Malcolm McLaren

As much as he may at first appear to be an unlikely kind of hero of mine I cite this man as being one of the most important figures in the world of music and fashion in the 2ndhalf of the 20th century.

The man here is Malcolm McLaren. And there is one primary message that sings out from Mclarens career; Music sells fashion and fashion sells music.
Mclaren outside Sex 1976
Malcolm McLaren today is probably best known for two things being the long term parter of Vivienne Westwood and also for being the manager of the sex pistols, although he infact did much more to change the shape of fashion and music.

Two amazing pics of Vivienne and Malcolm in 1971. They are sat in the shop at 430 Kings road when it was “Let it Rock”. Note the 1950s cabinet in the background- At this time they were selling a large amount of 1950s clothing and memorabilia, interested in the teenage rebellion of the time.

McLaren and Westwood were more than a couple. They were in fact a brilliant business team, and I think it is often forgotten that Mclaren was as much a part of early Vivienne Westwood (up to around 1983) as Westwood was herself. McLaren often pushed Westwoods creativity and he was a complete “ideas” man. Nothing was too crude or too controversial in his mind. Although, as he often said post his collaborative work with Westwood despite the punk asethic; ripped, torn, worn of what they were doing the pieces were often beautifully made with the highest quality fabrics used. Early pieces from let it rock were handstitched, and there was a certain craft, bricolage element to what they did. It is interesting to note that some of Westwood’s least successful collections were those in the first years after hers and McLarens partnership ceased, which really shows the power he had over her designs.
McLaren in 1976- John Tibieri
This is one of the most controversial garments produced by Westwood and one which she was actually against. McLaren claimed it was “ok” as he was Jewish.

Westwood in the destroy t-shirt (1977) and McLaren at his Bar Mitzvah
Two of my all time favourite pictures of the couple in 1981. I’m never sure why i love these two pictures so much. They look so relaxed at ease, and almost like a normal couple.
One of the things McLaren was so great at was branding, and creating the “image”. Supposedly he created the sex pistols in order to sell more of his and Vivienne’s t-shirts in their shop Sex/ Seditionaries (the sex pistols period saw an overlap of the two shops). Sex pistols contrary to their rebellious aesthetic were in reality one of the first “manufactured bands. The members all hung out at the shop ran by McLaren and Westwood at 430 Kings road, and Johnny Rotten was recruited to become part of the band after being spotted sporting green hair and torn clothing.
McLaren suggested that the sex pistols (despite a number of hugely influential singles) were simply a publicity stunt, and most of the things they did were for effect. Notably, their signing of a record contract in 1977 outside Buckingham palace.
I’m always intrigued that in 9 out of 10 cases the policeman is cut out of this image. Maybe in an attempt to seem that the Sex pistols act of signing their contract outside the palace was more rebellious than it infact was?

McLaren and Westwood in 1977. Westwood sports a God save the Queen t-shirt and bondage trousers.
The sex pistols were not McLarens only musical triumph, he also managed Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow and provided stage costumes for the New York Dolls. Bow Wow Wow, helped to really promote the New Romantic aesthetic and again it has since been said that the brand only existed in order to promote Vivienne’s clothes. There are some wonderful images of lead singer Annabella Lwin in Vivienne Westwood clothing- mostly from the pirate collection of  1981.

Annabella Lwin 1981 and 1982
McLaren is also often credited with helping to bring hip hop to a wider audience in the UK with the group the world famous supreme team. I highly recommed a watch of the viedeo for the song “buffalo gals” which sees a group of girls in the background dancing in Vivienne Westwood’s 1982/83 collection Nostalgia of mud (also known as buffalo girls).  Demonstrating yet again McLaren’s ability to use music to sell fashion.
McLaren with models and the World famous supreme team in 1983
Post musical career though McLaren continued to influence. When watching many a mainstream programme on fashion history McLaren often pops up (partly I believe because he is such an enigmatic speaker). I highly recommend the series Undressed: fashion in the twentieth century In which he speaks exstenively about fashion history (1998).
I’ll leave you with a few particularly insightful quotes from McLaren

“I have been called many things: a charlatan, a con man, or, most flatteringly, the culprit responsible for turning British popular culture into nothing more than a cheap marketing gimmick. This is my chance to prove that these accusations are true.”

“My intention was to fail in business, but to fail as brilliantly as possible. And only if I failed in a truly fabulous fashion would I ever have the chance of succeeding.”

Some of this weeks vintage ebay highlights

Hello all!

Just sharing a few highlights of what is available on my ebay at the moment (seeing I adore everything I am selling this is incredibly difficult). This is a selection of items from both mine and Naomi’s collections read more here

First off a few items ending on wednesday, not long left on these! 

Stunning 1930s full length evening dress with huge puffed sleeves. This is a true glamourous 30s piece if there ever was one

Find the ebay listing here

Absolutely adorable little cream blouse. I have a few of these at the moment. They are ace for wearing with bold bright skirts. A real staple piece, and all of the white ones I have are in great condition (i’ve got some more 50s ones in pale blue and pale mint coming up too)

Find the ebay listing here

Amazing black velvet jacket with contrast gold satin bow and cuffs. The details on this are so fabulous. If i was that way minded (and not a lazy sewer) I would so take a pattern from this and make a new garment with sleeves like this. Just lovely!

Find the ebay listing here

I also have some sensational 50s pieces (there are LOTS more to come on this front)

This 50s skirt has to have one of the best ever novelty prints.

Find the ebay listing here

And this 50s dress is super special. It is a little different from the typical 50s dress with its slightly drop waisted design and strip of green fabric on the bodice. I also like the fact it is green, i tend to find that this is a colour you dont see so often with 50s dresses (not sure why but whilst I regularly come across pink and blue numbers green seem not to be so common)

Find the ebay listing here

And, I’m a sucker for a good swimsuit. This gorgeous one is DEADSTOCK. I will have a few more stunning swimsuits like this coming up shortly.

Find the ebay listing here

This week i even have two fabulous plus size vintage dresses listed (i think they are both around a size 18-20). I am hoping to have some more similar larger dresses shortly, so keep a look out!

Find the ebay listing here

See all of my current auctions here

Keep a watch out Horrockses fans. I’m listing four next week!

The misuse of the term "Curator"

Stephen Calloway. Curator- Victoria and Albert Museum

As someone who has a fascination with the English language I find it incredibly interesting how the meaning and usage of words changes over time. Unfortunately in some case this can lead to a feeling that words come to be completely misused. I’ve already mentioned on here about the misuse (in my mind) of the term designer; Used to suggest someone had designed a collection when they have not. Another of my bugbears is a misuse of the term vintage, which now seems to have completely lost its meaning. Although, my biggest annoyance, as the title of this piece suggests is the misuse of the term curator.
I will begin with a dictionary definition

\ˈkyu̇r-ˌā-tər, kyu̇-ˈrā-, ˈkyu̇r-ə-\

Definition of CURATOR
: one who has the care and superintendence of something;especially : one in charge of a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibit
The term “cura” (latin) means to care for. A curator by definition is a carer of collections.
Now it would seem a curator is simply someone who “selects”, especially in the social media sense of the word.
This latin origin suggest most of my problems with the misuse of the term curate. Curation is not simply selection but also (perhaps more importantly) is CARE. In the museum setting this of particular importance as evidently museum objects are valuable  (from a monetary and social history viewpoint) and must be cared for appropriately.
I’ve seen numerous shops described as “carefully curated”, which I feel is something of a misnomer and indicates that the person using the term does not understand its meaning, as by the words definition a curator IS a carer.
I think this has to be the BEST quote on the topic:
 “Harold Koda runs the Costume Institute at the Met, so he’s allowed to describe himself as a curator—it’s his professional title. For everyone else, though, it’s just a highbrow way of saying “one who picks things out,” which describes all style bloggers, retail buyers, and people who get dressed in the morning.
Now, as someone who wants to BE a curator I get angry. This is because I feel it diminishes the role an actual curator plays. I intend to complete an MA and possibly a PHD before I would even be considered as a curatorial assistant let alone a curator. The role of the curator is a challenging one, often caught up n bureaucracy of the museum world and also a considerably amount of trouble in ascertaining whether items are suitable or not for display.
The curator is a beacon for the public to not only look after items for them, so that they can see them, but also to educate. This complicated role of the curator suggests why simply selecting a few things (for example on a pintrest board) and suggesting it is “curated” irritates me so much.
But onto an interesting point here, the rise (and  the importance of) social media. Now we need to find new ways to “define” what we do. The only problem is that by doing this we diminish the roles of what people actually do.
Often, unfortunately I believe this misuse of the word curator suggests an over inflated belief of self importance, and trying to make whatever said person is doing sound more grandiose than it actually is. I think a more appropriate word in most senses is that a person in a social media sense is often an editor, or a selector.
My annoyance not only relates to the words misuse in the online world, but also in the real world. A key example being Wayne Hemingway’s doomed vintage festival which had areas “curated” by different people. I find this ever so slightly less irritating than the words use in a social media sense, possibly because I can see a level of care that would need to go into doing this. Although still this diminishes the importance of the work of the curator. Again though it is the egoistical personality suggested of the person who describes themselves in this way that immediately put me off. This suggests curator merely as a buzzword, and related more with fashionable trends rather than history and care as it should be.
I’d be interested to know what others feel about this use of the word curate. In a social media sense would you describe yourself as a “curator”. Or like me do you see it as a sacred world associated with museums professionals?

Essential further reading: