David Bowie, where is he now? Everywhere!

Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973 Photograph by Brian Duffy © Duffy Archive

We thought there was something in the air when we blogged back in July about Chloë Sevigny channelling a cocktail of vintage, 1970s David Bowie in Miu Miu’s autumn/winter 2012/13 campaign. Well how prescient of Miuccia Prada, because 2013 is turning out to be the year that Mr Bowie fell back to Earth. First there was the release of his first single in ten years, Where Are We Now?, on his birthday this month, with an album, The Next Day, to follow in March. Then there’s the much-awaited David Bowie Is retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (from 23 March). He’ll also be getting a look-in at Tate Liverpool’s forthcoming Glam! The Performance of Style exhibition (from 8 February), which celebrates the style and sensibility of the early-70s movement and its influence on fine art and pop culture.

Bowie in a Kansai Yamamoto confection in 1973

Bowie in a Kansai Yamamoto confection in 1973

Bowie was, of course, Glam’s poster boy, zeroing in on the alternative tastes of what was originally an avant-garde subculture – androgyny, artifice, kitsch (for more, see the Avant Garde chapter of 70s Style & Design) – and delivering them to a mainstream audience in the shape of Ziggy Stardust in 1972. Crucial to the Ziggy persona were the stage costumes created by Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto, who started working with Bowie in 1973, some of which will be appearing in the V&A show.

Bowie in Kansai Yamamoto's Rites of Spring jumpsuit, 1973

Bowie in Kansai Yamamoto’s Rites of Spring jumpsuit, 1973

Yamamoto, Kenzo, Sayoko and co 

Yamamoto was one of a new wave of Japanese designers, including Issey Miyake and Kenzo Takada, taking the fashion scene by storm in the 70s, all of whom feature in 70s Style & Design. Yamamoto opened his own house in 1971 and was renowned for fusing traditional Japanese clothing styles with ultra-pop, Western motifs, while, at his dynamic catwalk shows, his dancing models swirled and hurtled down the runway. One year earlier, Kenzo Takada, founded his label, simply known as Kenzo, and soon after opened his cult Paris boutique Jungle Jap, which boasted murals in the style of painter Henri Rousseau. Miyake trained as a graphic designer in Tokyo, subsequently moving to Paris in the early 70s. All these designers shook up the stuffy world of Parisian fashion with their funky, vibrant fashions.

Grace Jones in Issey Miyake, circa late 70s.

Grace Jones in Issey Miyake, circa late 70s. Photograph: Robyn Beeche

Jerry Hall in Issey Miyake, 1979, as featured in 70s Style & Design

Jerry Hall in Issey Miyake, 1979, as featured in 70s Style & Design. Photograph: Robyn Beeche

Kenzo's folkloric/ Peruvian look, mid-70s

Kenzo’s folkloric/ Peruvian look, mid-70s

Kenzo typically cribbed from a variety of cultures, early 70s

Kenzo typically cribbed from a variety of cultures, early 70s

Kenzo's layered look, 1975

Kenzo’s layered look, 1975

Sayoko in Kansai Yamamoto, circa 1979

Sayoko in Kansai Yamamoto, circa 1979. Photograph: Robyn Beeche

A favourite model of all three designers was the late Sayoko Yamaguchi, who was named by Newsweek as one of the world’s top models in 1977. She was also a catwalk star for many other high-profile designers, including Yves Saint Laurent. Her razor-sharp, jet-black bob, with its low fringe covering her eyebrows, her graphic carmine lips and angular cheekbones were her trademarks. Designers in the 70s increasingly used black and Asian models and Japanese-born Sayoko was at the forefront of this trend.

Artist Duggie Fields, one of the major movers and shakers featured in 70s Style & Design, remembers, ‘I met Sayoko in Paris in the early 70s, and I did her portrait after seeing her again in Tokyo in the 80s. She was Japan’s first international supermodel. I’ve never forgotten the show where she came out alone, followed by ten models wearing variations of her outfit. It was impossible to take one’s eyes off her, such was her presence.’

Duggie Fields's portrait of Sayoko, early 80s

Duggie Fields’s portrait of Sayoko, early 80s

Sayoko immortalised by Antonio Lopez

Sayoko immortalised by Antonio Lopez

Sayoko snapped by Guy Bourdin, wearing what looks like Kansai

Sayoko snapped by Guy Bourdin, wearing what looks like Kansai

Sayoko was the face of Shiseido cosmetics in the 70s

Sayoko was the face of Shiseido cosmetics in the 70s

Sayoko models Miyake in 1979. Photograph: Robyn Beeche

Sayoko models Miyake in 1979. Photograph: Robyn Beeche

After modelling, Sayoko became an actress in Japanese films

After modelling, Sayoko became an actress in Japanese films

Posted in 70s celebrities, Art, Fashion | 2 Comments

Chloë Sevigny channels 1970s David Bowie in new Miu Miu ads

Chloë Sevigny in Miu Miu’s new, Bowie-esque autumn/winter ad campaign

Could Chloë Sevigny be channelling David Bowie? Naturally, this thought crossed our minds when we spotted the thoroughly soignée Sevigny modelling for Miu Miu’s autumn/ winter ad campaign, hair styled à la David Bowie on his Diamond Dogs tour of 1974. The rest of Chloë’s ensemble – unapologetically chunky platforms, flashy tie and double-breasted jacket – is a cocktail of vintage Bowie, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke, and her barely there brows and sky blue eyeshadow are straight out of his Life on Mars video, for which he was dolled up by cult visagiste Pierre Laroche.

David Bowie and Pierre Laroche in 1973

Bowie in his Life on Mars video maquillage, courtesy of Pierre Laroche, 1973, from Mick Rock’s Blood and Glitter. Said Laroche (above left) of Bowie, ‘David has a perfect face for make-up: even features, high cheekbones and a very good mouth.’

David Bowie circa 1972

Ziggy-era David in his off-stage satin and tat, from Mick Rock’s Blood and Glitter. Note the Kansai Yamamoto costume hanging up (for more Kansai, check out 70s Style & Design)

Bowie on his 1974 Diamond Dogs tour

The hair that inspired the Miu Miu do? Bowie on his 1974 Diamond Dogs tour

bowie on 74 American tour

In a double-breasted City Lights Studio suit for his 1974 US tour

It couldn’t be more opportune that the Miu Miu ads bow to Bowie: his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars turned 40 last June, and EMI marked the occasion with the release of a remastered version by Ray Staff, who engineered the original back in 1972. And maverick Hollywood actress Chloë is the perfect – organic – fit for the Miu Miu campaign, since she adores retro fashion. In a recent Guardian interview, when popped the question ‘What’s your guiltiest pleasure?’, her answer, plain and simple, was ‘Vintage clothing’.

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Mr Freedom, pop 70s fashion label, celebrated in fabulous new book

When word got out that Paul Gorman has written a tribute to Tommy Roberts, groover and shaker on the 70s fashion scene (and beyond), we couldn’t wait to flag it up on our blog. Paul’s new book, Mr Freedom – British Design Hero (Adelita), with a foreword by Sir Paul Smith, has just been published. Naturally, we see Paul – also author of cult tome, The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion – as a kindred spirit: after all, the joyful style of Mr Freedom’s ultra-pop clobber (more of which later) plays a key role in our book 70s Style & Design, specifically in the chapter From Pop to Postmodernism.

For the uninitiated, Tommy Roberts is a towering figure of British fashion and design – a truly original retailer and entrepreneur. In the 60s, he pioneered the vintage clothing trade, selling antique threads to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Who at his Carnaby Street shop Kleptomania. But it was with London fashion label Mr Freedom’s fun, rainbow-hued, pop art-inspired clothes – all cartoon and fruit-machine motifs, all satin and flash – that he made the biggest splash. Also referencing Art Deco and 50s kitsch, Mr Freedom ushered in a new playful eclecticism in fashion which infected design, too, throughout the 70s – especially as, in the wake of the 60s pop movement, creatives of all colours rebelled against modernism throughout the decade.

Flash stance: Nova magazine showcases the Mr Freedom look in 1970

Mr Freedom, incidentally, was named after William Klein’s anti-American movie Mr Freedom of 1969 – though the shops, accoutred with such gleefully gimmicky props as a giant Statue of Liberty sculpture and cakes in the shape of blue jeans in its restaurant – revelled in pop Americana.

French actress Delphine Seyrig stars in William Klein’s satirical movie Mr Freedom

The two Mr Freedom shops in Chelsea and Kensington, open from 1969 to 1972, were the trendiest of their day; celebs such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Amanda Lear and Paloma Picasso (who bought a T-shirt for dad Pablo) flocked there too. Over the years, the indefatigable, Falstaffian-looking Tommy experimented constantly with different styles: in the mid-70s, he opened City Lights Studio in Covent Garden, a proto-goth boutique painted moodily dark colours. It was a hit with pop stars like Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, the latter buying the suit he sported on the back cover of his Pin Ups album there.

Bowie snapped by Mick Rock in a City Lights suit for his 1973 album Pin Ups

Of course, super-stylish icons Bowie and Ferry also loom large in 70s Style & Design. Tommy also managed Ian Dury for a while, and hung out with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood (whose early 70s King’s Road shop Let It Rock occupied the same premises as one of the Mr Freedom shops). Later, ever-restless Roberts championed High Tech and Studio Alchymia-inspired furniture and homeware at his 80s emporium Practical Styling.

The interior of Practical Styling circa 1981

He then moved on to sell a mix of 20th-century art and furniture in the 90s and Noughties at London stores TomTom and Two Columbia Road. Today, the latter, run by Tommy’s son Keith, is a mecca for fans of design, in particular mid-century-modern furniture. Appropriately, the launch party for Paul’s (inevitably) lusciously illustrated tome will be held there. Paul is also the author of the book Reasons to be Cheerful: The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles, about legendary graphic designer Bubbles, some of whose brilliant record cover artwork also features in 70s Style & Design…

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Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Gucci boogie back to the 70s!

Louis Vuitton s/s 2011 ad campaign

Louis Vuitton's s/s 2011 campaign gets high on YSL's Opium era glamour

We can’t help but notice that the 70s are back big time on planet fashion, with Marc Jacobs, Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Gucci all paying homage in their spring/summer 2011 collections. The intoxicating, high-octane glamour of Yves Saint Laurent’s opulent Opium collection of 1977 appears to be a key inspiration – luscious mandarin-chic jade green and amethyst satins, cheongsams, gold cummerbunds, all sported by models with Chinese lacquer red lips and nails – not to mention the high-gloss disco era aesthetic of Guy Bourdin.

YSL Opium perfume launch party 1978

Yves Saint Laurent's divinely decadent launch party for his Opium fragrance in New York, 1978

But the looks of the decade we love to love – as 70s Style & Design celebrates – were fabulously eclectic. And accordingly this summer’s 70s revival also treats us to folky Kenzo-esque attire (D&G), the pared-down, hard-gloss glamour of Helmut Newton (Lanvin), while last year’s army/utility look is in full force (Jil Sander for Uniqlo). And, we needn’t mention, the high street is utterly in thrall to ankle-skimming skirts, lace-up-the-leg wedge espadrilles, eye-shading wide-brimmed hats…
Here’s our geek peek at the 70s references these collections make…

Marc Jacobs s/s 2011 show

Sashaying through the 70s at Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs – from Yves Saint Laurent to Mr Freedom
Jacobs definitely spearheaded the current wave of 70s nostalgia, with a super- sophisticated synthesis of countless 70s looks: vintage YSL (military/safari jackets in tobacco and terracotta; off-the-shoulder dresses in YSL’s fave gauzy voiles); Mr Freedom (crushed-strawberry satin trouser suits); Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver (hotpants, floppy hats, bubble curls); Missoni (ochre/rust/burgundy zigzags on skinny-rib knits); Biba (vampish, sooty eye make-up, plum shades, 20s dropped waists, feather-boa chokers); 70s supermodel Marie Helvin (tropical flowers in hair – reminiscent of David Bailey’s Vogue shoots of her in exotic locations circa 1976). And let’s not forget the crimped hair! The plucked eyebrows! The platform shoes! The shoulder-slung handbags!


Classic YSL from 1972

Mr Freedom designs, 1970

Satin and flash, Mr Freedom style, from Nova magazine, 1970

Mr Freedom satin blazer, 19 magazine, 1971

19 magazine showcases 71's must-have satin blazers, including this one by Tommy Roberts's Mr Freedom label, which came in jade green


Vamping it up, Biba style

Marie Helvin

Marie Helvin shot by David Bailey for Vogue, 1974

Lanvin – Helmut Newton hard gloss
Lanvin’s ad campaigns are a dead-ringer for Helmut Newton’s iconic 70s fashion shoots featuring women enacting stylised catfights, one of which appeared in Nova in 1975. And as a design aside, the Deco-tastic apartment they’re shot in evokes the Deco-filled Paris flats of Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in the 70s.

Lanvin campaign s/s 2011

Lanvin re-enacts Helmut Newton in YSL's apartment. Well, almost...

At home with Yves Saint Laurent

Chez St Laurent in 1978, with muses Loulou de la Falaise and Betty Catroux

Nova Newton

Toughing it out for Herr Newton in Nova magazine, 1975

As the above pic shows, utility was huge circa 1975, with designers taking inspiration from the cheap but chic clothing of army and navy surplus stores. And it’s still marching on…

Marie-Claire Italia

Marie-Claire Italia works the M*A*S*H look

But you saw it here first…

Nova's MASH look, 1971

Nova's fashion editor Caroline Baker kick-started the khaki craze in 1971

However it’s not all hard edges and glossy surfaces in this revival: D&G’s women’s collection was softer, more girlish: redolent of Kenzo (the outsized florals), Laura Ashley (the flouncy, ankle-skimming dresses) and even Mr Freedom (denim, checks and big fat flares and platforms). And, in contrast to the fierce expressions of Newton’s pugilistic models, the girls in this D&G ad campaign recall the breezy joie de vivre captured in the fashion pics of a very different 70s snapper – Oliviero Toscani.

D&G ad campaign s/s 2001

D&G's smiley happy hippie chicks

Kenzo's prairie look, 1973

Kenzo's take on the prairie look, snapped by Peter Knapp in 1973

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Crystal Tipps, Alistair and big, BIG hair

Umpen Editions's new spring range, Crystal Tipps and Alistair

Crystal Tipps and Alistair ride again in Umpen Editions's new spring range

Marc Bolan’s ‘My people were fair and had sky in their hair’ could have been penned with Crystal Tipps in mind, what with her cloud-like coiffure which – along with her Mary-Jane shoes – echoed that of the bopping imp himself. However the star of the super-popular 70s children’s series Crystal Tipps and Alistair owed more to the trippy, colour-saturated style of Yellow Submarine illustrator Heinz Edelmann, as her creator Hilary Hayton explained when we interviewed her for 70s Style & Design. Those of you who enjoyed the popadelic pair’s kaleidoscope highs back in the day might like to know that Hilary has produced a brilliant range of Crystal Tipps and Alistair greeting cards for Umpen Editions.

And talking of bubblicious barnets, we can’t help but notice that big hair is bouncing back, thanks to the fashion world’s current obsession with the 70s. Check out this curly girlie at Sonia Rykiel’s spring/summer 2011 show…

Sonia Rykiel spring/summer 2011


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70s flashback: Laurie Anderson, Gordon Matta-Clark and Trisha Brown at Barbican gallery, London

As we mention in our book, times were tough during the economic crises of the 70s, yet those conditions often sparked intense bursts of creativity. The fears raised by the ecology lobby about the world’s dwindling resources, compounded by the 1973 oil crisis, inspired designers to recycle inexpensive industrial materials in the home – a movement called high-tech. And the DIY way that punks created music and clothing cheaply out of any equipment or materials at their disposal thrived during the mid-1970s recession.

Punk girls in Boy

Punkettes in London shop Boy work the DIY look (© Sheila Rock)

Punk had much in common with Fluxus, a movement founded in New York in 1961 that made art out of discarded, throwaway materials. Its multidisciplinary approach, encompassing art, dance, film and music, helped to foster a cross-disciplinary art movement that thrived in run-down, recession-hit downtown Manhattan in the 70s.
Three of its prime movers – performance artist and composer Laurie Anderson, choreographer Trisha Brown and the late artist Gordon Matta-Clark – are the subject of the Barbican’s latest show, Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s. Exploring their milieu in New York at a dismally low point in its history – the city was on the brink of bankruptcy, with high rates of crime and unemployment – it will show about 160 works including sculptures, drawings, films, live performances, posters and ephemera.

Why put on this show now? “With the UK going through the recession, people today are interested in the parallels between then and now,” says curator Lydia Yee. “The art produced in New York provides a welcome alternative to the overblown, glossy production values of the past decade – the art of Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami.”

Frequently ephemeral, site-specific and collaboratively created, the downtown artists’ work differed from the recent pop art and minimalist movements, which favoured mechanical processes to make permanent pieces that could be sold in galleries. Broadly speaking, the community valued ideas and the exploration of creative processes over polished objects.

Laurie Anderson, circa 1978

Laurie Anderson, circa 1978 (courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York © Laurie Anderson)

The early 1970s work of Anderson, who moved to New York in 1966, typified this multimedia approach. She moved restlessly between photography, text, sound and street performances engaging with the public. “My art wasn’t about hiding away in a studio,” she remembers. The Barbican will display her photographically recorded project, “Institutional Dream Series” (1972), which saw her sleep in public spaces, then record the location’s effect on her dreams.

Anderson remembers New York then as “dark, dangerous and broke” yet exhilarating: “It was like Paris in the 20s. I was part of a group of artists who worked on each other’s pieces, and boundaries between art forms were loose.”

The district south of Houston Street, soon nicknamed SoHo, had been zoned for manufacturing but factories had been moving out since the 1940s. The artists who colonised it took advantage of working and living in its disused factories for a very low rent, exhibiting work informally in these raw spaces.

Trisha Brown, Brown Roof Piece, 1973

Trisha Brown, Roof Piece, 1973 (courtesy Broadway 1602, New York © Babette Mangolte)

By the early 70s, Trisha Brown was a respected performance artist, having studied under the legendary Merce Cunningham. She dispensed with a stage, often performing on rooftops and car parks. She used untrained and trained dancers, invited audiences to participate and encouraged improvisation. In her topsy-turvy world, works appeared to defy gravity: in “Walking on the Wall” (1971), dancers (rigged to a track in the ceiling) pace along a wall as if it were the floor. This will be re-enacted by dancers in the Barbican’s lower-level, double-height gallery, which, says Yee, “echoes the scale of SoHo’s lofts”.“I was inventing choreography outside any existing system or venues for presenting it at that time,” recalls Brown. “SoHo’s urban landscape was ready-made for this.”

Gordon Matta-Clark, Open House, 1972

Gordon Matta-Clark, Open House, 1972 (courtesy Jane Crawford © Estate of Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone)

Matta-Clark, who studied architecture, is regarded as the ringleader of this scene and many believe it died when he did, in 1978. In 1969, he had designed and built one of the area’s first alternative arts spaces, 98 Greene Street, for art collectors Holly and Horace Solomon. His own dramatic architectural interventions, which entailed cutting parts out of buildings, were political. They highlighted the “imprisonment” of the poor inside New York’s soulless “urban and suburban boxes” and reflected his desire to break down social and economic barriers. The most ambitious, entitled “Splitting” (1974), saw him bisect an entire building. A film of this will be screened at the Barbican.

The early 70s in the US were a time of highly organised political activism. Even so, according to Anderson, most downtown artists weren’t especially political. “We’d protested in the 60s. By the 70s the political beliefs of the counterculture were a given, we’d internalised them.”

But 1960s activism had bred certain attitudes: generosity, anti-materialism and a strong sense of communality. “There was huge camaraderie,” explains Anderson. “We helped each other with plumbing, hanging our shows or lending stuff like videotapes. We had no interest in money and thought those who did were idiots. It was a completely different world.”

Derek Jarman in hammock

Artist Derek Jarman was a pioneer of loft-living in London (estate of Derek Jarman, courtesy K Collins)

However, some believe the downtown scene is similar to today’s art communities in Brooklyn except that, as art historian RoseLee Goldberg, an original member of the downtown scene, says: “They’re paying $3,000 a month, we were paying $200.”

Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s runs from March 3 to May 22 at the Barbican Centre, London


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Frantic times with Frances Lynn, Celia Birtwell and Amanda Lear

Frances Lynn Frantic book cover

Frances's chronicle of the 70s with cover designed by Celia Birtwell

When we were researching our book 70s Style & Design we often wished we could have sampled the early ’70s scene at first hand. Oh to have hung out with hippie acid-freak drag queens the Cockettes in San Francisco, and Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark in David Hockney’s London basement, like our good friend Frances Lynn.

Frances had the pleasure of both (as chronicled in her recent novel, Frantic) before ending up as gossip columinist for hipster mag Ritz (London’s answer to Interview) in the late 70s. Apparently her bitchiness was legendary, causing shudders as she walked into rooms. Is this true, we asked her. ‘When gossiping for Ritz I was completely uninhibited and used to bang out my column as if it were my diary,’ she says. ‘I could never understand why my victims used to scream at me, or even threaten to hire hit men.’

Amanda Lear in Ossie Clark dress (Mathews)

Amanda vamps it up for scenester snapper Johnny Dewe Mathews circa 72

Frances reveals that reading Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies inspired her to write a gossip column and to invent her character Jet Spray Cooler. ‘Each month in Ritz I used to write that he was a big admirer of Amanda Lear and wanted to meet her,’ says Frances, ‘and she kept calling me, demanding to know who he was. She wouldn’t let up, so in the end I had to admit that he was fictitious.

‘In retrospect,’ she concludes, ‘it was exhausting going out 24 hours a day but I got a lot of perks!’ Indeed – like hanging out with Jack Nicolson and Bette Midler at one of Bette’s after-parties at the Waldorf hotel in the late 70s. Here Frances is sporting a particularly lovely blouse by Celia, who also designed the cover of Frantic, and possibly the print on the dress that Amanda is wearing, a little Ossie Clark number.

Frances Lynn, Bette Midler and Jack Nicholson at the Waldorf HotelTalking of Celia, here’s one of her gorgeous early 70s illustrations of her prints – the one on the right is the iconic Tulips design, used for an Ossie Clark dress as sported by socialite Nicky Samuel among others. Celia is currently selling some vintage Celia/Ossie frocks in her shop on Westbourne Park Road, London – check out Celia Birtwell’s website. Incidentally, Dominic is writing a book about Celia to be published in autumn 2011 by Quadrille – keep an eye on the Amazon listing

Celia Birtwell prints, circa 1972

Celia prints, circa 1972 (not 1968, Celia now remembers)

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