Monday, July 22, 2019

198. “...put into a museum } rock & roll is over.”

Amusing sequence in documentary Westwood: Punk. Icon. Activist. Vivienne Westwood is reluctant to talk about Sex Pistols.

Cut to: Ext. Day. Victoria & Albert Museum.

Cut to: Int. Victoria & Albert Museum (textiles archive).

[Classical-ish music in background.]

Archivists wheel a cart of clothes to “The Clothworkers’ Centre”; place clothes on tables. They wear white gloves. Carefully unfold “Destroy” muslin shirt.

Voice over, Clair Wilcox, senior curator: …it’s one of the most important pieces Westwood and McLaren created.

Cut to: Clair Wilcox, tenderly touching “Destroy” shirt.

Clair Wilcox: The sleeves are very long and they fold back and then this would clip onto here so making it, um, more wearable, but the notion of distortion, the sleeves reminds one a little bit of a straitjacket.

Cut to: photo of Johnny Rotten wearing “Destroy” shirt.

Clair Wilcox: But it’s really all about the imagery so here you’ve got a swastika, an inverted crucifix, the word “destroy,” and then lyrics from the Sex Pistols, “I am an antichrist.” And what Westwood and McLaren were doing with these punk garments was “confronting society.”

Cut to: photo of Westwood in “Destroy” t-shirt.

Vivienne says, “We invented punk” [that is, she and McLaren].

I love John Lydon, love post-Pistols P.I.L. (1978 – 86), but his antics did get stagnant—Westwood says, “…and he hasn’t changed, from being that phenomenon, unfortunately, he should have changed to something else by now.” Hard to be an iconoclast icon—what change it would require to smash that icon!

To her credit, Westwood later observes: “We wanted to undermine the establishment. The swastika, all these things, meant we don’t accept the values of this older generation. We hate it we want to destroy it don’t want it. We were youth against age, that’s what it was. But, it had affected fashion such a lot. The hairstyles, even, my spikey hair, was in Vogue one month later. And I realized that we weren’t really attacking the system at all. It was being marketed all the time. I just realized that the real marketing opportunity was that the English society could claim how democratic and how free they were that somehow kids could revolt as much as that. We weren’t attacking the establishment. We were part of the distraction.”

Kate Moss coda

Vivienne Westwood [while she works at a top with an assistant]: “I think it’s going to look great. I’m going to put it on Kate Moss. [Cut to: Kate Moss, smiling.] She’ll look lovely in it.

Kate Moss: Those shows, they were so outrageous. You know, champagne is flowing, and we’d go out naked with lollipops [Cut to: topless Kate Moss on runway, circa 1994, eating a popsicle] and [Cut to: Kate Moss, circa 2014, in a shop (her shop?)] you know, just outrageous, but, but really glamorous at the same time. They were the ones who were [gasps] my god, so exciting.

Kate Moss: She’s a rebel isn’t she though, which attracts me [Cut to: Kate Moss, circa 1994], coming from Croydon we wanted to get out and she was, like, our queen.

Kate Moss: I remember the shows but I can’t remember which one; we were backstage and she said, “Kate, you know I’ve never been into girls, I could’ve got into you and then like hugged me she was like, I could have been her only lesbian lover [Kate Moss fist pumps] ka-ching!

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