Sunday, October 17

‘I wanted to be a living work of art’: why Jordan is the queen of punk rock style | fashion

IIntroducing Jordan, also known as Pamela Rooke, in her 1991 punk story England’s Dreaming, Jon Savage describes her life as “a pas de deux with outrage.” This was due to “such an amazing appearance that, every time he walked out the door, he took a risk.” See PVC, fishnets, rubber, XXXXL ruffles, suspenders, casual nudity (often wearing nothing from the waist down or not wearing a top under a mohair sweater), and a curly lip. It’s no wonder that Jordan (a name that Rooke took, somewhat incongruously, from golfer Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby) became the poster girl of a move. Savage goes so far as to declare it the first Sex Pistol, while Adam Ant said he invented punk rock.

Jordan in the 70s.
‘Some of the things he was wearing were pretty close to the knuckle’ … Jordan in the 70s. Photograph: Caroline Greville-Morris / Redferns

A new generation will discover the pure subversion of Jordan with Danny Boyle’s new series, Pistol, which tells the story of the band and the cast of characters that surround them, including Jordan, who worked in the store of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Sex, on King’s Road in London. Images of Maisie Williams as the punk idol They have seen each other this week and they have the outrage and scandal that one would expect. Williams wears stockings, suspenders, a sheer mac, and the kind of eyeliner visible from space.

With Adam Ant at the premiere of Saturday Night Fever in 1978.
‘A pas de deux with indignation’ … with Adam Ant at the premiere of Saturday Night Fever, in 1978. Photography: PA

What’s still amazing about Jordan is that he wore these clothes in the most mundane of circumstances. She styled her hair a red mohawk at the age of 17, outraging her school teachers and prompting her mother to walk in front of her when they were out on the street. Based in her hometown of Seaford, East Sussex, while working at Sex, she was traveling in these outfits, which made her train journey almost a kind of stage art. “Some of the things he was wearing were pretty close to the knuckle,” he said in an interview with The Guardian in 2019. “People were apoplectic with rage. I had to be transferred to first class for my own safety. “Jordan purposely stood out in the context of 1970s Britain, a time he described as” a gray, beige and taupe era. “

Jordan out of Sex in 1976.
‘A very modern sales technique’ … Jordan out of Sex in 1976. Photograph: Getty Images

Jordan, unlikely, worked at Harrods before being recruited by Westwood and McLaren, and he did so while wearing green lipstick. She first appeared on Sex at the age of 19 in gold stilettos and a 1950s-style outfit of a circular skirt and a bullet bra, but nothing on top. She became perhaps the most notorious shop assistant in history, a kind of retail priestess, dissuading people from buying the products. “I was not prepared to sell things that people found horrible just because they had the money to buy them,” she said. Stunned magazine in 2016. “It would have been bastardizing something beautiful just for the money.” A young Boy George was in awe of her. “She dressed like a modern Tiller girl, carried a whip and hissed at customers,” she wrote in her 1995 autobiography Take It Like a Man. “His was a very modern sales technique.”

McLaren embraced Jordan’s visual anarchy and recruited her as something of a Bez of the Pistols; appeared on stage with them at concerts. She was photographed by Andy Warhol (and with him, at the ICA in 1977) and starred in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. The film director tracked her down to play history-mad Amyl Nitrate after seeing her from afar at Victoria Station. Her performance in the film, singing Rule, Britannia! In a Union Jack robe, DayGlo makeup, metal helmet, and trident, it was anything but brown. It was a kind of inverse of Boudicca, with the aim of surprising the establishment by sending its own images.

Jordan with Andy Warhol in 1977.
Jordan with Andy Warhol in 1977. Photograph: Richard Young / REX / Shutterstock

His pushing the limits included occasions where he used images that are widely (and rightly) considered repellent. See the swastika, which he wears on a T-shirt cuff, which he refused to remove for a television appearance with the Sex Pistols in 1976 (it was covered in duct tape at the end). “I’ve always seen it as … a desensitization of the swastika as an emblem,” he told Dazed. “It must be remembered that Karl Marx was on one side and the swastika on the other.”

A 1977 profile on the NME roasts Jordan for her “fashion obsession,” suggesting that her outfits will ensure that she is never attractive to men. “Beneath the thick black lines and heavily colored cheeks, there could well be a stunning woman trying to get out,” it reads. “It’s so hard to tell my dear ones, because Jordan does a good job of hiding any good traits he may possess.”

With Siouxsie Sioux in Liverpool c1978.
With Siouxsie Sioux in Liverpool c1978. Photograph: Ray Stevenson / Rex Features

In 2019, she told the Daily Mail: “I was not being brave or exhibitionist. I didn’t care what other people thought, I wanted to be a living work of art. ”This refusal to conform to the conventions of female appearance perhaps meant that Jordan was more radical than any male punk, because women’s appearance was (and is still) much more scrutinized. “Men were confused by me,” she told The Guardian. “They hissed like wolves, yelled all sorts of things, even offered me money because they didn’t understand why I looked like this.” that Jordan has now calmed down a bit: he works at a vet, raises Burmese cats, and sold his collection of punk pieces in 2015 – His impact on fashion remains a pas de deux with outrage more than 40 years after he made his last trip from Seaford.

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