we are obviously inspired by our punk history here at hollywood babylon, and so it seems as good a time as any to credit vivienne westwood and malcolm mclaren for largely initiating the punk movement in england back in the late seventies. in researching their story and also the upcoming exhibition at the met’s costume institute “Punk: Chaos to Couture” (opens may 9th) i found some amazing links and images to share…maybe punk’s not dead after all…
“It all goes back to the early 70’s, when Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood opened up a shop on Kings Road in London selling the favoured Teddy Boy fashions (a tailored, fitted look reminiscent of British dandyism). In search of something new, McLaren traveled to New York where he met the New York Dolls. With their tattered, worn-down, glam rock persona, the American band inspired McLaren to bring back a thrift shop mash up style that Britain desperately needed. Further inspiring Westwood and McLaren was the Situationist movement, which had come to the fore in France around the time of the Paris riots of 1968. The Dada- like anarchism of the Situationists led by Guy Debord ,combined with the ripped, safety pinned, thrift store aesthetic of the New York muscians was perfect for the new revolutionary style that McLaren had in mind. Ironically, what McLaren created was totally contradictory to what the Situationists were rebelling against. The capitalist spectacle and commodity fetishism which Debord had famously denounced, is exactly what McLaren recouped as punk’s ugly, raw, deconstructed image in the form of mainstream fashion. Despite the blatant disparity, the British youth ate. that. shit. up.”
the new york dolls
mclaren and westwood designed goods for their shop on kings road in london’s chelsea district, this is where vivienne westwood got her start as a designer…the shop went through many incarnations and re-brands through the seventies from first being titled “Let It Rock”, then “Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die,” then “SEX”,then Seditionaries and finally became known as “World’s End”. World’s End remains open as part of vivienne westwood’s global fashion empire. malcolm mclaren went on to do many things including managing the sex pistol’s, making his own music and art and he’s also known for helping to popularize hip hop in the early 1980s…
one of my favorite vivienne westwood designs from her retrospective.
vivienne westwood and malcolm mclaren back in the day…
the sex pistols.
the commentary below came from an article in the new york times regarding the upcoming “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibition at the met.
“Still, for some punk originators the idea of leather and studs at the Met, with the imprimatur of Vogue, which co-sponsors the Costume Institute Ball, on May 6, is heresy.
“Getting these high-fashion designers, what does that have to do with punk?” said Legs McNeil, who was a founder of Punk magazine in 1975. “So rich people could go slumming? Come on, give me a break.”
It’s a “masturbatory fantasy for Anna Wintour and Vogue,” he added. “They always go and try to co-opt what they can’t own. They try to co-opt authenticity and turn it into something boring.” Debbie Harry, the enduring Blondie frontwoman who helped shape the downtown scene at CBGB in the 1970s alongside bands like the Ramones, Television and the New York Dolls, said the era’s style was deliberately transgressive. “We were definitely looking to be different,” she said, “to be not really fashionable, but to look very cool, to look rock ‘n’ roll.”
She made outfits of cinched garbage bags and pillowcases she found on the street. Her taste wasn’t always a hit.
“I almost got thrown off a bus once for wearing my underwear,” she recalled. “The bus driver screamed at me. I had on little orange satiny pink tap pants — they looked fantastic, but he was outraged that I was walking around in my skivvies. I remember using my bra as outerwear, and really getting a lot of bad looks.”
But, she added, “It just felt right. It looked hot.”
awesome. keep it alive yall.
debbie harry and anya phillips in the late 1970s
photo of blondie by chris stein
*quote #1 came from here
**quote #2 came from here