, the Bowies and the Jaggers. But by 1980 disco was not cool, at all.) The rent-a-crowd extras in this video must have been the least stylish Londoners within earshot of the Blitz club. Gawp again at how these kids can’t dance either! Not one person in this video would knock Ann Widdecombe off Strictly Come Dancing.
➢ View ♫ original video for Antmusic

Contrast these two with the carefully art-directed videos of Visage and Spandau Ballet in 1980 and Adam’s efforts score 5 points for energy, 5 points for fun, by all means. But for creative content, Nul points, and for style, Nul points! Where’s the artsy pretension, where’s the wordly irony? Where is style? These videos reveal exactly how Adam’s crew didn’t have a handle on the New Romantics ethos at all, which was about the ineffable pursuit of glamour. And their bass-heavy music was totally danceable — by diehard clubbers.

Of course Adam wasn’t a New Romantic. Nor did he tick the register by dropping into any of their clubs. Romantics were clubbers, the Ants were rockers. Yes of course Kings of the Wild Frontier went on to become one of the great slapstick albums of its time. No dispute. And with characters like Prince Charming and Puss ’n Boots, Adam treated us to year-round pantomime. If he left the rest of us all humming a bunch of glorious rumpty-tump tunes, actually living the buccaneering life affected Marco the guitarist more deeply. Last year he told Uncut magazine rather mystically: “I’m still untouched by the ordinary world, thanks to Kings of the Wild Frontier.”

ONE REALLY INTERESTING FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY

Charge of the Light Brigade,David Hemmings,Tony Richardson,film

Charge of the Light Brigade, 1968: David Hemmings rides into the Valley of Death in a gilded hussar jacket identical to one that later became Adam Ant’s. © MGM

Adam Ant, Jordan, Jubilee, 1977

Instinctive punks, 1977: Adam and Jordan at the premiere for Jubilee

◼ IT WAS a post- punk Jordan who returned to style Adam’s second life with the new-wave Ants in upbeat 80s mode, but as the most iconic punkette of all, her roots lay in anarchy. Look at the pair of them in this picture from the premiere of the 1977 film Jubilee with Jordan showing her actual knickers — facepaint and no hint of coordination spell pantomime, in capital letters. Commedia dell’arte this is not.

The one stroke of genius about his revamp was Adam’s own — it was his choice to adopt the gilded hussar’s jacket that branded his reincarnation for Kings of the Wild Frontier. It saw him right through his first year, on stage and in videos, until he turned into a highwayman. This dashing 19th-century cavalry uniform had a heritage all its own. Adam says he found it at the London costumier Berman’s & Nathan’s who had acquired it in 1968 from Tony Richardson’s scathing anti-Establishment movie, The Charge of the Light Brigade – though if Berman’s had one such officer’s jacket in stock it probably had dozens. Despite this jacket bearing no resemblance to the style worn by the real-life 15th Hussars, one adorned the romantic young film star David Hemmings, playing the ill-fated Captain Louis Nolan who carried the order to charge before one of the most careless tragedies in British military history. The poet laureate Tennyson’s phrase “someone had blunder’d” was prompted directly by the eloquent eye-witness report by William Russell of The Times. It makes a thrilling read still. And Adam’s gilded hussar jacket undoubtedly had a romance all its own.

Adam Ant, 2011,World Tour Of London

“The last punk rocker”: Adam Ant on his World Tour Of London, 2011, photographed © by Alex Alexander

◼ TONIGHT ADAM’S NEW SHOW WAS BEING FILMED at Madame Jojo’s Club in Soho, with tickets priced at £75. His outings before Christmas have impressed some critics, by various accounts being underpinned by wayward sexuality and bad taste, but none the less galvanising for that. His message has long been raunchy and savage and tonight one fan declared on Facebook that “Madame Jojo’s was on fire!!” A two-night stand has yet to happen at the 100 Club on January 26-27.

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