Now, it’s time for some shameless self-promotion, This is my latest project, a beauty story called ‘An Elegant Punk’. It’s a collaboration with the brilliant make-up artist Lisa Eldridge, and our attempt to take a classic piece of subculture and make it modern, relevant and beautiful.
The process of getting to these images was interesting. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been aware that the sartorial tides have been turning. It’s no longer cool to look like you rolled out of bed, threw on a military parka and didn’t have time to wash your hair. Now, there’s a whole generation of twenty-somethings who are rejecting the anonymous, ‘undone’ styles that have been surrounding us for the last ten years, and who are making extreme style statements. For them it’s far more interesting to make an effort, dress up and take pride in your appearance, than to look like you’re too cool for school.
It’s not only fashion that is being affected by this trend. Hair and make-up styles are becoming more stylized and exaggerated too. The Amy Winehouse beehive/eyeliner combo is a great example of a beauty trend that sprang from the streets of Camden, and has had a global impact. I’ve seen kids on the streets of East London wearing head scarves and curlers during the day. Extreme make-up is filtering through too – as ornamentation and experimentation become more and more acceptable.
Lisa and I wanted to reflect this change in spirit – but we didn’t want to slavishly recreate the forties and fifties styles that seem to be most popular at the moment. We were talking about shooting something with dramatic, saturated colour – when the idea of punk came up. It seemed like a perfect fit. Not only does it relate to the current Rockabilly trend (which had a huge influence on early punk, particularly with the Westwood/Maclaren shorp, ‘Let It Rock) – it also has historical roots in recession, and is the perfect example of a subculture that thrived on extreme sartorial self-expression. If kids are wearing beehives today, they’re just one step away from wearing Mohicans tomorrow.
We started looking at classic punk images. The Bromley Contingent and the staff of ‘Sex’ in World’s End, particularly Jordan, gave us masses of material. Early images of pre-goth Siouxsie, with blonde, cropped hair. Adam Ant (because ridicule is nothing to be scared of) and the seminal punk movie ‘The Fabulous Stains’ – all went in the mix.
Finally, with the help of Keiichiro Hirano’s inspired hairdressing, the beautiful Jana from Models1, and some styling backup from Romaine Lillie, we had our team, and our theme.