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Westernwear, Badlands And London Street Style In The Early To Mid 1970s

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Clockwise from top left: Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen, Badlands, 1973; Arnella Goes Rodeo, West One, 1974; Malcolm McLaren, January 1972; clothes from The Emperor Of Wyoming, 1973

Clockwise from top left: Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen, Badlands, 1973; Arnella Goes Rodeo, West One, 1974; Malcolm McLaren, January 1972; clothes from The Emperor Of Wyoming, 1973

 

A fashion shoot styled by Pru Walters and photographed by Karl Stoecker for a 1974 issue of Janet Street-Porter’s secretarial magazine West One foregrounds the importance of Westernwear to London street style in the early to mid-70s.

 

West One, May 14, 1974, p14: Fringed blouse from Kweens, 109 King's Road; shorts Stirling Cooper; boots + hat The Emperor of Wyoming, 404 King's Road

West One, May 14, 1974, p14: Fringed blouse from Kweens, 109 King’s Road; shorts Stirling Cooper; boots + hat The Emperor of Wyoming, 404 King’s Road

 

P15: Shirt, The Emperor Of Wyoming; boots The Westerner, 170 King's Road; skirt Joseph, 33 King's Road; gun belt, whip, tie The Emperor Of Wyoming

 

P16: Black and red suit, Kweens; boots Let It Rock, 430 King's Road; hat The Westerner; bag The Emperor Of Wyoming

P16: Black and red suit, Kweens; boots Let It Rock, 430 King’s Road; hat The Westerner; bag The Emperor Of Wyoming

 

P17: Blouse Mr Freedom 65 King's Road; Jeans with piping + pumps Let It Rock; hat The Westerner

P17: Blouse Mr Freedom 65 King’s Road; Jeans with piping + pumps Let It Rock; hat The Westerner

 

The received history of street fashion in that period tracks the transition out of glam and into punk via rocker apparel, fetish-wear and demob suits, yet the role of the stylised Western look is harshly underestimated.

At the time visual stimulus was provided by Martin Sheen’s rebel cool in Terrence Malick’s towering film Badlands (about the murderous spree conducted across Nebraska in 1958 by teens Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Caril Fugate).

 

Spacek and Sheen in Badlands

Spacek and Sheen in Badlands

Sheen in one of the film's closing scenes

Sheen in one of the film’s closing scenes

Caril Fugate and Charles Starkweather, 1958

Caril Fugate and Charles Starkweather, 1958

In London, the look of rural white America had been explored in the 60s by such boutiques as John Michael Ingram’s The Westerner. Malcolm McLaren provided an English street edge at the beginning of the next decade by assimilating Westernwear at Let It Rock and simultaneously referencing appropriation by such homegrown bad-boy rockers as Johnny Kidd.

One of McLaren’s World’s End neighbours Billy Murphy sourced authentic garments with curatorial care for his store The Emperor Of Wyoming, and by the time Malick’s movie was reviewed in the New York Times and The New Yorker (where it was famously panned by Pauline Kael), the sharply attuned Janet Street Porter had cottoned on sufficiently to commission the West One feature.


Malcolm McLaren displays Anello & Davide Winged Western boots, Let It Rock, January 1972

Malcolm McLaren displays Anello & Davide Winged Western boots, Let It Rock, January 1972

Previously unpublished shot of model in The Emperor Of Wyoming embroidered shirt, Stetson, belt and tie for Club International, spring 1973

Previously unpublished shot of model in The Emperor Of Wyoming embroidered shirt, Stetson, belt and tie for Club International, spring 1973

Read Stephen Farber’s review of Badlands in the New York Times April 28, 1974 here.

Marco Pirroni talks about his Winged Western boots on THE LOOK blog.

See here for an account of the trials of Fugate and Starkweather.

  • Fred Johansen

    Just reject photos with the arrogant and annoying copyright watermarks. Shove your photos up your arse Paul Gorman Archive.