The punk impresario Malcolm McLaren has accused his son Joe Corre – the entrepreneur behind the Agent Provocateur lingerie label – of helping to fuel a vast market in "fake" punk clothing.
His claim, which his son denies, sheds light on a remarkable family feud over the legacy of punk, embroiling McLaren, his ex-partner Dame Vivienne Westwood and Corre in acrimony. Such is the pull of punk that the original, radically distressed clothing Westwood and McLaren created in the kitchen of their flat in the late 1970s today command thousands of pounds and are highly collectable. Original items will be auctioned at Christie's this month.
This, and the difficulty in judging what constitutes original clothing sold by the couple in their King's Road shops, has led to a large market in copies. Last year the artist Damien Hirst spent £80,000 on clothing that McLaren later considered to be replicas.
Remarkably, however, McLaren this week said he suspected his son of being responsible for sparking off the trade in copies. Corre denies this and, in turn, accused his father of failing to move on from the punk era that made his reputation. "I think my son actually used – maybe – the original labels, because we didn't use them all up," McLaren told The Independent on Sunday. "There'd be a roll of ribbon around in the workroom and maybe my son got a hold of those. I think he did this before he set up Agent Provocateur. Or in order to set up Agent Provocateur and fund it, he made a number of these fake clothes and sold them to dealers in Japan."
McLaren added that he has had to battle for credit for his part in the creation of the clothes. "Vivienne has been horrific," he added. "I've had many bad, bad problems because of her." He added, confusingly, of his own child: "Her son probably did it in order to earn a crust or two."
Corre has admitted that he made some punk clothes with the agreement of his mother to raise start-up funds for Agent Provocateur, clothes which he then sold to Japan, making no secret of the fact that they were reproductions. "Vivienne made all those things, actually made them," he said of the 1970s originals. "Malcolm had a lot of the ideas and was incredibly inspirational. But because she made them, he doesn't actually know what's original and what isn't original. And Vivienne isn't really that bothered because she's more interested in what she's doing today."
He added of his father: "He should be doing something else. I don't know what he's bothered about. Nobody else is."
He also said that collectors are fascinated by the punk world because they weren't there at the time – but that he had no sympathy if they then bought fake clothes.
"A lot of them have been duped by people who have remade clothes to look like the originals and then sold them for lots of money," he said. "That is what happened to Damien Hirst. I think it's kind of hilarious, actually, that he got ripped off in such a way, since he's been producing production-line art. He decided to buy some punk rock because he didn't have any in the first place and he got punked. And ripped off. That's funny."