Sex and Punk: Malcolm McLaren’s London boutique legacy

12 04 2010

Sex Pistol‘s manager, creator of Punk, HipHopper and fashion paradigm-shifter Malcolm McLaren died last week, causing the music, fashion and pop culture worlds to examine McLaren’s  significance not only as a man and a major music game-changer, but also relating words to him like legacy and icon.

I know jack about punk, I pretty much think the Sex Pistols ruled but challenge me to actually name more than a few songs and I am all punk poser.

My great friend Hellafied is a punk trivia pro, and when she visited last October, we trudged all the way up the King’s Road to number 430 to catch a glimpse of the former Sex boutique run by McLaren and his then school-teacher girlfriend and not-yet-Dame Vivienne Westwood.  McLaren started working in the shop, originally called Paradise Garage, with his buddy Patrick Casey back when Paradise sold 1950’s memorabilia, rock-n-roll vinyl, and 50s mags. They renamed the place Let It Rock upon becoming full owners, and started stocking Teddy Boy outfits. I know a bit about Mods and Rockers (my no-budget MA rockumentary here), but punk and Teddy Boys are the bookends about which I know close to squat. Together, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren rebranded and re-opened their tiny yet internationally known boutique, calling it, simply, Sex – marked by the 4ft high pink foam S-E-X letters outside.

Sex sold fetish and bondage gear, as well as the leather styles that became the origins of punk style. ‘Sex’ was sold, re-branded, and eventually fizzled out of business in 1980, long after McLaren, Westwood, the Sex Pistols and the Punk movement became main figures on the world’s pop culture stage.

Sex might be closed, and now Mr McLaren has passed but now-Dame Vivienne Westwood’s star rises ever higher both in the UK and internationally, and if its shopping you’re after, visit the Vivienne Westwood shop on Conduit Street in Mayfair. She has many other shops as well, has a fully-packed online shop, and has fingers in everything from the latest Enchanted Palace exhibit at Kensington Palace to committed campaigning against global warming.

Dame Westwood's dress @ Enchanted Palace exhibit

While Vivienne has gone global, it is her and Malcom’s son, Joseph Corre, who has retained the  ‘punk’ tradition with the shop he co-owns in Shoreditch on Great Eastern Street, A Child of Jago.  Of course, Corre is a successful businessman in his own right, having founded the uber-successful lingerie company Agent Provocateur in 1994 with his then-wife Serena Rees.

After building what can only be called a lingerie empire, the pair split in 2007, and Corre started ACoJ with his new business partner Simon Armitage. 2007 is also the year that Joseph Corre was awarded the MBE by The Queen for his service to the fashion industry. While mom Vivienne had already accepted the Dame title, Corre rejected the ‘honor’ in protest to Tony Blair’s actions in Iraq and what Corre saw as movements against civil liberties in the UK.  That’s straight up punk.




4 responses

13 04 2010

Malcom McLaren died?!? Holy crap…I really am out of the loop. Wow. Sad day for punk history afficianados everywhere. What an icon.

13 04 2010

I actually didn’t realise just how much he did – the more I read about him the more fascinated I am by him. Malcolm McLaren brought HipHop to the UK according to some – who’da thought?!

Thanks for taking us to the old SEX shop though, Gates. Was a great way for a non-punker like me to connect to a global phenomenon that I wouldn’t have had any connection to otherwise!

25 05 2010
3 07 2010
hot lingerie

Shoot, He dead! How I could miss this! It was at 8 of Apr. Thanks for post, not for news.

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