To kick off the 9th London Collections Men and celebrate the 40th anniversary of punk, Paul Smith and the British Fashion Council will host a new exhibition of work from the acclaimed photographer Derek Ridgers.
Sweat, soap spikes and snarls are key ingredients of punk – and all are present and correct in Derek Ridgers’ photography of the London scene in the late 70s. As part of the celebrations of 40 years of punk, and to coincide with the London Collections Men shows this weekend, they will be displayed at Paul Smith’s Ablemarle Street store.
These images might have been taken 40 years ago but they are still full of the fizzy energy of a firework of a scene, one that burned quick and bright. There’s Debbie Harry in an asymettric frock and choker, Siouxsie Sioux in signature stripes, Jordan with her face painted in a stage cameo, and a young, topless Adam Ant pre-pop idol moment.
Even with all that star power, it’s the audience that really shines. There’s the classic studding on jackets, zips, ripped mohair, scrawlings on jackets, chains, schoolboy ties and razor blades dangerously close to jugulars. But there’s also an almost visceral growl of having fun at the expense of everything else. That’s in piles of youth bundled up together on the banquette of a club, a boy in a biker jacket perfecting his open-mouthed stare in white sunglasses, and a whole host of eyeliner-rimmed, wide-eyed unhinged stares. As well as snarls and spikes, punks did a really good line in scary staring. Study to perfect. Or, you know, just study.
• Derek Ridgers’ Punk London 1977 is at Paul Smith, 9 Albemarle Street, London W1S from today until 13 June. The photography is taken from Punk London 1977, a new book of Ridgers’ work supported by Canon (UK) Ltd. Copies will be available from 9 Albemarle Street for the duration of the event, £14.95.
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