In 1971, a young elementary school teacher rented the back of a shop on Kings Road. The heart of Swinging London in the ‘60s, the former private road of Britain’s Kings had already seen the invention of the mini-skirt in the atelier of Mary Quant. But the best was yet to come. The new tenant was none other than Vivienne Westwood, who occupied number 430 with companion Malcolm McLaren, future manager of the Sex Pistols. The hippy utopia was coming to an end and the United Kingdom was about to feel the shock wave of Punk. Let It Rock started as a 1950s Rock-n-Roll record store but Vivienne soon started assembling clothes in the Teddy Boy style. “I used my store as a crucible,” Westwood would later say when she became a world-famous stylist, “Malcolm and I changed the names and the decor of shop to adapt to the clothing as our ideas evolved.” And so, from Edwardian velvet to torn clothes, to safety-pins, to latex, to whips, to t-shirts with provocative writing, to DIY clothing using tubes, bottle tops and chains, it became a beacon for a street style with no taboos. Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, Sex and Sedictionaries are the names that appeared over its doors, while inside the boutique, memorable pages of music, fashion and youth culture were written. Would Vivienne have ever believed it if someone predicted she would become a Queen of Fashion with Royal Honours bestowed upon her? On Kings Road, the shop’s sign has been the same for some time now - World’s End, along with its emblematic clock running backwards.
Seventy years of encounters, clashes, journeys and metamorphoses, but, above all, an explosion of creativity - all this at the Tate Britain in the largest exhibition ever dedicated to the artistic ties between the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.