This is the first time these photographs – taken inside London’s legendary glam boutique Alkasura – have been published since they appeared in a Japanese fashion magazine in 1970.
Images of Alkasura – which was situated at 304 King’s Road from 1969 to the death of owner John Lloyd in the mid-70s – are rare, even though its clientele included Marc Bolan, Rod Stewart, Todd Rundgren and many other rock superstars of the day as well as the likes of the then-unknown Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones and future member of The Clash Mick Jones.
Lloyd was previously partnered with Paul Reeves in Alkasura Wholesale, whose designs were sold through a variety of outlets. When the decision was made to go into retail, Lloyd kept the name and Reeves opened his own successful boutique, The Universal Witness, in neighbouring Fulham Road.
Lloyd’s vivid colour schemes and overprinted velvet, satins and silks chimed with the developing glam look in the early 70s, and his friendship with Bolan and other King’s Road characters such as Chelita Secunda, Ossie Clark and Trevor Myles sealed his reputation as a leading player.
Fellow King’s Road retailer Malcolm McLaren recalled Lloyd as a benevolent presence. “John encouraged me to go to the National Boutique Show in New York, which is how Vivienne (Westwood), Gerry (Goldstein) and I ended up taking a room at the McAlpine Hotel to showcase Let It Rock in August 1973,” the late McLaren told me in the 00s.
But Lloyd was a troubled character blighted by premature baldness while still a teenager. As the 70s wore on, and the popularity of glam faded, he sought solace in increasingly abstruse religious quests; early indications of that preoccupation – a church figure of the Madonna and child and other Christian artefacts – feature in the Alkasura retail displays in these Japanese photographs.
In fact the religious mania took hold to such an extent that Lloyd later installed church doors and a font inside Alkasura, and took to stalking the King’s Road in a monk’s habit.
And his tragic demise was recorded by Clark in his diary entry for November 19, 1975:
“Suzie [sic] Menkes [then fashion writer at The Times, latterly International Herald Tribune doyenne] phoned re JL’s death. Apparently he thought he was possessed by the devil, poured petrol over himself on a building site after saying there was no love in the world, and burnt to death.”
These days Lloyd’s label’s clothing is the byword for a flamboyant strand of glam, as modeled here by Todd Rundgren in the film made for his 1974 track An Elpee’s Worth Of Tunes: