Dressed To Kill

Punk Fashion

Acme's accountant was Andy Czezowski. skinny ties and tab-collared shirts for modernists. who would manage The Damned and launch punk's first venue. SEX. Another frequent visitor was Bob Marley. Tony James. Big Smith painter's jeans and plastic sandals for wedge-haired soul-boys. Its owners. Steph Raynor and John Krevine. it was about multiculturalism. attracted not only by the availability of spliff but also the charms of Jeanette Lee. Those two shops were Acme Attractions at 135. Sid Vicious. and managed early punk band Chelsea. an attitude. It reflected the way London was going. attitude. the legendary Roxy. Jon Savage and Patti Smith. who would join Flowers Of Romance-era PiL and much later steer the career of Jarvis Cocker as Pulp's manager. '50s peg slacks and "Tommy Steele" jackets for retrostylists.Virtually every element of punk's style. a lifestyle. the gorgeous. Peter Sellers and Elton John. Mick Jones." Among those who teetered down Acme's steep staircase to the rhythms of Dreadlock Dread and MPLA were John Lydon. "Acme was more than a shop. Roxy DJ." says Letts. Billy Idol. subversive politics. In the '60s this site had been hippie magnet Hung On You and later Mr Freedom. situated at the most westerly point. permanently mini-skirted Jeanette Lee. BAD member and then-boyfriend of the other assistant. where Tommy Roberts sold pop-art fashion to such customers as Mick Jagger. it was a club. award-winning filmmaker. World's End. But who was that cool guy in a leopard skin waistcoat. Acme's inclusive nature was reflected in its range: '60s suits. musical tastes and even personnel emanated from two tiny and peculiar clothes shops on Chelsea's King's Road. a forum for talent. opened the first high-street punk store. at number 430. dreads and shades wreathed in a haze of weed and sternumshuddering dub at Acme's counter? Don Letts. Acme’s atmosphere was at odds with the hard-edged environment of SEX. BOY. and. and Brighton Beach Riot and John Wayne Gacy T-shirts and plastic trousers for punk's spiky-haired first wave. . "I can honestly say that Acme was the happiest time of my life. fluffy jumpers. in the basement of Chelsea Antique Market.

dyed hairstyle which is believed to have made an impact on early visitor David Bowie." Roberts proved to be something of a mentor. fluffy jumper and a spiky. His stewardship of Ian Dury's Kilburn & The High Roads provided a blueprint for managing the Sex Pistols. purchased a pair of quilt-topped D-ring blue suede brothel creepers at Mr Freedom. Americana outlet Paradise Garage. In November McLaren. but in 1971 Roberts drew McLaren's attention to the fact that the latest incarnation of 430. Westwood and friend Patrick Casey deposed Roberts' former partner Trevor Miles and installed themselves in the back room of the shop as Let It Rock. perennial art student Malcolm McLaren and sometime supply teacher Vivienne Westwood. One day McLaren. "Those shoes were probably the most important things I ever bought. It was a symbolic act to wear them. then Malcolm Edwards. Early pictures show McLaren dressed head-to-toe in Ted garb while Westwood sports lurex pedal pushers. . was faltering in a mist of debt and drug-associated business problems.Among Roberts' regulars were a penurious couple. then planning a new look to complement his forthcoming album The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars.

Decked out in the style of a '50s suburban sitting room complete with jukebox. By the summer of 1974. the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Lou Reed. Over the shop front. Among the strangest creations was the tee with VENUS spelt out on the front in studs and tiny rubber tyres over the shoulders. Let It Rock soon engulfed the entire store. the restless McLaren had experienced Manhattan's sleazy underbelly as de facto manager of the rapidly disintegrating New York Dolls. four-foot high pink rubber letters spelt out SEX and were sprayed with 17th-century clergyman Thomas Fullers dictum: "Craft must have clothes but truth loves to go naked. Now it was called Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die. "It was like entering the set of a B-movie. which were also festooned with horsehair. McLaren describes the shift from art study to fashion as "like jumping into the musical end of painting"." Inside. McLaren and Westwood had tired of the innate conservatism of their neo-Edwardian clientele and refashioned 430 in homage to Britain's early '60s "ton-up" boys. while other customers who also took to the ready-made stage wear included the New York Dolls. the militant feminist who shot Andy Warhol.Selling Teddy Boy jackets. rubber and leather costumes and outrageous T-shirts hung from gym exercise bars while the rubber-draped walls and ceiling were peppered with quotes from the SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) manifesto as set out by Valerie Solonas. while the nipples were covered by peephole zips. Fired by his experiences he reopened 430 as a fetish and bondage outlet. . when Saturday boy Glen Matlock started to talk to shop regulars Paul Cook and Steve Jones about forming a band. There were also Situationist aphorisms. One of these was bought by Alice Cooper during his first British tour. including the question: "Does passion end in fashion?" inscribed by 430 acolyte Bernie Rhodes who later suggested "Passion is a fashion" for a militaristic shirt worn by his charge Joe Strummer. one Charles Saatchi). Within 18 months. straight and narrow-cuffed trousers run up by Westwood and original '50s records (which were snapped up by an avid youthful collector. there were old Teds. Another featured the letters R-O-C-K in bleached chicken bones purloined from a local takeaway. with studs 'n' chains biker jackets. dwarfs and generally disfigured people hanging around. the pervy lingerie. custom-made zoot suits and black sleeveless T-shirts emblazoned with motorbike insignia and slogans. Iggy Pop." says Raynor.

the openly gay Alan Jones and the extraordinary Jordan. With a grey industrial carpet." As the clientele coalesced around the Sex Pistols. Wearing a grubby white shirt which bore the words "Be Reasonable Demand The Impossible". the shock-haired. Chris Sullivan. . who later designed The Hacienda. who settled on their line-up in September 1975 and played their first gig two months later. then working for short-lived music mag Street Life: "I think kids have a hankering to be part of a movement that's hard and tough and in the open. Boy George. Having constructed the laboratory from which punk would spring. The new name was etched onto a small brass plaque fixed on the anonymous. Steve Strange and Siobhan Fahey. while inside all was postapocalyptic courtesy of David Connors and Ben Kelly.The shop assistants included Chrissie Hynde (a struggling musician who had not long given up her job as an NME scribe). he told tabloid hack Rick Sky. rubber-stockinged fashion plate who would later star in the film Jubilee and manage Adam & The Ants. yet the popularity of punk meant that it now had crowds of kids there. while the customers ranged from the Bromley Contingent and Mick Jones to the generation who became movers and shakers in the '80s pop world: Adam Ant. Shopping at 430 had always been a forbidding. who became another assistant. McLaren and Westwood's pathological contrariness was underlined when another facelift in December 1976 unveiled 430 as Seditionaries: Clothes For Heroes. It lent the shop a siege atmosphere as the Pistols were physically attacked on the street and banned from playing live. McLaren displayed the firmness of his grip on pop culture’s pulse in the early summer of 1975. like the clothes we're selling here. Jagged holes were poked into the ceiling. but also Sid Vicious. frosted glass exterior. so punk's protagonists came into focus: not just Hynde and Jordan. the walls displayed a giant upturned view of Piccadilly Circus as well as images of bombed-out Dresden. and the frontage was often kicked in and /or sprayed with graffiti. almost antiretail experience. It was also the first place Nancy Spungen sought out on her arrival in the UK. through which blinding arc lights shone.

By now BOY had opened at 153 King's Road. in nearby Beaufort Market X-Ray Spex's Poly Styrene. The Olde Curiosity Shoppe and 18thCentury galleons. Alice In Wonderland." And what an idea . peddling zippered. . "In the shop's various incarnations I made clothes that looked like ruins. As they moved into New Romanticism. burnt and torn versions of Seditionaries gear. this was fashion as an idea. Destroy muslins and tartan bondage trousers are for sale in shops from Trash & Vaudeville on St Mark's Place to Rellik in Golborne Road. Banshees manager Nils Stevenson and rock 'n' roll fashionista Lloyd Johnson all operated punk stalls. This wasn't fashion as a commodity. from Miss Selfridge to the classified pages of the music press. These days knock-off Cowboys T-shirts. and similar shops proliferated." McLaren wrote in his foreword to my book The Look. giving the designer Roger Burton a brief which drew on The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari. Westwood & McLaren refashioned 430 once more as World's End (which it remains to this day). though neither Westwood nor McLaren has ever shown the slightest inclination in claiming copyright infringement to what is now a worldwide multi-million pound trade in their astounding designs.so revolutionary that it continues to reverberate today. while Boy George was selling winkle pickers at Shades in Chelsea Antiques Market. "punk" clothes became available to all. "I created something new by destroying the old.

" Drawing on the Jackson Pollock paint spatters which were the band's first look. with zips replacing the paint lines. peddled bomber jackets on the King's Road and helped out with ideas at SEX." Michon says that Rhodes' overriding instruction was: 'There's going to be a lot of fighting in the streets.who dominated the media image of the new movement . . who had witnessed not only early Sex Pistols but also The Clash's performance at the Royal College of Art in 1976. now an artist at Hackney gallery Transition. "Bernard had met someone I knew and said that he wanted to start making clothes for the boys” says Michon. Clash manager Bernie Rhodes realised that visual style would become a major factor in distinguishing the group from their rivals the Sex Pistols . He liked it and we were hired. "I leapt at the chance. hob-nobbed with John Pearse of Granny Takes A Trip fame. having been a top mod. Enter Nottingham art student Alex Michon.As 1977 dawned. Eastender Rhodes had strong fashion sensibilities. He'd scrawled this drawing of a jacket on a piece of paper and I made it with Christina Kolowska [later at fashion house Michiko Koshino].and the also-rans. We're gonna need clothes which are tough and hard-wearing. Miction came up with hard-wearing militaristic outfits.

I want a new body. and that also became part of the style. from cowboys to rockabilly to the cavalry." Paul Simonon was the band member who participated most fully in the design process.'" . "I made a shirt for Joe and when I next saw it he'd stitched a ripped up photograph onto the front. One time Joe came in looking exhausted and I asked him whether he wanted a new shirt."Because I didn't really know what I was doing. which looked brilliant. because the clothes got so knackered on the road. "It was a fantastic time in my life. but Michon fondly recalls the way each adapted their clothes. refining the style and taking on board a range of influences. He said: 'No.” Michon worked with the Clash on and off throughout the life of the band. I over sewed everything." says Michon. She was also part of Rhodes' abortive venture into fashion retailing with the Upstarts label. "We all worked and lived together. feeding off each other's ideas.

but it's true. When it changed to Seditionaries I saved £30 and got £30 more off my Dad for a pair of red tartan bondage trousers. Then we'd parade down the King's Road. really goofy.Boy George My big line is: Anarchy In The UK became Avarice In the UK. dressed-up people. bead. . That's how I found out about SEX. I was too scared to go and talk to her so followed them at a safe distance. We used to sequin. dye. The clothes were so expensive and Jordan was intimidating. print and alter Oxfam clothes. stitch. I was already a Bowie freak going to London clubs and hanging out in the West End when I spotted Vivienne wandering around Soho trailing this troupe of strange. isn't it? At the beginning punk was really a fashion statement but it didn't take long for it to be about student politics and violence. My Mum said she could have bought a new suite for that money. though Sid was sweet when he worked there. looking in at Acme and daring each other to go into SEX.

it has the DIY ethic.Dad said he would give me the money as a cheque but refused to put "SEX" on the stub: "What would my accountant think?” When I got them home I persuaded my Mum to make four more pairs. We draw on the bondage clothes but merge them with sportswear. That felt odd because punk was always supposed to be about outsiders. I think Vivienne is still the queen of fashion but these days you can't just look unusual. . the black suede boots with that white strap. MTV and stylists are on the rampage and you can fool people more. I was really embarrassed when I told her my Mum had made them! Once I went into the shop in 1977 in a leather jacket I had studded with "Elvis" across the back. hoodies. One day Vivienne saw me wearing some made out of a Union Jack and got really suspicious. but soon I started wearing stuff halfway between Seditionaries and my Culture Club look. That's not what punk was about at all. and then you felt like an outsider from punk. I use punk slogans and imagery in my label B-Rude. but the safety pins are sequinned and look glamorous. You started to get a lot of animosity because punk had suddenly become straight pedestrian. a frilly blouse and a full face of make-up. She started having a go for being so backward-looking when all I was trying to do was point out how great he was. Only a few years before she had launched her career on rock 'n' roll iconography! I had loads of their gear: the Piss Marilyn T-shirt. One night I went to a gig in bondage trousers. add a CBGB Tshirt and there it is: fake cool. Put enough eyeliner on a boil-in-the-bag pop starlet. etc. That was enough to provoke somebody to pour a pint of blackcurrant and lager over my head.

02 .Some Product Top 10 Punk Garments 01 . . slogans such as "Only Anarchists Are Pretty". patch images of Mao or Marx. but their heftiness also granted a degree of protection. the thicksoled Teddy Boy shoes made by George Cox were what attracted Glen Matlock to the shop .Brothel Creepers A hangover from when 430 was as a '50s emporium. Strummer and Simonon wore them to reflect their respective rocker and thuggish demeanours. plastic pockets encasing nudie playing cards and armbands featuring swastikas or the encircled anarchy A. the Seditionaries classic featured vertical dyed strips. Not only did they provide provocation during 1977's Punk vs Ted wars.he had seen his hero Ronnie Lane of the Faces wearing a pair.Anarchy Shirt Created by Westwood after she noted shop assistant Jordan's home-bleached shirt.

03 .Mohair Jumper Rattily knitted. “There were piles of mohairs everywhere at £30 each: a week's wages in those days." 04 . but came in bright colours with holes and rips deliberately torn into them. these harked back to McLaren's days as a beatnik in the early '60s. Retailers such as the Northern-based X Clothes were knocking them out in the back pages of the NME.PVC Trousers The cheap-to-produce PVC keks launched at SEX were taken up by the rag trade as punk and new wave gear business boomed. . Proto-punk and future Dexys leader Kevin Rowland recalls a visit to SEX in October 1976.

" quoth Joe Strummer.Levi's When Let It Rock started selling straight-leg Levi's back in 1972 they made a statement about Britain's flared posthippy world. .Manifesto T-shirt Alongside the Vive Le Rock and Cowboys.05 . Yes. 06 . Elton John). "Like trousers. like brain. Jimi Hendrix) and shamed sacred cows (Bryan Ferry. this 1974 manifesto by Bernie Rhodes named objects of adoration (Eddie Cochran.

with added fetish elements: restrictive zips up the calves and thighs.Leather Jacket Originally sold as part of Too Fast To Live's ton-up collection. Still produced by Westwood and a thousand imitators around the world.07 . . and another from the pubis underneath the groin. 08 . worn today by the likes of Gwen Stefani. who was rarely seen out of his from late 76 until his demise two years later. Sid Vicious. the classic zip-fronted jacket as worn by The Ramones on the cover of their debut was made archetypal by their most famous fan.Bondage Trousers These were based on US marines' fatigues.

For more Punk E-books go to http://persons-unknown. 10 . the shirt was deliberately distressed and crudely stitched.blogspot.com . day-glo swastika and the postage stamp Queen's head.Wraparound Shades The '60s mod sunglasses which covered the pinned eyeballs of NY punks and junkies were sold in Acme Attractions and gave the likes of Don Letts.09 .Muslin Top Best exhibited in the version which featured the proclamation DESTROY over an inverted crucifix. with lyrics from God Save The Queen. Billy Idol and Chrissie Hynde an edgy urban cool which referenced Warhol's Factory set.

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