Foreground: Mobile featuring portrait of Malcolm McLaren in Central Park, NYC, 1975 by Bob Gruen. In the background the 12m-long Let It Rock installation. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate
McLaren’s Buffalo sheepskin with Witches multi-tongued shoes contributed by designer Kim Jones. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate
Outfits float in the air, from left: Pirate waistcoat and dress worn by Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow in performance; Let It Rock shawl collared blouse and circle skirt; Nostalgia Of Mud wool toga dress with Folkways print. Malcolm McLaren Estate, Kim Jones Collection, private collection
The response to my August 2014 Malcolm McLaren exhibition Let It Rock has been very encouraging; here are some images which hopefully give an idea of the show’s impact.
Running for four days at Copenhagen’s Bella Center as part of the Danish city’s international fashion fair CIFF, the show – curated by me and Young Kim of the MM Estate – focused on the late cultural iconoclast’s engagement with fashion with Vivienne Westwood in the 70s and 80s.
We have received favourable press, with particular praise from the FT’s Charlie Porter, who wrote that the hang of the garments was “exceptional”. Meanwhile style blogger Susie Bubble described the exhibition – full title Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion – as “incredibly detailed and well put together”.
Young Kim in jacquard Keith Haring print Witches two piece and multi-tongued sneakers. All clothes from Kim Jones coillection. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren estate
Fans belt buckles with Fans press statement. Sources: Malcolm McLaren Estate and private collection
Press invite and showcard for the sixth catwalk collection designed by McLaren and Vivienne Westwood: Worlds End 1984, later Hypnos. The partnership was dissolved in March 1984. Malcolm McLaren Archive
ROCK! Marco Pirroni’s Let It Rock ties/
We designed the show centrepiece: an imposing black corrugated iron-clad 12-metre long tunnel installation celebrating McLaren’s first shop, Let It Rock. Among the exhibits inside were previously unpublished photographs of the shop interior taken by the late David Parkinson and an original shop price list owned by McLaren. A bespoke soundtrack blared music as featured on the jukebox at 430 King’s Road as well as personal favourites of McLaren’s, from Burundi Black by the Drummers Of Burundi to Cast Iron Arm by Peanuts Wilson and Hallelujah I’m A Bum by Harry “Mac” McLintock.
McLaren’s framed copy of the LIR price list he designed in 1972. Malcolm McLaren Estate
January 1972. Photo: David Parkinson
Tracklisting for songs played in the installation
The show was subdivided into six areas each dedicated to a manifestation of the outlets McLaren operated with Westwood. These were signposted by 60 x 40″ photographic blow-ups of the exteriors we commissioned to be printed on canvas to add dimension and presence.
Let It Rock exterior with McLaren in foreground, 1972.
Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die with McLaren and Gerry Goldstein in foreground, 1973. Photo: Malcolm McLaren Estate. Printed on canvas 60 x 40
Seditionaries frontage, 1976. Photo: Ben Kelly. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″
Worlds End frontage, 1981, photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 60 x 40″. Left: Marco Pirroni’s Let It Rock drape suit
Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982. Photo: Sheila Rock. Printed on canvas 40 x 60″
With text panels explaining exhibits in McLaren’s own words, each section also featured photographic mobiles suspended from the ceiling and Perspex-topped vitrines containing original garments, photography, notebooks, sketches and ephemera.
Customer deposit receipt, Sex, 1976. Signed by shop assistant Michael Collins. Paul Burgess Collection
Pages from McLaren’s 1976 notebook. Paul Burgess Collection
McLaren’s handwritten Nostalgia Of Mud press release for Vivienne Westwood; her version in her own handwriting. Photo: Jean Francois Carly (c) Malcolm McLaren Estate
One area of the show was dedicated to 10 outfits reflecting the span of the designs from Let It Rock to Nostalgia Of Mud. Our solution to the ticklish problem of how clothes are presented in exhibitions was to fly these from the ceiling between sheets of Perspex, and we made a selection from the Estate archive as well as contributions by the likes of Louis Vuitton’s style director Kim Jones and guitarist/songwriter Marco Pirroni.
Nylon top, Sex, 1976. Peg trousers, Let It Rock, 1974. Kim Jones Collection
God Save The Queen Muslin top, Seditionaries, 1977. McLaren’s bondage trousers, Sex, 1976. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection
Witches jacquard two piece and scarf with Haring print. Kim Jones Collection
In the projection room visitors viewed moving images associated with McLaren, from rare film of the catwalk shows he conducted with Westwood in the early 80s to video clips for his hits such as Buffalo Gals and Soweto.
Marco Pirroni’s print pirate boots, Worlds End, 1981. Top worn by Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow in performance and subsequently dyed. Private collection
Savages Navajo print dress with McLaren’s annotated copy of Indian Rawhide. Both private collection
Invitation to Witches collection show, Folkways top, Dances Of The World’s People. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection
Two rubber bracelets deisgned by Tom Binns for Worlds End S/S 1984 with Hobo-Punkature top and Worlds End 1984 invite. Malcolm McLaren Estate/private collection
Document confirming the dissolution of the design partnership between McLaren and Westwood, March 1984. It is important to note that McLaren did not relinquish authorship over the works they produced together
The final exhibit: Buffalo hat and McLaren’s Chico hat. Kim Jones Collection/Malcolm McLaren Estate.
Many visitors told us they were bowled over by the show; now we are working on another McLaren exhibition as part of Art In Pop at Le Magasin in Grenoble, France, this autumn. This will encompass McLaren’s creative output from his art-school days through his careers in fashion, music and film to his final works as a visual artist. I’ll keep you informed; it runs from October to January next year.
Follow these links for media coverage of Let It Rock:
Charlie Porter – At the Malcolm McLaren show in Copenhagen, the hang of the garments is exceptional
W Magazine – Celebrating the fashionable life of the late punk pioneer
Style Bubble – Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion
GQ – Four ways Malcolm McLaren revolutionised the style scene
Thanks go to CIFF fashion/design director Kristian Andersen and creative directors Pierre Tzenkoff + Arnaud Vanraet for their foresight in commissioning this show, and also to the exhibition architect, the talented Jean-Christophe Aumas and his excellent team of builders, particularly Annette, Henning + Stefan.