Never mind the Nineties, meet the pin-ups of punk: Roger Tredre visits an exhibition that marks the most provocative era of youth culture

ONCE punks were the scourge of society. Now they are the subject of exhibitions, lectures, and sociology students' essays.

In the late Seventies, they lived life on the wild side, hanging out at shady shops on the King's Road, west London. On Tuesday night, they gathered in the more sedate surroundings of a gallery in Bloomsbury for a preview of an exhibition 'of rare original couture clothes and unique items of ephemera designed by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren,' which begins today.

They were greyer and wiser, and not so keen to acknowledge that they had been punks. Philip Sallon, 41, said: 'I was the first bloke to have blue hair, but I never called myself a punk.'

Mr McLaren stood to one side in a sensible pullover, sipping his drink, looking for all the world like a reticent university lecturer.

His former customers had donated much of their old wardrobes for the exhibition, organised by the Contemporary Wardrobe dress hire company.

During the Seventies, Mr McLaren and Ms Westwood ran a shop in the King's Road under a number of different names: Let It Rock (1971), Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die (1972), Sex (1974) and Seditionaries (1977).

Mr Sallon was wearing a black jacket full of buckles and belts. 'I got it off this heroin-addict girl who worked in Seditionaries. She sold it to me for pounds 4. I always used to pull in this.'

Roger Burton, organiser, had hung the clothes on plastic inflatable bodies dangling from nooses in an attempt to revive memories of youth culture's most provocative era. The exhibition includes many of the most infamous clothes of the period, including the T-shirt screenprinted with a photograph of a woman's breasts and the T-shirt depicting two cowboys naked from the waist down, which was seized by the police and led to a prosecution. The Bondage collection, inspired by fetishistic and sado-masochistic dress, is also well represented.

Mr Burton said: 'Some of these T-shirts took three days to make. They're little works of art. It was so blatant, so subversive, so sexual. Oh God, yes.'

Stephen Calloway, the writer, decorator and curator, was also getting excited about punk. 'The clothes look surprisingly interesting now. Vivienne Westwood is one of our great geniuses. Punk was one of the great image movements of the century.'

Controversy, however, hung in the air. John Tiberi, who managed the Sex Pistols with Mr McLaren, claimed that his protege, Johnny Rotten, had a substantial input on the designs, which now sell for thousands of pounds to aficionados in Japan. 'Johnny should take the credit for the pins. He ripped up his own jacket and stuck it together with pins.'

Other party guests found the experience mystifying. For Kate Moss, teenage supermodel, it was history. She wasn't even born when Ms Westwood and Mr McLaren opened their shop.

Vive Le Punk runs until 10 April at the Horse Hospital, Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1; open Tuesdays to Sundays 12pm to 6 pm.

(Photographs omitted)

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game