About Forty years ago a very controversial shirt came into its existence, the artist and anarchist Jamie Reid, He created an image so disruptive of Queen Elizabeth for the Sex Pistols’s “God Save the Queen” record Sleeve, gleefully decipher Cecil Beaton’s Portrait of Her Majesty, and this depiction was found its way onto Vivienne Westwood (created T-shirts).
One of the moment where the portrait was reworked – by a song – which was deeply shocking at the time, considered borderline two-faced, after all the Pistols’s John Lydon explained later that: ” You don’t write a song like ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”
Those lyrics has this rage against the machine, the songs misery was so powerful whoever use to sing that song not only use to sing but use to chant it! they were chained to those lyrics. Which literally made there will to wear it on their chest. Fran
had his own opinion: “If people don’t want to listen to you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?” but they rocked their Westwood/Sex Pistols tee, they didn’t give a fuck if people wanted to hear it or not!
Its been Four Decades now – in celebration of this anniversary, as it is Pride Month, and we are hooked to the TV watching nothing but Comedy, whereas we should step out in daylight, pop our “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Shirts and take a look back in the history of clothing that has actually allowed people to wear their politics on their physiques.
One of the best and earliest example of message wearing is concerned with feet: In 1760s, the British supporters of John Wilkes purposely carved the number 45 – which is associated with a write up by a parliamentarian – into the soles of their shoes, by which number could be printed in London’s muddy Alleys. ( We can actually revisit this idea toil near Washington, D.C., on sloppy demonstration days, perhaps with th slogan, DUMP 45.)
There was a time of sashes: in 19th century, partisans of various political parties swore allegiance with embroidered cross-body ribbons. Suffragists were transport to jail wearing “votes for Women” in yellow sashes atop their authentic white lace gowns; and then in Prohibition era, discontented trippers donned “Repeal the 18th Amendment” bands. And then, it was 1960s, some engineering genius invented a machine to mass-produce slik-screened tees, and, well, we know the rest – a proliferation of message tees from subways to runways, right up to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Spring 2017 Dior catwalk, where the designer sent out “We Should All Be Feminists” shirts/T-shirts.
And we’re trying to repeat the history, which was all good – I wish that someone (Vivienne? Maria?) could have issued a garment saying, those heart-breaking lyrics of the Pistols’s song; “We’re the flowers in the dustbin. We’re the poison in your human machine. We’re the Future.”