Style icons come in many shapes and sizes, but big tends to be the operative idea. Sex Pistols manager and rock impresario Malcom McLaren, who died yesterday at 64, was considered by many to be an icon of men’s style. And, outsize personality that he was, McLaren probably considered himself to be one, too. This was, after all, the man who once said he singlehandedly invented punk rock — a disputed claim, to be sure, but there’s little doubt that he did reinvent how to dress like a punk.
McLaren opened a store in 1971 called Let It Rock (later renamed Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die) along with co-owner and girlfriend at the time Vivienne Westwood, selling the then unfashionable Teddy Boy clothing, which included drainpipe pants and pointy “brothel creeper” shoes. By 1975, the shop had transformed into an S&M fashion boutique called Sex (later Seditionaries). McLaren was in the process of putting together a band (which would become the Sex Pistols) with three of the store’s customers, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, when John Lydon walked in sporting green hair and and an “I hate Pink Floyd” T-shirt — the rest is Punk history.
His style evolved with the times like few non-musicians in the music industry ever did, and was ahead-of-the-time more often than most. McLaren was an early champion of Thom Browne as a force in fashion, and as of last year he was designing for Supreme, the legendary New York streetwear brand.
For all that, the man kept things classic, preferring Norwegian loafers, grosgrain tuxes, tweed jackets and famously, a bow tie. Best of all, he always remained current, which sadly leaves Punk with one less icon.
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