As explored in the new Sex Pistols miniseries “Pistol,” directed by Danny Boyle, the punk subculture has upended the script of fashion, music, and above all, beauty.
Instead of being used as tools to improve the body, hair and makeup are suddenly removed from their typical task: attracting potential partners. In fact, they often become tools for destructive sexiness.
If 1970s hair was supposed to be long and smooth, the punk aesthetic required gravity-defying spikes and provocative, knotty textures. If mainstream makeup, pioneered by the likes of Farrah Fawcett, Jerry Hall, Jane Birkin and Donna Summer, called for fresh, fine skin, long lashes and lip gloss, punks buried their eyes under heavy eyeliner rings, in Put black lipstick on your mouth and write phrases like “no future” on your forehead.
Outside the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1977. Credit: Chris Moorehouse/Helton Archives/Getty Images
Cheekbones and the bridge of the nose are no longer a mandatory roadmap for bronzer or blush. Instead, for punk, they’re a rough terrain that only makes casually depicted rebellious phrases or abstract shapes more interesting.
Although it was firmly rejected in its traditional form, beauty remained the backbone of the movement. This made the job of “Pistol” makeup artist Ivana Primorac even more challenging.
Not a single hair is out of place
Released in London in the 1970s, the Disney+ series opens on May 31 and is based on guitarist Steve Jones’ autobiography, Lonely Boy: A Sex Pistol Story. British director Boyle, whose film credits include Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008), prioritizes authenticity—even putting the band’s archives The clips are embedded in the program. It’s impossible to have a single hair out of place – literally. “We have to be accurate,” Primorak said in a video call ahead of the series’ release. “There’s a lot of editing, and we edit from the real thing to our footage.”
From left to right, Jacob Slater as Paul Cook, Anson Boone as John Lyndon, Toby Wallace as Steve Jones and Christian Lees as The Pistol Glen Matlock. Credit: Mizuno/FX
Primorac worked with the fashion department, which had access to original works by Vivienne Westwood of the period, to create “the bible of every Sex Pistols concert”. The book is an exhaustive catalogue of each of the band’s public appearances, providing invaluable information on which outfits to wear, how to match accessories, and of course, their hair color.
Matching color, hair length, and proportions of spikes and styles proved to be the most difficult, Primorac said.
“Proportion is the hardest thing because you have to figure out what that is [hair style] It looks like it’s on other people,” she said. “A lot of the characters, like Sid Vicious, are very well documented; on TV, in print, everywhere. Not long ago, people would remember. So it’s hard. “
The need for grooming precision coupled with Boyle’s unorthodox directing approach – which saw the actors regularly perform two-hour-long shows as the pistols at London’s historic 100 club – meant breaking the look for Primorac is a long process. “We rebuilt all the shows there,” she said. “So you can’t do it between takes, and necessarily [alter] Because, you know, Danny wants to shoot it. So after that we would go to the recording studio to watch the performance. That’s when you can really see the scale and what it looks like and where to change it. “
The series consists of a group of young British talent. Includes Maisie Williams, Louis Partridge, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Iris Law (debut). But their celebrity radiance was more of a hindrance to Primorak than a help. “We did have to sand them,” she said. “There were a lot of dentures, greasy hair, greasy skin and spots – we had to get dentures.”
Louis Partridge plays Sid Vicious in the upcoming series. Credit: Mizuno/FX
Primorak asks Julien Temple, the filmmaker who started his career with a documentary documenting the rise of the Sex Pistols in the mid-1970s, why punk precedents often seem less hygienic . “He said it’s a fact that people don’t have access to what we have today. We really don’t think about that anymore… (At the time) people had soap and water and that was it. If you went out to a bar, you You didn’t come home for two days and you didn’t really stop to take a shower somewhere,” she recalls. “And people’s bad eating habits, heavy drinking and drug use and all sorts of things.”
In addition to replicating the iconic hairstyle and face painting, Primorac had to capture the heavy lifestyle of sports and its impact on the body. “At the end of the day, (the actor) would use very expensive, cute makeup to take off the punk look and go home looking like a normal 21st century actor.”
draw a legend
Primorak said Luke was on set until she passed away in April. “Amazingly, when Macy was filming, (Ruke) saw her and was almost in tears because she suddenly saw herself and her past,” she said. “The (sex) store was rebuilt, the street looked exactly the same, and Williams was standing there wearing the same clothes. It was a very touching moment.”
Pamela Rooker, also known as Jordan Mooney, at the “Sex” shop on Kings Road. December 1976. Credit: Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Luke gave free feedback on how to perfect her look. “She was very, very, very engaged,” Primorak said. “We went through the whole process and why black eyeliner had to be wider on the sides and narrower in the front. She literally told us how she created this look, what she used and why.”
The Queen of Punk was also on hand to steer the team away from any inaccurate facts — something rarely offered to artists involved in biopics. “We wanted to recreate a very iconic photo of her with red eyeliner, but (Ruke) said ‘no, I’ve never worn that.'” According to Primorac, Luke clearly remembers that One day – at the Kings Road boutique in Westwood after she went to work and was out all night, forgetting her make-up. “Then Malcolm McLaren (Westwood’s ex-partner) told Rooker, ‘Be ready because there will be photographers.’ So she just picked up a lipstick and did a red one thing. She only did it once, but I think it was one of her looks. So we didn’t put it in the movie.”
Above: Maisie Williams as Pamela Rooker in Danny Boyle’s “Pistol” on Disney+ on May 31.