Tag Archives: Memorabilia

➤ Webb’s flipside of the 80s fashion revolution as seen last night at the ICA

Cover girl: Scarlett Cannon at last night’s book launch . . . and covered in 1985 by photographer David Hiscock, scarfed by Hermès

CLICK ANY PIC TO LAUNCH CAROUSEL:


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❚ LAST NIGHT DIEHARD 80s FASHIONISTAS celebrated the launch of an elegant hardback with far greater ambitions than most coffee-table photobooks. It’s a glorious personal CV posing as one man’s record of five energetic years. It doesn’t quite knock the sensationalist Casanova off his perch as the master memoirist, but Iain R Webb’s chutzpah certainly takes your breath away.

As Seen in BLITZ, Fashioning ’80s Style is among the most unabashed, single-minded, focused works of diarism you are likely to have read. In capturing his output as a fashion journalist, this book aspires to present social history expressed through fashion. He brings a new twist to the well-tried technique of oral history, because the 100+ collaborators who contribute to this book are constantly telling the author how marvellous he is, but in the second-person singular. They are talking to “you”, meaning “me”, the author whose name appears on the cover, Iain R Webb.

Its 272 pages record a series of testimonials: “You pulled so many creative people round you” … “We did it because you asked us to” … “You jump-started my career as a photographer” … “You were one of our earliest supporters” … “You had different ways of shooting things” … “You were doing the opposite of high fashion and glamour” … “You showed me a life that was different” … “You were so beautiful and excitingly aloof” … “I would have done anything you asked” … “You were the person who ––”.

There is no place in Webb’s memoir for Eng Lit’s Unreliable Narrator, or for self-doubt or inner struggle. His worldview is confirmed at every turn. Assertion is all: The 80s – we did it my way. We, the readers, are soon rocking on our heels at the sheer brass-necked cheek of it all!

Having said which, consider the credentials of everyone involved. They amount to a Who’s Who of the fashion shapers of the 80s: Jasper Conran, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Katharine Hamnett, Marc Jacobs, Stephen Jones, Calvin Klein, Barry Kamen, Baillie Walsh, Martine Sitbon, Princess Julia, Nick Knight, David LaChapelle and many more.

Iain R Webb, fashion,photography, books

The author last night: Iain R Webb signing his book with lavish tributes to his former colleagues

We’ve heard enough about George O’Dowd’s tawdry version of events. Finally we have a much-needed corrective view of the youth cultural revolution that fired up the Swinging 80s. As Seen in BLITZ celebrates Webb’s own unique take on the decade of egotism through the pages he produced. We hear the voices of his co-stars – the photographers, designers, models and stylists who supported him as a lynchpin fashion editor – all dissecting the nuances of their subversive visions.

The whole momentum of post-punk street style during the decade’s dawn, 1980-83, is what drew the eyes of the world’s fashion industries back to Britain and put London Fashion Week on the agenda of every serious commentator twice a year.

While studying fashion design at St Martin’s, Webb was at the centre of London’s nightlife crowd at the now-legendary club called the Blitz – very much one of the 20 key Blitz Kids, as the media tagged them. He rightly claims: “At the dawn of a hedonistic club scene that saw the birth of the New Romantics … on the pages of Blitz, The Face and i-D, a new breed of young iconoclasts hoped to inspire revolution.” These were three new magazines, soon dubbed “style bibles”, which gave journalistic expression to the fertile innovations in UK pop culture and defined the era.

Blitz was a desultory magazine, almost entirely devoid of character in its early years. It was launched in 1980 with a title that its owner says seemed “catchy”, utterly oblivious to the pivotal club-night of the same name and the precocious youth-quake putting London back at the centre of the pop universe. It took until about 1983 for Webb to recognise the gap in the market for radical and purposeful fashion journalism and to infiltrate Blitz, the magazine.

Iain R Webb, As Seen in BLITZ, fashion, books, photography

Webb’s ICA launch: the author sets the style for the evening. After Godot, out of skip? I stand corrected: After Wild Boys, out of Burroughs

Webb beavered his way up to becoming its fashion editor from Feb 1985 to August 1987 and was often given 20 pages a month to be filled with his “singular vision if they were to be taken seriously”. Webb’s USP was an “ongoing love/hate relationship with the fashion industry. It was not about selling a look, it was about saying something”. He expressed his ethos on a T-shirt in a 1986 photo shoot: “We’re Not Here to Sell Clothes”. When he was headhunted to join the London Evening Standard in 1987, his shoes at Blitz were filled by Kim Bowen, Queen Bee of the Blitz Kids, herself the wildest child in the club.

Webb’s purpose, he writes, “has always been to inspire or provoke, engage or enrage” and his images “manipulated fashion to explore ideas of transformation, beauty, glamour and sex”. His book brims with attitude and evidence that the fashion world did indeed tilt slightly on its axis during the 80s – as eye-witness accounts confirm in entertaining archive interviews.

How does an author cap all this? At his launch party last night at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the savviest fashion editor of his day sported an awkward grey suit, and a battered pair of lucky suede shoes, every inch Beckett’s absurd tramps waiting for Godot, looking to all the world as if he’d spent the night in a skip. Anti-fashion to a T. Who’d have thought Webb had once held plumb posts at Harpers & Queen, The Times and Elle? And won the Fashion Journalist of The Year Award in both 1995 and 1996. And remains Professor of Fashion at the RCA and Central Saint Martins!

Iain R Webb, As Seen in BLITZ, fashion, books, photography

As Seen in BLITZ, 1986: classic Hermès scarves redeployed as boxer shorts and tailored jacket. Model Barry Kamen says says the female model’s attitude is so Webb, so BLITZ

❚ THIS BEAUTIFUL PHOTOBOOK, As Seen in BLITZ, precipitates a weekend of events at London’s ICA. Today there is a pop-up show in the ICA Theatre curated by the author Iain R Webb to display his own highly confessional memorabilia, plus a series of talks with special guests, film screenings.

In the darkened theatre only the 80s ephemera are visible as you enter: an array of toplit boxes on tables, containing notebooks, diary pages, sketches and name-droppy correspondence. These relics of a career lie in plain wooden showcases – “vitrines” would be an overstatement – more like pauper’s coffins. They amount to a novel kind of runway show of “my creations”. On one sheet of paper, Webb outlines his vision as fashion editor of Blitz, explaining London’s appeal: “The young English inherit a fight-back spirit, whilst the old fall sleepily into a heritage of traditional and quality goods … Of late the two have begun to merge, and the results have ensured the envy of the rest of the world.” Another note identifies the icing on a girl’s wardrobe as “an abundance of dishevelled accessorising – 1985 is a time to be ALIVE”.

➢ Webb’s As Seen in BLITZ discounted from £35 to £21

➢ The Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s runs from July 10, 2013 to Feb 16, 2014

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➤ The world asks, Who is Boy George these days? And he answers

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“It did all right, Culture Club, but, you know, move on” – Boy George the ex-singer

“Dance music is probably the most exciting it’s been in years” – Boy George the deejay

Philip Sallon, George O'Dowd

Philip Sallon partying with blue-faced George in 1980 when he was an obsessive record collector. (Photographed by Paul Sturridge)

❏ Feb 20 update: The new slimline beardie, tachioed George interviewed at the Brits:

“Twitter were very nice and got my name back [from somebody else] but Facebook won’t do it – so I actually don’t own my Facebook page. I’m Angela Gina Dust

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➤ K West sign ‘possibly’ for sale in Bowie memorabilia show

Ziggy Stardust ,K West, Brian Ward,David Bowie,memorabilia ,Movie Poster Art Gallery,Paul Burston,Alex Hopkins

The long-lost K West sign in all its magical luminescence: the restored emblem of the Ziggy Stardust album sleeve is on display at MPAG, London. Captured in its mystic rays (above), writer Alex Hopkins of the quarterly Lifestyle magazine beigeuk.com with the always-on Paul Burston of Time Out London. (Nokia snap © Shapersofthe80s)

❚ AFTER ZIGGY’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY HULLABALOO comes a unique selling exhibition of Bowie graphic art and memorabilia from his golden years 1969–1981. On display this week in London for the first time in 30 years is the original K. West sign that featured in Brian Ward’s covershot for Bowie’s springboard 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. The record sleeve itself has long been as iconic a London image as Abbey Road’s zebra crossing. At last, the illuminated sign from 23 Heddon Street has been rescued by a music industry veteran and restored, and is on show at the Movie Poster Art Gallery, run by 80s Mud Club regular, Tim Maddison. He revealed to Shapersofthe80s that it may be for sale “at the right price”.

The exhibition highlights celebrated images created for Bowie by talents such as Brian Duffy, Edward Bell, Masayoshi Sukita, Guy Peellaert, Steve Shapiro and Eric Stephen Jacobs. Original posters and large-format promotional displays on Bowie in the 70s are hard to come by, let alone buy, so this show is a treat. At the preview, a 3-ft wide original RCA in-store display for Diamond Dogs was snapped up at £1,250. A fab Scary Monsters in-store stand was still for sale today at £950.

Bowie graphics: five of the images for sale this week

➢ David Bowie: Sound and Vision at the The Movie Poster Art Gallery, London (Nov 17–Dec 1)

➢ View more classic Bowie images for sale this week

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A MORE PAINTERLY TAKE ON BOWIE

❚ KNOWN AS THE MAN WHO changed the colour of Bowie’s left eye, painter George Underwood is showing his recently discovered 1975 oil painting of the Hunky Dory cover shoot [below] in London next month. He stumbled upon the 32 x 38-inch original while sorting through some old artworks and now it’s on sale for £16,000.

Bowie’s schoolfriend and former musician, Underwood as a painter adopted an imaginative style that refers to Bosch, Bruegel and mannerism. He is among an eclectic mix of ten contemporary artists selling direct through The Art for Art’s Sake Show at The Gallery in Cork Street next month. Rather more affordable Bowie mementoes are his limited edition giclée prints which include Width of a Circle (1969, £500), seen on the back cover of the UK David Bowie LP on Philips… Stardust Memories (1972, £350), a Ziggy era painting that was reproduced as a poster… The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975, £650), seen on the cover of the Pan Books film tie-in.

George Underwood , Hunky Dory,David Bowie,Cork Street, artwork

Rediscovered: George Underwood’s 1975 painting of the Hunky Dory cover

➢ The Art for Art’s Sake Show: the New Kids on the Block (Dec 3–8)

➢ At Underwood’s own online gallery, collectable enamel brooches of Ziggy Stardust cartoons

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2013 ➤ Bowie officially not “devastated” as fab retrospective show goes ahead at the V&A

David Bowie, lyrics, pop music, retrospective, memorabilia, exhibition, William Burroughs,Victoria & Albert Museum

Photography showing at the V&A: David Bowie and William Burroughs, 1974. Photograph by Terry O’Neill. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive 2012

❚ WHAT A COUP! FIRST CAME THE OFFICIAL DENIAL. A press release from Bowie Towers last week denied the godlike one’s involvement in an upcoming retrospective exhibition in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum. “I am not a co-curator and did not participate in any decisions relating to the exhibition,” he said, adding however: “The David Bowie Archive gave unprecedented access to the V&A and museum’s curators have made all curatorial and design choices. 

A close friend of mine tells me that I am neither ‘devastated’, ‘heartbroken’ nor ‘uncontrollably furious’ by this news item.

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➢ Listen online to World At One discussing
next year’s Bowie exhibition

Then came today’s official announcement. When the V&A confirmed that its show will “explore the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon”, the BBC’s lunchtime current affairs bulletin, World at One, interviewed a key curator without a single mention that this show doesn’t open until next spring.

Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie,stage costume, Kansai Yamamoto

Ziggy stage costume by the Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto who described Bowie in 1972 as “neither man nor woman”. This outfit goes on show next year. (Photograph by Polkadot.tv)

After three years of negotiation, Geoffrey Marsh, the curator of performance, and Victoria Broackes, curator of theatre, were rightly exultant to have pulled out the Bowie plum. “He has had so much influence in other areas — film, theatre, fashion, design. In fact, he impacts on all departments of the V&A,” Marsh said, heading off recent criticism that pop-star memorabilia was rather a lightweight subject to justify its own claim to be “the world’s greatest museum of art and design”.

Most of the 300 objects going on show were collected by Bowie over his lifetime: handwritten lyrics, costumes, posters, instruments, stuff he regarded as important records of his career. Marsh says: “It is an extraordinary collection and there are very few performers who have hung on to their collections. In all areas of Bowie’s creativity, he is still having an impact today.”

Potential exhibits shown off at today’s press launch included a model of the set for the Diamond Dogs tour, the spangly catsuit designed by Freddi Burretti for Bowie’s 1972 performance of Starman on Top Of The Pops, Natasha Korniloff’s Pierrot costume from the 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes, and Alexander McQueen’s Union Jack coat created for the cover of Earthling in 1997.

➢ Showtime at the V&A — from The Guardian’s coverage, Sep 5:

No one from the V&A has sat down face to face with Bowie and, given he does not fly, it would be a surprise to everyone if he even made it along.

David Bowie, portrait, retrospective,  exhibition, Victoria & Albert Museum

Self portrait in pose also adopted for the album cover of “Heroes” 1978. © The David Bowie Archive 2012. Image © V&A Images

“I’m sorry to say I’ve never met him,” said co-curator Victoria Broackes. “Of course I’d love to and I really hope he likes it but in a way, because the V&A always takes editorial control of what it produces, it is better that we haven’t met him.”

Geoffrey Marsh said there were piles of books on Bowie – “I’m sure there will be many more university doctorates” – but this is the first significant exhibition and he promised it would be “groundbreaking” and hopefully achieve the almost impossible task of appealing to both diehard fans and an audience too young to really know how much of an influence Bowie was and still is.

That present tense is important and the V&A has called its show David Bowie is. “It underpins a key tenet of the exhibition,” said Broackes. “David Bowie’s impact today.”

It will examine what has influenced him – German expressionism, music hall, Theatre of Cruelty, French chanson, surrealism, Brechtian theatre, avant-garde mime, musicals and Japanese kabuki to name a few – and the countless artists he in turn has influenced… / Continued at Guardian Online

RAPACIOUS V&A PRICING EXPLOITS AN EAGER PUBLIC

➢ Enigmatically titled David Bowie is, the exhibition runs March 23–July 28, 2013, at the V&A, London SW7 2RL. Book online, in person at the museum, or by phone +44 (0)20 7907 7073 where you will spend a lifetime on hold. Top ticket price is an outrageous £15. By booking online you avoid being blackmailed into making an additional donation to the museum, though the V&A has the cheek to add a “handling charge” to all purchases! (Update: Ticketing has subsequently been farmed out to a theatre agency which has upped the price to £15.80 to include its own “booking fee”!)

How dare they, with Gucci sponsoring the exhibition? Gucci could readily pick up the whole bill for the show, and the V&A’s exploitative tactics let the institution down badly. Brace yourselves for a catalogue priced in similar “We saw you coming” mode (a catalogue for the last major show, British Design, cost £40). This is an ugly and accelerating trend among the capital’s cultural institutions.

Is Bowie alive or dead?

➢ Definitely alive — but busy on the school run, says The Times’s chief rock critic, Sep 5:

Ever since 2006, when he last performed live, rumours have circulated that David Bowie is at death’s door. What has he been doing? Taking his 12-year-old daughter to and from school in New York, according to his publicist. Having been too busy as an epoch-defining rock star to be a hands-on father to his son Zowie (now the film-maker Duncan Jones), Bowie is now helping out with his daughter’s homework. He is living through a period of normalcy that his early fame denied him. The state of his heath is unknown… / Continued at Times Online

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops,V&A , exhbition, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson and a new generation of pop is triggered. The spangly 26-inch waist catsuit by Freddi Burretti will be on show at the V&A retrospective in 2013. Videograb © BBC

1970 ➤ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam:
naff blokes in Bacofoil versus starmen with pretensions
— analysis by Shapersofthe80s

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1970 ➤ Hey Rudolph! It’s The Temptations, starring James Jamerson

The Temptations, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Motown, Barrett Strong,Christmas Card,pop music,audio
♫ CLICK on the pic to run the audio of The Temptations at YouTube

James Jamerson , Motown, musician,Fender Precision Bass

James Jamerson courtesy of Phil Chen, former bassist with Rod Stewart

❚ BOOST YOUR BASS for this vintage Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from The Temptations Christmas Card, the group’s first holiday release, produced by Barrett Strong on Motown Records in 1970.

That distinctive bass line comes from the fingers of Funk Brother the “incomparable” James Jamerson, whose improvisations on his Fender Precision Bass, nicknamed the Funk Machine, underpin the fabled Motown Sound. JJ is supposed to hold the record for playing on the most No 1 chart hits, from My Guy, Baby Love, Reach Out, Grapevine, Tears of a Clown, What’s Going On, and on pretty well everything that came out of Hitsville USA.

Boggle at the Jamerson discography documented at Bob Lee’s Bassland.net … Then glimpse him on-camera and relish his playing effectively a duet with Marvyn Gaye’s angelic vocals in this exceptional video of What’s Going On (below). It’s a live ensemble performance from the 1973 film, Save The Children. Hang on in for “Hey baby” and the tumultuous seventh minute when cool-as-ever JJ is doing his bit to push the temperature…

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