There’s just no getting away from the fact that some of the most recognisable and influential faces in the early punk rock movement, came not from the people in the bands, but from those on the periphery. This was unusual in youth culture movements which would normally rely on the bands themselves to point the way. Punk did it differently, and for the first time, it put girls at the forefront.
Girls like Soo Catwoman, with her self-styled cat-eared haircut, members of the Bromley Contingent, like the pre-Banshees Siouxsie, who’d raised herself on a glam diet of Bowie and Roxy Music, and shop girls like Debbie Juvenile and Tracie O Keefe, and Punk as a movement, became a cohesive force, bringing together these like minded, though extremely individual players.
SEX shop assistant Jordan, had already kitted herself out with fishnets, rubber, latex and coloured hair well before she’d even set foot inside McClaren/Westwood’s Kings Road emporium. With her distinctive racoon-eyes under the bottle-blonde beehive, Jordan looked a bit like like Dusty Springfield as a cat-burgler, with a touch of the Viv Nicholson thrown in for good measure. We got it. It was an attitude, not just a look to be copied, because copying just wasn’t very Punk.
These back-room players, these stage setting, high-octane style adjusters, influenced the emerging scene with their own take on style and fashion at least as much as the bands acheived with their music, but the truth was that the two went hand in hand.
Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McClaren instinctively knew that style was going to play a huge role in the cultural seismic shift he was proposing, and for that reason invited Siouxsie and co onto the Bill Grundy Show, insisted that Jordan was in the studio for the Pistols early appearance on So It Goes, and even without the real thing, he cast a Soo Catwoman lookalike into the script of “The Great Rock and Roll Swindle”. Everybody knew that without the style icons, and without the girls, Punk was just going to be another useless boy-powered racket.
Jordan Mooney 2016 interview in dazeddigital: “People often refer to the name and the things that I wore as demonstrating bravery and shaking things up, but while I showed off to the best of my ability it wasn’t about bravery because I didn’t care what people thought. I’ve always been extremely comfortable in my own skin. It’s like being in an art movement – someone has to start it.”
2 thoughts on “Setting the Style Agenda”
Great piece – but, the girl on the left isn’t actually Soo Catwoman, she’s a model in a BOY catalogue from 80/81, which was populated with lookalikes. A catalogue I sold on eBay years ago.. but a few pics here .
Hi Mondo, thanks for your comment, this is all good info, and it’s great to be able to rely on sub-editors like you for additional input. Thanks for directions to your catalogue blog post as well!