Marilyn Monroe: The Blonde Bomber Prints

In 1975 David Bailey photographed the LIPS t-shirt on a very punkish looking Malcolm McDowell for the Sunday Times in Molly Parkin's Fashion pages. The picture was styled by Michael Roberts. It had a rippling effect in the subcultural slipstream of London Fashion. It was the third of our colour photomontage T-shirt prints.

Original collage on black art board 1973.


The montages stacked up through 1972 and 73 until a market could be found for the new prints. We would be working on an image for a straight 36 hours from start to finish."Translation of the image through half-tone colour separation gave the work the edge we 'd been looking for - an 'instant' processing where it could be quickly applied to screen and reworked on the print table." This deconstructed approach became the direction we would explore for the next decade. The 1973 Lips was one of the earlier Montage pieces but didn’t happen as a T-shirt until 1974 selling mostly through a few shops in Covent Garden and in Greenwich Village, New York. It marked the end of the Wonder Workshop Label’s Rock’N’Roll images and a new beginning for our print work. The Lips image, of course, is steeped in art history from the Dali image of Mae West, the Pop Art paintings of Tom Wesselmann and Andy Warhol to Joe Tilson’s Lips Clip-O-matic. In 1976, we dropped the yellow screen and remade screens to increase the red so the image was more stark - worked better with black. By 1977 the LIPS print became an important piece for us and formed a key part of the T-shirt collection produced over the following 20 years for Kitsch-22 and with BOY Blackmail.



A little while after Malcolm Mclaren had returned from Paris, hanging out on the New York Dolls European tour, he and Vivienne came to see us at the studio in Villiers Road NW10. We talked about sex clothing and the overlapping images of pornography and Art. Vivienne said she would like our Lips and Leopardskin fetish T-shirts we had produced that spring for their new shop venture but we couldn't agree on a shape, a pattern or a label so we never struck a deal. We had a real good discussion about Punk Rock, Screen printing and the rest of the world for most of the afternoon and we did come up with the name for the shop - SEX.



Beth wears Lips T-shirt with Rob, Sarah and Murray with Seditionaries Shirts for the BOY Blackmail pages. Photo: Derek Hutchins.


In 1975 the LIPS was also printed on denim. We asked Chrissie Walsh (of ‘Wet’ Swimwear and ‘Dry’ Beachwear fame) to make us a workwear ‘Donkey Jacket’ so the Lips could be more tough and masculine. I loved it and wore it for our TV appearances and for every occasion. It was completely Dadaesque that Molly and I wore identical Lips Jackets for the Sex Pistols gig at London's 100-club in 1976. Malcolm recognised us and the prints and came over - earlier we had talked about how the Beatles had slowly evolved with Merseybeat with that long winding road starting in Hamburg. He asked us what we thought of the Pistols since we had first seen them in Chelsea - we thought they were gonna be global - very big. Malcolm said The Pistols, unlike The Beatles were going the fast route - he said it was time to chuck out the Jukebox...... Punk Rock Lives!


The Printed Denim was perfect for our 70’s collection of Modzart Jeans so we enlarged the separations and made a continuous repeat for the screens so Denim and Satin could be printed on the Buser machine at Ivo Prints in Southall at a rate of about 150 metres an hour. David Lachapelle photographed Drew Barrymore in the LIPS Jeans as a pull-out poster for Max magazine and a cover for Preview.



We hand-printed Lips for our T-shirts in our London studio at a rate of about 50 meters a day


Lips T-shirt, Kitsch-22 from 1977


In 1994 the print was shown at the STREET STYLE exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The Curator of 20th Century textiles, Valerie D Mendes, requisitioned the LIPS T-shirt as an addition to the V&A permanent collection.


Polly models a LIPS print suit for Modzart at The London Designers Show 1993. Malcolm Mclaren came over to check us out.


The LIPS as a montage edition is with THE PAUL STOLPER GALLERY, LONDON - and was recently part of a mixed show of photomontages and collages called 'THE TERM REALITY'. It was the first time LIPS had been available as a multiple artwork. The components had been made with digital printing on varied qualities of paper from Newsprint to Gloss Photographic then the hand-torn Lips images were placed in a similar'deconstructed' fashion as the original piece in 1973 but each montage would be slightly different.


In August 2011, The Lightbox Gallery, Woking held a stunning exhibition of British Pop Art from the 60’s curated by Michael Regan called “Snap, Crackle & Pop”. It included Pop Art greats from Clive Barker, Peter Blake, Pauline Booty, Derek Boshier, Patrick Caulfield, Antony Donaldson, Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson, Patrick Hughes, Eduardo Paulozzi, Peter Philips, Joe Tilson and Colin Self. The LIPS montage series was included in a show from the Paul Stolper Gallery which supported the British Pop Art Show.