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Malcolm McLaren on SEX

The designer talks about his controversial shop at the centre of punk


In the mid 70s, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood ran the boutique SEX, stocking clothing culled and customized by Vivienne Westwood from specialist bondage and fetish suppliers. Hung with powdery surgical rubber sprayed with philosophical slogans, the shop formed the nexus around which punk rock coalesced. With its air of frayed-edge rebelliousness, the store was a magnet for London's nihilistic teens, among them future Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten.

Such is the nature of rebellion, McClaren and Westwood's shop had to change in the face of social progress. To suit the shift in their sartorial attitude, the name changed to Seditionaires. SEX’s ethos of ‘rubber-wear for the office’ was refined and developed into aggressive, confrontational clothing, containing elements of the fifties nostalgia, Rocker style and sexually subversive garments they previously advocated. This synthesis also reflected an increasing influence from the emerging musical styles, alongside an increasingly politicised viewpoint.

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