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‘Like Punk Never Happened’: Remembering Smash Hits, the ‘totally 80s’ pop magazine

Culture Club cover of Smash Hits July 19, 1984
Culture Club on the cover of Smash Hits, July 19, 1984
 
Music magazine Smash Hits started out in 1978 and was a mecca for pop fans. It had a strong rotation of writers back in its heyday such as Dave Rimmer (author of the 1985 book, Like Punk Never Happened), Mark Ellen (MOJO), Steve Beebee (Kerrang!) and Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys. Regular content included interviews and pictorials but Smash Hits also published some fun features like “Bitz” (a smattering of industry information like fan club addresses and such), and was filled with pages of lyrics to the current top 20 songs (you know, so you didn’t have to keep trying to write them down on your own). There was always a centerfold spread, and in addition to the magazines eye-catching covers they also ran a special “back cover” with glossy photos of hot at-the-time artists like Limahl the spiky-haired vocalist for Kajagoogoo or the Thompson Twins.
 
Limahl of Kajagoogoo Smash Hits May 24th, 1984
Limahl of Kajagoogoo, May 24th, 1984

In 2009, Smash Hits superfan Brian McCloskey, an 80’s kid who had hung on to his copies of Smash Hits since youth, decided to rescue his collection from his parents’ attic at his childhood home in Derry, Ireland. McCloskey had the magazines shipped all the way to his home in California, tracked down copies he was missing in his collection from the magazines inception, then took on the painstaking process of scanning and uploading every page of every issue he had to his blog, Like Punk Never Happened. McCloskey’s collection of Smash Hits represents every issue of the magazine from 1979 to 1985.
 
Big Country Smash Hits April 14th, 1983
Big Country, April 14th, 1983

As I can’t help but admire his dedication to this pop-culture gem, I contacted McCloskey to learn more about his recollections from the early days of Smash Hits.

Smash Hits took music very seriously, but they didn’t take musicians seriously. A very sensible distinction. I think that people have either forgotten or didn’t realize to begin with that Smash Hits was quite a serious magazine. During their peak years they would receive thousands of letters - handwritten letters! You could read great interviews with real artist like Paul Weller or Ian Dury. After the magazine’s redesign at the end of 1981, the snark really took over. I’m glad that the my archive has reminded, or opened people’s minds to the early days of Smash Hits.

Gary Numan Smash Hits September 1983
Gary Numan, September 1983

Smash Hits continued to publish issues well after its official decline in the early 90’s, then ceased its print run in February of 2006. McCloskey updates his site with new vintage issues every two week and hopes to continue posting issues beyond 1985 with the help of fellow fans. I highly recommend you get comfortable, set your Pandora station to “80’s Pop,” then head over to McCloskey’s blog and lose yourself for a few hours. A number of images published during the years 1982-1984 from Smash Hits follow.
 
The Belle Stars Smash Hits February 3, 1983
The Belle Stars, February 3, 1983

Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby lyric sheets from Smash Hits March 29th, 1984
Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby lyric sheet, March 29th, 1984

Scritti Politti Smash Hits June 7th, 1983
Scritti Politti lyric sheet, June 7th, 1984

Thompson Twins Smash Hits November 24th, 1983
Thompson Twins, November 24th, 1983

Billy Idol Smash Hits July 19, 1984
Billy Idol, July 19, 1984

Adam Ant Smash Hits December/January 1982
Adam Ant lyric sheet, December/January 1982

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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I’d kill for that dress: Gorgeously gothy mourning attire from 1815-1915
10.23.2014
06:21 am

Topics:
Fashion

Tags:
fashion
death
goth
Victorian
Edwardian
mourning


Evening dress suitable for late mourning, from around 1861
 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced a breathtaking new exhibit, “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire”—upper-class women’s widow couture, if you will. The clothing ranges from 1815 to 1915, when the death of a husband was met with strict social expectations among the English and sometimes American elite. During the Victorian era, a widow was expected to observe a year and a day of “full mourning,” during which she would refrain from “society” activities, veiled and wearing simple black dresses. After that, there was a nine-month period where she could drop the veil and incorporate small adornments, like jewelry or a trimmed hem. Then came “half-mourning,” where she could add grey, purple or a little white—this lasted three to six more months.

If a woman did not observe proper mourning etiquette (especially if she was still young and pretty), she would usually be considered not only gauche, but downright libidinous. Additionally, if the mourning attire was too flashy, she could also be judged as advertising her new singledom—scandalous! Widowers on the other hand, were just expected to wear dark clothes for an unofficial amount of time, and they could remarry in as little as a few months without fear of judgement.

If you can’t make it to the Met, you’re in luck! Almost all of their archives are searchable online, and I have compiled an exhibit for you right here. I even added some pieces that aren’t on display, including a dress worn by Queen Victoria herself. Kind of makes you long for the days when people died from a seasonal flu, huh?
 

1870, with veil
 

1880, not on view
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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In My Time of Buying: Pricey Led Zeppelin scarves designed by Paul Smith
10.23.2014
06:06 am

Topics:
Fashion
Music

Tags:
Led Zeppelin
Paul Smith

dddldzepsmith.jpg
 
In the 1970s nearly every glam rock band or teeny-bopper pop star had a tacky range of merchandise for sale that usually included a white silk scarf with the name of the band emblazoned on it, such as “Slade” or “David Cassidy” or “The Osmonds,” “Sweet” or the “Bay City Rollers” which fans would hold aloft with religious devotion during concerts. Now this idea of a fan scarf has been taken one step further in an unusual collaboration between Led Zeppelin and British fashion designer Paul Smith.

The talented Mr. Smith has produced a series of six “exceptional limited edition” scarves to coincide with the release of Led Zeppelin’s nine remastered albums. Six scarves are now available: five depicting the covers to the first five Led Zeppelin albums, and a sixth featuring the band.

The design of the artwork for the first three releases – “Led Zeppelin”, “Led Zeppelin II” and “Led Zeppelin III” – has been reinterpreted on three different scarves each measuring 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres. Translating the intricacy of the renowned imagery onto fabric proved a challenging task but, by taking a different approach to each scarf, Paul Smith has come up with three truly unique items.

A photographic weaving technique has been employed for the largely monochromatic “Led Zeppelin”, with the red detail being added using a fine fil coupe yarn. The eight colours of the “Led Zeppelin II” artwork demanded an alternative approach and four different quality yarns were combined to reflect the richness of the colourful design. The psychedelia of “Led Zeppelin III” is depicted with a combination of boucle and merino wool to exquisite effect.

(The spinning volvolle from inside the Led Zeppelin III album cover probably would have made for the best textile design, but what do I know?)
 
gggledzpsmithggg.jpg
 
bbb3lzpsmith.jpg
 
Further designs for Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy, which “have been jacquard woven onto two further scarves and a brand new spectacular design has been created for the sixth scarf,” are also available.

The scarves come in limited editions of 50, and cost $665 (£395) each, which is slightly over the current exchange rate of $632.

You’d have to be as rich as Jimmy Page is to afford these things! I suppose once these babies sell out the next stage may be a cheaper mass produced version for the less well heeled Zeppelin fan? No?

Who would have thunk that the lowly fan scarf would one day become an expensive high fashion statement?

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Sexy M*therf*cker: The ‘Pulp Fiction’ makeup collection
10.22.2014
06:30 am

Topics:
Fashion
Movies

Tags:
Pulp Fiction
Makeup

Mrs. Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction
 
I will freely admit I’m a bit of a cosmetics addict. After discovering a new makeup collection by Urban Decay based on the look Uma Thurman cultivated for her role as “Mrs. Mia Wallace” in Pulp Fiction, my current addiction suddenly just got a whole lot more dangerous.

The difficult job of selling something is made easier when that something comes in some sort of irresistible package and is described using as many compelling words as possible. Cosmetic giant Urban Decay completely nailed both of these points with the design of their limited edition Pulp Fiction palatte ($16) which comes with eye shadow colors that are named using a few memorable words from Samuel L. Jackson’s “Ezekiel 25:17” speech in the film. Specifically the following five:  “Righteous”, “Tyranny”, “Vengeance” and of course, “Furious/Anger.” In addition to the palatte, there’s a deep blood-red colored lipstick, lip-liner and nail polish all named “Mrs. Mia Wallace.” 

Adrenaline shot not included.
 
Pulp Fiction Makeup Collection by Urban Decay
 
Pulp Fiction Palette Ezekiel 25:17 quote
 
Pulp Fiction Palette colors by Urban Decay
 

 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Never Mind The Sex Pistols: Here’s Vivienne Westwood’s Bollocks
10.21.2014
09:10 am

Topics:
Books
Fashion
Punk

Tags:
Vivienne Westwood


 
You would think the old saying (often attributed to Mark Twain) of “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, unless you can’t think of anything better to say” would be redundant when it came to Dame Vivienne Westwood’s autobiography. Surely, there would be a surfeit of entertaining and amusing tales to tell, without recourse to plagiarism or possible legal action over libel? Well, possibly not, as the investigative magazine Private Eye has been noting over the past few weeks. It would appear that Dame Westwood’s autobiography (written together with Harry Potter actor Ian Kelly) has been accused of plagiarism, factual inaccuracies and may shortly be on the receiving end of some serious legal action.

As first reported in Private Eye’s Books & Bookmen section on October 3rd-16th, there are “already rumblings from the estate of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, which has taken exception to her account of the Westwood/McLaren business arrangements.”

But as the Eye points out this is negligible to a “potential libel action” for the authors and publishers Picador.

...the biggest nightmare for Picador, may be a whopper of a potential libel action from her former shop manager. [Westwood] says in the book that, since he is dead, “now we can be honest”—and proceeds to accuse him of stealing all her money from the shop’s takings for eight years, taking “every spare penny”. Alas! The man in question is still very much alive, working as a psychotherapist in west London.

In the same passage she names the manager’s “boyfriend”, a well-known businessman and tycoon in the 1970s, who was “keeping” him. This man in question is also still alive, married with three children, and has never come out as gay. Although his name is slightly misspelt he is clearly identifiable.

Private Eye contacted publishers Picador to ask whether the book had been checked for legal issues—the publishers did not return their calls.
 

 
Other claims made by the Dame Viv of Westwood are “not actionable” but are certainly rum:

“The mad old bat is even claiming she wrote lyrics with Johnny Rotten,” says one incredulous veteran of the punk scene. Of the Sex Pistols’ first single, “Anarchy in the UK” [Westwood] says: “The idea and the title were mine.”

Private Eye followed up this story in their 17th-30th October issue, pointing out a number of elementary typos/spelling mistakes and factual errors:

We read of artist “Derek Boucher” (presumably Derek Boshier) and guitarists “Jimmy Hendrix” and Pete “Townsend”. The latter may surprise Pete Townshend less than Westwood’s claim that her first husband, airline pilot Derek Westwood, “managed the Who” in the early 1960s.

This all may be explained by Westwood’s caveat to her biographer Kelly:

I think, in talking about the past, it’s important to think afresh. Nothing from the past is entirely true.

Okay. I guess this may explain the large number of factual errors contained within Westwood’s autobiography, for example her first meeting with Malcolm McLaren is stated as “1963” then three pages later when McLaren was nineteen, i.e. in 1965. Even the dates of the Sex Pistols first gig at St. Martin’s School of Art is out by a year, claiming it took place in 1976 rather November 1975.
 

 
And then there are the charges of plagiarism:

“‘Just look at what people like Jack Kerouac were wearing,’ explains Vivienne, ‘after they had left the marines and the army and went on the road. White T-shirt, jeans, leather jacket…’” And so, for several more sentences. But despite that “Vivienne explains”, Kelly has in fact lifted the whole paragraph verbatim from a foreword written by McLaren, not Westwood, to Paul Gorman’ book The Look (2001).

Gorman is not pleased. Although named in a few footnotes, he has so far identified 24 “textual lifts from my work without attribution, credit or acknowledgement”, and has already consulted m’learned friends. “We’re throwing the book at them,” he says, “claiming damages, an apology and rectification of credit etc.” He notes that the copyright in many photos credited to the “Vivienne Westwood Archive” actually belong to photographers or picture agencies who will presumably now want fees and proper attributions.

If Picador is also sued by the man they thought was dead, this car crash could soon become a multiple pile-up.

I am sure a few lawyers across London are rubbing their hands with anticipation. It may be an idea, therefore, to buy your copy before this edition becomes rather scarce!

While we wait for that, here’s Academy Award-winning director Mike Figgis’ documentary Vivienne Westwood on Liberty, which features footage from the 1994 Paris fashion Show and captures Westwood’s captures thoughts on beauty, femininity, show production, clothing… but not the importance of fact checking.
 

 
Via Private Eye

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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T-shirt honors NYC mayor’s boneheaded ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ tabloid headline


 
On Friday, June 28, 2013, Michael Bloomberg, then serving out the last few months of twelve loooong years as mayor of New York City, made one of those comments on his weekly radio show that politicians sometimes make when circumstances have forced their hand on a policy position that is neither tenable nor reversible. For some years stop-and-frisk had outraged citizens over baldly racist N.Y. Police Dept. practices of detaining minority citizens, policies that yielded superficial improvements in crime statistics as well as a great deal of busywork for police officers. Rather than own up to the inherent disgrace in treating minorities as criminals, Bloomberg reached for one of those counterintuitive defenses politicians sometimes favor when they’re about to dismiss the rights of a great number of people.

Bloomberg said, “We disproportionately stop whites too much. And minorities too little.”

The next day, in the curious “headline-ese” of the N.Y. Daily News, that sentiment ran as follows: 
 

We stop
TOO
many
WHITES

 
Democratic candidate for mayor Bill de Blasio, then still in a primary hunt, blasted that statement, and some observers have credited that specific moment of distancing himself from the excesses of the Bloomberg administration with his later electoral victories. Four months later, Bill de Blasio, famously married to an African-American woman and the father of two biracial (and highly entertaining) children, was elected mayor of New York, a choice that was widely seen as a rebuke to Bloomberg’s handling of the NYPD. The era of stop-and-frisk was over—at least so went the hope. We all know that such policies have a way of being tenacious. (De Blasio has had considerable success in reducing the policy.)
 

 
Suffice to say that while the rest of the country might find all of this rather picayune, a certain subset of liberal New Yorkers remembers those months fondly. De Blasio became the first staunchly “liberal” mayor of the city since unfortunate David Dinkins, the only African-American mayor the city has ever had, who had the misfortune to preside at the absolute pinnacle of the crack epidemic and a major recession. His perceived failures ushered in Rudy Giuliani, who, suffice to say, looked a whole lot better at the time. In any case, Bloomberg’s comment, the headline, it all is a product of one of those charged moments that maybe only New Yorkers care about (even if they do become noticed by the nation at large): Bernie Goetz, Lizzie Grubman, Sully Sullenberger, Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, Robin Byrd….

Enter Ashok “Dapwell” Kondabolu, of the currently defunct and oddly timely NYC alt-hip hop outfit Das Racist. He’s designed a T-shirt with the Daily News cover. You can get a T-shirt for $20 and a sweatshirt for $40. As Dapwell says on the site, “Remember this guy? Remember when he said this shitty thing? ... Commemorate New York City’s gone but (sadly) not forgotten Mayor Mike with one of these high quality, screen-printed, and 100% ultra cotton sweatshirts and t-shirts featuring the ACTUAL June 29, 2013 cover of the Daily News.”

Rush as fast as you can to get one, because there ain’t many left—indeed, it may be too late. Dapwell says that there is “VERY LIMITED QUANTITY”—no kidding, just yesterday he said on Twitter that there’s just one sweatshirt left and “a dozen” shirts.
 

 
via Animal

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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You stepped in something: Smiling poop emoji shoes
10.16.2014
06:28 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
shoes
emojis
poop


 
How much would you pay for a pair of shoes covered in feces? $50,000? $100,000? Money is no object for a thing of such value, but you don’t need to break the bank to snag a pair of these… er…. shitty kickers! Betabrand has almost met their crowdfunding goal for a run of cute sneakers adorned in a “discreet” poo emoji print (only $70.40 for a pledge, a discounted rate for fine footwear covered in cute crap, right?). Sure, sure, but you’re walking around in permanent poo-shoes already. Isn’t pattern kind of… pretty? A tessellation of turds!

Fecal fractals, if you will.
 

 
Also, apparently these shoes are made from some kind of space-age material… if you’re into that sort of thing. I would remind you that NASA is responsible for the success of Tang, and to quote Buzz Aldrin, “Tang sucks.” Toilet humor and cute footwear however, is timelessly great, according to anyone who matters. If you still gotta, here are the specs, the video below lays out the case for a decidedly unshitty pair of crap-covered shoes.
 

 
Via Betabrand

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Get your Halloween on with this treasure trove of wild 1970s cosplay
10.06.2014
11:28 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Design
Fashion

Tags:
Halloween
Cosplay


 
I posted these photos a few years ago from io9 writer Ron Miller‘s insane 1970s cosplay-esque photo collection. They need to be revisited again. If not just for the disco dust-era eye candy, then to draw inspiration from these batshit galactic costumes for this upcoming Halloween.

Some have a slightly Kenneth Anger-ish feel to them. Well, Ken Anger meets Sonny & Cher meets Sun Ra meets a contingent of OTO members snorting coke at a Star Trek convention taking place at Studio 54 maybe…

You have your work cut out for you, folks! A good soundtrack for these would be Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsa, Yowsa, Yowsa)” don’ you think?


 

 

 

 
More photos after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The designer purse that looks like a Happy Meal, only $1,050!
09.27.2014
09:07 am

Topics:
Fashion
Food

Tags:
Happy Meals
purse


 
I’ve never found the concepts of luxury and socialism to be mutually exclusive. Freddy Engels’ son-in-law called him “the great beheader of Champagne bottles,” so I’d argue the Left has a noble history of pleasure and indulgence. What I do object to is the terms by which we define “luxury” under capitalism. There are certain obvious factors that tend to make a good, product or service “precious.” If materials required are scarce or difficult to obtain, there should perhaps logically be an increase in price, but again, while the bourgeoisie retains monopolies and fixes prices (like in the diamond trade, for example), artificial scarcity can inflate prices to unconscionable heights.

There is also dear old Karl‘s Labor Theory of Value, which states that value is to be measured by the labor required to produce it. Again, this seems reasonable, but it’s clearly not reflected in wage labor or commodity pricing. In art, value is further complicated, as price is affected by very subjective factors, like “historical significance” (or speculation thereof) and “innovation.” (Not to mention social connections!) Once more, under capitalism, it’s the bourgeoisie that decides what is/will be historically significant, and it’s the bourgeoisie that decides what is innovative. This is why Jeff Koons can fart in a jar and sell it to a tacky-ass Greek billionaire for more than twenty times what you make in a year.
 

Also from the Moschino show. Take it one step further and dress like you work at an ultra chic McDonald’s!
 
Now, disregarding what I believe should be used to determine a justifiable price, let me point you to this $1,050 Happy Meal-inspired purse. I suppose it’s entirely possible that the bag is made from the leather of a rare sacred cow, or that it was hand-sewn by arthritic seamstresses, requiring countless hours to complete, but I have a hunch this is just another case of rich people being gullible fools—the luxury interpretation of “low-culture” is undoubtedly the most ignoble of bourgeois aesthetics. I suppose you could argue the bag is innovative, but only if you know absolutely nothing about fashion or kitsch—the lunchbox purse is practically a classic at this point, and I remember very vividly when these were the ubiquitous handbag for the artier Junior High School girls.

No, this purse, which comes from Moschino’s fall line, is simply an ironic joke about wealth of its owner—they’re paying for the laugh, the irreverence, and the sly wink that says, “Oh, I’m not like one of those rarefied rich people, I burn my glut of cash on dumb shit! Dumb shit that evokes a billion-dollar empire built on garbage food and poverty wages!” I saw shots of the Moschino fashion show that debuted the “Happy Eats Handbag” earlier in the year, but with its “low-culture”/service employee theme, I just assumed it was one of those high concept “runway-shows-as-art-exhibits” affairs, where very little of the line was actually, literally reproduced and sold as ready-to-wear.

Never underestimate the uninspired “zany” blandness of wealth. If you’re feeling cheap, but still want to luxuriate in poverty aesthetics, there are other options. The line also includes a Cheetos knock-off sweater for $750, or even McDonald’s-inspired iPhone case for $85.

That’s right boys and girls, for a trifling $85, you too can laugh along with the wealthy tastemakers!

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Bizarre hipster ‘Twin Peaks’ menswear from Japan
09.24.2014
10:34 am

Topics:
Fashion
Television

Tags:
David Lynch
Twin Peaks
Mark Frost


 
Attention lovers of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s unforgettable TV sensation of 1990, Twin Peaks. I recently came across a completely puzzling line of long-johns-esque hipster menswear, the creations of some folks calling themselves Black Weirdos. The color palette of the garb interestingly avoids the pine green of the show’s opening credits, but is otherwise plausible. The model, identified as Kenny RM Rodriguez, sports a bushy beard, earlobe studs, and an insouciant demeanor, but the clothes give away the game more explicitly. Many of his tops say “Killer Bob” on them, and lots of the pieces have that zig-zag chevron thing that is reminiscent of the floor in the dream chamber where the midget talks backwards in Agent Cooper’s dreams. In one shot he’s reading a book about cherry pie, for goodness’ sake.

To be honest, it looks like it might be a gag. A trip to the mostly Japanese-language website (which exists as a “blogspot.jp” website) merely compounds the mystery. There are plentiful pics of the clothes, but few of the images lead to product pages where a purchase can be made; an exception is a single page featuring the knit cap (4,104 yen; about $37), the socks (6,264 yen; about $57), the plate (8,424 yen; about $77), and the cowichan sweater (85,320 yen; about $784). Those prices are either in error or are ironically meant. Clicking on the “Add to Basket” button spawns a mailto: link. So who the fuck knows. As much as I like those plates and would like a few for my own personal use, I don’t want to pay $77 for one. Having said that, I still think the clothes are kind of cool in a completely clueless way.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Here’s the famous dream sequence from episode 2 of Twin Peaks:
 

 
via Tombolare

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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