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The Independent Culture
Forget Sindy and her soppy gymkhana. This Christmas, every little girl should ask for a doll from Sign O' the Times in Kensington market. Adorned with the words 'bitch, slag, whore,' brandishing whips and with their golden locks harshly chopped off, they provide a much better role model than the miniature Cindy Crawfords most girls have to put up with. This post-punk haven has something to offend all the family. How about a 'teddy bear terrorist' mini-skirt, or an astroturf-covered satchel with applique cows? Or admire the artwork that reads: 'We are all prostitutes, but some wear their high heels better than others'. 'We're more humanitarian than politically correct,' explains proprietor Steve Kinky.

Trip up the stairs to LSD, run by Toby, a twenty-one-year-old who has been dressing like a mod since he was six. This is a man who can tell you the exact difference between flares and bell-bottoms. His favourite items in the store are the racing leathers and the Sta- prest corduroys. The walls are pasted with photos of David Hemmings in Blow Up and the stereo blasts the Stones.

Toby has his customers down to a tight-fit T: 'Germans buy boot cuts. The English come in, rip off their Nirvana T-shirts and buy a pair of cords, but only if they're over 20. A lot buy Sta-prest, but that's only Sta-prest people.' On this, he can't elaborate.

Back downstairs, Steve Kinky is folding a pair of bondage trousers. He says that John Lydon was browsing the other day when a customer asked if he could have two minutes of his time. Lydon shot him a withering glance: 'Not even two minutes'. Emma Forrest

Sign O' the Times (071-376 0762), ground floor and LSD, first floor, Kensington Market, Kensington High St, London W8

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