You’ve Got To See The Rock ‘N’ Roll Costumes In Pistol, The Hottest New Show About To Hit Disney+

Punk's influence on style remains as white hot as ever.

Pistol premiere

by Lauren Cochrane |
Updated on

Safety pins, snarls ,spikes, studs and SEX – punk might be reaching its middle age in 2022, but its influence on style remains as white hot as ever. And that’s about to go up another level with Danny Boyle’s long-awaited series, Pistol. Based on guitarist Steve Jones’ memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol, it documents the rise of the band and the punk scene from the mid-’70s.

Starring Toby Wallace as Jones, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Anson Boon as John Lydon and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as their manager, Malcolm McLaren, it’s punk’s women – perhaps less in the spotlight – who are the style stars. See Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde, Talulah Riley as a young Vivienne Westwood and Maisie Williams as Pamela Rooke, aka Jordan, the influential punk style icon who died earlier this year.

Pistol Maisie Williams
Maisie Williams ©Getty

An early scene shows Jones visiting SEX, the famous King’s Road store that McLaren and Westwood founded in 1974, where Rooke and Hynde worked. While the future guitarist is in typical ’70s garb – a long leather jacket and tank top – Hynde and Westwood, in latex and studs with razor-cut spiked hair, spell the future. Their categorical rejection of ‘pretty’ challenged ideals of femininity – and powerfully shattered the status quo in the process.

Rooke particularly embodied the anarchic spirit. To accompany Adam Ant to the 1978 premiere of Saturday Night Fever, she wore pants and a spiked T-shirt, with Picasso-like squares on her face. ‘Some things I wore were quite near the knuckle,’ she once said. ‘People were apoplectic with rage.’

Pistol Thomas Brodie-Sangster Talulah Riley
Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Talulah Riley ©Getty

In Pistol, we meet Rooke in the second episode, when she travels to work by train wearing a see-through mac with no top underneath, and is moved to First Class. This story – and the mac – is based on what Rooke relayed to Liza Bracey, the show’s costume designer. ‘She said, “It’s like a nicotine colour. I wore it to get to work, I didn’t change – I literally would be on the train in it.”’ Rooke also came to the set and met Williams. ‘In the pictures she looks so intimidating,’ says Bracey. ‘[But] she was so warm... I stopped to say hello and she said, “It’s so weird, seeing somebody being me.”’

Charged by Boyle with making the costumes as accurate as possible, Bracey became something of a style detective. ‘Steve is really into his clothes and he could remember quite a lot,’ she says. ‘He used to wear the hanky on his head because he didn’t like his hair.’ Eagle-eyed watchers will observe that Boon’s Lydon avoids denim because ‘he always said he never wore jeans’. (The real Lydon has slammed the series, calling it ‘a middle-class fantasy’.)

Pistol Maisie Williams
Maisie Williams as Pamela Rooke ©Pistol

Bracey notes that the enduring appeal of punk remains the way it ripped everything up and started again. ‘[The spirit was] if you don’t like it, change it. If you don’t like people saying, “You shouldn’t wear that,” wear it. If that’s what you want to do, it doesn’t matter what other people think.’

As Pistol documents, young Brits in the ’70s existed in a news cycle that included economic woes, sex scandals, industrial action, racist attacks, a corrupt Government and a jubilee. The parallels between then and now are striking – yet another reason this summer is a time when punk's ideas could inspire once again.

Pistol Sydney Chandler Talulah Riley
Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde and Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood ©Pistol

It wouldn’t, of course, be very punk to get nostalgic – this is a movement about the moment, not looking back. ‘[Westwood] didn’t come to the set herself but we had a fantastic guy called Murray who works with her,’ says Bracey. ‘He said she’s not interested in the past and I found that great.’

And when it comes to actual styling tricks to take from punk? A DIY approach, quite literally, is where it’s at. ‘When they were in America, the Sex Pistols did a lot of shopping in hardware stores and stuff,’ says Bracey. ‘Sid had this funny bracelet made out of some weird ladder chain. We should do that – go to Homebase and see what we can find.’

‘Pistol’ is on Disney+ from 31 May.


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