Vivienne Westwood in 'Sex' exhibition, London
50 Hays Mews
It’s often the impromptu, accidental or backstage moments that capture the spirit of a movement, more than anything intentionally staged or obvious. In 1975 William English, then a young film student, took a series of photographs of his friend Vivienne Westwood playing dress-up at the ‘Sex’ shop she ran with Malcolm McLaren at 430 Kings Road in London.
The photographs show the young Westwood simmering with energy and abandon that would moments later explode from a subculture behind the curtains of the ‘Sex’ shop and find its name and fame as the punk movement.
The collection is now on show as a selling exhibition at another very English institution, though perhaps rather a surprising one – Maggs Bros antiquarian booksellers. Curator Carl Williams, who heads up the Counterculture section of Maggs, explains: ‘I was invited by William English to an exhibition ‘Punk: No One is Innocent’ about five years ago in Vienna where I first saw a few of the snaps. He had the original negatives squirreled away and so we blew them up for this show. I don’t really do innovation much, I prefer to turn over old ground and remind people of what might be important’.