A few weeks ago I finished an amazing book by Viv Albertine, former guitarist in seminal 70's all girl punk band The Slits. The book is entitled Clothes Music Boys and details Viv's struggle to believe she could compete with the all male dominance that existed in the music biz in the 1970's. Encouraged by her then boyfriend Mick Jones of soon to be world conquering Punk heroes The Clash, she set about learning the guitar and eventually joined The Slits. The Slits ultimately signed to Rough Trade and for a time everything was perfect, until one day an interviewer caught her totally off guard by asking her if she knew what her beloved record label had just confirmed to him, that they had dropped the band ( she didn't for the record)
At a stroke everything she had battled to achieve was gone and to make it all the more painful, The Clash's success went through the roof, this a band that had literally planned their ascent in her kitchen. Her best friend Sid Vicious , with whom she would regularly spend days ( and nights) at a time planning how to conquer the world, went similarly stratospheric with The Sex Pistols.
Cue Viv moving back home with her mum and whiling away days by watching the washing spin round and round at her local launderette, punk rock it was not....
Eventually she pulled herself back to life and the book chronicles her remarkable struggle to regain her sense of self, whilst battling with SIXTEEN failed IVF attempts and nearly dying several times in the process. Domestic bliss not turning out to be quite what she had expected, she embarked on an extraodinary journey that just leaves you wanting to punch the air in salute by the end. It's a brutally honest book, Albertine leaves nothing to the imagination and her time spent among the likes of Vivienne Westwood and her good friend Malcolm McLaren as well as legends of the punk world such as Johnny Rotten and Johnny Thunders reads like a who's who of the New Wave scene but from the point of view of a woman, a perspective mostly lacking from of the punk history that has come down through the intervening decades.
I literally didn't want it to end and I dragged the last three chapters out for an eternity before finally coming to the end. After tweeting our Punk Poetess ( who liked my tweet I'm delighted to report) I decided to pay homage to the book by starting a new portrait series, which with startling originality is called Clothes Music Girls! ( see what I did there?)
The idea is to reference what Viv does all through the book, namely show photos of her at different ages and describe in detail the clothes she's wearing in the picture along with which boy she was currently dating or obsessing about. Albertine loves clothes and saved up her money to buy whatever small items she could afford at Westwood and McLaren's shop SEX on The Kings Road. Dame Vivienne once sagely told her in blunt terms to buy a pair of boots that at the time Albertine hated.. she took the advice and they are now her favourite possessions.
In Clothes Music Girls we don't need the boys to be referenced as it's all about featuring my circle of brilliant, beautiful and funny female friends. However all of them have been forced to choose a favourite record(virtually impossible) and a favourite outfit (completely impossible!)
So far I have photographed six people and I plan to shoot another five but it's taking on a life of it's own so it might still be going by X-Mas! The idea however is to have it completed in time for an exhibition I'm mounting at The Proud Gallery on The Strand in London in May....
Oh and possibly a book too..
have look at
for the full details of all the people involved.
Watch this space...It's been such fun shooting all these fantastic females and a great opportunity to see some of the people from whom I've spent far too long apart.
The final aspect to this journey that has been such an enjoyable project was the e-mail I received this week from a well known singer songwriter I admire enormously, who responded to my rather cheeky request to be a part of the project with..... a yes!!
Peace Out and Happy Imbolc
Oh..and lest we forget, sweet dreams to the man who inspired me to be/do any of this ...
David Bowie. R.I.P