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Saturday, 9 February 2013

All the young dudes...an explosion of GLAM

Remember a world of twinkling mirrorballs, flared trousers, outlandishly slick hairdos, bisexual caked mascara and eyeliner and an unstoppable cascade of glitter…Miss Mannequin certainly does! Whiling away the hours posing languorously in the coquettish window of Swanky Modes or lurking amongst the potted palms in the mysterious smokey interior of Biba, I have always loved the excess and the exuberence of Glam. With these memories in mind, Dear Reader, I have been thrilled to learn that the Tate Liverpool has just launched an exhibition dedicated to expressing and explaining the decadence of this movement.

Roxy Music's 1972 album "Roxy Music" featuring Kari-Ann Muller, who later went on to model as a mannequin for Adel Roostein's Superstar Collection
Both glamorous and bizarre in equal measures, when thinking of Glam culture, anyone born after 1970 would be forgiven for thinking it was just about the music. Sitting through endless repeats of TOTP2 during the festive period with slightly tipsy older relatives embarrassing themselves recounting (and worse demonstrating) strange school disco style dancing and sing-alongs to T-Rex and Cockney Rebel records, you would inevitably get this impression. But this would be to miss the point of it all completely ….. and where the Tate’s daring exhibition comes in.

Glam! The Performance of Style is the first exhibition to explore glam style and sensibility in-depth. The exhibition focuses on artistic developments in Britain, Europe and North America - seen through the prism of Glam. Examining painting, sculpture, installation art, film, photography and performance, with over 100 artworks on show, the exhibition puts into context what was actually intended to be a lifestyle, rather than an insignificant early 1970’s trend.

Starting out as an underground British Art School scene (think David Hockney, Bryan Ferry, Eno and David Bowie) and coinciding with gay, black and feminine calls for equality, Glam was at its inception intended as a personal expression of individuality, an unveiling of each participant’s sexuality, creativity and particular persona. It had its coming of age around mid-1972 when Mott the Hoople sang their Bowie penned anthem All the Young Dudes on Top of The Pops. After that its camp, sparkly tentacles quickly entwined themeslves around every area of young life. Even the mannequin world succumbed; female window models threw out their bras and exposed an eyeful of perky nipple on mannequins with wildy exuberant poses. Adel Rootstein produced much feted collections using models like the exotic Sayoka and (ex Bryan Ferry girlfriend) Marie Helvin.   
David Hockney's Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy 1970/71
Spearheaded in the world of entertainment so persuasively by Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, T. Rex, The Glitter Band and Slade, the seductive look of Glam soon swept the nation like an extravagant glittery rash. In the art world the spangly torch was carried by artists such as David Hockney, Bruce McLean, Duggy Fields and Lindsey Kemp, then moving across to America popped up at Andy Warhol’s factory. In design, Biba, Anthony Price, Mr Freedom, Terry DeHavilland and Swanky Modes shimmered. In film and theatre, think Clockwork Orange, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Derek Jarman and John Waters.

Roxy Music's 1973 album Music for your pleasure - featuring model Amanada Lear dressed in Anthony Price Outfit

The inevitable commercial fallout of Glam soon had every hod carrier nationwide lumbering around on platforms as chunky as yorkie bars and spotty young bank clerks sporting Spiders from Mars style lurex jumpsuits outside the local chip shop on Saturday night. Rock and Roll suicide indeed! Inevitably it had become a teenage uniform, an identikit cliché, fit only for the dressing up box and its savvy early exponents had moved on, morphing into punks, electronica, new romantics, heavy metal bands and David Bowie became, well........David Bowie.

Miss Mannequin is all for this show – gorgeous to look at and surprisingly educational too – what’s not to like. So slip into your disco slacks and head up north for this Liverpool based extravanaga.


post script: it's a big Glam year, Dear Readers. Miss Mannequin can't wait for the opening of DAVID BOWIE IS ... at London's V&A mid March

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