These are my personal best Pistols and punk looks. I never got the leather jacket thing and the Mohawk hair – really? The best look was when there was no look, an individual free-for-all, full of ideas and personal expression – some so straight they were subversive. So let’s get into the top 5 in reverse order
5. Rotten’s drape suit.
I guess that had something to do with Mclaren , as he was wearing one way back in the early 70’s. There was a great interview with the pistols when rotten was in the drape and he had had his hair tinted pink and the other members were saying he looked like an old woman.
4. Matlock’s jumper.
Round-necked navy blue jumper – mostly worn with shirt underneath and collar up. He had worked in Sex/Seditionaries, knew the score, but secure enough not to have to parade the histrionic rags of the day. In fact many of Matlock’s ‘looks’ were so against the herd mentality it was Subversive.
3. The Parachute blue shirt
-Superb first rate design and tailoring by Mclaren and Westwood. Real confirmation that something different was going on, this was beyond the bin-bags and transience of one hit wonder. This incorporated all the elements of pistols/punk image; sex, politics, subversion, art, and used the tools of the trade: stencilled slogans : ‘No Future’, ‘We are not in the least afraid of Ruins’, and ‘Only Anarchists Are Pretty’. Military paraphernalia , S&M type straps/restrains, and that lovely heavy blue shirt.
2 The Anarchy Karl Marx shirt.
Another perfect example of the visual art accompanying the music of the pistols. This dates from 1976, though there were many versions that followed. It is a simpler design that the Parachute shirt and somehow gives it harder edge, with the large Karl Marx patch on the back, hand stencilled slogans ;
Dangerously close to Love’ ‘TRY SUBVERSION’, together with Nazi eagle. I would have had these two shirt as a tie but the blue and white shirt is so reminiscent of the early 70’s British prison/borstal shirt, it piped the para to the post.
1. Rotten’s ripped/torn jumper.
When I saw him in that jumper- the first one I saw him in was a tight green number in which it looked as if the side seem had come undone. It was the most wonderful, different thing I had ever seen. That jumper came embodied with confidence, a smattering of ‘why bother?’ and fun! For me it was a new day- the first day, we were not in Kansas anymore, and as Strummer said of how he felt when seeing the Pistols ‘like yesterdays papers’. Nothing would be/look/feel/sound the same again.
Thank you to Paul Burgess and Alan Parker’s and their beautiful book ‘Satellite’. For all the wonderful images and information, it shows those guys loved it all as much as I did.