24 ottobre 2009

"Tits" tee

Sex Pistols' Steve Jones
Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts
Alice in Chains
During their senior year at Rhode Island School Of Design, Janusz and Laura Gottwald had created an art project; a “yearbook” containing various items including the design of a white T-shirt with the black and white screen print of a pair of women’s breasts on the front. The popularity of this shirt provided the basis for their label, Jizz Inc, to become a fully fledged fashion label; and among the boutiques which stocked the tits tee was San Francisco’s Water Brothers. It is here that Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is believed to have bought the one he wears on the cover of 1970 live album Get Your Ya-Yas Out. Jizz also advertised “The No Bra Look” t-shirt in such underground mags as the LA Free Press – the ad above appeared in the June 18 1971 edition – and, with a store called Cream (tagline, inevitably, “get covered in cream by jizz”), they also branched out into a wide range of men’s shirts, jackets and robes. In 1973 Lepre and the Gottwalds booked a stand at the National Boutique Show, where Lepre believes McLaren and Westwood may have first come across the design which was to feature in their range at 430 King’s Road and as Sex Pistols stage-wear. McLaren says that he did not become aware of the design until the spring of 1975 when he acquired one from a New Orleans novelty store. And certainly it wasn’t until 1975, in the famous spread in British sex magazine Forum, that the McLaren “tits” tee made its first appearance worn by future Pistols guitarist and shop habitué Steve Jones. He and fellow rhythm section member Paul Cook were particularly keen on the design, as seen in this epochal shot of the band rucking with the audience at The Nashville Rooms in April 1976. Context is all, and the shirts as worn by the Pistols and sold in SEX (and still available from Vivienne Westwood stores) offer a vastly different proposition from that delivered by the Jizz design: there is something Warholian, not as wholesome, as the fulsome, almost hippy, breasts retailed by Jizz. As Jon Savage noted in England’s Dreaming: “The effect was both androgynous and, in the double-take it forced upon you, distinctly unsettling.” Artist/designer John Dove has said that his “breasts” tee from 1970 (currently on display at the Aquariaum Gallery in London) was also an influence. The design is based on a photograph taken by James Wedge of his partner in Kings Road stores Countdown and Top Gear, Pat Booth. Dove also points out he showed the shirt to McLaren and Westwood in 1974.

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